A historical sketch of Princes Sanguszko’s Horsebreeding farm in Khrestovka village (1860)

Published in “Horse Breeding and Hunting,”No. 3, 1860, pages 71-85.

Edited by Lyman Doyle. Translated from Russian by Ekaterina Vsemirnova.

Editor’s Note

While the author of this document is unknown we do know that it was published in Russian by the Russian Main Administration of Horsebreeding in their journal “Horse Breeding and Hunting.” Fortunately, the content of this text closely mirrors that of the history of the stud published by Prince Roman Sanguskzo Sr. in 1876 in Polish. The translation from Russian was likely from an earlier version of the same Polish document, but presented in Russian for the Russian speaking audience.

The translator Ekaterina Vsemirnova noted that this document was written in a similar style to the letter published in 1900 in Russian by Prince Roman Sanguszko Jr. In Prince Roman’s 1900 letter, he mentions he has been managing the Khrestovka farm for about 40 years. If her conjecture is correct, and this 1860 history written in Russian was written by Roman Sangsuzko Jr., he would have been 28 years old at the time it was published and had just taken over management of the farm.

This text for the Russian audience is careful about describing the mixed blood at the core of the Sanguszko herd. The author tries to claim Arab heritage of the original Sanguszko horses noting that they “came from horses, if not exclusively Arabian, then at least Eastern, Persian or Karahakh.” This phrasing seemingly leaves the door open to historical interpretation which would later be repeated by 20th century protagonists. However, Roman Sanguszko Sr’s 1876 history published 17 years after this was clear, the original founding stock of the Sanguszko herd was of non Arabian blood.

Some important historical details concerning Skowronek’s ancestor “Zbój” are mentioned in this document:

  1. Prince Eustachy Sanguszko (1768-1844) purchased Zbój sometime from 1813 to 1814 after the Russian campaigns against the Ottoman army in present day Bulgaria.
  2. Zbój was bought from a member of the Russian army in Dubno.
  3. The first Arabian mare imported to Slawuta was in 1818. All mares prior to this importation by biological necessity must have been original Sanguszko stock.

The translation follows:

Khrestovetsky farm is situated in the Volhynia (Wołyń) region, Zaslav district, Belgorod area in the village of Khrestovka, which has long been part of the estate of the Sanguszko princes. The farm, which was inherited and became the property of the Princes Roman Evstafyevich and Pavel Vladislavovich Sanguszko, has existed for centuries. The farm’s beginnings can be traced back to the aristocratic families of Jagiello’s[1] descendants in Volhynia and Ukraine, who defended these provinces during the Turkish wars and Tataric attacks. The famous horse breeding farms owned by the Princes Ostrovsky and Zaslavsky merged with the Sanguszko’s farm, as their families intertwined. These farms survived the most turbulent times of Volhynia and Ukraine, consistently keeping up their profile, alongside the famous farms of the Vishnevetsky and Sinyavsky families. Their past is closely-tied with the history of the region and the Sanguszko’s family. The long line of family generations hints at how old this horse breeding farm is. The farm is unique in that it originated independently and did not develop from other local farms. In this the Sanguszko’s farm differs from all of the existing horse breeding farms of Podolia[2] and Ukraine. It is typical for the local horse breeding establishments to trace their lines from now non-existent local farms. Their histories and facts could be sketched according to stories of our elderly who spent their younger years working at these farms. Khrestovetsky farm, which appeared at the same time as the estates of the Sanguszko Princes and developed gradually, is the only one that can declare its age in centuries.

