The Jewish Question: Breeders, Part 2
I didn’t intend for nearly ten months to pass before I wrote the second installment of what I had originally envisioned to be this (ambitious) series of articles that would simultaneously inform and captivate with the particulars and peculiarities of breeding SE (Straight Egyptian) Arabian horses, conflated with political and social satire of my choosing.
Initially I had planned for my second article to be about bloodlines, in which I would compare the small gene pool of SE Arabian horses with George W. Bush’s narrow gene pool and eventually demonstrate in some novel way reasons why, according to my almost 97-year-old Grandmother Sue, he is a worse president than even Warren G. Harding (and how many people can make such a comparison first-hand?). But then it became clear around that time that most everyone—even his Revelations-loving core constituents—thought he was a horse’s ass (breed of horse’s ass unspecified), and whether he deserved it or not, ridiculing the President seemed akin to taunting the kid in class, who because he picked his nose or kept his fingernail clippings in a Mason jar or smelled like pee, made it safe for even geeky crybaby kids like me to participate in some Lord of the Flies-style stone-throwing, which coming from an adult seems at once undignified and unfunny.
Moreover, an unrelated bloodline issue weighed on me. Specifically my bloodlines. I’m a purebred descendant of Ashkenazic Jews. I can trace every line in my pedigree all the way to my great grandparents (and even great great grandparents in a few cases) to a set area ranging from what is now Eastern Poland to Belarus, and perhaps stretching north into Lithuania.
My breeding oddly parallels that of the SE Arabian, which according to The Pyramid Society, must:
(1) be registered or eligible by pedigree for registration by the Arabian Horse Association [http://www.arabianhorses.org/registration/reg_breed_conformation.asp]; AND
(2) trace in every line of its pedigree to horses born in Arabia Deserta; AND
(3) trace in every line of its pedigree to a horse which falls within one or more of the following categories:
(a) owned or bred by Abbas Pasha I or Ali Pasha Sherif;
(b) used to create and maintain the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS)/Egyptian Agricultural Organization (EAO) breeding programs, with the exclusion of Registan and Sharkasi and their lineal descendants;
(c) a horse which was a lineal ancestor of a horse described in (a) or (b) above; and
(*) other than those excluded above, a horse conceived and born in a private stud program in Egypt and imported directly to the United States and registered by the Arabian Horse Registry of America prior to the extension of the EAO’s supervision to private Egyptian stud programs as reflected in Volume 4 of the EAO’s stud book.
Nevertheless, I’ve long had the impression that people of my religion and ethnicity are not especially welcome by those inhabiting the land of the desert horse. And I’m not one to stick around somewhere just to prove a point.
*Image: San Sabbah Isis, who belongs to the author.
It all started with something I read in The Horses of the Sahara, an obscure book published in 1850, by a French general named E. Daumas. General Daumas, who spent decades in Algeria during his country’s protracted subjugation thereof, wrote this study of the Algerian horse (which apparently had the characteristics of Arabians and that other seminal ancient hot-blood, the Barb) to give his European contemporaries an understanding of the “chief weapon of war… of Arabic horsemen… and… is of interest not only to the art of horsemanship but also to our dominion in Algeria.”
In the book, Daumas describes both the ways in which the Arabs (as he calls them; I’m unclear whether he was talking specifically of Algerians or of Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East) breed, raise, and train their horses and the characteristics and qualities of their horses.
Daumas devotes one chapter specifically to horse color because the Arabs in his acquaintance have such keen preference. According to them, the bay (typically a reddish-brown horse with a black mane, tail, and lower legs, although some bays’ body color can be nearly black) “is the hardiest and the most sober,” while the chestnut is the swiftest.
Then there is the “yellow of the Jew.” This color is so reviled, writes Daumas, that:
A chieftan would not ride such an animal, and there are even tribes who would not permit him to spend the night in one of their camps… That color brings misfortune.
The iron gray
And the yellow of the Jew
If his master returns (from combat)
Cut off my hand.
Daumas describes the yellow of the Jew as a yellow dun with a flaxen mane and tail. In other words, a palomino like Roy Rogers’ Trigger. The color of a mint gold coin. I can’t decide whether it’s ironic or fitting.
