Outcrossing with Laheeb...
In addition to concentrating and perpetuating our Classic Polish program over the past 35+ years, we have made some strategic outcrosses that have been extremely successful. For example, in 1989 we bred our senior stallion, SPARK, to 22 select Fadjur daughters, and from that cross received such memorable horses as SS CLEOPATRA (two top 10s in Scottsdale 1990-1991, and sold to Europe in 1992 where she placed third in the Salon du Cheval World Cup), SS ALEXANDER (at least two top 10s in Scottsdale), SS ROZANNA, SS THUNDERBOLT, and others. This cross was so successful, SS CLEOPATRA and SS ALEXANDER helped SPARK win the Get of Sire class in Scottsdale 1990, which is significant when one considers Monogramm was also competing in that class. We made two other explosive outcrosses in the past few years, one to QR Excel in 2001 and one to Laheeb in 2007, which is the topic of this passage.
After researching the Arabian horse global marketplace, I decided that the horse named Laheeb was one of the more intriguing horses available; I say this not because of his looks, which is easy to do, but as a breeder, I say this because of his success in siring international winners both male and female.
After finding out that Laheeb was standing at Furioso Farms with my longtime friend, Raymond Mazzei, who does not need any introduction, I told him I was interested in Laheeb as an outcross on our Polish mares that were intensely linebred to Witraz. He said Laheeb was used in Poland very successfully and after he finished serving mares in the USA, he would be returning to Poland. After that, he would perhaps go to Egypt, and then possibly to Israel.
I figured it was time for me to visit my good old friend, Raymond, and look at Laheeb in person to see how I could best use him with our mares. I arrived to Furioso farms one sunny morning as the sun was just shining into the stalls, creating this ideal lighting for portraiture photo shooting as the horses hung out their heads to get a hold of that beautiful early California sun. I yelled out as I was walking around to see where Raymond might be. “Hey, where the hell are you?” Just then, without seeing anyone, I heard a very sarcastic reply coming from the far end of the barn, “Where the hell do you think I am? I am here in the stall working, unlike you!” I had not seen him in a long time, but knew he was okay and had not changed one bit, since everyone knows Raymand’s joking, sarcastic personality is one of the bonuses we get whenever we see him!
As I started to walk toward the sound, I was quickly glancing at all of the horses that had their heads out, as I said earlier, and just before the last stall in the isle way, I saw this extremely dry, small chiseled head that looked like a porcelain sculpture. I exclaimed, “Wow! Who is this gorgeous Egyptian mare with this extreme head?” Raymond’s answer was rather quick and firm, “That’s not a mare, that’s Laheeb!” That was my first sight of the horse, and, to this day, I remember it as though it were yesterday.
Later, when Raymond took Laheeb out of his stall, the horse made an instant, profound impression on me. I failed miserably at the old saying that “one is supposed to look at the horse from the hooves up.” I started on the wrong end when I instantly fell in love with the dryness and smallness of his head. While he did not have the biggest eyes, they were enormously expressive, wide and low set in the head. As with many Siglavi horses, he had a slight human eye, which added to his expression. Although many contemporary breeders and connoisseurs of the Arabian horse make a big deal out of this condition, it is done so erroneously without knowledge of the historical facts. According to Gladys Brown Edwards, the Bedouins valued the white around the eyes (human eyes). (By the way, another trait the Bedouins valued that modern breeders practically hate was the rye (side) tail carriage, which Laheeb did not have.) In addition, Laheeb had nearly perfect ears, large, paper-thin nostrils, and a perfectly square teacup muzzle with the deep mouth.
I eventually managed to pry myself away from his beautiful head and look at the rest of his body. I thought Laheeb represented combination of quality and elegance with an abundance of style. I think he was well over 15 hands tall. He had a good length and shape of neck, however, when compared to the Polish horse, I found his throatlatch to be slightly heavy. Like most Egyptian horses, his neck was set high, making it difficult to judge the prominence of his withers. Despite siring successful racehorses in Poland, his ribs did not appear well-sprung and his girth was not as deep as the Polish horses I am accustomed to seeing. While being tightly coupled, his haunches seemed lightly built, but nonetheless went nicely with the rest of the horse.
Next I looked at his legs. I had the impression that he had very clean legs with well defined tendons and sufficient flatness to its high quality dry, dense bone. I can go on for hours talking about what I saw in those few seconds, but that is not the purpose of this piece. In short, Laheeb had excellent legs with very pleasing proportions.
When Laheeb came out to be presented, he took my breath away with his Arabian type and presence—it was as though he took me back in time, as though I were watching an ancient painting come to life before my very eyes. As far as his movement is concerned, he was a very balanced mover with motion and lightness in both ends. I was happy to see this, because we refuse to compromise athletic ability in our breeding program that took over 30 years to fix. Just to close my impression of Laheeb, I watched him tease and breed mares with nothing more than a halter and leadline every time. He was obedient and very gentle while working in harmony with the very capable Raymond Mazzei—they made a wonderful team together.
After my visit with Raymond I made a commitment to breed a dozen or so mares to Laheeb, and when I got home started the painstaking process of deciding which mares to breed to this magnificent horse. There were many things to consider. Because the commute was 16 hours each way, I could not take the mares that had foals at their sides, nor could I take the mares that were going to have foals soon. After excluding the mares that were too old or crippled, the list got smaller and smaller. To make matters even more complicated, all of our mares were conceived, born, and raised in the pasture, with limited handling, and, well, you get the idea...
After considering all of the possibilities of which mares could be bred to Laheeb, we managed to select and breed around a dozen mares to him, resulting in seven pregnancies and five live foals. It is with all of the confidence in the world that I can say this was a successful endeavor, and I like all five horses for different reasons. Of course, because Laheeb is a homozygous grey, all of them are grey. And, like Laheeb, they all have exceptional temperaments, straight legs, plenty of motion, and presence. Four of them are of very good size, expected to mature at over 15.2H. Of the three colts, one is definitely a super star we named SS Laheebdar. He is out of one of the best, if not the best, black Spark daughter we have, named SS Raven (Spark x Lalechka by *Aladdinn out of *Ruta going back to Gazella II tail female line), also the dam of SS Velocity. We have already tried SS Laheebdar with certain mares as a test, and so far he looks as though he is going to earn himself a place in our program. The two fillies we got from Laheeb are also very pleasing (they are currently in foal to AJMAN MONISCIONE). They are slightly different in phenotype from one another but are very nice in their own way.
Here are some pictures of Laheeb and our foals at various ages.
SS Laheebdar (Laheeb x Raven by Spark) 2008 stallion
SS Laheebim (Laheeb x SS Clove by SS Alexander by Spark) 2008 stallion
SS Spark’s Laheeb (Laheeb x SS Crystal Spark by Spark) 2008 stallion
SS Certainlaheeb (Laheeb x SS Certainlee by Spark) 2008 mare
SS Laheeria (Laheeb x SS Auroria by SS Miami Vice by Spark) 2008 mare