I think that every horse lover, no matter where he comes from, knows a version of „Black Beauty” legend – about the beautiful, majestic, wild black horse of outstanding intelligence and abilities that meets some sensitive young horse-lover. For many such “horse-lovers” this story was the beginning of their “adult” interest in horse breeding – especially of black horses. Though there were horses of various breeds as the “Black Beauty” adaptations heroes, for us – the Arabian lovers its clear that the Black Beauty must have been Arabian as only Arabian horses are so tender, intelligent and brave combining these features with grace and majesty. Arabian horses are also known as the oldest domestic horse breed so the very first Black Beauty must have been Arabian!
The story of Jane Bohn fascination for black horses is nearly as taken from the Black Beauty fairy tale. When she was 16 she bought her first part-Arabian mare that was 3 years old (though not black) and had been running wild for 2 years. Jane brought the mare home and in 3 days was riding her with just a halter. As Jane as her mother were so impressed by beauty and smartness of the horse that they decided to breed Pure bred Arabian horses. The first horses of Ravenwood were not black until 1979 when family Bohn found Straight Egyptian stallion RG Al Mone (d.bay, Alcibiades – RG Anemone by El Hadiyi) at Rafter G Arabians. The stallion sired many blacks from other color mares.
– We found that everyone loved black color combined with the beautiful mind and conformation of these horses so we started paying a little more attention to the color and breeding for some black horses – says Jane. This is how one of the most known black Arabian horses breeding at Ravenwood Ranch (USA) was established.
Black Arabian horses though very original and impressive are rare exception in the breed and they are not always liked as this is quite difficult to judge this color horses on the show ring (where most of beautiful Arabian horses compete at least once in their life). But there are some studs specializing in breeding almost only blacks. Moreover, the fashion for “black pearls” seems to grow up being more and more profitable. This is one of the reasons why they are being bred by Thomas Mayer in Black Smoke Arabians (Germany).
– Arabian horse breeding gives me a lot of fun, not so much work (comparing with dairy cows that Mayer’s family used to raise before) and growing group of new friends as well as enough money to pay for my four family members.
Since the 2007 beginning Black Smoke Arabians sold 12 horses and Thomas thinks it will be a good year for selling horses from his stud. When asked about the future of this prosperity he says: – Good horse always has a market and good black – even better.
The horses of Thomas Mayer, besides their beauty and nice color are good performers. Thomas’ wife – Birke, that used to train dressage runs the horse-riding school attended by 60 (!) young people. So there is a big need for riding horses at Black Smoke and almost every Pure bred horse is used for riding lessons there – even the mares in foals used to be ridden until few weeks before weanling.
Black Smoke Arabians is known not only by black Arabian horse lovers. In 1993, just after three years of competing in Arabian horse shows and 6 from the date of first Arabian broodmare purchase the yearling black colt owned by Thomas Mayer won the titles of All Nations Cup and European Champion. Two years later as 3 years old he added the 1995 Junior World Champion title to this collection. This black beauty youngster was Pure-Polish Taladinn (DWD Tabasco – Winnetka by Aladdinn). He was sold to Saudi Arabia in 1997 when he sired the outstanding progeny as Ala Adein – National Junior Res. Champion of Saudi Arabia. It is worth to say that also a stallion bred by PAJB-Arabians (Denmark), Wadim Ibn Sharkassow by Sharkassow (bred by Peter Claussen, Germany) and out of Walewska (El Mokari – Warissa), a mare bred by PAJB-Arabians – was sold to Saudi Arabia from Black Smoke Arabians and won the title of „Most Classic Head” in Qatar,.
