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by Nicole Sachs
Visiting stud farms, who mainly or exclusively breed Straight Egyptian Arabians, after the EEE has meanwhile become a kind of tradition, that is much appreciated by Arabian horse enthusiasts. Thanks to the never ending energy of PSE president Bettina von Kameke once more visits to most interesting studs were organized.
This year´s tour lead to the southern part of Germany, Bavaria, with its wide green landscapes – softly sloping hills under – at least in the beginning – blue skies.
The 2-day itinery was rather short but fully packed. The intense program comprised four farms, each farm being a highlight in its own way.
On Sunday early afternoon, with only a short break after the last Champion had been crowned, the tour bus and some private cars set off to the first destination.
The Straight Egyptian breeding program of Goschenhof Arabians in Wassertrüdingen is run by Thamar and Christoph Gerbershagen, with the help of many enthusiastic family members – not young and old, but young and younger.
When the guests arrived, they were warmly welcomed by 3 generations of the Gerbershagen family. The guests were invited to explore the barns and stables and make themselves acquainted with the way horses are kept here. At first sight the eye was pleased by well chosen decorative elements like mosaic elements or oriental lamps and remarkably much light and perfect fresh air. On second sight it became clear, how much thought has been given here to optimize the wellbeing of the horses and the functionality of easy handling all the necessary stable work. Obviously this effort results in horses that are perfectly relaxed and friendly. By sheer accident we happened to test the horses’ attitude towards man: as the afternoon commenced rainclouds came up and just in time for the presentation of some 20 horses the first raindrops fell. Very annoying for our hosts, but after this a little rough beginning the presentation could be continued under more or less dry conditions.
Everybody was relieved and afterwards all settled down in the lovingly decorated garden, where a fantastic barbeque was prepared, when only five minutes later heavy rainfall started. With many helping hands the whole barbeque equipment was transferred into the barn and main mare stable within minutes. You should have seen the amazed horses face expressions. It was certainly testing their nerves to have a crowd of people having their dinner in front of their boxes. However, Arabian horses are amazing: they adopted to the situation in almost no time and some seemed to find it rather entertaining to watch, what was going on. So instead of having a ruined garden party, the sudden change of situation lead to a most memorable spontaneous barn dinner, that was a true highlight, that none of the guests would have liked to miss.
In addition to these unforgettable circumstances of course the Goschenhof horses made a deep impression, too. Christoph and Thamar Gerbershagen own a fine group of interesting mares. The pedigrees feature such famous Arabians as Royal Colours or more rare Sterling Vision and the unforgettable Jamil-daughter Tiffaha. The chief sire at Goschenhof is the 8 year old grey PSE Atlanta (Nader Al Jamal x Imperial Baarezah), whose very expressive head will stay in mind. Moreover, we had the chance to see 10 of his 2018 and 2019 foals at this farm and more at Khamal El Assuad stud. Thus it became obvious, that what Atlanta passes on are broad foreheads, big eyes, powerful movement and an overall balance in movement.
The much admired filly Aliyah El Mujid out of Amanda Colours El Mujid is a lovely example.
After a short night`s rest the first destination of the next day was Khamal El Assuad, the farm owned by the Schmidt family, Döckingen.
Founder of the farm is Otto Schmidt, a man whose experience comprises several decades. The stud was founded 1985 and about 250 foals were born there up to date. A look at the pedigrees of the horses today and all the horses, who made their home here over the years, tells that Otto Schmidt has alwayshad a wide look around in the world of Arabian horses and was always open for new ideas, not necessarily following local fashion trends. Today the Arabian stock consists predominantly of the get of foundation mare AR Shasada (Prince Ibn Sheikh x Morsada). Shasada deceased in 2016 at the age of 23, but she left a wonderful legacy of 8 daughters. Her last foal has been carried out by her daughter Shakira, resulting in one more lovely filly named Bint Shasada, born 2016.
Our visit at Khamal El Assuad turned out to be a perfect example, that lovely Arabian horses need no polish (and certainly no make-up) and standing up to excel and shine. Due to Otto Schmidt´s daughter´s pregnancy the horses were just asked to leave their stables and show themselves running free in the yard. What a sight it was! One or two mares with foals at their sides stretching their legs a bit or joining up to the visitors. Especially Gloria El Assuad loved “inspecting” the cameras and photographers or maybe their pockets for carrots or just wanted a little patting. So we had a great time, talking, watching and interacting.
