“It was a great evening. Still one thing bothered me. I had not yet made friends with my mare. She fretted and was nervous. … So I let her fret. We rode on for miles over dirt and rock and Wadduda still seemed fretful. She wanted something; that was evident, but what it was I could not quite make out. Then suddenly I was enlightened.
Just as the big red sun was setting we came to the desert. Wadduda stopped as if she were paying some tribute to the closing day. The faint roadway now seemed to disappear and before us was a vast barren plain. The sky was of a soft blue, tinted to gold by the sun, which had just set. I turned in my Oregon-
Turning slightly to the left she started galloping with a delighted spring. It was the return home, the call of the wild life with its thrills of wars and races; with its beautiful open air, as compared with the musty stuffed corral she had been picketed in. She was getting away from civilization and back to the open. Once in a while she stopped short, apparently to scent the rapidly cooling atmosphere. Now and then she pranced, picking her way between camel thistles. Her ears were alert; her eyes were blazing with an expression of intense satisfaction. All this time, I found by my wet cheeks, that I had been crying without knowing it. I was wrought up to a state of much excitement. I was again a boy and felt the presence of my parents, and recalled the stories of the Arab horses, they used to tell me when I was a child. I remembered the drawings I had made of them as a boy. It was hard to realize that I was I, and that I was astride the most distinguished mare of the desert. I seemed then to realize what she was and what she meant to me. My face was dripping again and I felt glad I was alone.
Wadduda had stopped short again and was scanning the horizon. I touched the mare with my heels, but she did not move. She was thinking. Of what, who knows? Perhaps of her wars, or of combats of the desert, or of the keen edge of the Bedouin lance given when she had seen both horse and rider fall from the thrust of the spear of the Great Sheikh who had ridden her.
So for a long time we waited together -
Homer Davenport 1906
The above description on the war mare Wadduda, returning to her home, the desert, with her new owner in his search of the dream-
In his remarkable book „The Egyptian Alternative“, Part One, Philippe Paraskevas made a true statement about the horse of the Bedouins: He calls it a refugee and I want to add: It is a refugee also in his home country, the Arabian peninsula, today. A strong description, nevertheless hitting the nail on its head. Because the “home” of the Arabian breed does no longer exist! More later.
The Arabian horse shares his fate as refugee with countless humans, especially of Arabian heritage, but not directly. The living conditions of the human refugees are reciprocal to those of the Arabian horse. While the first live a poor existence in refugee camps, mostly in tents, the Arabian horse came from the desert into luxury. Paraskevas therefore calls it a “glorious refugee”. It was able to exchange the black tent of the Bedouin with a stable and the desert with green pastures. Human refugees need not stay refugees forever. Some may become integrated in the countries of their save havens. Other may return into their old home countries. But also and regretfully there remain those, whom an end of their refugee lives is denied, in most cases out of political reasons. And at last there are those who find a new home but still remain refugees because their yearning for the old home does not diminish. But let us go back to our Arabian horses.
The “home” or native place of the Bedouin horses does no more exist. First we have to define the meaning of home. I want to lean to the definition of home for humans. Home is more than a geographic notation. It also means the social context. For us humans the family is probably the most important part of our home. If the family remains intact the horrors of expulsion can be borne in a more easy way. On the other hand the destruction of the family even with an intact geographic home results in the loss of the home. Applying this to the Arabian breed we only look briefly on his geographic home. It naturally still exists, but the conditions of living there have changed dramatically. The desert is irrigated artificially. For example Saudi Arabia is able to gain most of its needed hay by itself. Life there is no longer limited to the one question of survival, both for men and animals. In fact, the contrary applies to the social context of the horse in Arabia. It does no longer exist in the form that has shaped the asil horse. The nomadic Bedouin has become sedentary and his way of life has vanished except for rudiments. To say it again with Paraskevas: “This change of life style (from nomadic patterns to sedentary life) started a process of unavoidable separation between men and his horse, a fatal separation, first mentally then physically.”