Following the Footsteps of Mary’s Legacy

Mary Gharagozlou, the “Grand Dame” of Persian Arabians, died 15 years ago. It was then, that I was in Iran for the first time. Now it was time to find out, if her legacy, the Iranian Asil Arabians, has survived.

Unfortunately, I was a couple of days too late on my first trip to Iran to meet Mary Gharagozlou in person, but it can be felt until today, that she was a very special woman. The Asil Arabians of Khouzestan were her passion, her purpose in life and she was the driving force behind the recognition of these horses by WAHO.

A Future without Mary?

When Mary died in September 2001, there was a big question mark over the future of the Iranian (or Persian) Asil Arabian horses. Without her energy and knowledge, would this population survive unaltered, pure and genuine? To find an answer, I arranged for a trip to Khuzestan with the help of my German-Iranian friend Katharina Gottstein-Ghalavand and her daughter Katajoun Ghalavand and husband Shahab. Together, we travelled for three days, visiting about 15 breeders and inspected just over 80 horses. Add those of Katharinas extended family, it makes about 90 in total. This gave me a glimpse of the arduous work, Mary Gharagozlou had undertaken, to inspect all the horses that were registered in the first two studbooks (1652 of which 1066 were Iranian Asils), more even, she took notes of their markings, blood samples, branded the horses and established their history and parentage by talking to breeders and owners. And all this took place in the 1970es, when Khuzestan was not yet fully “developed” with roads and all. Many places were only accessible on horseback, even camel. Our trip also showed me, that breeders don’t have big numbers of horses – a breeder with five mares is already considered a big one.

The rest of this article is only visible to Online Subscribers.

Please log-in, if you are already an Online-Subscriber: Login-Page

Please go to the Shop, if you want to become an Online-Subscriber: Shop-page

The one-year Online Subscription is available at 20 €