“Domestic Arabians” is the name given to Arabian horses bred in the United States. The bloodline for Domestic Arabians, like that of most Americans themselves, is a melting pot of influences from all over the world. However, the single most important event in the history of purebred Domestic Arabians was held on American soil.
THE 1893 CHICAGO WORLD’S FAIR
Forty Arabian horses were exported from the desert, along with their Bedouin handlers, to be part of the Ottoman Empire exhibit at the Chicago World’s Fair. They made a huge impact on the American horse breeders who witnessed them at the fair.
SULTAN ABDUL HAMID II
Abdul Hamid II was, from 1876 to 1909, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and he maintained a stud of Arabian horses whose ancestry was well documented. The Arabian Horse Club of America registered two of his stallions, *Leopard and *Linden Tree, after he donated them to President Ulysses S. Grant. The Hamidie Hipppodrome Society was a group of wealthy Arab investors which took its name from the Sultan and in which he had an interest. The Hamidie Society sponsored the equestrian portion of the Ottoman Empire exhibit at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and the Sultan contributed two of his prized horses. He later permitted the exportation of desert-bred Arabian mares to America as a favor to President Theodore Roosevelt.
THE FATE OF THE WORLD’S FAIR HORSES
Financial difficulties forced the Hamidie Society to sell all the horses from the Ottoman exhibit at the end of the World’s Fair. Many of the horses put up for sale were young stallions. One mare among the Hamidie horses was a grey beauty named Nejdme, who commanded $1200 at auction, an enormous price for a horse at the time. She was bought by J.A.P. Ramsdell, and went on to become the dam of eleven registered foals. Her blood is a common factor in many Domestic Arabians.
THE REPORTER WHO LOVED NEJDME
Homer Davenport was a journalist covering the World’s Fair for the Chicago Herald. He developed a fascination with the Arabian horses on display, and spent years after their auction tracking them down and studying their ancestry. He bought two of Nejdme’s foals and founded the Davenport Desert Arabian Studs. One of Davenport’s political cartoons had helped Theodore Roosevelt win the 1904 election. In return, Roosevelt lent his political clout to Davenport’s expedition to the desert in 1906. The result was that Davenport was able to not only bring back a quantity of stud colts, which were easy to obtain, but also eight purebred mares. Mares were illegal to export and required special permission from the Sultan. By 1910, Davenport had bought Nejdme, had imported Crabbet Park Arabians, and was well on his way to becoming one of the best-known breeders of Domestic Arabian horses. “Davenport Arabians” are direct descendants of his horses.
THE ARABIAN HORSE REGISTRY
In 1908, Davenport and his colleagues formed the Arabian Horse Registry of America. Nejdme was the first horse …