FASHION VERSUS “USING ABILITY”
By the remarkable generosity of her owner and breeder who sent in the photo (A), we are permitted to present a 6-year-old Arabian mare with conformation that is not only dangerous to the ongoing viability of the Arabian breed, but unfortunately increasingly popular. Highly inbred and selected for what is now commonly called “type”—long neck, pretty head, high tail “set”—her owner reports that she has used the mare to produce show horses even though she is aware that the animal’s usefulness is limited under saddle due to the long, weak back and lack of bone substance below the knees. An almost exclusive emphasis on long necks topped by “dished” and “refined” heads has likewise, especially in the last three decades, resulted in championships being conferred upon horses with noticeably crooked forelimbs or long, weak backs—pretty “pasture ornaments” unsuited to any real work. By contrast, the old photos show Arabian horses being used on Western range under climatic and work conditions closely resembling those found in the breed’s Asian homeland. Here are two examples: Harara (B), with an unknown cowhand up (born 1912; entirely Davenport-bred, Harara is by *Deyr out of *Haffiah), and Rifage (C), with W. L. Van Vleet up (born 1936; Rifage is by *Mirage out of *Rifala, she a descendant of Skowronek, *Berk and Mesaoud).