500 lb., seven-year-old infertile stallion became the future herd sire
for a carefully planned breeding program? Yes. This is what happened to
TRIPOLI, a straight
Davenport stallion, in 1955 when Charles
Craver finally located him in the possession of a man who ran a pack-string
for the Park Service in Northern California, TRIPOLI
was being fed not much of anything, and his beautifully correct bone stucture
was painfully obvious; but his extreme state of malnutrition would not
effect his genetic potential provided he could be restored to breeding
condition. The decision was made to ship TRIPOLI to
Craver Farms in Hillview, Illinois. Within a year his ability to sire foals
was confirmed, and the first straight Davenport foundation mares were purchased.
a young man in the Navy, Charles Craver was stationed in California where
he had been doing some very serious pedigree study. He had taken full advantage
of his location to become acquainted with the early California Arabians
and their breeders. He was influenced by the writings of Carl
Raswan who had spent considerable time with the Bedouin tribes in Arabia.
Raswan was impressed with the quality of horses that had been imported
from the desert by Homer Davenport in 1906. Charles had spent considerable
time at Alice Payne's ranch observing her
inbred *RAFFLES stock, and listening to her opinions
of the various bloodlines available. Like others, Mrs. Payne had recognized
that special something in the straight Davenports, and in their unique
ability to bring out the best quality of the other lines to which they
were crossed. Charles' plan was to produce a young broodmare band of straight
Davenports for eventual outcrossing to create show horses. Because of their
value in outcross programs there were only around 25 straight Davenports
of breeding age living in 1955. Charles had located some lovely mares which
he could purchase, but needed a suitable stallion.
in 1947 Mrs. Payne's son had purchased the old mare POKA
and had bred her to HANAD.
The resulting foal was TRIPOLI, who had born when
his dam was 27 and his sire was 26. TRIPOLI had been
sold as a two-year-old and had passed through several owners by the time
Charles found him. When Charles first saw him he knew he was looking at
something much more than a walking skeleton, for here was a horse of recent
desert ancestry, a Seqlawi Jedran stallion of the classic "Asil"
results of the first two foal crops by TRIPOLI convinced
Charles to forget all about outcrossing, and obtain more of the existing
Davenport mares. There is something about the dry, deserty look of the
Davenports, with their huge eyes and balanced conformation that makes most
of the other lines fall short in comparison. Craver Farms became synonymous
with Davenport Arabian horses.
took Charles more than 10 years to pry some of his foundation mares loose
from their owners but he eventually was able to bring into his program
the mares DHAREBAH, DHARANAH,
DHALANA, TARA, SARANAH,
and DHANAD, all tracing in tail female to *RESHAN,
a Kuhaylah Hayfiyat mare; ASARA, a Kuhaylah
Kurush mare of the *WERDI female lien; and ANTAN,
a Seqlawi Jedran of the *URFAH female line. The mares
were mostly ANTEZ and/or LETAN descendants,
while TRIPOLI brought in HANAD,
thus bringing together the three best stallions of the first generation
with any true breeding farm that is fortunate enough to find itself with
a superior sire, a problem soon arose: What do you do for an encore? The
obvious though shortsighted solution is to keep using your stallion on
all your mares, keep the fillies and hope to find a suitable stallion for
them, and sell all your colts so that others can make a name for your stallion.
of following the usual proceedure, TRIPOLI was semi-retired
from stud duties during the sixties and early seventies, while his sons
took over. The sons proved to be equally consistent sires of high quality
1963 Charles had located another stallion up in Canada, EL
ALAMEIN, and decided to gamble on bringing him to
Illinois. He was a full brother to two of the foundation mares. I'll never
forget seeing him at Craver Farms in 1965. He came out of his stall with
all the vigor, energy and self-confidence of a three-year-old colt, moving
about his paddock with a sure stride, stopping occasionally to listen,
or to announce his presence to the nearby mares. He was 22 years old, and
life had obviously delt him a few blows, because he was totally blind;
but he was proud. Before his untimely death only two years later he sired
a dozen straight Davenport foals, among them the beautiful IRAS,
BINT ALAMEIN, BINT
ANTAN, JUNE, and our own
ISIS. His son IBN ALAMEIN,
out of the foundation mare SARANAH, has proved to
be an invaluable breeding stallion.
had tried for years to buy or lease EL ALAMEIN's
full brother DHARANTEZ, who was owned by the Maxwell
Pollocks of California. But Mr. Pollock dearly loved his old stallion and
wouldn't think of letting him off the property, much less let him go to
Illinios! Charles was pretty sure he couldn't get away with stealing the
horse, but finally a mare lease arrangement was worked out. It was felt
that a colt from one of the foundation mares would be of most value, but
these mares were all getting up in years. Nevertheless, DHANAD
at 21 was shipped to California, along with another young mare, to be bred
to the 22-year-old DHARANTEZ. A year later DHARANAD
was foaled. Like IBN ALAMEIN,
DHARANAD does not trace to TRIPOLI
and the use of these two stallions has greatly broadened the base of bloodlines
available in the straight Davenports.
