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Kahal - Black Arabian sports horse
By Karin Zeevenhoven
Kahal - 1994 Black Stallion
The black Arabians seems to have something magical, something that makes people go all starry-eyed and dreamy. Especially the stallions seem to have this effect on people. Is it the fairytales from the desert, or the books and movies about The Black Stallion? I do not know, but it is true that whenever I ride my horse in one of our many national competitions in dressage, jumping or eventing, everybody watches him and comments like “oh, wow, what a great horse” follow us around. One black Arabian among 200 warmbloods.
But I must agree with them, for Kahal is a beautiful horse with plenty of type, whilst he is not Nations Cup standard, he is athletic, very elegant and with a lovely big stride. But his colour is a bonus, since he is by a bay and out of a chestnut. Unlike many black Arabians, he was ‘made’ to be a good, pretty, sound and healthy horse that could be used in many disciplines.
The story of Kahal really starts with the story of Pandaz, his maternal grandsire. When I had outgrown my New Forest pony I was fruitlessly searching for a big, brown Thoroughbreddy sports horse, when my neighbour asked me if I would like to ride her horse, until I had found my perfect match. I said “oh well, alright then” and met Pandaz, a small (152 cms) grey Arab with an attitude. I wanted things my way and he didn’t. After we had battled for a few weeks I gave up, he said okay then so will I and he has since then been the best horse anybody could wish for. Soon after I bought him and now, 21 years later, he is still here. In his lifetime he has competed in western, endurance, dressage (not his forte: he thought it boring and stupid), jumping, cross-country and racing, he was in-hand champion at several shows and now, at 27 years of age, he is totally sound, still very fit and looking and behaving like a 10 year old.
In 1987 the Maxwell family saw him and when told he was by Rissaz (Indriss x Kazra, bred by Mrs Joanna Maxwell) and out of an Aswan daughter, they leased him for 2 years to cross him back to their Kazra offspring. The result was several very nice foals out of mares like Mumtaz Begum, Kaliska and Esperada. A beautiful chestnut filly out of Kazra El Saghira had an unfortunate accident in the field, leaving her practically blind. Since Lodge Farm had nearly 100 horses at that time the future looked very grim for her, but I was able to buy her and when, in October 1988 Pandaz came home, Kazannka accompanied him. As she grew up her vision improved, so that she was quite safe in the field with the other mares, but she was never ridden or shown or otherwise separated from her friends.
In 1993 I chose Karnaval as Kazannka’s next mate, expecting the foal to be a bay or a chestnut and a nice horse to show or ride. I was very pleased when a big and leggy colt popped out, but was rather puzzled when his coat dried up to a mousy grey. Asking a friend about this funny colour, she jealously exclaimed that it was a black! (She had been crossing black Arabians for some time and occasionally got chestnuts). Growing up, Kahal combined a very nice conformation with far too long legs and an impressive determination to be naughty, but he did achieve one Reserve Junior Championship and was usually in the top five.
He was approved for breeding in 1997 and slowly started his career as a Sportshorse. Mainly dressage at first, building up muscles, toughening tendons and allowing “his body to grow into his strength”. Then a little jumping, just for fun, and when he was ready for it, cross-country. He is such a versatile horse, he can do anything. He could have gone racing, but at 3 years of age he was already so tall, yet still very gangly and spaghetti like. I did not want to send him away to a trainer and at fou years of age I was riding him myself and could not be parted from him. I ride him at advanced national dressage level, he can jump anything you put him at, he can trot for hours and asks for more, but he is quite happy on a lazy ride through the forest on a long rein. He spends his days in the field, weather permitting, next to the mares and his granddaddy and is unshakeable and social in the stables.
The Arabissimo at Deurne was always one of the highlights of the year, the atmosphere is just great. Everybody helps out and people and horses have such fun, so different from most in-hand shows nowadays! We started at C level in 1998, B level in 1999, in 2000 we had other obligations, in 2001 we did the B level again (Reserve Champion) and then on to the first European Championship in 2002. Our first time at the A level we had 2nd, 3rd and 4th places in all our classes (but not winning one!) we were just overall by a very wide margin. This year Kahal has steadily improved and I was very confident about defending the title, but after the dressage competition at The Nations Cup at Aachen (great!) Kahal was off his food for a few days and, combined with my doubts about the schedule and organisation as well as the long journey, I decided not to go to Austria for this year’s European Championship.
We ‘Arabitis-sufferers’ are all proud of our Arabian horses, when asked we all say the Arab is the most beautiful horse on earth, but sometimes we forget that they can, or could, do more than just be beautiful on a lead rein. “Beauty is as Beauty does”, right? Kahal is a beautiful horse, but in my view, his versatility, his health and soundness, his cheerfulness during a really heavy training scheme, are the things that make him truly outstanding.
As a sire, he passes on his hard dry legs, his athletic body and his character. His foals love to work, have the same ‘bouncy’ way of moving and are starting to be successful in dressage and jumping. And, yes, some of them are black!
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