The concept of “type” in horses is analogous to type in humans, in that people definitely have preferences. Roy Rogers, of course, was a palomino man. William Shatner breeds American Saddlebreds, perhaps because this high-stepping breed reflects his unique flamboyance (Several years ago an ex-wife of Shatner sued the actor because he alledgedly gave the woman frozen, rather than fresh-cooled semen from one of his stallions when “[p]otential buyers of the breeding privileges do not want the semen in frozen format.” That’s a whole topic in itself). And to continue with the celebrity and horse comparison, Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze likes SE Arabians for their beauty and harmonious physique. “I am a dancer, and I can tell when a body is made with function in mind. A healthy Arabian is built for function,” he says in an oddly translated article posted on the StraightEgyptians.com Web site.
Type also pertains to a breed standard or ideal. In other words, you will not mistake a “typey” Arabian Horse for any other breed, even when most light horse breeds can claim some (or a lot of) Arabian blood. According to the Arabian Horse Association’s Web site, “[a]n Arabian can most readily be identified by its finely chiseled head with a dished face, long arching neck, and high tail carriage.”
Type also takes into account a horse’s disposition. SE breeding pioneer Judith Forbis writes in her book The Classic Arabian:
The inner qualities must come first: love, courage, dignity, gentility, honesty, spirit, loyalty, grace, intelligence, and willingness to please. Without these transcendent values, the physical form cannot function and inspire.
And apparently you can breed for temperament, just as you can for a chiseled head or arched neck. Bazy Tankersley, a living legend in the Arabian breeding world, said at the Al Khaima Preservation Symposium in February 2005:
Naturally, the Arab Nomads [sic] had to put a high value on disposition. When you think… that they shared their tents during sandstorms with their mares and foals, disposition was paramount. Too few breeders select for disposition today, and we know that is very heriditary. [emphasis mine]
Yet another legendary Arabian horse breeder Wayne Newton (yes, Wayne Newton. He has bred some of the finest Arabians in the last 40-something years) said in an interview in the October 2006 issue of Arabian Horse Times:
If you are on an Arabian horse and you come up to a creek, other horses will often just trot across the creek. An Arabian horse won’t. He’ll put his head down and smell the water and decide if it’s safe. And then if it’s safe for him, it’s safe for you. They are inherently a people horse; they were bred to be. [emphasis mine]
Were you to make similar generalizations about different races or ethnic groups among homo sapiens, however, you might make yourself vulnerable to public censure—or agreement from people with whom you might be ashamed to associate.
Now this isn’t 100-percent true. When the celebrity rags first published the news about Angelina Jolie’s pregnancy by Brad Pitt, I participated in several discussions about the results of their mating. A friend of mine went so far as to liken Brad Pitt to a Palomino Quarter Horse—beautiful but bland—and suggested a better “nick” for Angelina would have been George Clooney because Clooney is refined and showy, much like an Arabian stallion—and although my friend and I were laughing at the comparison, I thought her point was well-taken (Tom Cruise’s and Katie Holmes’ offspring is a whole ’nother story—please see the discussion of AI [artificial insemination] in my first article.
Meanwhile, in 2005, a trio of scientists published a paper in the Journal of Biosocial Science (the journal was called The Eugenics Review until 1968, a full 23 years after the Jews and other exterminated peoples fucked up racists’ ability to freely discuss the merits of that science) postulating that Ashkenazic Jews score an average of 12-15 points higher on IQ tests than the mean population, boast a disproportionate number of Nobel Prize winners (three percent of the American population but 27 percent of all American prize winners), over half of the world’s chess champions, and are prone to peculiar degenerative neurological diseases like Tays-Sachs and Gaucher’s disease because of natural selection.
To (broadly) paraphrase: Ashkenazim in Medieval Europe performed tasks forbidden to Christians, like moneylending, because they were discriminated from doing anything else, like being serfs on a nobleman’s estate or being said nobleman (really the options weren’t much better for the Christian majority when you think about it, although even those serfs weren’t accused of blood libel and massacred, among other advantages). Because these professions demanded intellectual stamina, the most successful Jews were the smartest Jews, and the smartest Jews typically had the largest families, according to the studies cited by the paper. Since exogamy was unheard of, those brainy genes concentrated within those successful descendants, until Jews became so diabolically smart that you end up with purebreds like me, who have the creepy ability to memorize birthdays and phone numbers and wrestle with depression.
