A Primer on Speaking “Davenport”

By Anita Enander

This article first appeared in the May/June 2006 issue of Al Majlis (v. 3 no. 3) for the 100th Anniversary of the Davenport importation. The author extends her thanks to R.J Cadranell, Michael Bowling, Jeanne Craver, and other Davenport experts who have recently been explaining this terminology to newer Davenport breeders; any errors are the author’s own. Copyright the Institute for the Desert Arabian Horse. All rights reserved.

This is the 100-year anniversary of Homer Davenport’s trip to the desert and subsequent importation. Celebrations are planned in Silverton, Oregon (Aug. 4-6, 2006, see www.davenportdays.com) and in Illinois in September. The Silverton celebration will include a re-creation of the journey to the desert, using contemporary Davenports as stand-ins for the original imports. For our readers who will attend these celebrations or just wish to understand Davenport nomenclature, we offer a brief explanation of the terminology that Davenport breeders have developed and use when discussing their horses. This list is not comprehensive, but will at least de-mystify some of the terminology.


In the second half of the 20th Century, a concerted effort was made to find horses descending entirely from the original 27 imports and to breed them on as a closed group. The horses collected are referred to as the “Second Foundation.” Their identities are essential to understanding the short hand now used by Davenport breeders to describe their stock. The second foundation mares were Dhalana, Dharanah, Dharebah, Dhanad, Saranah, Tara, Asara, Ehwat-Ansarlah, Antan, and Maedae. Second foundation stallions were Tripoli, El Alamein, Dharantez, Nahas, Kamil Ibn Salan, and Ralf.


Several core groups were developed from the second foundation animals; breeding of these core groups continues today to ensure genetic diversity in the herd. The groups are identified by the tail-female strain or by the key second foundation horse. Contemporary breeders usually refer to their horses as being from one of the core groups, and, if applicable, then adding any other elements.

Core Haifi

Of the second foundation horses, six mares (Dhalana, Dharanah, Dharebah, Dhanad, Saranah, and Tara) and two of the stallions (El Alamein and Dharantez) were of the Kuhaylan Haifi strain and were bred to create this group. The Saqlawi stallion Tripoli was also bred into this group. Descendents of these horses, without the addition of other second foundation horses, are considered Core Haifi. Not all descendents contain Tripoli, and it is customary to distinguish the sub-group Core Haifi without Tripoli (for Egyptian breeders, think about the subgroups that focus on non-Nazeer as an analog). There are about 180 Core Haifi horses alive today (2006).

Core Kurush

The Kurush are tail female to the the second foundation Kuhaylan Kurush mare Asara (tracing to the import *Werdi), added to the Core Haifi. If the horse is tail-female to Asara/*Werdi, it is considered Core Kurush. If it contains Asara and Core Haifi, but is not tail-female through Asara, it is not part of this group, but is considered Haifi plus Asara (see below). There are about 65 Core Kurush horses alive today.

Core Schilla

The second foundation mares Maedae and Antan, both daughters of Schilla, were bred to the stallions of the Core Haifi group and Tripoli. The second foundation stallion Kamil Ibn Salan (who was tail-female to Schilla) was added in later generations. This forms the Schilla group; contemporary breeders distinguish among horses of this group that include/exclude Kamil Ibn Salan. There are about 150 Core Schilla horses alive today.

Core Hadban

This group developed by combining the second foundation mare Ehwat-Ansarlah (tracing to the import *Hadba) with Tripoli and stallions of the Core Haifi group. A separate but related group includes the second foundation stallion Nahas, who was also tail-female to *Hadba. Some breeders refer to any horse that contains *Hadba in the pedigree through either the second foundation mare Ehwat-Ansarlah or the stallion Nahas as being Hadban. Separate sub-groups are retained that have tail-female to Ehwat-Ansarlah, or exclude Nahas, or include other Davenport elements (such as Asara or Schilla). There are about 20 tail-female Hadbans and about 30 more with Ehwah- Ansarlah and/or Nahas elsewhere in the middle of the pedigree.

Bint Ralf Group

This leaves Ralf as the only second foundation horse identified in the 1950s that is not included above. He has descendents only through his daughter Bint Ralf, and there is a developing effort to preserve this very small group of fewer than 10 horses that has Ralf somewhere in the pedigree.


As breeders cross horses from the different groups, they refer to the primary core group and specify which other element has been added to the pedigree, usually referring to the added second foundation horse. Thus, Core Haifi plus Asara, Hadban plus Schilla, etc. There are about 200 living Davenports that combine elements from two or more core groups.


Recent research has caused Davenport breeders to amend the way they describe some of the horses. For example, mitochondrial DNA research suggests that Schilla was actually a daughter of Freda (a mare descended from three Hamidie horses: *Obeyran, *Mannaky, and *Galfia) rather than Saleefy (daughter of *Urfah). One consequence of this research is that Davenport breeders now indicate if a horse has Schilla in the pedigree, acknowledging that these Davenport horses may include blood of horses that came to the U.S. in the Hamidie importation and were subsequently bred by Peter Bradley, the primary financier of Davenport’s trip. A related effect is that the mare Sahanad, who was previously described as Davenport + Hamidie, has been included in Davenport breeding circles, and horses with Sahanad plus other second foundation breeding are now categorized in their own breeding group of about 10 horses.

It has also been postulated by researcher Carol Muldur (Arabian Horse World, September 1976, p. 69) that two 1924 foals by *Hamrah (bay stallion), out of *Meleky (a bay) and Sheria (a gray), were switched when registered. The listed foal of *Meleky is Petra (gray), while the listed foal of Sheria is Halloul (a bay). The registrations were not completed by the breeder, but by a later owner when both mares were seven years old. Current understanding of coat-color genetics holds that it is not possible to produce a grey (Petra) from two bay parents (*Hamrah and *Meleky). A plausible explanation is that the registrations were switched. This hypothesis cannot be proven using available parental verification tools.

With the concern for preserving genetic diversity, Davenport breeders are identifying other small groups of distinctive pedigrees. For example, there is an effort to preserve Core Haifi horses that do not contain the horse Fasal. There are also horses that do not contain the mare Dharebah that may comprise a small group. Egyptian breeders are familiar with and often talk about sources of horses and breeding traditions such as Sheykh Obeyd, Heirloom, Babson, Pritzlaff; if you want to communicate with Davenport breeders, it helps to know the second foundation horses themselves so you can “speak Davenport”!