The Australian Colonial Arabian Horse and Endurance Riding

The Arabian horse type remained unchanged from around 1800 B.C. to the 1900s A.D. For the first three millennia of its existence, the Arabian was a war horse, and this dictated the type. The Australian Colonial Arabian is descended from the early imports in which desert breeding was prevalent, often via the Blunts (early Crabbet), with the notable addition of the famous endurance stallion Shahzada. The Colonials were originally bred at the early Australian studs which selected on the basis of ability under saddle.

It is thus no surprise that the Colonial Arabian is best known for its success in the endurance field, and as a saddle horse in general.

One of the greatest endurance horses of all time, Shahzada, was a pure Colonial. Shahzada was the winner of 100, 300, and 500 Mile Endurance tests in England, as well as flat races against Thoroughbreds, prior to his exportation to Australia. Pure Colonial breeder Les Ellery of Cudglebar Stud (founded in 1930) decades ago once rode a mare by Jedran (by Prince Nejd by Shahzada) to catch an unhandled mare. They had to run the unhandled mare until she was exhausted, and then immediately had to run down a Thoroughbred until she was exhausted and lay down. In those days when large outback Australian properties had numerous unhandled horses, this was the only method of catching a horse. The Jedran mare never had a whip or spur on her. She repeatedly was used to drive mobs of horses to the Orange sales from Blayney in western N.S.W. The distance of 25 miles (40 km) was ridden at the gallop, as the horses were unhandled and from various properties. Les Ellery also raced Arabians against Thoroughbreds in picnic races, and at one time raced a Shahzada grand-daughter who was so fast that he had to agree to give a half-furlong start to the rest of the field before she was allowed to start.

Many Colonials carried the bloodlines of Belka, who defeated Shahzada in a 300 mile Ride, and whose son Bendigo placed fifth in the Newmarket Town Plate of 4 ½ miles, carrying 12 stone, against 8 Thoroughbreds. Bendigo’s rider remarked that he would have won easily had they had been able to do  another lap.

The imported stallion Sala was used by early Colonial breeders. His grand-dam was by Rasim, a World War 1 charger and sire of race winners. Figuring also in his pedigree were Mahruss, the sire of Crabbett, who won the U.S. Amy Endurance test of 300 miles over concrete roads in just over 49 hours, and Nadir, Champion Polo Pony Sire at Tunbridge Wells (UK) in 1913 and at Islington (UK) in 1911, 1913 and 1915. Sala’s close endurance descendants include Quilty winners, Quilty placegetters, and Distance Award horses.  

 The Sala grandson Arcadian was an amazing sire of endurance horses, including the 1981 Quilty winner Robbie, and the stallion Credit who is the sire of Peter Toft’s Electra BPP Murdoch.  Murdoch won the Quilty, then went on to be placed fourth in the 2003 Tevis Cup. From official Australian ride sheets from 1979-1989, Arcadian progeny and grand-get won 66 rides in Open/HW division, placed second 22 times, placed third 14 times, and successfully completed a further 29 rides.

Kataf (by the desert bred Outlaw) is another stallion who figured prominently in the Colonial bloodlines. The most renowned Kataf descendant was Hestia, the dam of Aethon. Hestia is found consistently in the pedigree of Australia’s top endurance horses and her lines are much sought after.

The pure Colonial stallion Talisman Rose Bahri dominated the western show classes from 1983-1987. He was Champion Western Horse at the National Stud Show in 1983, and Champion Bridle Path Hack in 1991, and at the Australian Championships was Top 10 Ridden Stallion in 1984, Champion Western Pleasure in 1985, Champion Bridle Path Hack from 115 entries in 1986, and Champion Western Pleasure in 1987.

The endurance results of Colonials are remarkable considering the pure Colonials have been in short supply for some decades. In 1991, only 86 pure Colonials were alive.

Of those, 10 were actively competing in Endurance that year.

Pure Colonial stallion Cudglebar Rasuli was a swift Arabian Racehorse, winning his first two races on registered Australian Jockey Club racecourses by lengthy margins. Rasuli had completed The Kikkuli Experiment (a replication of The Kikkuli Text, a 33 centuries-old horse training text) as a three year old colt.

Hyksos Sabok has proven to be the best performing pure Colonial endurance horse of the present day, being 1999 NSW Distance Horse, 3rd 1999 National Australian

Distance, and has clocked up many miles. Sabok’s sire was Heavyweight Endurance horse Cudglebar Nur ed Dam who also completed the Kikkuli Experiment , then went on to be a successful Heavyweight Endurance horse. The pure Colonial mare Cudglebar Mujeor was a Kikkuli Experiment horse at the age of three, and went on to be a top performing endurance horse, completing over 3,000 km and placing 20th Middleweight (Open) at the Quilty, winning the award for the Lowest Heartrates. She is a half sister to Carol Layton’s Leshal Ikon, a barefoot endurance stallion.  

Another strong Colonial endurance line is that of Barada II. Her breedings to Rakib* produced the mares Badoura, Baksheesh, Baz, and the stallion Bahri. This line has produced, through Talisman Stud, numerous top winning Australian endurance horses.




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