Here is the article that was published by the Desert Institute of the Arabian Horse in the Al Majlis News - Volume 4 Number 2 - Spring/Summer 2007.
Science and Strains – A New Mystery
One sure way to stimulate a conversation
among conservation breeders is to raise the
subject of strains. Since the late 1990s, any
such conversations have been influenced by
research into mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA),
which is passed along the maternal line and
serves as a marker for tracing matrilinear
descent. Research by Dr. Anne Bowling, A. Del
Valle, and Michael Bowling contributed
significantly to this discussion with their
publication in 2000 of the haplotypes of material
from 34 source mares represented in Arabian
breeding (1). A recent addition to that research
presents a new mystery for breeders.
At the time of publication, several findings were
of interest to breeders of Desert Arabian
horses. Material from two females lines
descending from Bint Yamama (granddaughters
Roda and Mahroussa) matched material from
the line descending from Ghazieh (through Bint
Helwa) rather than the line from Jellabiet Feysul
(results from lines of granddaughters Hazna,
Gulnare, and Jamila). This supports the
connection of the Bint Yamama horses to the
dam of Mesaoud, a conclusion reached from
records of Lady Anne Blunt (2) by several
researchers (3 and 4), and has caused many
breeders to ascribe the strain Saqlawi Jidran to
the Bint Yamama horses.
A second finding was that material from the
lines Domow and *Wadduda shared the same
haplotype. Because there is a coat-color
incompatability of Domow (bay) with her
registered parents (both chestnut), researchers
have postulated that Domow’s registration could
have been somehow switched with another foal.
The haplotype for Domow and *Wadduda was
different from the other possible mare lines
(dams of the other foals), thus supporting the
record of *Wadduda as dam of Domow (3).
While the 2000 publication offered scientific
insight into these historic questions, it raised
new questions. One surprise was the discovery
that material from recorded descendents of
*Urfah showed different haplotypes, leading to
the later-developed hypothesis that identities of
*Urfah’s daughter Saleefy and the mare Freda
(descended from Hamadie imports) were
inadvertently reversed after both bay mares
were transported to a new owner in Southern
Another was that the dam lines of different
reported strains showed the same haplotypes.
For example, the *Reshan line (Koheilan Haifi)
showed the same haplotype as Basilisk
(Saqlawi Jidran). *Wadduda (Saqlawi Al Abd)
showed the same haplotype as Rodania
Now a new piece has been added to the puzzle,
and a new mystery lies before us. The 2000
article by Bowling et al reported a distinct
haplotype for the mare line of *Hadba, imported
in 1906 by Homer Davenport, with the recorded
strain Hadban Enzahi. However, no material
from the mare line of the Egyptian mare Venus
(also recorded as Hadban Enzahi) was included
in that study. Breeders of these two lines have
wondered if the two mares, born about 10 years
apart, were related. The Institute was recently
able to obtain samples from two extant
branches of the Venus family, documented
through her great-grandaughters at the RAS,
Bint Rustem and Samiha (6), for testing by the
same laboratory that did the earlier work
(Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, University of
California at Davis). The purpose was to
determine if the two source mares (*Hadba and
Venus) were of the same maternal line.
The laboratory results show that the two
samples submitted in 2007 share the same
haplotype (affirming the maternal relationship of
Bint Rustem and Samiha lines), but it is not the
same haplotype previously reported for *Hadba.
Rather, it is the same haplotype previously
reported for Rodania and *Wadduda. Thus, we
have mtDNA for three well-known desert lines –
Rodania, *Wadduda, and Venus – of three
different recorded strains – Koheilan Rodan,
Saqlawi Al Abd, and Hadban Enzahi – that
share a common maternal-line ancestor.
Some scholars and breeders will find that
the relationship between the Rodania and Hadba
(Venus) lines is consistent with the history of
the Hadban detailed in the shaded box below.
Nothing in the mtDNA findings alters the
horses, or calls into question their quality or
authenticity, or alters the historic record of the
strains of these mares as assigned by their
Bedouin breeders. The story of how these lines
acquired different strain names, given the
conventional western understanding of Bedouin
strain tradition, lies somewhere in the past,
perhaps awaiting further investigation, or
perhaps lost in the sands of time.
(1) A. T. Bowling, A. Del Valle, and M. Bowling,
“A Pedigree-based Study of Mitochondrial Dloop
DNA Sequence Variation among Arabian
Horses,” Animal Genetics, 31 (2000): 1-7.
(2) Rosemary Archer and James Fleming, ed.,
Lady Anne Blunt, Journals & Correspondence
1878-1917, 1986, p. 333.
(3) Michael Bowling, “What’s In A Name?
Counting Doves a Century After They Hatch,”
Arabian Visions, 15: 2 (October 1998); reprinted
in Khamsat, 22: 1 (2005). Available on-line athttp://cmkarabians.com/articles/
(4) Kees Mol, “A Note on Bint Yamama,” in:
The Arabian Horse Families of Egypt 1979-
1987, 1995, pp. xi-xiv (also cited in Judith
Forbis, Authentic Arabian Bloodstock II, 2003,
pp. 310-316). See also Joan L. Schleicher, “Out
of the Mists: Tracing the Taproots of Heirloom,”
in: John W. Fippen, et al, Heirloom Egyptian
Arabian Horses, 1840-2000, 2004, pp. 45, 57-
62; and “Kafifan,” in: Heirloom…, p. 499.
(5) Davenport Arabian Horse Conservancy,
“What is a Davenport Arabian Horse?” http://
(6) Royal Agricultural Society (Dr. Abdel Alim
Ashoub, ed.), History of the Royal Agricultural
Society’s Stud of Authentic Arabian Horses,
1948, pp. 63-64.
(7) Gülson Sherif and Judith Forbis, The Abbas
Pasha Manuscript, 1993.
Shabat al Mani' of al Suwayt, and he is advanced in age, and Ali Mani', the son of the
brother of Shabat, who attended the gathering, were questioned in the presence of Sultan
ibn Suwayt and a large number of people.
"Tell us about their origin and what their strain was and from whom they came."
The above-mentioned replied, "Mani' was at the time of Beni Lam, who is from our
grandfathers...and she is Kuhayla om Maarif, and the reason for calling her Hadba at
Mani's was because he had a mare with a profusely long mane which covered her
forehead completely [hadba salifa], and for that reason she was called hadba. And she
passed from Mani' to Nazhi of al Fudul the day they forced them at the hillside of Massel.
And she was blessed at al Nazhi's, and she became hadban Nazhi from al Nazhi.
From al Nazhi her blood spread through the tribes, and we can recognize [claim] them
from the time of our fathers to this day.
And the people who were connected with our fathers and our first white-haired men
have told us and assured us that they are Hadb."
—From The Abbas Pasha Manuscript (7)