horse that has played an important role in some of the Davenport lines
was KAMIL IBN SALAN,
owned by Fred and Barbara Mimmack of
Denver, Colorado. He was a horse of very pronounced Seqlawi type with an
unforgettable head. He was acquired by the Mimmacks for use on their TRIPOLI
daughter and granddaughters. Here again, mare lease arrangements
allowed Craver Farms to utilize the blood of yet another "outcross"
heaviest use at stud came after he was 25 years old. By this time there
were a large number of young mares of the Seqlawi strain which had been
bred specificaly with this goal in mind. He was also used on some of his
grand-daughters and great granddaughters in the Kuhaylah strain.
remained absolutely sound and beautiful and was regularly ridden until
his 29th year. He died in 1977, at 29 1/2 years of age, the year his largest
foal crop was born, and just three days after breeding and settling a mare.
It was much too soon.
same year DHARANTEZ died at age 30, and following
year KAMIL IBN SALAN
died at 27. All but two of the foundation mares are gone now, but
most of them produced well into their mid-twenties. TARA,
age 31, and SARANAH, age 32, are peacefully living
out their days in a deeply bedded double stall with a private paddock where
they can observe the younger generations of Davenport horses.
visit to Craver Farms today can be a little overwhelming, not only because
of the large number of horses (120 more) but also because their general
consistency of type tends to blend them into a composite picture. Despite
75 years of American breeding they retain a distinct look of the desert.
They average around 14:2 hands and are deep bodied and fine skinned. They
are the "3 Circle" horses which, Raswan tells us, the Bedouins
felt was the ideal Arabian proportion. The shoulder area visually creates
one circle, the midsection another, and the hind-quarters the third of
the equal-sized circles. The eyes are probably
the most distinguishing feature. They are very large and expressive, some
of them huge, and they are placed noticeably low in the head, and far apart.
The mares usually have a more obvious dish to the profile than the stallions.
In disposition they are friendly and trusting, while displaying the vitality
for which the Arabian is noted.
a little practice in the art of observation it is fairly easy to identify
representatives of the three strains on Craver Farms even though the tail
female ancestresses are 8 to 10 generations back. You simply won't find
a Seqlawi type head on a Kuhaylan strain horse. There is something a little
different about the eyes of the horses of the Kurush strain.
the large number of horses, the whole program remains a "backyard"
program with the Cravers. Charles and Jeanne were married in 1972 and are
totally involved with the day to day feeding, handling, training, breeding
and enjoyment of their horses. It is the only farm of its size (or even
a quarter of its size) that I know of where the visitors will be met and
escorted around by the owner or his wife. They know each horse personally
and can quickly give you its extended pedigree. There is no trainer, no
stud manager, no crew of grooms to pretty up the horses, no business manager,
no resident vet. No professional photographers comes to take the pictures
for their ads. All this is done by the Cravers with some help at feeding
addition, Craver Farms raises all its own feed and straw, and Charles operates
a 1.000 acre commercial grain farm which gives him something to do in his
spare time. The facilities aren't fancy but they are sturdy and above all
horse is under roof and deeply bedded every night. Two large stalls are
attached directly to the rear of the Craver's lovely brick home. These
stalls are used during foaling season and for mares which may need individual
attention. The kitchen looks out on the mare pasture, while Charles' office
offers a view of the farm entrance and on down toward the barns which house
the stallions and young fillies. As one might expect, the house is filled
with pictures of Davenport Arabians.
the large number of mares, only about 20 to 25 mares are bred each year.
The foaling season lasts from early spring until late fall because peak
farming operations coincide with the breeding and foaling activities, and
for some stange reason Charles seems to think he needs at least four hours
of sleep each night. Probably 90 percent of the foalings are witnessed
by Charles and/or Jeanne.
is when Charles gets most of his riding and trainig time in on the young
stallions (young means under seven), the riding and training of these horses
is probably the most thoroughly enjoyed aspect of the whole operation,
yet one that must take a secondary place during much of the year.
has been largely relegated to a post-entry affair at the class A shows
within 50 to 100 miles, and to local fun shows. When the occasional Saturday
or Sunday comes along and there is no urgent reason to stay home, and no
expected visitors, Charles will quickly take off for a show. Over the years
his horses have enjoyed considerable success in the English pleasure and
park classes. He is one of the very few who does all his training and showing
with a dressage saddle and shows his horses with the mildest of short-shanked
curb bits, even in the park classes. Up until last year none of the Craver
horses had been professionally trained or shown.
