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Spanish History
By Piedad Colon de Carvajal Marquesa de Avella

     Valjuanete was once the oldest stud in Spain for the breeding of brave bulls for the corrida – they were known as the “Veraguas” – which my uncle inherited along with the stud.  But he had little enthusiasm for the bulls, so slowly but surely he sold them all and began to breed Arabian horses.  Along with his profound knowledge of horses – Lady Wentworth, in The Authentic Arabian Horse, said he was “one of the world’s authorities on Arabian Horses” – he had an excellent location for this work so the venture bode well from the start.

Five Skowronek daughters: Jalila (Rasima), Namira( Nessima), Nasieda (Nasra), Reyna (Rissla by Berk),
Shelifa (Selima).  Dr. Pino can be seen, second from left.

Mares from the days of Veragua, with the barn and stables of Valjuanete in the background.

     After carefully analyzing what was available in the 1920’s, Veragua decided to focus on England for buying stock to cross with the Arabians he had bought in Spain.  After long discussions, aided no doubt by his high powers of persuasion, he got the five SKOWRONEK daughters from Crabbet Stud that he had chosen right from the beginning.  I am told that Lady Wentworth later wrote a note in her agenda saying that she never should have sold those mares.  Even though he paid very high prices, now, with the perspective of time, one must say that the beauty and quality he acquired was priceless.
     This SKOWRONEK blood represents one of the most important components in Spanish pedigrees today, but at the time it was concentrated in one stud:  REYNA (ex Rissla), who had been champion at the Richmond show in England as a yearling; JALILA (ex Rasima); SHELIFA (ex Selima); NASIEDA (ex Nasra), full sister to NASEEM; and NAMIRA (ex Nessima).  Also from England, from H.M.V. Clark, came one of our most famous stallions, RAZADA (Shahsada x Ranya), champion of all breeds in the Spanish National Show of 1930.  Another English stallion he bought, ALJUN (Rasim x Mejamieh), was soon exported to Portugal and has no descendants in Spain.  In 1934 he imported the four-year-old INSILLA (Naseem x Nisreen) from England, but unfortunately this mare disappeared during the war.

REYNA, (Skowronek x Rissla) had been champion as a yearling at the Richmond Show before importation to Spain by Veragua.  She was dam of KASHMIR, one of Spain’s most important stallions.
Photo taken at palace of San Mateo, Madrid

NAMIRA (Skowronek x Nessima), is shown in Madrid with Vincente Largo.

JALILA, (Skowronek x Rasima), was dam of the outstanding stallion NANA SAHIB, who founded one of the most important bloodlines in Spain.

     In the old Spanish stud books we can find a long list of imports that Veragua bought, but later resold.  He kept only those completely suitable for his breeding program, and was quite definite on that point.  The five daughters of SKOWRONEK, the mare INSILLA, and the stallion RAZADA, together with the horses he bought from the Marques de Domecq, were the foundation of his stud.  The latter group of horses was purchased when the Marques de Domecq sold out his stud completely, most of which were bought by my uncle Cristobal.  Thus he acquired his other main stallion, SIRIO III (Urus x Siria), and some excellent mares such as ABADAN (Egipto x Elmira), AIDA II (Seanderich x Incauta), AIXIA II (Tunecino x Erato), BENI AMER (Fondak x Siria), CADIZ (Ursus x Euterpe), CAFTAN (Ursus x  Erato), GURNAK (Cairo x Incauta), and INCAUTA (Seanderich x Baraja).

The mare AIXIA II (Tunecino x Erato), dam of ARAC III, photo in Valuanete

The mare AIDA II (Seanderich x Incauta), born in 1928 and bought by Veragua that same year.

The Duke of Veragua in Valjuanete with the mare CADIZ (Ursus x Euterpe), an excellent broodmare.

