May 22, 1940, dawned
clear and cool in Pamona, California. The Kellogg Arabian Ranch was beginning to
awaken to the sounds of morning, and farmhands moved about the stalls with feed
and water. In one of the stalls, a newborn colt huddled near his mother,
bewildered by his first sight of day. Curious about the many noises outside his
stall, he watched the farmhands intently whenever they appeared at the stable
door. When the various employees and barn help at the ranch did gather around to
look at the gorgeous chestnut colt, he made his first attempts at getting up,
and being the stout young fellow he was, he accomplished this feat very easily.
It was evident to all present that this young animal was, as expected, something
This was the way it all began, then, for the young colt, who, in a matter of a
few years, was to become an Arabian legend. A champion and a sire of champions,
this great horse gave the world some of it's most renowned athletes. Gladys
Brown Edwards, who was employed at the Kellogg Ranch at the time, began the task
of name searching and, remembering his beautiful color, decided upon Abu Farwa
which, it seems, means "Father of Chestnuts." Abu Farwa's
breeder, Me. W. K. Kellogg, took great pride in this young colt and enjoyed
telling visitors about the exceptional pedigree he carried.
His lovely dam, Rissletta 1201, was foaled in 1930 at the Crabbet Arabian Stud
in Sussex, England. She was imported in 1936 by Mr. K.M.Brown of California for
Mr. Kellogg, and her breedings was often said to be some of the best of Lady
Wentworth's. Indeed, Lady Wentworth herself claimed that Rissletta's sire,
Naseem, was the best son of Skowronek. Ab's sire was Rabiyas, the five
gaited Kellogg horse. Rabiyas was an exceptional athlete and an excellent
performance horse. He lived to be over 30 years old as did his son Abu Farwa.
Ab's pedigree also carries the blood of many other greats- with two crosses to
Berk and the great-grandfather Gulastra in the direct male line. Many of his
ancestors were great action horses, as well as top quality Arabians in type and
conformation. This background explains the heritage of Ab-his own beauty and
athletic ability as well as his ability to pass these traits on for generations
As a yearling, Ab was
sold for $400 to Fred Vanderhoof in Northern California. Mr. Vanderhoof found
the young stallion to be more than he could handle, so with great reluctance
sent him, along with some other horses, to the ranch of H.H. Reese where he was
to be sold. Reese, an excellent hand with horses and an astute judge of Arabian
quality, saw in Abu Farwa the potential for a performance horse and a top
breeding animal. He purchased him and immediately began his training. Reese soon
discovered that Ab had an excellent disposition and was an animal with great
spirit and presence. He could be shown, either in the ring or to ranch guests,
with all the fire and beauty of the Arabian stallion, yet children would find
him extremely docile.
Although his show career while with Reese was limited, he did win both halter
and three gaited championships the few times he was shown. Reese used Abu Farwa
primarily as a breeding stallion: however, his harem was never limited to
approved mares. No mare was ever turned away because of quality.
At maturity Abu Farwa stood 15.1 1/2 hands and weighed over 1,000 pounds. He was
an elegant animal and, though large and powerful, did not lose the refinement so
necessary for the Arabian. He had an extremely fine tail carriage and excellent
shoulders. His long, well set neck and fine throat latch was equaled only by his
gorgeous head. His head set was never artificial and could be attained without
any type of bitting aid due to the extreme quality and length of his neck.
While owned by Reese, Abu Farwa was leased by the California State Polytechnic
College. There he was trained by Charles Smith as a well finished park horse.
His action was very impressive-Ab seemed to have the ability to float in the
Ab stayed at Reese's Covina ranch for many years but was moved to Chino when the
city grew around the Covina ranch. In Chino Ab was kept in a large paddock where
he was free to be outside except during inclement weather. He didn't appreciate
being stalled and when required to be inside would raise as much fuss as
possible. When that failed to bring the desired result though, Ab would quiet
down and accept the confinement. He enjoyed having other horses near, and when
young foals were present, Ab became very docile. Their presence seemed to make
him happy; he was content to have them near. Reese's health began to fail
and it was necessary for him to again relocate, this time to a smaller place.
Eventually Reese sold Ab to Dr. West, who used the horse two seasons before
selling him back to Reese and Charlie Doner of Elsinore, California.
At the age of 24, Ab was shown by Doner in an aged stallion class in Del Mar,
California. The old horse came alive when he entered the ring after having been
absent for so many years. As the old stallion and Doner moved around the ring,
everyone there became aware of his great presence. When the widow of H.H. Reese,
who had sponsored the class in her late husband's honor, stepped up to present
Ab with the trophy, there were tears in the eyes of most of the spectators.
About this time Ab began to suffer from arthritis. Age and the kicks he had
sustained as a youngster were beginning to take their toll. It was becoming
increasingly difficult for the old horse to move around, and once down, he had
great difficulty getting up. However, he did enjoy being out, and Mrs.. Doner
would lead him around the farm so he could see the mares and foals he enjoyed so
Even though bothered by arthritis, the old horse still displayed his famous
action whenever visitors came to the Elsinore Stud. Being led around the corral,
Ab would raise his head proudly, and his tail carriage reminded spectators of a
war banner gallantly rippling in the breeze. His action was as impressive as
ever and his presence just as overwhelming as it had ever been. Old Ab
attracted much attention and caused Mrs. Doner much consternation by standing
around on three legs. This was a trick he cultivated after he learned that Mrs.
Doner would become so alarmed upon seeing her magnificent old arthritic horse
balancing precariously on three legs that she would rush right out to rub and
scratch his stomach. Once he was satisfied that he had gotten all the attention
he was going to get, he would put the fourth leg back down.
On July 27, 1972, the grand old horse was waiting patiently for Mrs. Doner to
come out and lead him around the farm to visit with the mares and foals. After a
few short steps in the warm sunshine, Ab stubbled and fell. The Doners tried
repeatedly to get the proud old stallion up but were unsuccessful. With a heavy
heart, Mrs. Doner made the decision to have Ab put down.
Abu Farwa set many records, statistically, in the Arabian breed, and his impact
on breeding will be felt for many generations to come. He was the only living
stallion (before 1972) to be on the leading sire list with two sons on the same
sire list; Ga'Zi and Abu Baha. Records through 1963
indicate that Abu Farwa and his sons account over 50% of the champions from the
Gulastra sire line. This percentage may be even greater today. Ab was the
only sire to have produced two or more broodmares who produced top racing stock.
Even movie fame can be claimed by old Ab, as his daughter, Wahana 6513, was
chosen to star in the well known film "My Friend Flicka."
Abu Farwa is gone but not forgotten. In many cases his foals are still
producing, and the second and third generations are now making their mark. It
will be a long time, if ever, before the name Abu Farwa fails to bring to mind
the image of the gorgeous chestnut horse that left such a tremendous mark on the
entire Arabian breed.
***Taken from the 1975 Abu Farwa issue of The Arabian Horse News, written
by Doug Addington ***