Almost four years ago, there was a post in the etcetera jobs section of LA Craig’s List seeking out people of Ashkenazic (central or eastern European ancestry) Jewish origin for a study on clinical depression. To qualify for this study you had to be a purebred Ashkenazic Jew—all four of your grandparents had to have been of those particular strains of Jews originating (over the last thousand years or so) in Eastern Europe. You also had to have been diagnosed with clinical depression, preferably by a psychiatrist of Ashkenazic Jewish background (ok, maybe that part wasn’t true, but hell, it might as well have been!).
It involved two short visits at $100 a visit and a “small blood draw,” and seeking out easy money (and curiosity), I called. As the woman on the other line confirmed my breeding, I cracked, “You guys ought to do a study of Ashkenazim who aren’t depressed, and see what you come up with!”
Statistics and assumptions notwithstanding, it seems fairly easy to be skeptical of this whole natural selection thing. First of all, the way in which education was stressed in my family (to the point where it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t graduate from top-tier university) has its roots in a culture that celebrates learning and discourse. Furthermore, this emphasis on education was not limited to Ashkenazic Jews; Maimonides was a Sephardic Jew, and he was no slouch. And going back to the Ashkenazic Jews, their shtetls were so isolated from the surrounding Christian towns that the majority of Jewish males probably did not end up working as moneylenders. There were other positions to fill, like milkman, butcher, bookseller, and village idiot.
And did you know diarrhea is hereditary? Yep. It runs in your jeans.
My breeding operation, the thing that allows me to file (legitimately) my Schedule F (an IRS form for self-employed farmers and farming businesses), consists of one six-year-old bay “sober and hardy” SE mare named San Sabbah Isis. She is what you would call a “typey” mare—you see her and think Arabian. She has a gorgeous dry dished head with a big soft eye, a beautifully arched neck, a floating trot, and she’s gentle, intelligent, curious, and opinionated. She learns quickly, but don’t expect her to do something just because you tell her to. “Why?” is part of her vocabulary.
I wasn’t committed to breeding Isis last year for several reasons, the first being that she still lives with her original breeder and owner in Texas (I don’t as yet have a physical farm). Second, breeding is expensive. Stud fees aren’t cheap (as little as $500 and as much as $10,000 and more, but typically anywhere between $2,500 to $8,000 for a quality “name-brand” SE stallion), and they don’t include semen shipping, mare care and vet bills, and the cost of caring for a foal, which could be more than $10,000, not including feeding, vet, and in my case, boarding.
Finally, being a complete novice, I would not breed Isis to any horse that I didn’t see in person, something that experienced breeders usually won’t do either. And in the fall of 2005, I hadn’t seen that many stallions. There were the eight breeding stallions at Arabians Ltd., but one of the studs is Isis’ sire Thee Infidel, and another is her grandsire (and Thee Infidel’s sire), Thee Desperado, the horse featured in my first article. Three more were Thee Desperado sons. Another, Bellagio RCA, has a dam who is a daughter of Thee Desperado. The dam of another stallion, Alixir, was a daughter of Thee Desperado’s sire, The Minstril. Isis’ dam is also a Minstril daughter.
Arabians Ltd.’s primary outcross stallion at the moment is a German-bred stallion, Mishaal HP, and while he is a beautiful stallion with the sort of head you’d see in Greek sculpture, I declined choosing him for two reasons. One, I didn’t feel (and intuition is all I had at that point) Mishaal would improve on Isis and might inadvertently magnify her conformational weaknesses, particularly in her croup and length of hip*.
Second, there are so many broodmares with bloodlines similar to Isis that I was concerned that breeding her to the Arabians Ltd. endorsed outcross stallion meant I would be competing unnecessarily with too many other offspring. I know people say a great horse is a great horse, but when your foal is part of the glut of pretty good horses, you find yourself trying to sell your foal in the trade classifieds for less than the cost you forked out to get your mare bred in the first place.
*The croup, which is the horse’s rump, and the length of hip determine a horse’s ability to propel itself—in other words, if you compared a horse to a car, its rear would act as the engine and its back as the transmission—which is why you want a short back as well. Isis’ croup and length of hip are not bad—she actually moves really well—but I wanted to find a stud that could improve rather than potentially do the opposite.
Then I discovered *Laheeb. His pedigree was about as much of an outcross you can find relatively easily within the small SE gene pool, and he was standing at a farm two hours outside of Los Angeles, where he had been leased for the 2006 and 2007 breeding seasons. He looked pretty in the photos (although this practice of shaving around an Arabian’s eyes to show more of the horses black skin and to make his eyes look bigger, gives the horse a creepy Baby Jane quality that I find distracting and ugly), and in the video sent to me, he had sired with some world-champion get (that’s horse-talk for a stallion’s offspring), and I’d get a 50 percent discount on his stud fee if I committed before December 15th.
