THE LEGEND OF AN ARABIAN BAHRAINI BAY MARE

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Where does one start writing a history on animals, whose merits have been extolled through the centuries by Western writers and through Eastern legends? One likes to think that there was no beginning and there will be no end to these legendary animals called Arabian horses.  Some writers try to prove scientifically that the Arabian is really not of Arab origin at all – while other writers try desperately to turn legends into historical proof.  Both may be right and both may be wrong – we will not concern ourselves with either problem – but here in the beginning we would like to relate the old Arab legend of the origin of their horses; “Benat El Khamsa” – the daughters of the five.

           King Suleiman bin Daud (Solomon son of David), who was the greatest horse owner in his days, spent too much time admiring his horses.  Every day he had them paraded for him.  He admired them to such an extent that he had no time for his prayers.  Then one day he realised that in the time spent with his horses he had completely forgotten to worship God.  Repenting and wanting to make up with God for his neglect, King Suleiman ordered all his horses to be killed.  Five mares, one of them in foal, escaped the slaughter to the desert, where the mare gave birth to a colt foal.  When the colt grew up he mated with the other mares and from these horses descend the pure (asil) breed of horse.

 The five mares were; Kuheilah, Obeyah, Dahmeh, Shuwaimeh and Saqlawieh.  They received their names in this manner; one mare had very dark lined eyes, like women who paint their eyelids with kohl, so she was called KOHEILAH.  One when running, carried her tail so high it looked like an abayah (cloak) so she was called OBEYAH.  One was very dark (duhm) in colour so she was called DAHMEH.  One had a birthmark (shama) on her neck so she was called SHUWAIMEH. And one had a way of kicking (saqla) her heels in the air when galloping, so she was called SAQLAWIEH.

          At some point horse legends will eventually come to an end – and that is – when horses become numbers only in someone’s written records.  Sad, yet necessary.  We in Bahrain would like to think that with our written records we will have a new beginning; to maintain interest in this most precious of ancient breed of horse, called The Arabian.