      To complete his foundation stock Cristobal Colon bought from the Yeguada Militar the mares DERIVA (Van Dyke x Farja II), DUQUESA (Vissir x Motesen), EUTERPE (Korosko x Zarife), and FIANZA (Korosko x Agata), and also some others which he soon sold.
     Again, it is well-known that he paid a high price for the mares of Domecq – in fact, an old groom used to measure the sum by saying one could buy three good cortijos (farms) with that money!  But once again it was worthwhile, and uncle knew that.  With these purchases, together with the mares from Yeguada Militar, he had at Valjuanete all the existing bloodlines at that time in Spain.
     I must emphasize that in those days all the breeding of Arabian horses in Spain was in the hand of real connoisseurs – they all knew a lot about horses, and it was because of them that we all now own the very good existing breeding lines.  Their level of knowledge set a very high standard of quality, and that is why, although we have a small number of Arabians compared to other companies, the percentage of outstanding individuals is very high.
     Veraqua was very clear as to what he wanted.  I used to go to the farm with him very often, and when he had made up his mind that a certain horse did not satisfy him completely, he would point to it and say, “By the way, I don’t want to see it tomorrow.”  And the next morning the horse would leave Valjuanete for good.  He would get rid of not only the individual, but all its produce.
     The palace of San Mateo was our home in Madrid, and uncle had boxes for the stallions and colts there.  There was an indoor arena in which to work the horses, and the most beautiful harness room, where has some true museum pieces such as an ancient South American saddle with all metal parts made of silver.
     All the horses in Madrid were exercised every day, and those broken to ride were ridden every day too.  We used to sit in the house many mornings in front of a big window on the arena and watch the horses.  We sometimes rode there too, buy my sisters and brothers and I preferred to ride in the open spaces of the countryside.
     RAZADA was a beautiful sight.  He was trained in Haute Ecole and had such presence that he was most impressive.  RAZADA had a very strong temper and did not like everybody.  Poor Captain Xifra, the professional rider who had to work him each morning!  He was a magnificent rider, but he was really in trouble sometimes with RAZADA!  On the other hand, the few people RAZADA liked could do anything they wanted with him.

RAZADA (Shahzada x Ranya), shown as the Duke of Veragua accepted the Cup as
Absolute Champion, All Breeds, at the 1930 show.

     One of these was Vincente Largo.  Vincente was a young groom, the fourth generation of the Largo family to work with my family.  He had been born in the Castle of Higares, my parents’ farm, as had his parents.
     Vincente says he owes his life to RAZADA.  When the Civil War started in 1936, the house of San Mateo was expropriated by the militiamen of the republic.  Many persons were killed, including my uncle and my father.  But the horses were thought to be useful, so they kept the young groom on – especially when they discovered that they could not handle RAZADA!  But one day a soldier shot RAZADA – we don’t really know why – and Vicente disappeared on the spot.  After the war, Vincente came back to Valjuanete and stayed with us until he retired in 1982.
     My uncle never had an automobile of his own.  He said that as long as he could avoid owning one, he would stick to his coaches and carriages.  He had a beautiful collection of them and his coachmen were known all over Madrid.  They were able to execute the most difficult maneuvers and gallop into the narrowest places without a scratch.
     My uncle watched the male horses every morning in Madrid, and then hired a car almost every afternoon to take him to Valjuanete.
     Sometimes we accompanied our uncle on these trips, and whenever we commented on the beauty of his horses or that his immediate answer was, “God bless him!”  We teased him a lot about this, because he never blessed us!
     Dr. Pino, the veterinarian, was a very important and familiar part of the stud.  He visited every day, whether the horses needed it or not.  I remember once he looked in on a new import and found him terribly sick.  Dr. Pino prescribed a diet of fruits which unfortunately the poor horse never got to eat because he died shortly thereafter.  The funny part of this incident was that my mother – who knew nothing about the horse – went to my father and told him she was quite worried that the cook was getting too old and had lost his head, because he had ordered an unbelievable amount of fruit, far too much from any point of view!
     I could tell hundreds of stories about my uncle and his horses, but perhaps this anecdote best reveals his knowledge and study of every detail of horses.  Some visitors came to visit him, and they purported to be experts on the Arabian horse, though they were so only up to a point.  So my uncle brought out two excellent colts that were very similar, and asked his visitors which was the better.  They discussed the matter for a long time but finally gave up, as it was extremely hard to judge.  So my uncle told them which was the better, and they asked why.  He answered quietly that they were both equal except for one thing:  one had a couple of millimeters more distance between the eyes!
     When our civil war started in 1936, as I said before both my uncle and my father were assassinated in Madrid.  It was the month of July, so the stallions were back in Madrid after their brief stay at Valjuanete to service the mares.  The mares at the stud, which had become one of the front lines in the war, were taken by the army and sent to Moratella in 1938.
     At the end of the war I inherited Valjuanete.  I remember my first visit there with my husband in 1939 – the highest wall left standing was about two feet high.  In spite of the disastrous state of things, I wanted to continue breeding.
     My brothers and sister sold their part of the horses to the Army, but I recovered the maximum number I could take at that moment – eight mares – and started all over again.  REYNA and JALILA, my two favorite SKOWRONEK daughters, were still alive, but were in very bad shape, so I could not afford to take them.  The only mare I got back from the very old stock was CAFTAN (Ursus x Erato).  Vicente Largo came back, and from the Castle of Higares that then belonged to two of my brothers came Angel Alonso, together with his father who had worked for my father before in Higares, and two of his brothers.  So with all of these marvelous people we started the task of reconstructing Valjuanete, a task not finished yet.
     The first thing we rebuilt was some of the box stalls.  There was so much to do for the horses, so much machinery to buy, an irrigation system and so on, that we did not start to build our house until 1927, almost 20 years later!
     From the beginning we always tried to get stallions to Valjuanete that were straight Veragua.  From the Yeguada military we got three stallions that had been born in Valjuanete – IFNI (Razada x Reyna), NANA SAHIB (Razada x Jalila), and KASHMIR (Razada x Reyna).  Later on, we got such wonderful stallions as KARABE (Nana Sahib x Rizosa), JAECERO (Barquillo x Egina), HABON (Nana Sahib x Yalina), and HABANO (Nana Sahib x Saboya), which we alternated with stallions we had bred by that time.

