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The Hearst Importation of 1947
By Suzi Morris © 2003

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In 1945, Preston Dyer, Jr. became manager of San Simeon Stables and believed new blood was needed for the San Simeon breeding program. He was convinced that an expedition in search of horses was necessary, and William Randolph Hearst readily agreed.

Dyer met with Prince Fouaz of the Rualla Bedouin Tribe at a U.N. meeting in San Francisco and enlisted his help. Dyer also arranged for John Williamson, grandson of W. K. Kellogg, to come with him as official photographer, and Dr. Pulling as the veterinarian. George Hearst, son of William Randolph Hearst, represented the family interests.

They flew to England, spent several weeks looking at horses, and then proceeded through France on to Cairo, leaving son George in Paris to prepare documents and organize shipping arrangements and, as Mrs. Hearst comments in her book The Horses of San Simeon: "...look over the fillies on the Champs Elysées." (p.184).

From Cairo, Dyer spent almost six months traveling and looking at horses Bedouin with his horse from among those owned by various Arab princes, sheiks, and tribal Bedouins, but he did not encounter horses of the quality he was seeking. This was not due to the customary emaciated condition of the animals, but simply because of utter lack of Arabian type and quality, along with poor conformation and a conglomeration of unsoundnesses.

Preston Dyer and Henri Pharoun Eventually they went to Beirut, where Dyer met Henri Pharoun, the former French foreign minister to Lebanon, and from Pharoun's horses at the Beirut Racetrack, Pharoun's stud farms, and from tribal desert sources in this immediate area, Dyer selected six stallions and eight mares.

*Zamal at the Beirut Racetrack These fourteen horses, ranging in age from two to eleven years old and all bred in the desert of Syria, were:

The stallions: *Arkane, *Bourhane, *Ghamil, *Mounwer, *Snounou, and *Zamal

The mares: *Bint Rajwa, *Layya, *Lebnaniah, *Kouhailane, *Mansourah, *Najwa, *Nouwayra, and *Rajwa

After unbelievable difficulties, including 28 days at sea Horses in Transit confined to specially constructed crate stalls, a 48-hour hurricane, a cholera epidemic, a train trip trip across the United States, and a rugged journey by truck from San Luis Obispo up California's old coastal highway to San Simeon, those 14 desert-bred horses arrived in good health ~ quite a testimony to their great powers of endurance and stamina.

The total cost of the expedition in 1947 was about $100,000 (or about $7,000 per horse) and the party traveled over 25,000 miles through England, France, Italy, Tripoli, Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Iraq, the northern Arabian Desert, and Lebanon.

Mrs. Hearst and Mr. Conn both cite the February-March 1948 issue of The Horse Lover magazine which described this importation as " of the greatest shipments of Arabian horses ever to reach the United States....San Simeon is now in a position to assume national as well as world leadership in the breeding and preservation of the noble, ancient, and world-esteemed Arabian horse, and horsemen everywhere will rejoice to know that in America there reposes a goodly supply of that 'eternal beast ~ the Arabian horse' not only a good horse in himself, but one whose blood has made other breeds great....America and the world owe a debt of gratitude to the owners and management of the San Simeon Stables for their most worthy contribution to the end."

Unfortunately, William Randolph Hearst died shortly after this (1951) and the executors of his estate sold many of the horses. But William Randolph Hearst, Jr. and his wife Austine were able to purchase from the estate *Zamal, *Mounwer, and *Rajwa, along with Mounigha and Rahas, and it is from these very same select horses that we constructed our own foundations for the breeding program of Arieana Arabians.

~Suzi Morris (10/19/03)
(Photo copies of Bedouin tribesman, Preston Dyer with Henri Pharoun, and The Horses in Transit courtesy of Windwalker). Updated with Strain Information courtesy of Kristi Johnson, D.V.M., June 13, 2005.

Conn, George H., "Pure-Bred Arabian Horses Imported Into The United States (1879-1948)," The Arabian Horse in America. A. S. Barnes and Company, New York, New York. 1972. pp. 183-186.

Edwards, Gladys Brown, The Arabian War Horse to Show Horse, Arabian Horse Trust, Denver, Colorado. 1980. p. 107

Hearst, Denise. "Hearst Breeding", Arabian Horse World, July, 1982, Palo Alto, California. pp. 396-407.

Hearst, Jr., Mrs. William Randolph, "Chapter 11/The Arabians," The Horses of San Simeon, San Simeon Press, San Simeon, California. 1985. pp. 180-201.

The Horses of San Simeon. Arabian Heritage Video Library. Arabian Horse Trust, Denver, Colorado. 1988.

Personal Interview with John Williamson, May 22, 1999, W. K. Kellogg Library, Pomona, California

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This brief overview of The Hearst Importation of 1947 has been written with special gratitude to John Williamson for his many hours of relating to me his experiences and memories of this remarkable adventure and for his generous gifting of his private photo collection from this expedition to the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library.

Suzi Morris
28952 Via Hacienda
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675-5546
Phone: 949-248-1260

Copyright ©2003-2012. Website designed and maintained by Suzi Morris and all rights reserved. This page created for Arieana's Heritage Notebook Fall 2003. Updated June 13, 2005. Current as of August 13, 2012.