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