Roman Pankiewicz, breeder of the famous Bask (Witraż – Bałałajka/Amurath Sahib) born in Albigowa Stud in 1956, passed away yesterday in Poznań. He was 92 years old.
A descendant of the Borderlands, born near Grodno, Roman Pankiewicz was deported with his mother to Siberia in his early childhood (at the beginning of World War II). “The first exile-transport to Russia was in February, the second in April of 1940”, he told polskiearaby.pl in an interview. “My mom was able to flee, through the back doors, barefoot, while my uncle treated the Russians to a vodka… We wanted to get through to the German side. But we were scooped up from the train and deported to Siberia. There we spent 6 years; first I worked in the taiga at clearing the forest, though I was just 16 years old. (…) We headed off to a sovkhoz [a state-owned agricultural farm in Soviet Russia], which was later turned into a konzawod – a stud. There I did literally everything, I drove a tractor, a combine (harvester), I worked in a mine and in a barn”.
After returning to Poland Roman Pankiewicz graduated from the Agricultural High School in Poznań and Szamotuły.
He was not only a hands-on expert (he first worked at Racot, later in the 50s at Albigowa, then at Michałów in the 60s and finally at Bogusławice), but also a promoter and theorist of breeding, an author of a great number of articles dedicated to Arabian horses, as well as seven books, including “Polish Arabian horse breeding 1918-1939” and “Register of Polish Arabian purebred stallions” (two volumes: 1944-1983 and 1983-1993), which are a priceless source of knowledge on the history of Polish Arabian horses.
He was also one of the founders of the Polish Arabian Horse Breeders Society, established in 1991 by the pioneers of modern private Arabian horse breeding.
He denied when called the breeder of Bask. He claimed that the breeder was God himself. “Should such a feat be possible to be achieved by people, then there would be ten such Basks walking around. And where do you have a second one?” he said. But it was him who gave Bask his name. “I always tried to give horses short, nice names, easy to translate – because their export had already begun in those times. And Bask [in Polish] is a courageous inhabitant of the Basque Country in Spain. One of my friends who traveled a lot told me that the Basques are hard-working people. And so the horse became Bask”.
“It would seem that a man that bred horses which scored spectacular success (…) could be inaccessible, proud, even smug”, wrote the publisher of the “Polish Arabian horse breeding 1918-1939” Petroniusz Frejlich on the book’s dust cover. “No, that cannot be said about Roman (…) always humble, kind-hearted and friendly”. In the book’s foreword Adam Nałęcz-Sosnowski added: “I must emphasize that it is of invaluable worth, not only for us today, but for many subsequent generations of future Arabian horse breeders. And that’s exactly what the readers should thank the Author for”.
Read our interview with Roman Pankiewicz – There’s no recipe for breeding
Read the article by Roman Pankiewicz – Babolnian mares and their influence on modern Polish breeding