Tobi Taylor's Journal

News > Friday, November-16-2007

Progress on the Brusally Book...

Two years ago I began writing a book about the Arabian horses imported from Poland and Russia in the 1960s for Ed Tweed’s Brusally Ranch. I plan to complete it in 2008. Amazingly, despite the profound influence of Tweed’s breeding program on Arabians in America, until now there has been no single source of information about these horses.


This wasn’t a book I planned to write. Over the years, I’ve simply been in the right place at the right time, collecting information only because it interested me, not because I intended to do anything formal with it. But a couple of years ago, it dawned on me: there was a reason I’d met many of the players in the Brusally story, received access to the archives, and had ridden so many Brusally-bred horses. If I didn't do it, who would?


Meanwhile, as I’m writing the rest of the book, here’s a summary of Ed Tweed’s adventures in breeding Polish and Russian Arabians. He imported thirty-one Arabians (six in utero) from Poland and three from Russia; he bought two others after they had been imported to the United States. Among these were the famous stallions *Orzel, *Zbrucz, *Czester, *Faraon, *Gwiazdor, and the valuable broodmares *Prowizja, *Basta, *Genua, *Chlosta, *Abhazja, *Gontyna, *Miroluba, Daszenka, *Paleta, and *Palmira.


Although we tend to focus on the positive aspects of a breeding program like this — the pride of ownership, the goal of producing offspring that are better than their sires and dams — there is a shadow side to breeding as well: the stallion prospect who turns out to be sterile, or the prized mare who dies from foaling complications. For example, the filly *Almeriaa, from the 1963 Polish importation, broke her leg not long after arriving in America and was put down. Another horse from that importation, *Gwiazdor, colicked and died after siring only one crop of foals — of which all but one were colts. While regrettable, such incidents come with the territory. But Tweed’s worst, longest-lasting heartache came from the three Russian Arabians that Spalding acquired for him on his 1963 trip to England.


Thanks to Cold War paranoia and a misplaced sense of patriotism, these horses (two mares and a stallion) were not allowed to be registered by the Arabian Horse Registry of America because, Tweed was told, “We must not deal with the Russians.” Tweed tried vainly to get papers for the three horses, and eventually gave up. The (purebred) foals out of the two mares were registered as half-Arabians; the stallion, *Park — out of a full sister to *Pietuszok, sire of *Orzel — sired only a handful of foals and was mainly used as a tease horse on the ranch. Fifteen years after their importation, the Russian horses imported by Tweed were finally granted purebred Arabian status and allowed to have American registration papers. By this time, *Park was dead, and the two mares were near the end of their reproductive lives. In an article published in Arabian Horse World in 1984, Tweed was finally hailed as a visionary.


It was also in 1984 that the gelding Brusally Skoraik, out of the Russian import *Napaika, began what was to be the first of four consecutive finishes in the Western States Trail Ride (Tevis Cup), in which a horse and rider traverse one hundred miles in one day. Brusally Skoraik went on to log 6,880 miles in endurance, ranking fifty-six on the American Endurance Ride Conference’s list of equines with more than five thousand miles.


Skoraik’s story, as impressive as it is, is only one of the many I’ve learned through doing the research for the book. Not a week goes by that I don’t meet someone on the internet who has a Brusally-related story for me. I’ll start posting them here, for the enjoyment of others.

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