By Eugenie M. McGuire
** Originally published in the January February March 1995 Stallion Issue of The Crabbet Influence magazine.
We were unable to attend the Crabbet Convention held in 1983 so we eagerly received news of the two Crabbet gatherings organized for 1994. With a bit of planning my husband and I arranged to attend the Northwest CMK Symposium on August 26-28, 1994 in Albany, Oregon. The following are my personal impressions as I write this two months after attending the event. While I may mention specific people and horses please don’t feel offended if I have left you or your animals out. There were so many friendly people and good horses that it would be impossible to list them all. A program was produced and is available for sale (from Silver Monarch Publishing). It listed many of the horses and will be an important resource for future researchers.
The CMK Symposium was organized into morning historical sessions and presentation of horses by bloodline groups with clinics and a second showing of horses in the afternoon. There was ample time to visit and meet people and view the horses. An evening bar-b-que and an ice cream social completed the formal festivities. My husband and I arrived in Oregon Thursday August 25th. I was very excited and eagerly looked forward to seeing the horses and meeting people I had corresponded with over the years.
I ran into a small group talking outside the motel room and we all ended up going out for dinner. I knew the weekend was going to be fun when such complete strangers were welcoming and friendly. Curiously enough at dinner I finally met Suzi Morris, with whom I had spoken on the phone. Funny that we who live only a short drive away, had to travel to Oregon to finally meet in person. This was only the first of what was going to be an entire weekend of meeting old friends and making new ones.
The morning historical presentations were invaluable. Seeing the pictures of the old horses and hearing experts like Michael Bowling, R.J. Cadranell, Rick Synowski and Charles Craver among others discuss the animals was enlightening. Rosemary Archer was kind and gracious and I loved her comments on the difference between U.S. and English breeders. My only regret was that we did not think to videotape the lecture from the first day. I do wish there was some way to preserve all those old photos in more permanent form. They are an important resource and reference for CMK breeders. I’d love to have my own set of the slides that were shown.
Each lecture and slide show was followed by horse presentations showing current examples of those bloodlines. As each horse was presented the committee provided comments on the animal, the background and the bloodline group. This comparison between the historical animals of the past and the current descendants was an important and valuable part of the CMK Symposium. I know I was able to verify and clarify points in my own mind about bloodline groups when I saw them in the flesh with the background of where they came from in mind.
The horse presentations were very good. I was personally encouraged to see many animals presented in a natural fashion, without shaved or oiled faces and allowed to hold their necks in a relaxed and comfortable manner. Certainly the beauty of these horses is not improved by making them stretch and strain to meet some odd idea of fashion. Horses were shown in a manner that allowed us to see their good points. Flaws were not hidden but discussed in terms that point out the benefits of looking at the whole horse, pedigree, conformation, disposition and temperament before deciding whom to breed and whom to cull. I particularly noted certain characteristics that carried down strongly from the ancestors pictured in the morning.
Here are a few of my favorites among the horses that were presented. Gulastras Splash was a playful horse and I found myself marveling at how similar some of his behaviors are to my own stallion RS Farwasabi. The huge grey *Magic Domino is the largest purebred Arabian I have seen who maintained good conformation and working type. So many larger Arabians often lose type and he was a real treat. Seratif was special as a *Serafix son. Beniciah reminded me of own Lutaf descendant. Fire Dragon and Rifh were horses I was especially anxious to see. Another horse I was most interested in was Benraz Dazzler. Magics Valentine was calm and well presented. I liked seeing the older horses Aly Binis and El Gazi. I was also interested in Ibn Farlane and Canadian Salute since we have some of those same bloodlines. I had never had the opportunity to see any Straight Davenport horses and yet Homer Davenport’s story was one of my first introductions to the Arabian. To finally see some of the descendants of his horses was thrilling. There were lots of wonderful horses and I wish I could remember them all. I must make time to go back over my video and still photos and document all the animals that were there.
Although I did not attend all the clinics I did enjoy the dressage presentation by Paula Siebert, the endurance presentation by Dr. Heidi Smith and Robbie Pruitt and the racing presentation with Marjorie Van Gilder. Since we are currently conditioning for competitive trail and training some of our animals in dressage, those topics were of great interest to us. Racing is closely related to distance riding and I welcomed the chance to discuss racing with breeders who are already in that field.
The CMK Symposium was not just horses. People too, from Rosemary Archer from England to people from Canada and all over the United States. I was thrilled to finally meet Georgia Cheer in person. I feel like we have become friends but never had actually met her until this time. Finally talking with Michael and Ann Bowling was another high point of my trip. We have had an ongoing correspondence for several years but never managed to meet. I was able to spend a lot of time visiting with my mentors and friends Neal and Marjorie McKinstry. Since they are the main reason I have Arabians, sharing this time with them was particularly special. Other people that I enjoyed talking with included R.J. Cadranell, Charles Craver, Sable Golden, Robbie Pruitt, Rick Synowski and Deborah Young. I met so many new friends that it’s impossible to name them all. I know that I am frequently lax in my writing but look forward to keeping in touch with these folks as we move on.
I must say that I will always cherish the memory of the gracious Rosemary Archer. She kindly looked at my animals and offered comments on them and their breeding. Her willingness to spend time with anyone who asked was a real treat. I was fortunate enough to accompany Rosemary as she viewed one of the particular groups of horses. As I listened to what she saw in the animals before us my own eyes were opened a bit more. Thank you Rosemary, I will always appreciate it.
When we have attended shows and Arabian events recently it is always with a background of competition. Breeders, riders and handlers rarely talk with one another and the pressure to perform tends to dampen friendly conversations. The people who attended the symposium were uniformly friendly. As a breeder we had several people who came to us asking for information who had been referred by someone else. Conversely we referred people on to other breeders that might have suitable animals. I really enjoyed this sense of camaraderie and caring.
We might all be competitors for stud fees and buyers for our young stock but by and large breeders worked to overcome that feeling and work together for the good of the breed. The CMK Arabian is a small gene pool and unless we all work together it will disappear into the morass of mixed strain breeding of people following the current fads in the show ring. We need to help each other. If you don’t have the right animal for a buyer send them on to someone who might. If a particular mare doesn’t look like she will be a good match for your stallion, offer some other options or send them to a related stallion who might be more suitable. If we all do this we can improve the standing of our favorite bloodlines and each the other stay in business. In the long run if we are not successful we will cease to exist and the Arabian breed needs us.
I would encourage breeders in other areas to look at what has been done in 1994 and think about hosting your own local Crabbet related celebration. Waiting 11 years before we all get together is too long. We who have chosen to share our life with these lovely horses hold a treasure beyond compare. Our stewardship will be judged in the years to come. Let’s all work together to make the Crabbet related Arabian synonymous with what it means to be an Arabian. I look forward to continuing to meet and learn from each of you.
**All of the articles included in the re-launched Crabbet.com site from the original website, Georgia Cheer, Silver Monarch Publishing and The Crabbet Influence magazine are shared here with permission of Georgia Cheer given May 16, 2012.**