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Encyclopedia > Crabbet Arabian Stud

The Crabbet Arabian Stud was established on 2 July 1878 when the first Arabian horses brought to England by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt and Lady Anne Blunt arrived at Crabbet Park, their Queen Anne house in Sussex. Six months earlier, while staying in Aleppo, Wilfrid and Lady Anne had made a plan to import some of the best Arabian horses to England and breed them there. In Lady Anne's words, "it would be an interesting and useful thing to do and I should like much to try it." July 2 is the 183rd day of the year (184th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 182 days remaining. ... 1878 (MDCCCLXXVIII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... An Arabian mare The Arabian horse first appeared in the Arabian Peninsula at least 2,500 years B.C. They were carefully bred to maintain desirable features (e. ... Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840–1922) was a British poet and writer. ... Anne Isabella (Annabella) Noel Blunt, née King-Noel, 15th Baroness Wentworth (22 September 1837-15 December 1917), known for most of her life as Lady Anne Blunt, was co-founder with her husband the poet Wilfrid Scawen Blunt of the Crabbet Arabian Stud. ... Old Town Aleppo viewed from the Citadel Aleppo is also the name of two townships in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. ...


Travels in Arabia

The Blunts' Arabian journeys are described in their books Bedouin Tribes of the Euphrates and A Pilgrimage to Nejd, based on Lady Anne's journals though heavily edited by Wilfrid. In the winter of 1877/1878 they left Aleppo for what is now Iraq and reached the camps of Faris, a prince of the Anazeh tribe; Ferhan and other Bedouin leaders. Wilfrid became the blood brother of Faris. On a subsequent trip in 1881 he and Lady Anne reached the heart of the Najd in what is now Saudi Arabia. 1877 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... 1878 (MDCCCLXXVIII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... 1881 (MDCCCLXXXI) was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ... Najd or Nejd (Arabic: Naǧd) is a region in central Saudi Arabia and the location of the nations capital, Riyadh. ...

Among the horses the Blunts acquired on these journeys were the bay filly Dajania, purchased on Christmas Day in 1877; a dark bay mare eventually named Queen of Sheba, purchased from the Sheykh of Gomussa and his cousin in the summer of 1878; and a chestnut mare named Rodania. All three have left many descendants. Through their connections among the tribes, the Blunts also heard of a celebrated grey stallion. They sent a trusted friend, Zeyd Saad el Muteyri, to buy him; the horse was named Azrek, and became an influential sire.


As important to Crabbet as the desert Arabians were, the collection of Egyptian leader Abbas I proved an equally valuable source. Abbas Pasha acquired horses from Arabia and Syria; his stock formed the foundation for the stud of Ali Pasha Sherif. The Blunts made their initial visit to Ali Pasha Sherif in 1880 and made their first purchase, of the stallion Mesaoud, in 1889. Lady Anne wrote of him that: "He is four white legged and high up to the knee but surprisingly handsome." Abbas I, Shah of Persia (born 1557, died 1629) Abbas I, Hereditary Wali (Governor) of Egypt (born 1816, died 1854) Abbas I, Invader of Iran of the Mongol Empire This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... 1880 (MDCCCLXXX) was a leap year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... 1889 (MDCCCLXXXIX) was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ...

As he aged, Ali Pasha Sherif's health failed and he encountered financial and political problems, leading to the ruin of his stud. In 1896/1897 Lady Anne inspected what she called the "sad remnants" before they were sold at auction, and was able to procure several of the best horses that remained. Thus, according to breed expert Rosemary Archer, some of today's horses of Crabbet breeding carry a higher proportion of Abbas Pasha blood than many present-day Egyptian Arabians. 1896 (MDCCCXCVI) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... 1897 (MDCCCXCVII) was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ...

Mismanagement under the Blunts

Thanks to these purchases, Crabbet eventually became the center of Arabian horse breeding. Its ascendancy was not, however, unproblematic. The Blunts spent much of their time travelling in Arabia and did not know what was going on in their absence. The pastures were ill-tended, the stables and paddocks never cleaned, stallions shut up without exercise for weeks at a time. Wilfrid Blunt had no experience of horse-breeding and believed that Arabians thrived in "desert conditions" - that is, with little food or shelter provided. Lady Anne disagreed, but her methods were not convincingly demonstrated until 1906. 1906 (MCMVI) was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ...

In that year Wilfrid's lover Dorothy Carleton moved in with Wilfrid, and the Blunts separated. The Stud was divided. Lady Anne signed a Deed of Partition drawn up by Wilfrid. Under its terms, Lady Anne kept Crabbet and half the horses, while Blunt took Caxtons Farm and the rest of the stock. Wilfrid intended to sell off his share at a profit, but his mortgages were called in and he refused to pay. His creditors arranged an auction where the young stock were sold off at disastrous prices. Eleven years later, Blunt handed his greatly reduced share of the stud back to his wife.

Lady Anne died in 1917 and Wilfrid immediately seized her horses and land, including the personal stud of their daughter Judith Anne Dorothea Blunt-Lytton, 16th Baroness Wentworth. Still bitter and anxious to make a profit, Wilfrid sold some horses and shot others, including his daughter's favourite mare. A protacted lawsuit ensued. Eventually the court declared that Wilfrid's seizure of his wife's horses was illegal, and that even the Deed of Partition was invalid, having been signed by Lady Anne "under duress". Lady Wentworth took over the reunited Stud. 1917 (MCMXVII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar (see link for calendar) or a common year starting on Tuesday of the 13-day slower Julian calendar. ...