In Europe there were about 40 Taladinn offspring left, 7 of them in Black Smoke. Almost half of this 40 was used in breeding – as BS Beethoven (out of Aldara by Probat) – the sire of typey, mostly dark bay progeny including some outstandingly beautiful broodmares that would be admired by many kuhailan type lovers, as well as, inbred to the sire of merit – Aladdinn, BS Ddiabolo (out of Ddinerka by Aladdinn), that won the class at Wels International A show. Well built and great mover – Ddiabolo established nice group of broodmares at Black Smoke, such as Polish x Egyptian blood BS Ddaramina (out of Aramina by Menes) or very elegant, with outstanding movement granddaughter of the stud founder DP Black Smoke – BS Ddeborah (out of DP Black Sinder by DP Black Smoke). BS Ddiabolo, as well as his father – Taladinn were successfully proven as both sex progeny sires. Taladinn left the number of typey daughters of interesting pedigrees at Black Smoke – as BS Love Theme (out of Bask granddaughter – Love on Fade by Bey Ofir) and BS Muscadeena (out of Persuade Me by Muscat) or dark bay BS Johana (out of Mumtaz Begum by Persimmon) – absolutely correct, great moving, dry and with big dark eye mare – resembling the daughters of meritorious Janów Podlaski’s mare Algeria. BS Johana was, as her peer – Ddiabolo, the Wels show class winner. BS Ddiabolo, promotes the black Arabian horse breeding in Poland through his son – Sortis (out of Silvatica by Fawor) bred by Silvatica Black Arabians of family Napióra.
– Our first mare, Silvatica (Fawor – Sawina by Wagram) we purchased from our friend – Mr. Bogusław Dąbrowski. The problem was in finding a good stallion for her. After long looking through the lists of world champions I found Taladinn, that I wanted to mate with Silvatica – says Marta Napióra. – Unfortunately the stallion was already sold to Saudi Arabia but he left some titled progeny, with BS Ddiabolo amongst of them. And this is how our first black foal – Sortis was born.
Sortis followed in his sire’s footsteps starting at Wels Internationals being placed 5th and since May 2007 he started the endurance career.
The black World Champion Stallion Taladinn has the direct progeny in Poland as well – in autumn 2003 Silvatica Black Arabians purchased Taladinn’s son – black BS Black Fable (out of BS Black Fantasy by El Bahia Deamant) of Polish x Egyptian x US pedigree. Black Fable bred by Thomas Mayer, was also proven as performance horse taking part in endurance (placed 1., 2., 4.and 9.), and in 2005 the first Black Fable’s foals were born.
At Silvatica Black Arabians – the only Arabian horse stud specializing in blacks in Poland, so far there is also a progeny of Straight Egyptian Al Hakim (Muhajjal – The Vision by Thee Desperado) – this stallion is one of the latest breeding “discoveries” of his breeder – Thomas Mayer. Through his dam – The Vision HG, Al Hakim is half-brother to such famous stars as Al Lahab and Al Maraam. Sire’s side of the pedigrees of this three is also very similar as there is famous SE stallion Imperial Imdal as a sire or grandsire in all.
There are two Al Hakim daughters of Al Hakim at Silvatica Black Arabians – BS Black Hakima (out of mentioned Love on Fade by Bey Ofir) and BS Moulin Rouge (out of Watseka by Triton).
As the last black import the US bred Ravenwood Nejma (Ravenwood Sihr – Ravenwood Masha) joined Silvatica’s herd. The mare is strongly inbred to RG Al Mone – the Jane Bohn’s horse of dreams.
Asked about the reason of black specialization Marta Napióra replies:
– Beautiful pure bred horses of this color are very rare in Poland so this breeding was some kind of challenge for us. I think that the main problem in this specialization is the limit of good black stallions. It’s very hard to breed good Arabian horse, and black even harder. Horses of this color are very rare on show rings. At Silvatica Black Arabians the horses are not only black but we are also looking for horses with good show career.
The challenge is also a reason why Thomas Mayer breeds black Arabian horses though his point of view on searching for horses is different:
– I don’t care for the pedigrees now though no longer than 10 years ago I used to know them all by heart. Now I look for a horse – his conformation, attitudes, character and this undefined “something”. The horse can be beautiful and giving good progeny but if there is no this “thing” I wouldn’t keep him – he says. – Of course you can do the DNA-test to check if a stallion is homozygous (siring only black foals) but I event don’t look at the pedigrees to find blacks there. For me it’s not a problem if a foal is non-black if it’s good – continues Thomas. – Even the mares that used to give only black progeny give birth to non-black foals every 3-4 years.
