The Blue Arabian Horse Catalog

What is it and why do I keep talking about it? (and why don't I finish the FAQ I started last year for the sidebar?)

It's a catalog of horses, a list, that was compiled in a blue spiral notebook in the 1950s and published by Miss Jane Llewellyn Ott as The Blue Arabian Horse Catalog in 1961. ...and I'll quote a couple of snips from the "Purpose of the Catalog" page, the first paragraph and the last.

The Blue Arabian Horse Catalog is published to encourage the preservation and increased production of the type of Arabian Horse originally found in the possession of the Bedouin tribes of Arabia, and bred in other countries by breeders whose foundation stock was drawn entirely from those tribes. The Catalog is devoted to those bloodlines which it's sponsors believe to be suitable for that purpose, and is designed to help the American breeders identify those animals still living.


The Arabian breeders of earlier days could afford to throw the last of their stock into the new types, for they, or their grandchildren, could always trek back to the desert for a fresh supply of the original breed; but when our grandchildren trek back to the desert they will be offered a fine assortment of used cars. And that will be that.

..."that will be that" always hits me hard. The reason is that even with all that's been done, it has not been enough. We still have these horses, but for how long? The numbers are dismal, only about 150 available as breeding stock. Our grandchildren may be able to enjoy them, but it's likely their grandchildren will not.

Why is that? It's because they are dying without being replaced by progeny within the group. So many times, the typical human response to that statement is to question - if they aren't being bred, is it because they aren't worthwhile? And the answer is a resounding "No!". In a horribly convoluted way, it's because they are so valued....

People don't understand -- let me try to explain. Because of the thousands of years of linebreeding, hard use and intense culling at the hands of the Bedouin tribes, the 'Blue' horses' blood is prepotent for a range of qualities. Riders, both families and professionals, love them for a very long list of reasons. Breeders love them for the ability to pass those reasons to their offspring, but at some point there seems to be a disconnect or a misconception about who and what they are, and why they can do what they do, not only as themselves, but in adding those qualities to other types and breeds of horses.

The Blue Catalog makes an analogy of the horses to coffee that I like. Consider horses to be coffee. The Blue horses are like black coffee. They are the source. If you want to drink coffee, no matter how you like it, you start with 'straight' coffee. If you want an Arabian horse, you start with a Blue.

Many people like a little milk and sugar in their coffee. It's even popular these days to drink it with caramel and whipped cream.

But the problem is, once you have added anything, you can never take it back out. If you start with a cup of black coffee and add milk and caramel, when someone comes along that wants it with sugar and cream (only), it's not available. They have to take a cup with milk, caramel, sugar and cream. They'll probably be okay with that, but when the next person comes along that wants a cup of pure, straight, strong black coffee - there isn't any.

So what a reasonable coffee brewer will do is keep a pot of black and pour out what is needed to mix the specialty drinks.

My other favorite analogy is the color pallet. You start with the primary colors. With those few colors, an artist can mix an endless rainbow, but if they don't keep a pool of the base colors, they can never go back and recreate them. If the artist mixes and stirs and paints, and mixes some more until they end up with anything from fluorescent purple to muddy brown - they can never get back to the bright, clear, simple red, blue, green or white.

So why don't breeders at least replace the Blue mares they love? I don't have an answer to that. It is possible that they don't understand what they have or why she produces so well. It's possible they don't understand how few of those mares are left. I don't know how to reach those people.

I didn't mean to go into all that, but, to get to my point in my typical round-a-bout fashion, it's important to understand where we stand and how invigorating it was, last weekend, to have a group of concerned riders and breeders sitting around a table and talking about how to raise awareness of these horses.

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