By Georgia Cheer
Diana Whittome does not breed pure Crabbet; instead her lines are predominantly Crabbet/Old English, with a dash of Polish, Egyptian or Russian. Her emphasis is to breed performance horses and she has done this exceedingly well. Diana is also a show judge, plus she holds several committee positions on the Arab Horse Society council. She writes articles for the AHS News and other publications and is delightfully entertaining and extremely knowledgeable on pedigrees.
In a letter that Diana wrote to me, she said: "My foundation mare was TARANTELLA (Indian King x Dancing Sunlight, one of the 'Heavenly Twins,' sired by Dargee) who I bought from her breeders, Ronald and Rachael Kydd, as a yearling in 1966. She was the most lovely mare and was Broodmare Champion at the Arab Horse Society Show in 1971. All stock now at the stud, with the exception of IMAD, the yearling colt, SILVERN PRINCE (by Binley Arabian Stud's Prince Sadik out of Silvern Image) and the 3 year old filly, SNOW DOVE (whose dam Faery Dancer was lent to me) descend from her. The other important mare (line) was GOLD ROSEIRIES (Gold Rex x Bint Roxana, double Irex), who was purchased in 1979 specifically to breed to Tarantella's grandson, Firesong (Banat x Fanfara). She had the most exquisite head and we still have her beautiful bay daughter DANSE DE FEU."
Diana continues; "Three of Tarantella's ten daughters were retained: FANFARA (by Indian Magic), CARILLION (by King Cotton Gold) and SARAFINA (by Rodanieh Silver Sarafan, a Silver Flame son out of the Russian mare NAHODKA). None have been particularly generous in the production of fillies; in fact Fanfara and Sarafina have had one apiece. However, all have produced stock which have won in the show ring at the highest level, both in hand and under saddle."
Tarantella's influence has been remarkably dominant. Diana tells me she was a brilliant moving mare and from her photos it appears Tarantella had a beautiful head with a compact body showing good substance. She was a deep liver chestnut color the qualities of this mare can be found several generations away proving her strong influence.
Stallions Offered At Stud
Diana's stallion IMAD (Golden Cavalier x Ivory Wings) was bought as a foal in 1985 from his breeder - Jane Kadri of Al-Waha Arabians. Diana writes, "He has exceeded my highest expectations, as he is not only a good horse himself, but also an outstanding performer. The icing on the cake is that he is also a very good sire. His offspring perform well under saddle, as well as in hand and are now appearing on the endurance scene as well."
Imad won British National Supreme Overall Ridden Championship at Malvern, in July 2000, ridden by Jane Harries. Diana showed me the trophy of two ceremonial Arab stirrups awarded the National Champion. But wait, Imad's year was not yet over. One would think he could not top this accomplishment, but he has! In October of 2000, he went to the prestigious Horse of the Year Show (H.O.Y.S.) and became 'Ridden Arab of the Year' in front of a packed evening crowd of horse enthusiasts.
My Visit at Coed-Y-Foel Arabians
As I drove through Wales I admired the beautiful hilly countryside, much of it forested. It reminded me of my own home near Battle Ground, in southwest Washington State (USA), which is also very hilly and treed.
When I arrived at Coed-y-foel and parked into the u-shaped yard Diana was inside entertaining two guests. Seated in her cozy warm kitchen was John Blundell of Porthcawl, Wales, who owns the grey Imad son, ARIOSTO (x an Ahmoun daughter) whom Diana has on loan. Also there was his friend from New Zealand, Cheryl Dean, who had just completed a year's employment on a large Thoroughbred breeding farm in Ireland.
Outside, Jane's husband Peter Harries, informally presented the horses, each turned loose (or sometimes ridden bareback with halter by Peter) in a very large outdoor arena with man-made arena footing of a grey PVC material that I had never seen before.
First, turned out together were the yearling filly LA CASCADA (x Carillion) and the two-year-old gelding, SARANZO (x Sarafina), both sired by Imad. I immediately noticed that both horses had lovely heads and necks, good strong backs and lovely movement.
Next we saw the 7 year old Imad son, ARIOSTO, who is very similar in looks to his sire, possesses a nice nature. and is about 14.3 hands.
We then viewed CANZONETTA (Imad x Carillion), an 11 year old beautiful chestnut mare in foal to ARIOSTO. As she was in foal she moved gracefully, but without extraordinary effort. She has a beautiful head, and strong well-built body. I note that the Imad get all possess well put-together, athletic bodies with lots of substance.
At last IMAD was brought out of his stall. This stallion is good tempered, and the epitome of well mannered. He was made to stand up for us, then turned loose and even ridden bareback with a halter rope by Peter Harries. He is a substantial stallion, one that is 'square in all four corners' (balanced). He has a pleasing head with a slight dish, and broad forehead, with deep jowl, and large eyes. He is smooth over the topline with a good short back and strong loin. He has wonderful strong straight legs with good bone.
The following day Jane and Peter brought over another Imad son that they are training - SILENT STORM. He is out Starlite Rose (Stardom x Heaven Sent) who is a great-granddaughter of El Shaklan. You could see the El Shaklan influence in his pretty head and lighter frame. He is quite a beautiful stallion and a lovely shimmery shade of liver chestnut.
Later we traversed muddy pastures to view several younger stock and the mature broodmares. The mature mares were fat and sassy, and because of the slippery wet footing, we did not attempt to make them run around. The 1984 mare DANSE DE FEU (Firesong x Gold Roseiries) is a deep bay with a typy head and powerful rear end (pictured at the top of page as the article/header photo). With her in the pastures is the 1994 mare ILLARIA, a pretty liver chestnut by Imad x Extravaganza (Argos x Tarantella).
There were several horses I did not see because they were out for breeding or on lease. These are FIESTA MAGICA by Dargee Star (Indian Star x Dalika) x Fanfara (Indian Magic x Tarantella) and IMADIA (Imad x Danse de Feu) both were away being bred to the Ben Rabba son Aurelian. Both have settled and are due in June. Diana is hoping for fillies, as Aurelian has a high filly ratio and Diana has had more than her fair share of colt foals. I also did not see SARAFIAH (Imad x Sarafina) who was out on lease. She is a 1993 full sibling to the above gelding SARANZO.
Thoughts of Imad
My thoughts turned again to the newly crowned British National Supreme Overall Ridden Champion IMAD. This stallion has achieved a remarkable consistent career under saddle and has now been retired from the performance ring as of the end of last year. At home, he is ridden up and down the steep Welsh hills, often working cattle on the Coed-y-foel farm, or regularly used as a shepherding 'pony.' He is now going well in dressage with Jane Harries riding him. What a lovely life he has at Coed-y-foel, which so many stallions would surely envy.
Diana says "I will continue to breed straight Crabbet/Old English horses while it still remains possible to breed top class individuals from these lines. Due to current trends in the in-hand show ring of which I disapprove, my main interest now lies in the production of horses under saddle and this ties in with the belief that I have always held, which is that the Arab should be a beautiful horse which can also perform."
Diana's long established breeding program beginning with the top quality mare Tarantella and finely crafted through the years by Diana's keen study of pedigrees, and conformation, have proven that greatness can be bred and Crabbet breeders are still doing great things. IMAD is testament to this.
Ceredigion, Wales SA44 4LS
**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.**
Last Updated: April 7th, 2019