1979 Tom Neese, a young trainer, saw the unbroken five-year-old CATALYST
(Ibn Alamein X Confection) out in the stallion barn and talked Charles
into letting him take the horse back to the Northwest with him for training
and showing. In 1980 CATATYST who soon a champion
park horse, then Reserve Regional Champion Park Horse for Region Six, and
Top Five Park Horse in Region Eight.
1980 Charles was planning on showing vetern 13-year-old MONSOON
(Tripoli X Ceres) in a few English pleasure classes, and Jeanne
was busy learning dressage with LOTUS, an 8-year-old
daughter of KAMIL IBN SALAN
X TYREBAH. Tom Neese had returned to the St.
Louis area during the summer and he talked Charles into letting him show
MONSOON at halter with the result that he took second
in a large, mature stallion class at the Illinios State Fair. Tom also
showed LOTUS in a few halter classes which resulted
in a second place, a fourth place, a first place and a Reserve Grand Champion
Mare title. These are the only two horses the Cravers have ever shown at
once asked Charles why he never showed at halter when he had so many lovely
horses of excellent type and conformation. His answer was,
But perhaps in 1981 and ensuing years there will be a few more Davenports
in the halter classes.
you are going to live in close association with a lot of horses, it sure
helps to have a sense of humor and the ability to take things as they come,
and no doubt these traits have been useful to Jeanne and Charles. Consider
the prospect of having to move all your household possessions and all your
horses on a very short notice. This is just what happened to the Cravers
in 1979 when the dikes holding the Illinois River threatened to break during
a late spring flood. Within a 48-hour period they packed up and moved everything,
including about 120 horses ranging in age from one day to 30 years. Most
of them had never been in a trailer before. And where does a person find
was also the time they were making a movie and had turned PRINCE
HAL out on the far side of a deep drainage
canal. All he would do was graze so they brought out a mare to lead up
and down on the near side. PRINCE HAL
has always been the faithful trail horse, and the safe, quiet ride for
the little children, old ladies, and beginners in the ring. Apparently
he saw himself more as a mild mannered Clark Kent type of superhorse, because
when he saw that mare he leaped the 12 feet down into the water and started
swimming furiously to this potential love life. Charles and his dad were
soon in the water with him and it was quite a task to get him up the steep
are also the day to day idiosyncrasies of individual horses to contend
with. Many of the mares insist on following any visitor to the pasture
as they vie with each other for maximum attention. One young mare apparently
thinks that her place is always in the pasture where the foals are. She
daily jumps the fence to join them, then jumps out again in the evening.
Another mare deliberately mashes down the fence so she can carefully step
over and graze in the Craver's back yard for a few minutes or hours before
returning in the same calm, cool way. It doesn't do the fences any good!
stallions are stalled a fair distance away from the broodmares, but young
colts or fillies usually are turned out in the aisle between the stallion
paddocks, they seem to delight in investigating each other through the
fence rails. Amazingly, none of the youngsters ever seem to get hurt.
and young stallions are kept together in groups of two or three until they
are four or older, or until they go into stud service. They put on quite
a display chasing each other and rearing in mock battle when turned out
for their daily exercises. The pasture for the young mares, and those older
mares which had been left open, is parallel to one of the stallion runs.
When a stallion is turned out it is easy to spot those mares in season
as they line up along the fence.
other day during the breeding season one of the stallions is led directly
into the pasture with the broodmares. The little foals will come right
up to investigate and nuzzle the stallion, while the mares will either
take off for distant parts, or display interest in the usual way. Neither
a whip nor stud chain is used or needed as the stallions know that manners
include putting up with the youngsters. All breeding is done inhand, and
occasionally by artificial insemination.
Craver interest in Davenport Arabians is not limited to riding and raising
new foals each year. It includes considerable reasearch into the importation
itself, and the early history of the horses in the U.S. Photos and written
descriptions must be heavily relied upon but photos often fail to do justice
to the older horses of all bloodlines. The desirability of having a movie
of the current Davenports as an additional permanant record got Charles
into the movie-making business about 10 years ago.
first film despicted the stallions in use at that time, and all the mares
and foals in a natural pasture setting. There are no humans or buildings
to be seen and it runs close to an hour in length. The film was shown at
a few Arabian clubs and organizations and it wasn't long before many of
the show and breeding farms had professional movies of their own.
learned a lot from that first effort. He and his dad did all the filming
and editing and a few years ago work was begun on a new film. They were
able to get copies made of the movies of Davenport horses, including ANTEZ
and HANAD, which
were taken 50 years ago at the Kellogg Ranch.
