Andrew K. Steen, author and breed historian, has reviewed Mohammad Al-Nujaifi’s Purebred Arabian Horses of Iraq—Myths and Realities. See what he has to say…

18 October 2012 – The Purebred Arabian Horses of Iraq—Myths and Realities by Mohammad Al-Nujaifi is a commendable new book that for the first time articulates the ancient and contemporary history of a much-neglected segment of the universal breed. The author’s profound knowledge of the ancient Arabic sources, coupled with his lifetime of experience as Iraq’s most successful breeder of Arabian racehorses, radiate throughout each of the work’s 240 pages. The first chapter, The Arabian Horse in the Pre-Islamic and Islamic Eras will be of particular interest to historians and scholars. Judging from the numerous extracts quoted from the Holy Qur’an and a myriad of classic accounts, it is obvious that Mohammad Al-Nujaifi ransacked virtually every ancient source that dealt with the Arabian steeds of his native land. However, that section is just a prelude of better things to come.

The well-researched and eloquently written text contains an additional seven chapters which describe in detail such topics as the origin of the modern Arabian horse and its relationship with the ancient horses of Mesopotamia. That extraordinary segment is followed by an in-depth analysis of the history of Iraq’s Arabian horses and the development of flat-track racing. Of special merit is a chapter titled Marabit (Strains) of Iraqi Arabian Horses, wherein the virtues of some 20 family strains and the breeding traditions of 10 horse-breeding tribes are summarised. The final three chapters recount the exploits of the many famous Iraqi horses of the past and present that have influenced the breed, particularly on the racetracks of the Mid-East and Europe. Rounding out the narrative is an account of the Al-Nujaifis’ own horses and their impact upon various breeding programmes throughout the world.

Indeed, Mohammad Al-Nujaifi has provided the reader with an abundance of hitherto unpublished material in a comprehensible chronology that is packed with over 100 color photographs and numerous rare and historic black and white images. The Purebred Arabian Horses of Iraq—Myths and Realities is a veritable gold mine of thought-provoking observations, essential facts and statistics not found in any other single source. This book is sure to earn the gratitude of all bibliophiles interested in the Arabian horse.