Crabbet under Lady Wentworth

Lady Wentworth had made an early and unhappy marriage, but the year her mother died, she divorced her husband and took her mother's title, Baroness Wentworth. The Wentworth title, one of the oldest in England, is one of the few that can be passed through the female line. By the time she took over the Stud, Crabbet Park was leased. The Stud itself retained only eight horse boxes, some cowsheds and a few weed-choked pastures. Upon Wilfrid's death in 1922, Lady Wentworth bought Caxtons Farm from his executors. She ruthlessly culled the herd and spent some years carefully breeding and rebuilding the stock. 1922 (MCMXXII) was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ...

Lady Wentworth rejected the "desert conditions" theory as well as a prevailing conviction that Arabians were naturally the size of ponies (that is, under 15 hands high or five feet tall at the shoulder). She bred from the projeny of Rijm, a grandson of Rodania who reached 16.1 hands. Her great contribution to Arabian breeding, however, was her outcross of the Crabbet horses to Skowronek.


The English painter Walter Winans bought Skowronek from Count Josef Potocki's Antoniny Stud. Winans used the stallion as a model for several bronzes, then sold him to another breeder who never even used him at stud, eventually selling him to a dealer. Lady Wentworth bought the horse just as he was about to be sold to America. Unimpressive as a colt, the grey became a spectacular stallion and was named "Horse of the Century". Lady Wentworth bragged that she once received a cable "from the Antipodes" addressed to "Skowronek, England."

Polish breeders were known to cross Arabian stallions (like Skowronek's desert-bred sire Ibrahim) over northern or Thoroughbred mares, and in the General Stud Book Skowronek's pedigree ends with three grandparents. This has left some lingering doubt over whether Skowronek was in fact a purebred (or asil) Arabian, leading to the creation of breeding groups such as Al Khamsa which exclude his descendants. Skowronek's dam, variously known as Yascolka, Yaskolka and Jaskoulka, was indeed Polish bred, but her sire Rymnik and her dam Epopeia, Epopeja or Epopya, both traced to Abbas Pasha horses. Certainly Lady Wentworth was satisfied that Skowronek was asil. The Thoroughbred is a horse breed developed in 18th century England when English mares were bred with imported Arabian stallions to create a distance racer. ... The Asil or Aseel is a breed of cockerel used for cock fighting, originally from India. ...

The outcross of the Crabbet stock with Skowronek was extremely successful, and the resulting animals became known as the "Wentworth superhorse". These were exported to Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Russia and the USA. With another successful outcross, to the chestnut stallion Dargee, the Crabbet Arabian Stud dominated Arabian horse-breeding for another 50 years from Wilfrid's death.

Crabbet under Cecil Covey

Lady Wentworth died on 8 August 1957. She left the Stud to its manager, Geoffrey Covey, but as he predeceased her by a few days it passed to his son Cecil. (The Queen Anne house itself passed to Lady Wentworth's daughter Lady Winifred Tryon, who sold it; today, it is an office block and its royal tennis court has been restored.) August 8 is the 220th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (221st in leap years), with 145 days remaining. ... 1957 (MCMLVII) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Fortunately, Cecil Covey had inherited some other land. Only by selling that was he able to pay the 80% death duties owed on Lady Wentworth's estate and keep the Stud going. He was forced to sell off more than half of the 75 horses in order to make the Stud viable. What followed was the largest single consignment of Arabians ever made from England, to Mrs Bazy Tankersley's Al Marah Stud in the USA. In 1961 Covey sold Sindh to Dora Maclean of Fenwick Stud in Australia. Sindh became one of Australia's most important Arabian sires. 1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ...

For twelve years the stud ran smoothly under Covey, with twenty to thirty horses plus visiting mares; for the first time, the Crabbet sires were open to outside breeders. In early 1970, however, Covey learned that the UK government planned to build a motorway connecting South London with Gatwick Airport and Brighton. The motorway eventually bisected Crabbet Park, and in 1972 Covey reluctantly sold off the last of the Stud.

The legacy of Crabbet

Crabbet bloodlines have fallen out of fashion in today's Arabian horse show rings. The majority of breeders aim at halter horses, shown on a lead line and judged on "extreme type" - exaggerated features such as a dished face, long legs and a high-set tail. The Crabbet horses tend not to demonstrate this extreme type. Their particular virtues - conformation, temperament and performance - show up better under saddle, and particularly in endurance riding. According to Crabbet preservationist breeder Heidi Smith of Sagehill Arabians in Idaho, to this day the overwhelming majority of winners of the Tevis Cup trace their ancestry to horses bred at Crabbet. Endurance riding is an extremely strenuous form of horse racing, requiring the horse to complete, at the top levels, up to 100 miles. ... Rider goes over Cougar Rock on the Tevis Trail The Western States Trail Ride, popularly called The Tevis Cup is a 100 mile endurance horse race. ...

External links

  • The Crabbet Organisation



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