These old movies have been incorporated into the new film and add considerable
historic interest. Arabian enthusiasts will now have an opportunity to
see the ancestors of their American-bred horses in action, something not
the years there has been a pattern at Craver Farms of continuing intellectual
curiousity and strong tendency to want to advance scientific knowledge
about horses in general. About 15 years ago, in cooperation with the University
of Illinois Veterinary School, Charles had the legs and joints of all his
horses x-rayed, every six weeks for several years, for the youngsters.
Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses were also x-rayed during this research
program. It represents some of the earliest work in the field of normal
bone and joint development. No doubt this study helped convince Charles
of the advisability of feeding young horses for optimum normal growth,
without pushing them for extreme early growth.
in the late 1950's and continuing into the '70's Charles had all of his
horses (both sexes) bloodtyped at University of California laboratory at
Davis. Blood typing of horses was in its infancy and it seemed that every
year a new or better test for some blood factor would be developed and
blood samples of all the horses would be resubmitted at considerable expense.
The veterinary school horses were also used in this research, but the Davenports,
with their close relationship to each other, presented an ideal situation
for this research into the inheritance of blood-types.
farm with a large number of horses has inevitable losses, and as the old
horses started dying off Charles decided to preserve their skulls. Much
has been written about the unique head of the Arabian and its desirable
proportions. Dr. Skorkowski of Poland had used extensive studies of skull
demensions in working out the strain groupings of the Polish Arabians and
as the basis of his theories about the ancestors of the various types of
horses to be found throughout the world.
are now around 30 skulls in the Craver collection, eight or ten of which
are representatives of various bloodlines. The most famous of these is
the beautiful imported Egyptian mare *BINT MONIET
EL NAFOUS. Using a modified version
of the Skorkowski method of measurements so as to eliminate size variables,
the proportions of each skull have been charted. The measurements include
the width between the eyes, eye to poll, eye to the end of the nasal bones,
width between the jaws and cranial capacity.
trip east was made a few years ago for the purpose of measuring and photographing
the skulls of *HALEB at the Smithsonian Institute,
*DEYR, GULASTRA and INDRAFF
at the Arabian Horse Owners Foundation Museum, and *ASTRALAD,
*NIMR, *ABU ZEYD
and others at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Photographs and measurements of SKOWRONEK's skull
have also been obtained from London.
this started out as a means of studying the head structure of the Davenport
Arabians, the total collection of skulls and measurements is thought of
as a potentially valuable contribution to the available knowledge of the
Arabian breed. The Cravers would welcome donations of other Arabian skulls.
Particularly needed are representatives of the various breeding groups
such as Polish, Spanish, Crabbet, Egyptian, and domestic.
For 25 years Charles Craver has been breeding Davenport Arabians.
He has seen their number grow from 25 to almost 300 (two tenths of one
percent of the living Arabians in the U.S.). The old horses are gone but
certainly aren't forgotten. The wonderful thing about a consistent breeding
group like this is that each year little foals are born which show the
strong hereditary traits of their desert-bred ancestors.
coming years promise to be exciting. Because each of the mares has been
bred to numerous stallions, the younger horses offer a wide variety of
combinations of the foundation blood. Only rarely have full brothers and/or
sisters been produced in the last 10 years. The matings have been based
on strain, immediate ancestry, and conformation requirements, and an eye
to furture needs.
coming into use is the dynamic DHARANTEZ son, BRIMSTONE
(X Tyrebeh). This young stallion seems to enthrall all who see him
as he performs a natural "park trot" then switches to an extremely
brilliant, cadenced, slow-motion passage an athletic ability which he inherited
from his sire. Charles hopes to maintain and develop this ability under
saddle. If he does it should be something to watch. BRIMSTONE's
first foals hold much promise, and even included a black, relatively rare
(Akmet Haffez X Iras) is, in type, nearly a carbon copy of his ancestors,
ANTEZ and HARARA. He was used
on several mares this year and Jeanne plans to start him under saddle for
future showing. The Cravers are not alone in their high expectations for
BRIGANTINE, who was bred to about eight mares in 1980.
He is the result of breeding PORTIA (Tripoli X Dhalana)
back to her own sire. It is difficult to imagine a more elegant young stallion.
In addition to these stallions there are at least 10 more young stallions
and colts which are being retained for future use.
years from now, when the future Davenport breeders celebrate the 100th
aniversary of the importation, I fully expect that Charles and Jeanne will
still be breeding Davenports and celebrating Craver Farms' 50th year. Charles
will be exclaiming over a new arrival: "By golly, look at those
LETAN ears, and that HANAD
carriage! We've just got to keep this one."
Articles of History
- "I just don't know anything about that kind of training
and showing. Besides, to me a good horse is one that moves with freedom,
cadence, and balanced action under saddle, and one that will stay sound
for 15 to 20 years of riding. Riding is what horses are all about."