Interviewer training materials (categories of inquiry and sample questions shown below).
Categories of Inquiry
The last significant importation of asil Arabian horses from the Middle East to the West occurred in the late-mid 20th Century (1958-88). Recollections of these horses and the people involved are now fading from memory. In this category of inquiry, we ask those closely associated with the events, locations, personalities, and horses of the post-1958 period to share their personal recollections and insights.
1. When you think back to those earlier days, what comes first to mind?
2. How did you become involved with the importation of horses?
3. Why this horse? What motivated you (and/or those whom you knew well) to seek out this particular kind of horse for importation?
4. Were you influenced by any one else in the Arabian community? Were there those who supported and directed along the way?
5. Were there unique characteristics in the horses themselves that drew you to them? Any particular horses that captured your attention? Why?
6. Tell me a little about the experiences you had with the importing of horses. Were there memorable occasions that come to mind? It must have involved some challenges – can you tell me about those days? What you were called upon to do as part of bringing horses to this country?
7. Were there people to whom you looked for wise counsel during the importation process?
Breeding: Theory, Practice, Critical Issues
Theories of and approaches to breeding, as well as breeding practices themselves, have evolved over time. In this category, we seek to document that development and provide an opportunity for a description of lessons learned and suggestions for the future.
1. Early on, did you have a breeding scheme/philosophy that you followed in your program? Did that changed over the years?
2. What breeding practices do you feel were your most successful? Was there any single breeding that delighted you especially? Why had you chosen that particular mating? What had you hoped for in the resulting foal? Why, with the benefit of hindsight, did it work out so well?
3. Were there breeding practices that worked out less well? Do you recall any breeding(s) that were disappointing? With the benefit of hindsight, could you have anticipated the outcome to be less than you had planned/hoped for? What did you learn from this?
4. Have there been changes in breeding practices over the years that you feel have been particularly beneficial? Others that have been detrimental?
5. What do you think/hope your program will contribute to the Desert Arabian population? To the greater Arabian breed? What do you think has been your greatest contribution to Arabian breeding?
6. How can breeders ensure the vitality and viability of the Desert Arabian horse in the 21st century?
7. What advice on breeding do you have for new breeders?
8. If you could start over and breed for the next _____ years, with all that you learned in the past years, what would you do?
Preservation: Motives and Historical Framework, Structure, Strategies, Future Directions
From its beginning, the Preservation Movement has been multi-faceted In some cases the focus has been on horses of a single period. In others, the shared interest may have been horses with a given “collector” or a common importer. Too, organizing principles for the effort have varied considerably. Some have been drawn from Bedouin tradition, while others look to models prevalent in the management of domestic livestock in general. In this category of inquiry, we invite discussion of the development and evolution of Preservation as a movement and how it has affected the direction in which the horse was bred and used.
1. When one talks about the “preservation movement,” what comes to your mind? As you understand it, what prompted “preservation” as a distinct effort?What is it that is being preserved, as you understand “preservation”? Has that changed over time?
2. Whom do you associate most prominently with the preservation efforts over the last 30 years or so?
3. How do you place yourself in the context of “preservation.”? Would you call yourself a “preservation breeder”? (If so) have you always thought so? If not, why has this not been a label to which you’d attach yourself?
4. Are there unique characteristics of the Desert Arabian that ought not be lost? How should those be maintained or preserved for the future? What significance does “pedigree” have in preserving the Desert Arabian? How important is “proven performance” to preservation? What about “type”?
5. Are there horses that you wish would have bred on but did not? Are there horses that have had, from your perspective, a dominant role in shaping the contemporary Desert Arabian horse? Is that for the good or not? Why?
6. Are there horses (lines, types, strains, families) that are in need of attention now?
7. Are there reasons to be concerned about our long-term patterns of preservation breeding? Have you examples? What recommendations might you have to address these issues?
8. As you look ahead, what is the greatest challenge to the perpetuation of the horse you most value?
In the Public Eye: Showing, Working, Racing, and the Like
In Arabia, as in Egypt and so in the West, breeding has been closely linked to some form of public demonstration. Whether on the desert raid or a Cairo racetrack, in the show arena or a Texas round-up, the Desert Arabian has always had some “work” to do. In this category, we focus the interview on horses and people who have been involved in a variety of uses for the Desert Arabian.
1. Was it important to you that your horses be seen by the public? Did they have jobs to do? Such as….?
2. As you think back – then and now – were there horses that took “center stage” in bringing the Desert Arabian to the attention of the public? How did they do that?
3. Among your own horses, which ones distinguished themselves as public performers? Where did they excel? What characteristics made that possible? Have those characteristics and uses changed over time?
4. Have times changed for the Desert Arabian horse in regard to its public profile? How so?
5. Have some people made a unique contribution to the Desert Arabian by profiling its use and its serviceability?
6. What might we do today to bring the Desert Arabian more prominantly into the public eye?
Management, Marketing, and Promotion
Change is ubiquitous. In economics, demographics, technology…little remains constant. But most breeders are faced with continuing concern for the financial management of their farms. What can we learn about the practical side of equine management from the experience of breeders and owners whose personal histories span the last few decades?
1. When you started out, how did you plan to finance the breeding of horses? Was it a hobby? Did it need to pay for itself? Was it a business? Did you have a business plan?
2. How did you manage the farm day-to-day? With family help? With employees? Did that change over the years?
3. For what purpose did you breed horses? To sell? For what market(s) did you breed horses? Over time, did your goals change?
4. How did you reach out to those who might be interested in your horses? Were any specific approaches especially effective? Did you have any unique promotional tactic for which you were noted or which originated with you?
5. From what market over time did your principal customers come? Did you have ways of working with them that you found useful? Were there ongoing issues with which you struggled?
6. Were there approaches that others may have found effective that you preferred not to use? Were there ways of marketing and promotion that you wish you had tried?
7. Can you compare or contrast today’s farm management, marketing and promotion with the past? How is today like it always has been? How different? Better? Not?
8. If you could start over and breed and manage a farm for the next 15-20 years, with all that you learned in the past years, what would you do?