The Noble Steeds of the Counts

Anyone who thinks of Polish Arab breeding today primarily thinks of the state stud farms. But in Poland before the First World War it was the private studs that were the pillars of breeding.

The Arabian horse was already mentioned in 1570 by A. Mycinski, the stable master of King Sigismund II Augustus. But even if the king had Arabian stallions in his stables, this says nothing about the breeding of Arabian horses. However, the distinction made between “Arabian horses” and “Turkish” and “Persian” horses and other Eastern breeds is remarkable, which was not a matter of course at that time.
At that time, Poland waged numerous wars with the Tartars and Turks on its south-eastern borders. In this way, oriental horses came into the country, and the Poles recognized that these agile, enduring horses were ideal for the extensive areas and the numerous rider attacks. Therefore, more and more studs used oriental stallions, among which the Arabian were the most sought after.

Bliżej Kultury

When the wars against the Turks stopped, the supply of oriental stallions from the east was interrupted. Now the stud owners had to get these horses from the Ottoman Empire, or even send expeditions to Asia Minor to buy horses. At the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, the important studs Biala Cerkiew (Branicki family), Slawuta (Sanguszko family), Taurow (L. Trzeciak) and Jarczowce and Jezupol (Dzieduszycki family) were founded. A second “wave” of stud foundations took place in the late 19th century with Antoniny (Potocki family), Gumniska (Sanguszko family), Ptakow (A. Kopec) and Pelkinie (W. Czartoryski).

Purchases directly in the Orient
One of the first major purchases of horses in the Orient was made by Colonel Obodynski, who travelled to Constantinople for this purpose. There he bought horses from the end of the 18th to the beginning of the 19th century, first on behalf of Szczesny Potocki, later he expanded his trade relationships and imported horses for all of Poland and Europe. In 1803 the stable master of the Slawuta stud, Kajetan Burski, went to Constantinople. There he found no horses of the desired quality and went further to the interior of Syria, which was still a great adventure at the time and associated with numerous dangers. But the trip was worth it: he bought five Arab stallions near Aleppo, which he brought home safely. This success also encouraged other stud farms, and so stable master Tomasz Moszynski traveled to the Damascus area in the years 1816-1818 and brought nine stallions and one mare to Slawuta – by 1872 the stud farm had imported a total of 55 stallions and seven mares.
Not to be forgotten in this list is Count Waclaw Rzewuski, who set out for the Orient in 1817 to buy Arabian horses. He stayed in Arabia for two years, bought horses for the Russian tsar Alexander I, for Queen Catherine of Württemberg and for himself. In total he came back with 137 original Arabians. He later took part in the November Uprising when he commanded a division at the Battle of Daszow. He was killed under mysterious circumstances, his stud was looted, the horses scattered in all directions. Hardly any that would have been preserved in breeding.
The greatest influence for Poland, however, was the import of Juliusz Dzieduszycki, owner of the Jarczowce Stud, who organized an expedition to Arabia in 1843-45 and, in addition to seven stallions, he imported the three mares Gazella, Mlecha and Sahara, their damlines are still existing today.

Racetrack and exhibitions
Performance review went hand in hand with breeding, first in the war, then on the hunt, and from 1850 on the racetrack. The Branicki brothers organized this first Arabian horse race. However, a formal breeding association for Arabian horses that took up these races again was not founded until 1926. In the meantime the horses were also shown at “shows”. In the second half of the 19th century, they celebrated successes at the large horse exhibitions, be it the World Exhibition in Paris in 1867 with Iskander Pascha from Slawuta, the mares from the Slawuta and Jarczowce studs on the occasion of the World Exhibition in 1873 in Vienna, or the mare Melpomena, who won the gold medal in Paris in 1900 – they all caused a sensation everywhere. They also found their way abroad, where they significantly influenced other countries breeding stock. One example is Van Dyck from Biala Cerkiew, which was sold to Spain. And, of course, Skowronek from Antoniny also belongs here, who was sold to England, where he had significant influence on breeding at the Crabbet Park stud. Horses from Slawuta – Lenkoran and Ilderim, sons of their sires of the same name – went to the Balkans. The Branickis also sold two stallions and two mares to Inoncenzdvor and various horses went to Russia as early as the middle of the 19th century, where they were used in the “Streletsker” breed, which later founded the “Tersker breed”. Biala Cerkiew even exported around 100 horses to Turkey in 1864, which went to the stud of the Turkish Sultan Abdul Aziz! As you can see, the Arabian horse was already very internationally represented in the 19th century, and blood exchange was already working back then.

The First World War
The outbreak of the First World War naturally affected and decimated the flourishing Polish Arab breeding. But since this breed was bred in large numbers by many private breeders, the losses could be compensated for relatively quickly. At the same time, in addition to the private stud farms, an Arabian breeding program was established in the Janow Podlaski state stud farm, the stud which had existed since 1817.
Gudrun Waiditschka

In the next issues we want to introduce you to the most important private studs up to the First World War.