In Our Opinion

Articles by Charles Craver

The websites where many of these articles were posted are gone as of January 2010. Links will be added as the articles are re-posted.

At the Beginning, from the May 1974 Arabian Horse News at

Davenport Bloodlines in CMK (Crabbet-Maynesboro-Kellogg) Breeding, from the CMK Heritage Catalog.

The Trouble with Going Straight, about the use of "straight" breeding (straight Egyptian, straight Davenport, straight Polish...), from the Khamsat Anthology.

Time Capsules, referring to Preservation Breeding, from the July, 1993, Arabian Horse World:

Preservation Breeding in Davenport Arabian horses, from the same July, 1991, Arabian Horse World.

Yes, Virginia—an essay about the effects of the show ring on the Arabian Horse, from the March, 1990, Arabian Visions at

Preservation Breeding, introductory editorial for the first (July, 1991) Arabian Horse World preservation issue, below:


The concept of "Preservation Breeding" is one of the oldest treasures in Arabian breeding. The first person who bred two Arabian horses together because they were Arabians was a preservation breeder. One of the oldest instances of preservation breeding in the literature among Bedouin breeders was when the Jellabiet Feysul line was sent from Arabia to Bahrain during the Wahhabi wars so that it could be safe-guarded.

Many modern bloodlines are based on episodes of preservation breeding in their history: Egyptian breeding would be vastly different had not Ali Pasha Sherif preserved Abbas Pasha bloodlines. After Ali Pasha Sherif, the Blunts performed the same function both for Egyptian and Crabbet breeding by preserving elements of Ali Pasha Sherif's stud. In continental Europe including France, Germany, Hungary and Poland there were repeated instances of importation of Bedouin-bred horses to preserve the authentic character of European Arabians. One of the all-time great achievements of preservation breeding was the reconstruction of Polish Arabian breeding from the few Arabian horses of Poland that survived World War II.

From the beginning of Arabian breeding in the U.S., we have had a strong tradition of preservation breeding, which has, in fact, shaped the way the breed has developed in this country. It was not enough for our earliest breeders just to breed Arabian horses. Some of them had very strong opinions about restricting their bloodlines in certain ways. They bred accordingly. The Arabian horses of today are still influenced by what they thought about double registration (joint registration by the American Jockey Club and the Arabian Horse Club), by the kind of breeding stock they imported, and by how they fostered some bloodlines and let others drop. Much current breeding still continues the patterns they established: Crabbet breeding, Davenport breeding, Babson Egyptian breeding, CMK breeding: these are all active, successful preservation breeding programs which were substantially in place in the U.S. by 1932.

Other active preservation programs also existed, of course, and have been lost with time except for their sometimes powerful effects in pedigrees. They have been much more than replaced as new programs have been developed.

There is nothing about preservation breeding that has to be ancient. Whenever some special combination of horses turns up which somebody recognize as being worth preserving for its own sake, a new preservation program has the chance to start.

Thus we have new programs known to us all, such as the one based on McCoy breeding and extending to the later Gainey horses. We have the Double R program, various *Raffles preservation groups, and variations within the Polish, Russian and Egyptian groups. Not all preservation breeding programs are large scale or famous. Many a breeder works quietly on a limited project, making a contribution to the Arabian horse which may seem modest at the time but which could eventually be of great importance.

Preservation breeding is not for everyone. It does not replace the worthwhile efforts of the larger number of breeders who are instead interested in working towards the perfect Arabian horse by combining various bloodlines. Even these breeders benefit from preservation efforts of others who furnish breeding stock of intensified genetic character to their programs.

Furthermore, preservation breeding furnishes a means by which certain specific "types" of Arabian horses can be preserved for us all to enjoy. In this world of beautiful show champions of blended bloodlines, it is still a thrill to see an example of *Raffles type, or something such as *Fadl was, or Hanad, or the Crabbet horses of years gone by. The Arabian horse never has been nor is it now just one kind of horse.

Nor are Arabian horse owners just one kind of person. We each like our own kind of horse. Preservation breeding is a way of insuring that kind of horse will still exist when we want it.