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A Really Great Story
As shared with us by Dee Van Gilder

From Hippologische Blaetter, April 4, 1842

About 1815 or 1820, when Kurshid Pasha was governor of the Nejd [the central and southern Arabian Peninsula], some Englishmen who had brought Thoroughbreds out with them, proposed to race against the Arabs; this was agreed, only the English asked for a delay of forty days in order to get their horses in condition. The Arabs, whose racehorses are always fit, did not know what they meant, but agreed to the delay, and the meeting took place on the agreed day. The Arabs asked the English to choose which horses were to race, and inquired how many days the race was to last. Now it was the English who were astonished, and they answered, "Our races only last an hour." Whereupon the Bedouin burst out laughing, being of the opinion it was not worth the trouble of training a horse for forty days and then only running for an hour. But as the English explained, this was their custom at home, and after such training they would beat the Arabs as they had beaten all other Europeans.

The Bedouin laughed again; but when two animals enveloped in felt from top to toe, led by two miserable creatures hardly recognizable as men—the English grooms—appeared, they laughed even louder at the long-legged gaunt creatures and thought they were being made fun of, and it took all the persuasive powers of Kurshid Pasha, who was present, to get them to run at all. While a skinny stable lad was mounting his equally emaciated steed, a stocky Bedouin, lance in hand, swung into the saddle of his normal-sized mount.

It was agreed to race for three hours, and at a given signal they started. After the first half-hour the English were leading, but the Nejdis soon caught up with them, at last passing them, so that the English passed the post a long time after the Arabs. The English horses were winded and stood stock still, while the Nejdis were still gay, stamping the ground and challenging their opponents to a further match. As for the Arab riders, they shrugged their shoulders over a horse that is not fit to gallop on after only three hours.

Schiele, Erika, The Arab Horse in Europe. Borden Publishing Company, Alhambra, CA. 1970. pp. 28-29.

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We thank Dee Van Gilder for her leadership and support of the CMK Arabian Race Horse through the years and for sharing this article for you to enjoy on our website. For more information on Arabian Horse Racing in the Pacific Northwest, please visit her website: Van Gilder Arabians.

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

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Copyright © 2003-2012. Website designed and maintained by Suzi Morris and all rights reserved. This page created for Arieana's Racing Notebook Summer 2003. Revised and Current as of August 10, 2012.