NANA-SAHIB (Razada x Jalila) as a young colt.  He became one of the most important stallions in Spain.

     For 1966 we had the luck to have MAQUILLO (Gandhy x Famula) at Valjuanete.  We wanted some GANDHY blood,  results have proven that MAQUILLO has been as good or even better than his sire.  MAQUILLO is the sire of MOTASEN II, one of our loveliest mares.  Daniel Gainey saw MOTASEN II when she was young and was quite interested in her.  He called her the mare with the feminine face, and he was right, that is her look.
     MOTASEN II is the dam of *RUMADII, now in the USA, and of INGLESIA, a marvelous grey filly, National Reserve Champion of Spain in 1981 and first in the 1981 European Championships.  INGLESIA will be a very important and basic part of our breeding program in the future.
     After MAQUILLO, we had one of his sons, FARBO (ex Zara).  But the stallion we really wanted was being used by the Yeguada Militar, and for the longest time they wouldn’t let him go.  In the meantime we got one of his sons, IALU (Zancudo x Ociosa) for one year.  And then the great news came!  We could have ZANCUDO!
     So in 1973 ZANCUDO (Congo x Yaima) arrived at Valjuanete.  He was not well and did not look well, and we were rather scared.  But we soon found out that being a horse of the desert, ZANCUDO was not suited to the humid climate in which he had been, and after one month in Valjuanete’s very dry climate he recovered completely.  He was strong as a young colt and we could forget all the instructions we had been given.  The Yeguada left him for the winter in another dry area of Spain, their stallion depot at Alcala de Henares, so all his problems disappeared.

ZANCUDO (Congo x Yaima), shown at age 19 at Valjuanete.  ZANCUDO belonged to the Yeguada Militar and has been one of the most successful stallions of more recent days.  He served at Valjuanete for five years, and they have kept 16 daughters and one son, the largest group of ZANCUDO descendants at a single stud.  ZANCUDO died in 1980.

     ZANCUDO served in Valjuante for five years.  He was a wonderful stallion that not only transmitted his most beautiful movement, long neck, immense eyes and a long list of other good things, but his affable temperament as well.  He was a lovely horse with a bright intelligence – he knew very well when he was being watched and at that moment would start to show off.  He knew he was beautiful, and liked to stand looking great – mostly when there were any visitors he did not know!
      He left us good memories and a great number of descendants, some of which have been exported to the USA.  We have kept one son, RASHID (ex Salina), who is just like his sire, and 16 marvelous daughters.  He was the sire of the beautiful chestnut stallion KARIM (ex Zaila), National Reserve Champion of Spain in 1979, and of INGLESIA, and of ZAILINA, a full sister to KARIM who like her brother has the most delightful action.  ZAILINA was European Reserve Champion in 1980 at Ascot (England).  She is also an important part of our future breeding program.

Additional Photos:

CHAMAR III (Sirio III x Holail) was exported in 1935.

DERVICH (Razada x Incauta) was born in 1930 and exported to Venezuela at the age of two.

Although RITLA (Jeruan x Rissla) was imported from Crabbet in 1934, Veragua did not breed her and she has no descendants in Spain.

ARMIDA (Vilayeto x Euterpe) with Vicente Largo in Valjuanete.

Unidentified foal from the days of Veragua.

The young colt ALMUDAFAR II (Sirio III x Incauta), foaled 1934, was a favorite of the Duke’s,
but disappeared in the War.

ARAC III (Almudafar x Aixa) as a young colt, at the San Mateo Palace in Madrid.

SARA (Siro III x Fianza) as a young filly.  She was dam of FAMULA who was dam of MAQUILLO, one of the best stallions Spain has had.

KASHMIR (Razada x Reyna) as a yearling, photo taken in the San Mateo Palace in Madrid.

 Copyright 2004 by Cristina Valdes 
All rights reserved.  No part of this article, including photographs,  may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of the author’s heirs.  Used here with permission.

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