In the second half of the last century, after the death of Prince Paul, the Grand Marshall of Lithuania, these farms were divided between his sons. The Ordynatsky farm, owned by his eldest son, Prince Ordynat[3], was split and disappeared into the possession of the Princes Lubomirski. It was to these Princes that the childless Prince Ordynat gave large estates in the Ostroh region, in attempt to save the ownership from transition, by the power of the original erection record, to the Maltiysky Order[4]. The Sanguszko’s farm itself was inherited and divided between the Princes Jozef, the Grand Marshall of Lithuania, Hieronim, the Governor of Volhynia, and Janusz, the Court Marshal of Lithuania. The transaction records and the details on the number of horses on the farm should be recorded at the archive in the city of Zaslav inventory department. These were wilderness years for the farm. Later, when the eldest of the Princes, Josef Pavlovich, and his son Roman, died, it was again divided into two parts; the farm which retained the name Khrestovetsky, or Slavutsky, and Klembovetsky or Zaslavsky farm. The Cherkassy county horse breeding farm, belonging to Prince Hieronim Pavlovich, the Governor of Volhynia, Warden of Cherkassy, along with a special branch of the same farm in Ukraine, called Ilenetsky Horse breeding farm, was later merged with Khrestovetsky farm. Prince Hieronim, the last Governor of Volhynia and the last Cherkassy’s Warden, died in 1812, at the height of the war. His estate came under governmental jurisdiction and went in state administration, with the horse breeding farm shrinking significantly in the process. However, the most valuable part of the farm was saved by transporting it to the vast at the time Smolderovsky forests and the wastelands of Novograd-Volhynia district. The second farm, Zaslavsky stud farm, following fifty years of consistent decline, became the property of Prince Karl Yanushevich’s sister, Countess Malakhovskaya, and in less than two years completely disappeared.

It is safe to assume that the original horse breed at the Sanguszko farms came from horses, if not exclusively Arabian, then at least Eastern, Persian or Karabakh[5]. Due to the type of wars at the time, these horse breeds were especially popular in Eastern Europe among Poles and Hungarians. These nations were almost constantly in a state of war with the Turks and Tatars, and horses of the aforementioned types could be acquired quite easily from the latter.

But by the end of the XVIII century, when the Muslim wars and the raids of the Crimean Tatars were over, Prince Hieronim Pavlovich, the Governor of Volhynia, felt the need to purchase pure-blood[6] stallions directly from Arabia. At the time, no one in Europe had yet such intentions and no one thought about improving European horse breeds with the blood of Arabian horses. Prince Hieronim Pavlovich was first to organize an expedition for this purpose. It began in 1798 and was led by a nobleman called Bursky.

Years ago, the current head of the Khrestovetsky horse breeding farm, Mr. Sverchinsky, heard from Prince Eustachy Hieronimovich Sanguszko[7] that Bursky, upon his return from the expedition, was heavily criticized for the way that expedition turned out. Allegedly, it took too long, three years to be precise. During this time Mr. Bursky spent some of the money assigned to buy stallions, and therefore didn’t buy as many horses as planned.

Until recently, several participants of Bursky’s Arabian tour, servants of Sanguszko family, were still alive. At this juncture, I would like to single out an interesting fact: 20 years ago, during the rule of Ibrahim Pasha, there was a famous courtier, Nadir-Bay, a native of Slavuta of the Volhynia province, formerly a servant (boy) of Princes Sanguszko .

There is a legend that the first Arabian horse owned by Prince Hieronim Pavlovich was a dark bay stallion brought from Constantinople for King Stanislaw Augustus. However, due to its small stature, it was given by the king to the court nobleman Politkovsky, from whom Prince Hieronim bought it and later placed at his farm under this name (“Karakovy”). However, this is only a legend. The beginning of the refreshing of the Princes’ Sanguszko farm line with Arabian blood should be noted as from the arrival of horses returning with Bursky.

Despite all the imperfections of the horses he brought, this addition to the Sanguszko farm is still the first definite indication of the origin of the current line of studs in this farm. This is the starting point from which the farm horses’ genealogy can be regarded as reliable.

Bursky brought five stallions: “Krolik” (Rabbit), “Kariy” (Brown), “Bely” (White), “Gnedoy” (Bay), and the coat of the fifth stallion is unknown. Of these horses, Brown and White were bought by Count Vaclav Rzhevusky, and the Bay went to Prince Eustachy Hieronimovich Sanguszko, who sold him several years later to Getman Branitsky for 1000 ducats. The groom of the Hetman, Mr. Smolensky, who served for three generations of the Branitsky family, recalled that this stallion had narrow flanks and passed on this undesirable trait to his offspring.

