Arabian Strains

The original Bedouin breeders named their horses from the mare, did they recognize what modern science has now informed us, because the mare carried more of the breed ‘s traits. These strain names were originally based on color, place of birth, tribe, masculine/feminine characteristics, other traits and owners names. From these early breeders we now trace a few distinct strains or types of Arab characteristics. A survey of the subject was included in “Kissing the Frog Prince,” by Charles Craver in Arabian Visions, May and June issues of 1989. He wrote:

“Proposition 1: The horses bred by the Bedouins of Arabia could be classified as belonging to three major strain groups:

1) the Kuhaylan group: “Strength-type: masculine, muscular, wide across back, croup, chest, neck, forehead, and broad across forearm and gaskins. Even the mares are muscular-masculine;

2) the Saqlawi group, tending to have high neck and tail carriage: “Beauty-type: feminine, elegant, fine boned, extremely handsome. The Parade and Show Type. Even the stallions are extremely beautiful-feminine,”

3) the Mu’niqi group [this seems to be the Abbeyan strain in the Forbis scheme below], “the Angular-Race-type: with long lines (long back, long neck, long legs, and long, narrow head), also taller than the ‘Classic’-type-Arabian and also coarser (often ugly in appearance and in temperament).” (Strain descriptions from C.R. Rawson: The Arab and His Horse, page 28.) “

The pyramid society, an organization dedicated to maintaining the rarest arab classification of the straight Egyptian bloodlines, recognizes 17 dam lines (or strains branching from a core of 6 early strains). As Arab breeding has spread to non-arab countries this practice has been supplemented with the more common thoroughbred and other breed practice of watching the sire lines. Many breeders today are breeding for specific characteristics rather than staying with a strain pool as the Bedouin seem to do, yet as C.R. Raswan pointed out this is a form of strain or trait breeding. Charles Craver quotes C.R. Raswan saying ”As Arabian strains have developed in complex modern pedigrees, the actual tail-female strain of an Arabian horse seldom indicates the predominant strain in its pedigree.” Instead he calculates the percentage of strains in the pedigree to arrive at the predominant strain.

The pyramid society recognizes four prominent sire lines as well as the dam lines in accordance with modern practices. They are: Zobeyni, Jamil El Kebir, Saklawi and El Deree. These stallion lines all originate from the Saqlawi Jidran strain but have somewhat different characteristic due to the mixing of the strains that is not captured in the tail mare strain naming practice.

Christie Metz in her articles for Oasis magazine uses 6 popular base strains to classify straight Egyptian progeny. She presents the classification based on a revised masculine/feminine characteristic chart originally developed by Judith Forbis which is as follows (from most masculine to most feminine characteristic applied to both sexes):

1)Kuhuylan (original Arabian horse often black but can be grey, strong and big boned),

2)Dahman (meaning black combining the eloquence of Saqlawi and the strength of Kuhuylan reputedly the horses of King Solomon),

3)Saqlawi (meaning kick describing the jubilant kicking behavior of the original mare having feminine beauty and elegance and usually lighter than Kuhuylan),

4)Dahman-Shahwan (a cross of Kuhuylan and Saqlawi strains),

5)Hadban Enzahi (great elegance, endurance and strength an ideal blend for calvary and race horses according to Metz) and

6)Abbeyan (more feminine with fine features and longer back and good movement).

The Zaid-Mon Straight Egyptian Stud

The Zaid-Mon stud has its origins in the pioneering work of the great Welsh breeder Don Wetton who sold Saabana, Badeia and Sraab the daughters of the great Egyptian born world champion Saab and the great endurance horse sire Shams El Farin (the sire of Charlendre El Sharif three time winner of the Dubai President’s Cup) to Judith and Brian Owen. The Owen’s brought their stud from Spain to South Africa in the 90’s and provided valuable new quality Straight Egyptian bloodlines into the South African breeding pool.

The Owen’s stud lives on in the many Owens bred or related foundation mares of the Zaid-Mon stud including: Badeia (since passed), Farhida, Azeda, Tahir, Kamlah, Ziyadah, Joni Tahir and Tahara. With one of the largest collections of the Straight Egyptian progeny of Shams El Farin and Saabana and her sister Badeia the Zaid-Mon stud is continuing the traditions of the Owens Arabians Stud line breeding straight Egyptian Arabians that preserve the valuable bloodlines and characteristics of the traditional look and strength of the breed and the fantastic bloodlines that they brought to SA.

We have added new blood to introduce some of the beauty of Shazzam, a stunningly beautiful and elegant stallion (since passed) that comes from the rarer (in SA) Ansata and AK backgrounds. We have also mixed Nafis a gift of Israel to Princess Alia of Jordan who is a tall and majestic stallion; Shari-Silic Pasha; Omar El Shaker; Rechar Baleegh who adds Taymour and Amrulla bloodlines; and Sahiby Sheikh El Arab a major sire of SA endurance horses.

The Strains and Sire Lines

The foundation mares of the Zaid-Mon stud are all of the Saglawi strain, yet they tend to be stronger and big boned more characteristic of the Kuhuylan strain. If we look at some of the strains from the sires and the other female lines (a short list that is not complete) we find the following strains represented:







Roga El Beda



Note: the indented strains are the substrains of the base strain listed as flagged by the Pyramid society.

The resulting horses have proven themselves in the show ring as the best examples of Arabain horses in South Africa (Badeia) and as excellent endurance horses (Charlendre El Sharif who has won the president’s cup in Dubai 3 years in a row and other prestigious endurance races is half Brother and Uncle to many of our foundation mares and Joni Tahir who has performed well in SA).

Our main stallions: Zameel (son of Badeia), Taalib and our other stallions all come from the prolific Saklawi sire line and introduce blood from the following important breed pools: Ansata, AK, Farag, Shari-Silic Pasha, Omar El shaker, Arabest Kalid and others.

Perhaps in a future article we will examine the strain percentages in more detail.

Jim Montrose

Zaid-Mon Stud at the Red Roan Ranch


July 2012

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From the N2 (Cape Town towards George) Take the first Swellendam exit (left). This is the R60. Proceed (1km+) through the 4 way stop and continue approximately 2-3 km and look for a sign for the Hermitage. Make a hard right (270 degrees). After the turn continue about 200 meters and turn left at first road (dirt). Proceed 300 meters and turn left into Red Roan Ranch and go to bottom of hill (the main house).

(Coming from George to Cape Town) Take the third exit (R60) right. Proceed (1km+) through the 4 way stop and continue approximately 2-3 km and look for a sign for the Hermitage. Make a hard right (270 degrees). After the turn continue about 200 meters and turn left at first road (dirt).  Proceed 300 meters and turn left into Red Roan Ranch and go to bottom of hill (the main house).

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