short story about Walter Winan's
Purchase of Skowronek
from Arabians (March 1985) by Suzi Morris
with photos from various sources.
has always played a pivotal role in the making of history. The tale of
how Skowronek, a most influential
stallion of this century, was rescued from certain death in the World
War I slaughter of Polish horses, is one such example.
a son of the desert-bred stallion Ibrahim, was bred by Count Josef
Potocki of Poland. The Count's Antoniny Stud lay just south of his
private zoo, called the Forest of Pilawin. A European Bison [ Aurochs] Bull
indirectly responsible for Skowronek's importation to England in 1913, which
saved him from the fate that would later meet his sire and all his
stablemates ~ death at the hands of the Russian troops.
bull at Potocki's zoo had begun killing off its sons as soon as they
reach maturity. Potocki decided to shoot the old bison to put an end to
his killings. However, some of the Count's friends thought that the bull
should be given to the Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg.
Zoo, upon being approached by the idea, telegraphed "Don't shoot ~
letter follows." But the letter did not reach the Count in time,
for an American painter/sculptor came on the scene offering 1,500
England pounds to be allowed to shoot the bull, and his offer was
The American Walter Winans lost no time in traveling to
the Polish estate, packing a huge Winchester repeater. He enlisted 300
peasants as beaters and 25 gamekeepers, all blowing madly on hunting
horns. The old bull, dazed by this ear-splitting barrage, stood in the
midst of it all and was quickly overcome.
The following day,
after Winans went hunting with the Potocki staghounds, he decided that
he wanted to buy the coach-and-four in which he rode to the site of the
hunt. He even requested that the coachman be thrown in as part of the
Instead of agreeing to sell his coach and coachman, Potocki
took Winans to the stallion stables and had the three-year-old colts
shown to the American.
Suddenly, Winans spied the colt
"I like that one," he said, "How much is he?"
Potocki replied, "Fifteen hundred pounds."
batting an eye, Winans wrote the check out, then and there. He
subsequently took Skowronek to England, where he was living at
Winans, who raised trotting horses, not Arabians, had
purchased the stallion to use as a model for his sculpting. He made several
bronzes in the likeness of the stallion, and these were exhibited for
many years at the Royal Academy in England. He later sold Skowronek
to his friend Mr. Webb-Ware who in his turn sold him to H.V. Musgrave
Clark from whom Lady Wentworth later acquired him and under whose ownership Skowronek became famous.
Skowronek was saved from certain destruction by the whim of an eccentric
American artist and hunter. Today it is indeed difficult to imagine the
Arabian breed without the influence of Skowronek.