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By Christine Speers, Zemzem Arabian Stud.

Zemzem Arabian Stud evolved following contact with Pat and Kevin Esler of Karakatana Stud when I was looking for a stallion to serve my unregistered mare. The Eslers became good friends, always ready to talk about bloodlines and horses. I can remember seeing more than 100 horses streaming across the hills at Karakatana and it was then that my own ideas as to type and pedigrees were formed.

Zemzem Arabian Stud officially began when the mare, Medina II (Judiala/Merryn) was purchased. She was in foal to Kaaba (imp) and foaled a very nice colt , Zemzem Kadi. After that, I knew I needed another mare and spent a long time looking at the Esler horses and chasing horses recorded in the first three stud books.

At the time of my initial interest in the breed, every other country’s bloodlines were flavour of the month - there was little interest in old Australian lines. I believed that it was crucial to preserve these lines. When I looked at photos of horses imported from the desert and then at old Australian lines, I could see a resemblance, but many of the current imports into Australia seemed to show an extreme dish, over flat croup and not necessarily good legs.

I traced other breeders with like ideas and eventually there was a group of us with similar ideals. Les Ellery had many of the bloodlines, his family having bred old Australian Arabians for generations. Olga Pirie was the researcher and historian, Hilda Biach was a judge and breeder and was seeking the same horses I was and the Eslers were already known to me.

We had an inaugural meeting at Duramana, NSW on 31 August 1985. It was then that we proposed the formation of the Old Colonial Arabian Horse Club. Our aim was to compile a list of “eligible” horses and to trace any still alive . We had specific ideas and we agreed to accept all Blunt derived bloodlines and any horses with close desert genetics. This meant that, if we found a horse in the middle east (or elsewhere) with local bloodlines and being of sufficient quality, it would be acceptable to our group even though tit would not be strictly “colonial“. While there may be such horses alive with no reintroduced genetics from the UK or Europe, we were not aware of any at the time. However, we remained open minded to the possibility.

The cut-off for our importations to Australia was 1932. Before this “all imports were of authentic desert blood or were registered in the British General Stud Book as descendants of the original Blunt importations and 1932 marked for Australia the importation of the last of these horses - the General Stud Book having been closed in 1921, a significant year as it also marked the beginning of the Skowronek influence” ( details from Old Colonial Club blue book of aims, records and meetings, 1985). While Skowronek was a lovely looking horse and has had a profound influence on the breed, we voted not to include his blood where possible, as he was considered to be a departure from the type of horses imported by the Blunts directly from the desert.

As nearly every horse in Australia has some Skowronek blood, we devised a percentage system where 100% was allocated to Blunt/desert lines and 0% to Skowronek. By this reckoning, while there may be a 100% blood colonial in Australia, the last one we knew of was Doolee (Prometheus/Buraida). The highest percentage living “old Colonial” is Rivernook Chantilly (Cairo/Hesperus) at 98%.

In order to procure genetics apart from the old Agricultural lines, Hilda Biach, Olga Pirie and I searched around for the remaining animals. We located some mares and I found the stallion Cairo (Sahara II/ Nurmana). Sahara II had some Skowronek blood but Nurmana (Manak/Nuhra) was the product of two verifiable desert bred parents. Manak and Nuhra were bred in the desert in Bahrain and presented as gifts to the Earl of Athlone in 1939 by the Sheik of Bahrain.

Cairo was kindly sold to me by Mrs Audrey McGregor of Gore, New Zealand, a prominent riding pony breeder and judge. (This is how an Arabian stallion has such an unlikely name!). When imported, he stood a season at Wagga Agricultural Stud before coming to Zemzem.

The first two horses I retained by Cairo were the mare Zemzem Phoenix and McGregor, both out of Medina II. Cudglebar and Rivernook studs used Cairo and his genetics are in several other studs. Cudglebar also made use of McGregor where he sired several beautiful mares.

The Old Colonial Arabian Horse Club subsequently changed direction with later members including Skowronek in the percentage calculations (thus making several horses 100% Colonial), however the founders continued to stick to the original aims and percentages. Zemzem has settled at around 96% old colonial lines, although the introduction of Compadre (Aethon/Letavia) from the Esler estate has slightly lowered the percentages in his foals to around 92%.

The Eslers and Mrs Pirie have unfortunately passed away, Rivernook and Zemzem have bred only lightly over the years and many of the Cudglebar horses who made the trip to New Zealand with Les Ellery stayed there on his return in 2007. However, there are still many horses with high percentages of our old colonial blood alive and well in Australia and I would like to see them continue.

Zemzem aims to produce well conformed horses able to be used in any discipline. A good temperament is paramount and our horses are known for their friendly, easygoing natures. With their close links to the older Arabian importations, they exhibit the type and outlook of the horses sought by and purchased by the Blunts in their desert travels.

Please go to the tables below to view a list of our breeding stock, stallions, stock for sale and also photos.





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