With great regret we learned that the breeding program here is slowly coming to an end. But smiles returned to all faces as granddaughter Bella came round the corner with a basket full of Bavarian Bretzels as a fare well gift for us.
After a good hour’s drive the PSE group arrived at the beautiful stud Eulenthal Straight Egyptian Arabians in Unterpindhart (in the wider area of Ingolstadt). The stud of Klaus Buchberger and Christiane Baroness Zündt zu Kentzingen has been built 11 years ago and is every horse lover´s dream.
An old mill has been masterly integrated in a new building and it is surrounded by very nice pastures and woods, with paddocks and open stables constructed in a way that the horses mostly are free to choose, whether they like to be in the open field or rest in the refreshing shades of the woods. Up to date 17 horses are enjoying a luxurious equine life on this farm, accompanied by much loving attention from their owners.
The foundation of the breeding program is much influenced by the nearby Rothenberg stud: foundation mares being the fleabitten grey GR Maimun by Classic Shadwan with her successful daughter GE Maymoun by GR Amaretto and GR Aya Falisha by GR Faleeh. As there is also the black mare “Another Horses´Paradise” Shade El Chamsin respectively her black daughter Salima by GR Mahdin, the stud has exquisite black as well as grey mares. Later influence by Birkenhof stud has been added with GE Malikah Bint Malik Jamil or breeding to Miad Al Shaqab.
Unfortunately our whole visit had to face constant rain. Nevertheless pedigrees were studied carefully, horses inspected with great interest and last not least coffee and yummy cake were enjoyed every drop and bite. And after all it can be stated that Arabian beauty is in no way harmed by a bit of rain.
Ponnath Straight Egyptian Arabians is located in Kemnath in the lovely area of Franconia. A large crowd of breeders and Arabian horse enthusiasts followed Michael Ponnath´s invitation to get a thorough insight into his breeding program. The presentation attracted horse lovers from a variety of countries, new breeders as well as people, whose farm I visited more than 25 years ago. Michael Ponnath is following his dreams for more than two decades now. I assume that he is close to his aims, because a look at the broodmare band as a whole speaks a clear language as to what is the preferred type of Arabians on this stud. It is a breeder´s signature that has been achieved here – a signature type of Ponnath Arabians.
Yet it can be stated that there is no lack of new ideas as the presentation of a new stallion indicated. Michael Ponnath is always good for importing some outstanding sires from abroad, taking PVA Karim, Ansata Sokar or Sterling Vision for example, or for incorporating most interesting new mares in his broodmare herd from time to time. The newest examples stallion wise are the very dry and refined fleabitten stallion Madheen El Masr (2005, EAI Silvereen by Safeen x MB Deseena by Imperial Madheen). He is sire of the highly decorated Mikeen El Masr in the US.
From Egypt the young stallion Sohail Al Safinat (Murtajib Al Nakeeb x Sanayaa – tracing back to the above mentioned AR Shasada) will get a chance. And of course there is the 10 year old self bred Mashour Halim (El Thay Khemal Pasha x Malikah Halima). The presentation comprised more than 20 horses. Michael Ponnath introduced 6 horses from the Dahmah Shawaniyah family and 12 horses from the Saqlawiyah Jidraniyah family to the audience.
Needless to say that each horse would deserve a description. Just to mention a few, who subjectively stuck out or were darling to the audience : It was Saqr Halima (Nabeel Saqr x El Thay Kalila), her son Sadik Halim by ZT Malhaah, 2018, joins the stallion crew. It was also Kanaz Al Naif (Ansata Shalim x Dheba Al Naif ) for example, who showed exceptional movements; it was the chestnut Nashua Halima (Al Adeed Al Shaqab x Moufisa Al Kidir) with her enchanting filly Nayla by ZT Mahlaah, who definitely fascinated the audience.
It was wonderful, that there was enough time to study the horses during the very professional presentation, and plenty of time for a relaxed get together before and a generous invitation to food and drinks after the presentation. In the name of everyone, who was guest to one of the visits, I express sincere thanks to all the generous hosts, who undertook so much effort to make these gorgeous farm visits possible.