Monday, January 14, 2008

Weekend At The Ranch

Nora and I went out to help out at the horse ranch this weekend. We love going out. Not only do we get to help do chores which makes me feel good, but I get to see the horses and my friends. I can't think of a way it wouldn't be fun to go out to the ranch.

Someday, I would love to have a ranch of my own. I want to breed and raise (and hopefully sell!) Straight Egyptian Arabians. Why Straight Egyptian Arabians (SEAs)? The Straight Egyptian Arabian is one of the most pure-blooded horses in the world. There are no other breeds of horse mixed in with it. And while there are several types (differences that give different shapes to the head, neck, back, eyes etc), they are all descended from the same horses.

In terms of Evolution, all horses descend from prehistoric horses which originally were only the size of a small dog, had paws instead of hooves and were swap dwellers. As the evolutionary gears changed the horse from the swamp dweller to a plains runner there were basically two familial branches that separated. The half that stayed in the cold and snowy north ended up growing taller, bigger bones and heavier skin. The half that headed south became quick and agile, capable of surviving on little food and less water.

The Arabians are descendant from the second half. The Bedouin tribes of the Middle East bred these horses for centuries. They kept only the smartest, strongest and swiftest. Contrary to popular children's literature, Mares are actually more valuable than the stallions. A stallion can breed as many mares as it has the energy for, while a mare can only carry a single (rarely twins) per year.

When the desert warriors raided another clan, they did not ride the stallions, but rather the mares. Stallions, while essential to species propagation are not necessarily the most tractable or trustworthy animals. All that testosterone gets in the way :p Where as a mare might be thinking about the survival of the herd, grazing, and protection of the young, a stallion basically has two thoughts in his head "Can I breed you?" and "Here let me kill that for you- Now can I breed you?"

Anyway, there are several strains of Arabian horses out there. There are what I call "backyard" Arabians that don't have any specific geneology to keep track of. The owners know the dam and the sire, but that's about it and there are probably some questionable breedings in this horse's history. Then there are Arabian strains such as the Polish Arabian, the Crabbett Arabian etc. Then there are the Straight Egyptian Arabians. There are several qualifying factors to be considered "Straight Egyptian" but the biggest factor is they have to be traced back to one of three famous stables in history that has the purest blood in them or they have to be able to be traced back to the desert breeders.

Straight Egyptian Arabians are beautiful creatures. They are very intelligent and really love to be around people. They are quick and agile, have amazing endurance, and show aptitude in all equine sports from jumping to racing to dressage. The Islamic people believe that God gave the Arabian as a gift to man and that He created the Arabian horse out of the Wind.

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