The stallion Sylvia talked about is *Oman, a german import, and is owned by Carolyn Tucker of Amara Farms, in Morgan Hill California. *Oman is a purebred Shagya stallion, bay, 15.3-1/2hh (really), does 4th level dressage (competes), jumps to 5 feet, wins many CTR competitions in his area, has attempted Tevis twice, the last time they got to the check within 13 miles of the finish and the vet said they could go, but Carolyn felt a foot/leg wasn`t quite right and so she pulled him (too valuable to risk and he`s her best friend, he`s fine now), and is licensed and approved with the International Sporthorse Registry/Oldenburg N.A.. There are 2 other bloodlines of Shagyas available in the United States. They came to the U.S. in 1986 and there are less than 150 purebreds registered at this time with NASS. Probably only about that many partbreds also. Separate registry. Purebred breeding stock MUST be inspected and approved (by Germans or other approved judges with International Shagya Society) before used for breeding.
The breed originated in 1789 in Babolna, Hungary. The Austro-Monarchy liked certain things about the purebred arabs, like their stamina, easy keeping abilities, movement. But wanted something a bit bigger, more bone, substance, calmer and with better riding and driving qualities for going to war, pulling artillery, etc.. Back then it was cheaper to fund state studs to produce your own horses for the cavalry than to buy from other countries. Countries went to war or had battles on average of every 7 years. Lots of horses died, they needed lots of replacements and often. So they developed the Shagya. For their foundation stock on the mares they started with performance proven mares of various breeds, including Arabs, TB`s, some of the local draft type mares and crosses of the above. Notice that the mares were performance tested, read, went to war and came back alive and had the qualities they were looking for and wanted to pass on. Sound, good feet, good legs, brains, willingness to please, etc. The Hungarians then went to Syria and thereabouts and looked high and low for quality purebred desert bred arabs to import for their breeding program. From that point on they only used their Shagyas or imported more desert bred Arabs for breeding every 4th generation. Their programs were far more complex than anything we do here, except maybe the TB on the race track.
Each Shagya was performance tested before being allowed into the breeding program. Both mares and stallions. A Shagya was sent to a regiment where careful records were kept on each horse. They did a 480 ride through forest, mountains and desert in 10 days, jumping, 2-mile sprints, long driving trips, etc., and factors of stamina, soundness, attitude, easy keeping abilities were all kept track of. Only about 1 in 30 stallions made the grade for breeding.
Before any purebred Arab stallion could be entered into the main breeding program, he had to breed 30 mares every year for 3 years. These would be Shagya mares and there would be 10 great quality, 10 medium quality and 10 lower quality (note: but still good enough for the breeding program). At the end of the 3 years all 90 offspring would be brought before breeding committee, if they did not meet the standard they and the stallion were eliminated from the breeding program. Read: sold to an agricultural based economy that used horses in everyday life.
The Shagya breed derived its name from the original Desertbred stallion "Shagya" which was imported from Syria in 1836. He was grey and stood about 16 hands according to the Babolna records. The Shagya was also developed, and is used, as an arab bloodstock source to improve other breeds. Shagyas when cross bred will retain size and substance while adding elegant correct movement. You can find them in many warm blood breeds. 2 or 3 Shagyas stood at the German State Hannoverian Stud during the 1960`s and the only outside bloodstock source allowed into the Lipizzans at Piber stud this century was a Shagya around 1980. In Europe Shagyas compete against warmbloods.
The Hungarian stud directors didn`t strive for anything over 16 hands although an occasional individual will get larger than that. They knew that Arabs over that size can have many soundness problems. The breed, since developed for war circumstances, excels at dressage, 3-day, hunter/jumper and endurance. They are prepotent for their traits mentioned before and are genetically predictable due to the Hungarian`s linebreeding program. IMO we`ve lost a lot of valuable knowledge over the years of other countries breeding programs that would help us today in our programs.
The Shagya has an interesting story, both in their country of origin, getting through WWII when most were slaughtered for food, and about how the foundation stallion was discovered here in the U.S. in Montana.
For my own personal part, I and O`Biwon have done three 50 mile endurance rides this year. Most people can`t believe they are riding next to a stallion, if they find out. Most don`t. He eats well, drinks well, is extremely sure footed (none of the silly 4 year old stumble bunnies that my other young arabs all had to go through before getting it figured out), not spooky, calm, takes things in stride, is under criteria at the vet checks when we come in even with all the excitement going on. Resting pulse in the pasture of 28. At the rides he was anywhere from 32 to 56, usually was around 48. He can go all alone or with a group, he doesn`t need another horse for motivation to just go on and on. Has a HUGE trot that we are still developing and a very comfortable cadenced canter. Correct legs, excellent feet that wear evenly, (seems impervious to rocks with or without shoes), tracks straight and is my pal. He`s very pleasant to be around as a companion. He just turned 6 in Sept. Next year we hope to take in a couple of dressage competitions, and go to a few more 50 mile rides just for completing. I can`t guarantee that all Shagyas are just like him, but based on what I`ve seen and heard, most are. They are trusting, sensitive, and would most likely follow you into the house.
Sorry for taking up so much space, but there seemed to be several people interested in the breed and rather than post each one separately, I did it this way in case there were more people interested.
Shagya stallion O`Biwon (*Oman xAerial AF)