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January 21, 2019     
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Arabian Horses in the United States and Their Origin

by General J.M. Dickinson

Reprinted by permission of his daughter Margaret D. Fleming

Part 5 - Families

Arab horsemen are supposed to have held their mares in higher esteem than the stallions and have given them major importance in such pedigrees as they have kept. Thus today an Arabian horse is said to belong to the family or strain from which its mother sprang.

The term "Kehilan," as used in its broader sense, is practically the Arabic equivalent for "pure-bred," and is understood as a prefix to the names of best recognized strains. There are five choice families known as Al Khamsa ("the five") i.e., 1. Kehilan (used here in a restricted sense); 2. Seglawi; 3. Abeyan; 4. Hamdani; 5. Hadban. These are main families and commonly further identified among Arab and other breeders, by adding strain names as well, i.e., Kehilan Ajuz; Seglawi Jedran; Abeyan Sherrak; Hamdani Simri; Hadban Enzehi, etc. Other less popular families also have their strain names, i.e., Maneghi Hedruj, etc.

While there was good reason for preserving family names in Arabia where no written pedigrees were kept and where there was no other practicable means of assuring pure breeding, adherence to such a custom in the United States would be more and more misleading as time goes on. In the Occident it has been impossible to assemble sufficient horses of all the various families to breed strictly to strain. Practically all Arab horses of American and European studs represent the crossing of blood of different families and strains. In recognition of this fact leading European studs long ago abandoned Arab horse family names except to describe original imported horses. The Arabian Horse Club of America adopted this procedure in 1941.



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