Bursky came back from Arabia in 1801. This first party of Arabian stallions produced important changes in the line of the farm horses. However, the development was seriously impaired by the loss of mares in 1812. In 1813, when Prince Eustachy Hieronimovich came back to his estate, he noticed that the farm did not have enough stallions. As his father before, he had a great desire to support the farm’s line, and in 1813 and 1814 he bought several stallions of the Eastern breed which stayed in Russia after the Turkish campaigns.

The Prince bought the white Arabian stallion “Zboy”[8] from a member of army personnel in Dubno. This horse lived a long time and was the Prince’s best riding horse. Zboy was extremely good, strong, intelligent, but was known for quite a few antics. For example, he only allowed to be shoed if he was not held or tied-up during the process. Otherwise he would break the ropes and hurt people holding him. This stallion sired offspring, but this was nowhere near as stately and beautiful as him.

Other stallions were bought at the same time from the Army Commander-in-Chief, Count Gudovich, These were: grey Ptak, white Cyrus, golden bay Shahadir, and another one with a golden dun coat. These horses did not last long and left no offspring. By this time, Prince Eustachy Hieronimovich realized that only outcrossing with Arabian stallions could support the blood line. So, following in the steps of his father, he sent an expedition with the aim of acquiring stallions in Arabia. At that time, he had a fabulous riding horse, a dark brown stallion called Shumka[9] the 1st. There is a portrait of the Prince on this horse, made by the famous Bavarian painter Peter Hess, who came to Slavuta from Munich in 1816 and 1817 to depict the type of Arabian stallions.

After long preparation, Prince Eustachy Hieronimovich sent the expedition in early 1817. It was led by his stallion groom Moshinsky, who sadly died in the past 1859. Young Mr. Sverchinsky, who has been managing the Khrestovetsky farm for more than 35 years now, was appointed to assist Moshinsky. A year and a half after their departure, in November 1818, they brought ten horses, namely:

  1. White Nedjdi,
  2. White Khalyan or Keheilan,
  3. Grey Djelfy,
  4. Grey Robdan,
  5. Grey Kbeshan,
  6. Bay Obeyan, nicknamed Big,
  7. Bay Seglawi,
  8. Red Jedran,
  9. Red Semran.
  10. Mare Seglawia.

Of these horses, only three became the ancestors of the farm: the white Keheilan, the grey Djelfi and the bay Obeyan Big; this last one did not last long and fathered only three mares. Of the remaining horses, white Nedjdi fell shortly after arrival, and the red Jedran was sold to the Royal Prussian horse breeding farm in Neustadt.

From the offspring produced by white Keheilan, dark brown Shumka the 2nd out of mare Polka was well known for its exterior. Shumka had two brothers, Walter-Scott, which was sold to Prince Wirttemberg, and Nedjdi. These two horses had much better bloodlines, but Shumka’s striking beauty made him stand out among brothers.

Between 1821 and 1826, the farm received three more parties from Arabia. All three were managed by an Arab called Siryak-Arutin, who had served at Sanguszko horse-breeding farm for several years.

These stallions were:

  1. Red Jelfi,
  2. Red Gemdani,
  3. Bay Obeyan, nicknamed Small,
  4. Grey Geyk,
  5. Brown Antar,
  6. Red Kokheil-a-Dzus,
  7. Grey Sebga,
  8. Grey Kbeshan (2nd),
  9. Grey Managi,
  10. Pale grey Benisar,

And mares:

  1. Gasellya,
  2. Gadba,
  3. Gavra,
  4. Gidy.

All four mares had white or pale grey coats. In 1842, another stallion, red Jiran, bought in Tsargrad[10], arrived at Khrestovetsky farm. Of the horses mentioned above, Obeyan the Small was sold; stallions Kokheil-a-Dzus, Managi, Benissar and Jiran mated and produced good lines; stallions Gemdani, Geyk, Sebga and Kbeshan (the 2nd) were reluctant to breed, and the mares Gavra and Gidy did not get in foal.

In 1845, new stallions arrived from Arabia: light grey Batran-Aga, of Seglawi-Jedran strain, virtually the last in Arabia of this breed, and white Elshan of the Obeyan strain. Batran-Aga came from the desert. Batran Aga Mutzelim of Aleppo had a wife, of Bedouin origin, who got this stallion as a dowry. White Elshan, who was bought as a foal and matured in Syria, was of exceptional strength and elegance.

