Germany 2010: Easter at Katharinenhof – from the Aldebaran Travel Journal.
In the beauty of Spring time we see all the promise of life sprouting up from the ground and bursting out at the stalks and limbs of nature. Grateful that cold winter has past, we appreciate the exquisite beauty and rejoice the season of rebirth. With Spring as a creative catalyst, our journey led us to the doors of one of the most famous stud farms in the world; Katharinenhof, lush with the history of housing some of the finest Straight Egyptian aristocracy on its leafy pastures.
We shared a beautiful, sunny Easter weekend with Dr. Hans Nagel and his kind family in an enchanted corner of Germany surrounded by beautiful Arabian horses.
In the delightful company of Dr. Nagel, his daughter, Karen, and lovely grand daughter, Emily, we stepped through the noble red-brick barns that housed
the great family of Hanan, Salaa El Dine and Ansata Halim Shah. It was an unforgettable experience. Encountering the classic beauty and kind demeanor of the fleabitten mares with endearingly spirited babies at their side, and witnessing the exuberant elegance of the chief stallions at the stud were a humbling experience, steeped in the noble history of Arabian horses that brought desert regality to life.
As we stood in the paddocks of Katharinenhof, one-by-one the horses lightly stepped into the dappled sunlight, animating extreme type and uniformity in style, from generation after generation, offering a dynamic perspective on each ancestral family of the program. In our young breeders’ mindset, these prime individuals ignited ideas and questions, drinking in the timeless vision of Katherinenhof’s authenticity and faithfulness to its ‘desert type’ roots.
“Life in central Arabia was a struggle. Everything was geared to survival with a minimum of options. The ‘desert type’ is determined by external pressure. No heaviness is permitted, nothing in excess, only what is absolutely necessary for life and evolution. This is excellently summed up in the words of an Arab poet:
‘On lean steeds of noble breed
the riders light as young hawks
chase through the parting dust
with booty and rich takings.’
Their characteristics are fine skin, hard sinews, compact and light bones of great structural density, dry muscles, tough and long, no excess weight of any kind… A quiet temperament, obedience and performance was the price the Arabian had to pay to live under bedouin protection. A strongly pigmented skin, a solid and dense bone-tissue, a thin skin and light body structure without any extra load would not have been enough. Man and animal belonged together.” Excerpt from Hanan: The Story of an Arabian Mare by Dr. Hans Nagel
Even today, though the privileges of modernity may allow for excesses in living, the humbleness of the historic Arabian horse is still far nobler, more desirable, in that agile functional state where enthusiasts still guard the ancient tradition of desert life and preserve it as a true remnant of a past lived closer to nature.
And these are the very gifts that we found and treasured at Katharinenhof today.