When we were talking, standing at huge Black Smoke barn there were few of them playing happily amongst the broodmares. Thomas Mayer doesn’t follow the fashion for extremely dishy heads as well. He established a group of Straight Egyptian horses’ breeding at Black Smoke (most of them are grey) but – as he says – he did it for fun and because there is a need for these horses and it’s easy to sell them. Al Hakim, widely used at Black Smoke Arabians gives dishy heads so Thomas Mayer supposes that in few years all of his horses will have this head profile but he prefers more straight profile but smaller and dry heads than dishy that are usually bigger and more heavy ones. Besides, many of Black Smoke mares resembles famous Polish kuhailan type mares – and there is a reason of it. When Thomas was establishing his stud he was looking not only for black horses but also for these representing old Polish bloodlines especially of Witeź II and Bask widely used in Northern America. The Bask son, full brother to the famous Negatraz – Biquest still grazes the pastures at Black Smoke being 32 years old! This is why Northern America was one of the first countries where Thomas was looking for his foundation horses (as DP Black Smoke from Dragon Place, Canada). It’s interesting that Jane Bohn also mentioned Witeź II line as well-earned in black Arabian horses breeding. There was Witeź II’ son – Tezito (out of Jubilita) purchased from Betts Circle Two as one of foundation horses of blacks breeding at her Ravenwood Ranch. In fact there were very few greys amongst the registered progeny of Witeź II as in Poland as after the second world’s war in US.
In Poland such stallions as Fawor, Arbil and Wachlarz are known for passing the dark coat color. All of them are, as Witeź II, Ofir’s descendants through his sons – Wielki Szlem or Witraż, but looking for some predispositions of black coat inheritance in this blood line would be risky as these stallions sired a lot of grey progeny as well.
In Jane Bohn’s opinion the black Arabians breeding is not limited to any one specific line, breeder or country. She says that breeding good horses requires an eye for a good horse. Thomas Mayer agrees and adds that though black Arabian horses are not different type of Arabian breed and selection for black color doesn’t disturb in keeping the other desired features of Arabian horse but judging black Arabian horses needs a lot of practice as dark, large eye, head profile or body shapes are much more hardly seen with black coat color. Thomas says that this practice took him nearly 20 years. But when you got it you can look for success – my conversational partners had already made it out and proven that their black Arabians can compete not only amongst their color but with the rest of breed. Besides World Champion Taladinn, Thomas Mayer’s horses won the titles of All Nations Cup and European Liberty champions titles, European championships in riding, 15 national and international shows champion titles and about 60 performance class winners. The horses that Jane Bohn bred won too numerous titles to mention all but she gives some most important: Reserve National Champion Jumper, Canadian National Champion Hunter and Reserve National Champion Hunter Pleasure (Ravenwood Hairoay), Western Pleasure Champion Egyptian Event (Ravenwood Majestic). Silvatica Black Arabians in Poland is, in its owners opinion, still getting the experience but the owners are proud of 5th place at Wels Internationals taken by Sortis and this year they are looking forward to show yearling colt Rascal (BS Black Fable – Ravenwood Nejma).
All the breeders I was talking to believe that the breeding of beautiful black Arabians it’s not a short-period fascination but has a great future as there are always people searching for the illusive black color combined with beauty and athletic abilities of Arabian horse. Thomas Mayer thinks that Polish Arabian horse breeders should focus on breeding blacks:
– We all know that the best broodmares and most spectacular show successes will be dominated by Polish State Studs for long – this is why, in my opinion, Polish private breeders that want to be successful in the world arena should not follow the fashion but create the fashion for a horse that State Studs wouldn’t specialize in – and it could be black Arabian horses breeding. I’m sure that there would be a big interest in good Polish-bred blacks in the world.
The similar though more universal message for Polish Arabian horse breeders has the experienced breeder Jane Bohn who said: – Breed a good horse, but do not always follow the fads.