Ask Judy

Arabians Ltd. owner Judy Sirbasku periodically answers questions about her horses and business. Judy can share many personal stories about some of the famous Egyptian Arabians she has owned and known over her 30 years of involvement with these amazing animals! We’ve gathered some of the most commonly asked questions to share with you!

Question #7: Submitted by Chelsea Patrick

When a foal is born, how can you tell that it’s going to be grey? And what are the rules of color when breeding Arabians?

DSA Baby Dhall, Mishaal HP x DSA Hey Baby. Born chestnut like her dam and going grey like her sire.

A grey foal will always have a white hair or two just above the eyelashes. They can be a bit hard to see on a newborn, but they are there or they are not.  If they have even just a couple of white hairs there they will be grey. A couple other tips to help you with color questions, the only absolute rules of color are:

-A chestnut to a chestnut will always produce a chestnut. -A grey must have one grey parent, so if your foal does not have a grey parent it cannot be grey. -Chestnuts are always born with a lack of pigment around the eyes. They are the only color born this way. The eyes darken up like any other color of foal in about 20 days. 

Question #6

How do you choose the breedings for each of your mares every year?

These are some of the most important decisions I make, as the resulting foals are the future of my business! I always want to build on the strengths of the mare and choose a stallion that will help to balance any weaknesses she may have, hopefully to producing a foal that makes the next generation even better than the one before it. One of the first things I do, which can make this process seem a bit less overwhelming, is to look at which stallions are a genetic possibility for a mare. That may help me have a few less potential stallions to choose from. I then spend a great deal of time studying pedigrees of both sires and dams, past foals each mare has produced, and the individual strengths of each of my mares and stallions.  The research and data are among my most favorite parts, and I keep meticulous records. After research, I sit down with Shawn Crews before the breeding season starts each year, and we go through my broodmare band, discussing possibilities before we finally make a decision on each. Some of my mares have only ever been bred to one stallion because the results are so amazing, but usually I breed them to at least 3 different stallions before deciding which one she crosses (or “nicks”) with best, and then repeat that breeding.

Arabians Ltd. broodmare Thee Scarlet Lady and Mishaal HP daughter Thee Scarlet Rose, sold to Saudi Arabia

Question #5

As a small breeder who has fallen in love with my horses, I’m afraid that it will be too hard for me to part with their babies! How have you been able to sell some of your favorite foals over the years and still maintain the integrity of your breeding program as well as keep alive your love for your horses?

Champion and champion producing mare II Di IV, Thee Asil x My Shooting Star, bred by Arabians Ltd., owned by Laura Cronin and Diane Taylor

From the beginning, Jim and I built our business on the premise that the way we would find true success is if we shared the best showing and breeding horses we had with others. I will admit, as much as I love my broodmares and their foals, this has not always been easy for me, but it is the reason that breeders around the world who have bought from us have found such great success! To ensure that I preserve my bloodlines, I make sure to reserve a filly out of each mare to replace her dam. After that, my foals have always been available to others to build their own herd. Selling your babies is probably the hardest part of breeding horses as a business, but I really enjoy that many of my foals are purchased and cherished by people who become good friends of mine and board them with us or send me emails, photos, and updates of them as they grow up and have foals or show careers of their own. It has come back to me many times over through the friendships with which I’ve been blessed.

Question #4

Why do some horses have an asterisk (*) before their name?

The asterisk (*) before an Arabian horse’s name means that they were imported from another country, like *Mishaal HP. Though the Arabian Horse Association doesn’t officially require that asterisks be used anymore, but if you go back enough generations in your horse’s pedigree, you’ll certainly find those symbols denoting their ancestor’s foreign ancestry. And the letters that precede each horse’s registration number tell you exactly where they were first born and registered. For instance, AHR stands for the Arabian Horse Registry here in the US, and EAO stands for the Egyptian Agricultural Organization, Egypt’s government breeding farm.

*Mishaal HP, Ansata Sinan x Mesoudah M, imported from Germany

Question #3 submitted by John Johnson

In order to keep a pure SE line, how many generations should you be looking at on the mare side and on the sire side? I have read that the tail female line is very important to the development of these strains, should you be looking strictly at the female tail line or should you also take into account the sire’s tail female line? I am finding that it is much easier to get information on the various stallions then on mares probably because the stallions have a greater impact on the number of offspring they can sire versus the limited number from the mare.

Maali RCA, straight Egyptian Arabian, tail female line through *Masira of Hungary’s Balbolna Stud

To answer your question, John, in order to produce a straight Egyptian Arabian, both parents must be straight Egyptian Arabian. At no point, even with many generations of straight Egyptian horses in a pedigree, does an Egyptian-related horse become straight Egyptian. And you are correct, there is a wealth of information on Egyptian stallions and their families, but details on the females are not readily available. I recommend the older Reference Handbooks of Straight Egyptian Horses (available from the Pyramid Society or you may browse through a copy in the Arabians Ltd. Library). There you will find photos and great information on many to the most influential mares. Tail female refers to the last mare in a five generation pedigree,  and is considered to be the most important horse in an individual family tree

Question #2:

Why do some of your horses have initials after their names, such as HP or RCA?

That’s a great question. Those initials are similar to a person’s last name; they identify the breeder of the horse. In our case, the “HP” in Mishaal HP‘s name stands for his breeder, Horst Preuss of Germany. At Arabians Ltd., “RCA” stands for Rock Creek Arabians, the name of my breeding program. When we became breeders, we purchased property on Rock Creek Road to develop into our-present day farm, so we named the breeding part of the business Rock Creek Arabians. So the foals that I breed have RCA at the end of their names to identify them, like Bellagio RCA. These letters can appear at the beginning or end of a horse’s name, depending on the choice of the breeder (the champion mare KBF Starlight is one example)

Mishaali RCA, Mishaal HP x Maali RCA

Question #1:

How do you choose which stallion to breed with each of your valuable mares?

Judy Sirbasku with Belovedd Infidel (Thee Desperado x Bint Magidaa)

I think it’s truly a gift, to be able to look at something and see what would improve it. It’s something you see with your eye and know in your heart, that intuition. Jim always said that God gave me the ability to create beauty, which is such a privilege and a great responsibility. We think of Egyptian Arabians as “living works of art,” and so that means that breeders are artists and are the quality of their foals reflects upon them. I do think it’s also something you get better at with each year, as you learn your horses better and learn how their genes and DNA interact. I love when the new foals start coming every January, when we finally get to see what we got from these breedings we decided on a year ago. It’s like Christmas every day to welcome all of these new little gifts and imagine what bright futures lie ahead of them, all over the world.