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Skowronek


File:Skowronek22.jpg
Lady Wentworth and her prized Arabian stallion, Skowronek

Skowronek (a name meaning lark or skylark in Polish) was an Arabian stallion foaled in 1909. He was bred by Count Józef Potocki who owned the Antoniny Stud in Poland. He was imported to England as a young horse. Upon purchase by Lady Wentworth, Skowronek became a foundation stallion at Lady Wentworth's famed Crabbet Arabian Stud. He was most often crossed on mares who were daughters or granddaughters of the stallion Mesaoud, another foundation stallion for Crabbet, who had been bred by Ali Pasha Sherif and imported from Egypt to England by Lady Wentworth's parents, Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt.

Skowronek was a gray stallion, on the small side, noted for his outstanding Arabian type, particularly his fine head and overall correct conformation. Lady Wentworth preferred to breed taller Arabians, but also wanted to preserve Arabian type and beauty, and Skowronek helped her accomplish this goal.[1]

Contents

Early background

File:Skowronek1.jpg
Skowronek as a young horse

The English painter Walter Winans bought Skowronek from Count Josef Potocki's Antoniny Stud. Winas had originally gone to Poland to hunt game at Count Potocki's private animal park, Piławin, located north of Antoniny, where he spotted the gray stallion and purchased him for 150 pounds. Winans rode the stallion and used him as a model for several bronzes, then sold Skowronek to Mr. Webb Wares, "who rode him as a hack," and eventually sold him to H.V. Musgrave Clark, where he was shown and used at stud for the first time, coming to the attention of Lady Wentworth.[2]

Lady Wentworth bought the Skowronek under circumstances that remain a bit confusing even today. Clark believed he was selling the horse to an American exporter, but at the last minute, the export was cancelled and Lady Wentworth suddenly was the owner of Skowronek. Clark was a rival Arabian breeder, and Lady Wentworth may have used the agent as a front; concerned that if Clark had known she was interested, he may have increased the price - or refused to sell the horse at all. Clark was not happy with the result, and the two breeders had a somewhat cool relationship after she purchased the stallion.[3]

While Count Potocki apparently found Skowronek unimpressive as a colt, having sold him to Winans for a relatively low price, he matured into a very fine stallion. Lady Wentworth later turned down an offer of $250,000 from the Tersk Stud in the Soviet Union and bragged that she once received a cable "from the Antipodes" addressed to "Skowronek, England." The outcross of the original Crabbet stock with Skowronek was extremely successful, and the resulting animals not only sold thrughout England but were exported to Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Russia and the USA.

Skowronek died in February 1930 at the age of 22. Lady Wentworth donated the stallion's skeleton (showing 17 pair of ribs and five lumbar vertebrae) to the British Museum in London.[4]

Pedigree controversy

File:Skowronek 0003.jpg
Skowronek at Crabbet as a mature stallion

There was some controversy attached to Skowronek. Lady Wentworth herself was satisfied that Skowronek was a purebred (or asil) Arabian.[2] In the General Stud Book, however, Skowronek's pedigree ends with three grandparents. Some Arabian enthusiasts questioned if Skowronek was in fact a purebred. for two reasons. First his sire, Ibrahim, was desert-bred and imported to Poland via Turkey, but because of this route of importation, some claimed the stallion was actually a Turkoman horse.[5] The other challenge was because the Poles also crossed Arabian stallions on Thoroughbred and other non-Arabian mares, leading some researchers to question the accuracy of the stud books. In addition, further confusion occurred because it was common practice for some European breeders to refer to horses by the location they were foaled, rather than by their pedigree, and hence Potocki was at times quoted as saying the horses at his stud were not "desert-bred." However, his statement could be understood as meaning that they were foaled in Poland.

Skowronek's dam Jaskoulka (variously known as Yascolka or Yaskolka; from Polish jaskółka, "swallow") was in fact a Polish-bred purebred Arabian. The Poles had bred Arabians for centuries and kept careful pedigree records dating to at least 1800.[6] Research of Jaskoulka's pedigree shows that her sire Rymnik and her dam Epopeja (also spelled Epopeia or Epopya) both traced to Abbas Pasha horses.[6] The Bedouin tribe that produced the desert-bred Ibrahim was also identified, along with the strain name of his sire and dam.[7] Nonetheless, due to this controversy, some private breeders' organizations, such as Al Khamsa, exclude descendants of Skowronek.

Descendants

Famous Skowronek get included his sons Raffles, purchased by the American breeder Roger Selby, and the stallions Raswan and Raseyn, exported to the W.K.Kellogg Arabian Stud in the United States. Another son, Naseem, often said to be Skowronek's finest offspring, was exported to the Tersk Stud in the Soviet Union. His daughter Jalila was sold to the stud of the Duke of Veragua in Spain, where she became the dam of the famed sire Nana Sahib.

References

  1. Edwards, Gladys Brown. The Arabian: War Horse to Show Horse. Arabian Horse Association of Southern California, Rich Publishing, Revised Collector's edition (1973).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Wentworth, Judith Anne Dorothea Blunt-Lytton. The Authentic Arabian Horse, 3rd ed. George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1979
  3. "Skowronek"
  4. Mulder, Carol W., "Skowronek" 1989
  5. Edwards, p. 214
  6. 6.0 6.1 Edwards, p. 216
  7. Edwards, p. 214, 216

See also

  • Walter Winans



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