About the Malabar Jilfan Sitam al Bulad Preservation Program
It is important to note that our preservation program has been on hold since we lost our young stallion in a fire last fall. In the hope that we will be able to restart, we continue to keep the program active here at East West.
Safin n Niya and Bahiya Mizan are the last two Arabians in the USA (that we have been able to locate) with a dam (maternal or mother) bloodline to Jilfan Sitam al Bulad (also spelled different ways) from Syria. There are few Jilfan Sitam al Bulad dam lines remaining globally*.
These are also Early American Foundation Arabians. This means all their bloodlines come from horses imported into the USA before 1944 – truly American Arabians. There are fewer than 1000 Early American Foundation Arabians.
Finally, these are Malabar Arabians. Malabars are a modern strain bred from old bloodlines for rare black color, good size, strong bodies and above-average calm intelligent minds with strong empathy for humans. Malabar breeders consider these to be throwbacks to the original “live in your tent” Arabians from history. There are only about 200 high-percent Malabars remaining and only 4 active breeding farms.
The advantage of any purebred animal is consistent results in the offspring. The advantage of a relatively rare subgroup is in the unique DNA. Often genetic traits are lost when certain bloodlines become popular at the expense of others. Unique bloodlines that have been kept separate from general mixing become important for outcrossing when lines lose vigor from inbreeding. This Jilfan Sitam al Bulad bloodline, and the Malabars and Early American Foundation arabians – all are at risk of vanishing and taking their unique DNA with them. Someday, that unique DNA could be the key to solving a horse disease. Or bringing back a valuable genetic trait or restoring vigor to another group of Arabians.
We get one chance to save this bloodline. Once they are gone, they can never be replaced or duplicated. Sadly, many Arabian lines have already been lost forever.
Pregnancy lasts eleven months. A young horse must mature for several years before being bred. This will be long process, saving this bloodline.
*Purity and bloodlines in Arabians can be very subjective. There is debate (and politics) about the status of the Jilfan line.
Arabians – Especially Black Arabians – History and myth
Interestingly, it was narrated from Abu Qatadah Al-Ansari in an authentic hadith that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“The best of horses are those that are deep black, with a blaze on the
forehead, white marks on the legs and white nose and upper lip, and with
no whiteness on the right foreleg. If not deep-black, then
reddish-brown, with these markings.”
Another hadith narrated by Abu Huraira says: Allah’s Messenger the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said, “Keeping horses may be a source of reward to some (man), a shelter to another (i.e. means of earning one’s living), or a burden to a third…Horses are a shelter from poverty to the second person who keeps horses for earning his living so as not to ask others, and at the same time he gives God’s right (from the wealth he earns through using them in trading etc.,) and does not overburden them. He who keeps horses just out of pride and for showing off…his horses will be a source of sins to him.”
Orientalism in the 19th and early 20th centuries led to some interesting and very persistent views about Arabian horses. Author Edward W. Said defined Orientalism as the acceptance in the West of “the basic distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate theories, epics, novels, social descriptions, and political accounts concerning the Orient, its people, customs, ‘mind,’ destiny and so on.” According to Said, Orientalism dates from the period of European Enlightenment and colonization of the Arab World. Orientalism provided a rationalization for European colonialism based on a self-serving history in which “the West” constructed “the East” as extremely different and inferior, and therefore in need of Western intervention or “rescue”. During the Orientalist time period, the Arabian horse became romanticized and some would argue the entire concept of purity and bloodlines also traces back to this period. At the tail end of the Orientalist period eugenics and the industrial revolution both occurred, with their influence on breeding practices and official breed registries. To this day, there is heated debate about concepts such as purity and registrations and even the preferred appearance of Arabian horses. For more on the debates and concepts please see our Research page.
All controversy aside, we value our Arabians for their practical qualities. Arabians are unusual. You have to meet them to fully appreciate just how much. They are conscious beings, intelligent, thoughtful, caring. Their empathy is very strong. Our Malabars especially are strongly built, yet elegant and nimble, with good heavy bone, above-average height compared to the typical Arabian, and versatile minds and bodies. Arabians are wonderful family horses that can excel in a variety of sports as well as working on the farm.
We welcome visitors. You may come meet them for yourself and experience their unique empathy. Whether you are able to travel to Barakah Heritage Farm, home of East West, and meet them in person, or must participate from a distance, you can be part of their journey, part of the circle of life and new births and the return of a precious bloodline.