The photos and video did not prepare me for the horse. He was stunning. Plop a sprial horn in the wide space between his small tippy-typey ears, and he would pass as a unicorn (the modern version, the kind you see on black-light tapestries, not the ones with cloven hooves and billy-goat beards).
But his calm disposition was paradoxically more dazzling than his masculine beauty. The stud farm manager and co-lessee led *Laheeb around using just a simple web halter, rather than the usual lead shank and chain. Later, as the stud farm manager and I discussed some specifics beside *Laheeb’s stall, *Laheeb stood with his head hanging over the stall door in between us, just part of the conversation. I wanted to breed for disposition as much for beauty and usability, and Isis’ disposition was something I didn’t want to squander on an addle-brained horse, no matter how handsome.
Interestingly, *Laheeb is considered “Jewish,” at least by some breeders. An Israeli farm Ariela Arabians bred and owns this horse, and the stud farm manager told me that now that *Laheeb is in the States, American-born managers from some big Persian Gulf farms have been calling because their bosses, who were unwilling to taint their mares with Jewish Arabian blood, can now see past his birthplace.
*Laheeb. It means “the flame,” in Arabic, but I, with my ganglions potentially chock full of Ashkenazic paranoia genes (perhaps what you get as a consolation prize when you don’t suffer from any of those deadly neurological disorders), hear something different.
Soon I was paging through old issues of Arabian trade magazines at SE-related events and special SE inserts looking for names that appeared Jewish. I knew there were American Jews breeding Arabians; the stud farm manager who was leasing *Laheeb was Jewish himself, but focused on Polish bloodlines. I knew of another Jewish breeder (a plastic surgeon who died this past year after being thrown off his horse during a trail ride) whose obituary was in the locally published paper, The Jewish Journal, but he also concentrated on Polish and “domestic” lines from what I could tell.
The only name I found among SE breeders that appeared Jewish to me was “Weisman” of all names. This Weisman breeder hailed from rural Nebraska, however, and I can’t picture any Jews I know being able to handle the rural Midwest for more than the time it takes to cross Interstate 80. So I Googled for “Weisman Jewish Name,” and found a link to a Web page on Jewfaqs.org that discusses Jewish surnames.
According to the site, only three surnames (and their variations) specifically are Jewish: Cohen (although not “Cohan,” as in “George M. Cohan,”), Levy, and Israel, and it continues by saying that “a lot of the surnames that sound Jewish to Americans are simply German names such as Klein, Gross or Grossman, Weiss or Weisman,” and so forth. On reading that, my next Google search was, “Weisman Not Jewish Name,” and found halfway down the list, Weisman Publications with the helpful URL seek-info.com (note: I just performed the same search—now a year after my original one—and this link didn’t show up with that particular search criteria).
This Web site clearly demonstrates that Weisman, as in my surname, as in W-E-I-S-M-A-N, is not an expressly Jewish name (unless we’re dealing with super-duper self-hating Jews!) since it features such titles as What World Famous Men Said About Jews, Henry Ford’s The International Jew, and Behind Communism, which the Web site describes as “probably the single greatest book ever written exposing the Jewish influence behind the world communist conspiracy.” This publishing house also sells natural and alternative health products, something that a vegetarian like Hitler might have appreciated.
The publisher, Charles Weisman, is a prolific writer, and authored several of the books available on the Web site, including Who Is Esau-Edom? which discusses how today’s Jews descend from Esau, whom G-d apparently hated, and Antichrists in the Land, which includes a pretty standard antichrist inventory of feminists, communists, and pornographers, as well as Jews.
I’ve considered contacting Mr. Weisman for some review copies, not concerning myself with him potentially seeing me as a cheap Jew—but really, if I were he, I wouldn’t. In Esau-Edom, he writes:
The fact is that the Jews were known only as destroyers in ancient history, not creators. They have developed no science, have produced no art, have built no great cities, and alone have no talent for the finer things of civilized life. The Jews claim to be the torchbearers of civilization, but through their parasitic habits have deteriorated or destroyed every nation in which they have existed in large numbers. (p. 28)
I mean he’s not wrong. You know an assertion is truly asinine when you’re not outraged by its content. Torchbearer, indeed. Just call me *Laheeb.