The Polish Arabian Influence In Australia – From the Past to the Present For the Future

Throughout the history of mankind and its association with the horse, no other breed has caught our imagination, dreams and spirit like the purebred Arabian.

As the oldest known and recorded pure breed of horse in the world, its influence on the establishment of other breeds and its impact on individuals and nations across the globe are monumental. From its beginnings as a war horse of the desert tribes of the Bedouin, the Arabian horse has become a national treasure in many countries.

One such country that has had major influence and significance on Arabian breeders worldwide is Poland. The colorfully rich saga of Arabian history in Poland began in the 15th Century when members of the Polish aristocracy bought the finest horses they could acquire from the desert countries. Private Studs were established on their estates and breeding programs were set in place. Horses from these programs were highly prized for their beauty and abilities as excellent mounts and for the resulting prestige they brought to their owners. Unfortunately a great number of these Studs and innumerable horses were lost during the conflicts of invasion and civil strife up to and including World War II.

A disastrous event that had direct influence on the Polish Arabians was that of the attack upon the Antoniny Stud of the Potocki family, founded in the 19th century and probably best known for being the owners of the spectacular Ibrahim. Bred in the desert and bought circa 1907 in Constantinople by an agent for Count Josef Potocki, Ibrahim died during the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, but his immortality in Arabian horse history was to be established by his son Skowronek foaled in 1909 and later exported to England. With an ironic twist of fate the Ibrahim sire line was lost to Poland until its reintroduction with the importation of *Naborr from Russia in 1956.

(*Naborr’s paternal grandsire was the famous Skowronek son Naseem who was bred in England and later sold to Russia.)

World War II decimated the private studs of Poland and nearly destroyed Arabian breeding entirely. The Russians invaded and took a large group of horses back to Tersk. Then the Germans removed many more. Uncountable numbers of horses were killed before the dedicated Poles could hide them from their invaders. Of 195 mares at Janow Podlawski Stud in 1939, no less than 143 perished or disappeared. In 1946, some 30 broodmares, 12 foals and the stallions Witraz, Wielki Szlem, and Amurath Sahib were allowed to return from their exile within Germany, but not to Janow which was so badly damaged that breeding operations there did not start again until 1960. While Janow was under repair, its horses were distributed among three new state studs: Nowy Dwor, Albigowa (where *Bask was foaled in 1956), and Klemensow. In 1951 the latter was moved to its present location at Michalow. Thus due to the dedication and tenacity of the Polish people, many of whom hid horses in their homes at risk to their own lives, the breed survived and has flourished in these Polish State Studs we know today and once again many private breeding farms flourish.

Historically, the Arabian horses of Poland have been used as foundation progenitors and developers of Sport horses. Various breeds such as Andalusians, Trakheners, Oldenburgs, Hanoverians, and other Warmbloods all have lines that trace directly to the Polish Arabian. The Poles have always maintained stringent criteria for producing good performance horses emphasizing balanced structure, angled shoulders, lengthy necks, great legs and powerful hindquarters. In fact one of the strongest characteristics of the Polish Arabian is its wonderfully long and deep hindquarters and large stifle muscles. This strength was defined by the levelness of hip which is why Polish breeders meticulously culled rafter hipped horses. This enhanced the Polish Arabians abilities to perform well and prove themselves especially in racing and diverse performance disciplines. And breed type has not been sacrificed to do so. Outcross stallions and mares, with strong bloodlines and desirable characteristics have long been acquired and integrated into the Polish breeding programs. Thus we have seen influential horses from Egypt, Russia, England, and now the USA and the UAE appearing in the pedigrees of the Polish Arabian. Two distinct phenotypes are recognizable in Polish breeding, the Seglawi and the Kuhailan. The Seglawi tend to produce the more feminine attributes of great beauty, elegance and refinement, and are more often than not grey in color, whilst the Kuhailan, who are predominantly bay or chestnut, produce very strong, correct horses with lean, sculpted and more masculine characteristics. Two contemporary and legendary examples were Bandos [Negatiw x Bandola] a Seglawi, and Bask [Witraz x Balalajka] a Kuhailan. A point of interest here is that Bandola, who was one of the great matriarchs of Polish breeding, was a full sister to Bask as well as the dam of Bandos and Banat. While each of these wonderful stallions sired outstanding progeny of both genders, Bandos is most noted for his exemplary daughters and Bask for his strong, athletic and consistent producing sons.

With selective breeding and attention to which lines crossed best, stringent culling and performance testing, the Polish Arabian has given the world some of the strongest and most influential sire and dam lines in the Arabian horse world today. Sire lines such as Bairactar which produced Amurath Sahib a stallion noted for passing on great beauty and strong toplines, whose most recent famous progenitor is the dynamic Polish, United States and Canadian National Champion (halter and ridden) Emanor; Ilderim, who through Aquinor produced many modern day greats like Penitent, Eldon and Piaff. Aquinor was also the first Polish bred stallion to sire a US National Champion Stallion and Mare, i.e. *Elkin and *Elkana. The sire line of Ibrahim gave us Skowronek, who became a pillar of the Crabbet Stud in England founding a dynasty of horses, including his famous son Naseem, which were sought after all over the world and in Poland the renowned Negatiw, sire of Bandos and his sons Pepton and the immortal Eukaliptus. The line of Kuhailan Haifi produced the stallions Witez, Witez II, and Wielki Szlem and his son Czort. Witez produced the legendary Bask and his descendants Negatraz, Monogramm and Ganges, as well as Celebes and the previously mentioned Bandola. Mare lines were and continue to be the taproot strength of Polish breeding and over the centuries there were approximately 55 family lines established. Some of the most prolific and extensively used were the families of Gazella, Mlecha, Milordka, Ukrainka, Szweykowska and the progenitor of the exquisite beauty of one of the most noted E line of mares, Woloszka. This was and continues to be recognized by countries where the Polish influence can readily be found – countries like the USA, Egypt, England, Russia, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Iran, Turkey, Brazil, the UAE, Canada and Australia.

Unlike many of the other countries mentioned who imported and used Polish Arabians to a greater advantage, Australia has been relatively limited in the acquisition and application of Polish imports. From the 1960′s through to 2001, I found a total of 20 horses recognized as being pure Polish that were brought into the country. Of these 13 were stallions and 7 were mares. But in spite of the relatively low numbers compared to horses of other bloodlines, these horses have impacted and entrenched their influence on breeders across the country. The very first Polish horse to arrive was the bay 1963 stallion Cyrasa [Comet x Barcelona] S496 imported from the United Kingdom of Great Britain by the NSW Department of Agriculture. He was a son of the immortal Comet, a stallion who singularly crossed well with every Polish line established over their centuries of breeding. Before his subsequent exportation to New Zealand, Cyrasa sired a total of 138 studbook purebreds, including 62 mares, 45 stallions and 31 geldings. The following is a list of the remainder of the pure Polish imports from this time frame which I was able to compile and access from the Stud book of the AHSA and the extensive research archives of Heather Knowles, Newerah Arabians. I have listed these horses in order of their assigned AHSA registration numbers rather than the actual year of importation. Included with each horse is the recorded number of purebred progeny that I could ascertain through being currently listed in the Stud Book