As for Batran-Aga, it was a stallion of high qualities and pure broodline. A few years after his arrival at Sanguszko farm, the Russian Vice-Consul in Aleppo wrote a letter to Prince Sanguszko informing of the interest of the Vice-King of Egypt Abbas-Pasha in purchasing this stallion, as the last of the Seglyavi-Jedran line, with all his offspring. However, the horse was not sold.

In 1833, Khrestovetsky farm received another Arabian stallion, white Azet, of Obeyan-Istambulat strain, who was born at the court of Khaif of Beni Sakhr. White stallion Abulele arrived in 1854, and white Obeyan Silver – in 1855. The latter was sold to state-owned horse breeding farms in 1857.

In 1858, Mr. Sverchinsky travelled to Arabia to buy horses there, accompanied by stallion groom, Mr. Chernyavsky. Mr. Sverchinsky visited the very same parts of Arabia and Syria where he was forty years earlier, but this time he encountered many difficulties while carrying out his mission. He got there at the most unfavorable of times; it was after several years of war, which destroyed vast numbers of horses, and in less than a year after the expedition of Colonel Broderman, who was purchasing horses for the Austrian Emperor.

The political situation complicated travel and significantly increased the difficulty of the enterprise. Arabian stallions became so rare that they could hardly be obtained, other than for considerable money and bribes. Sverchinsky brought only four stallions. Those were:

  1. White Magamed-El-Gassan, of Gaitani breed, from the generation of El-Gonfonk, belonging to the Koheilan bloodline.
  2. White, of Anaz breed.
  3. The pink and gray Seglawi-Arjebi belonging to a very famous breed in Arabia.
  4. Gray with black mane and tail, Koheilan-Abu Argub.

The first stallion was a horse of finest quality, without any imperfection or blemish. The second represented the true type of desert horse, which until that time was not present on the farm. The finesse of his silhouette, clean shape of his legs and his impressive wide gait – all this could only be found in the horse born in desert. The third stallion, although of very impressive stature, was still young, but was found very promising. The fourth stallion, Koheilan-Abu Argub, was in no way inferior to the previous horses in beauty, purity of the breed and excellence under the saddle.

It was clear for anyone, that the stallions were considered and picked by Mr. Sverchinskiy with great diligence, which distinguished his character. Moreover, he employed all his advanced experience and knowledge of the subject, and this party’s quality exceeded all his previous additions to Sanguszko farm.

Also in 1858, another Arabian stallion was bought in England for Khrestovetsky farm. Originally he was from Calcutta and therefore called Indiann. He had a white coat, with black mane and tail. This stallion was later sold to the Counts Branitsky.

This is the list of Arabian horses that to the date have been or are at the Khrestovetsky farm:

1801, number of Arabian stallions acquired by the farm                       5

1813-1814, number of Eastern stallions, acquired by the farm        5

1818, number of Arabian stallions arrived 9 and mares 1, overall  10

1821-1826                                                                   10                         4,                  14

1842                                                                                   1                                                 1

1845                                                                                   2                                                 2

1853                                                                                   1                                                 1

1854                                                                                   2                                                 2

1855                                                                                   1                                                1

1858                                                                                   4                                                4

                                                                                                                         Altogether 45

  1. Jogaila, later Władysław II Jagiełło was the Grand Duke of Lithuania (1377–1434) and then the King of Poland (1386–1434).

  2. Podolia is an area which includes a significant part of the Dnepr’s Right Bank and Western Ukraine. It stretches from the current Odessa region to Lviv, including Khmelnitsky, Ternopil, Vinnytsia regions and adjacent territories. From ancient times, Eastern Slavic tribes lived here. During its many centuries history, it was a part of Kiev State, part of the Galician principality, and in 1199 – part of the Galician-Volhynia state. “Podolia” is a Slavic word which means a territory or a country lying on the other side of some hill.

  3. A position in Lithuanian Government in 1700’s.

  4. The town of Ostroh, which used to be a fortress, later had a Jesuit order & chair there, and it could claim estates of the Prince in benefit of Maltiyskiy Order, which was written in the “erection record”, presumably a special document.

  5. The Karabakh horse, also known as the Karabai or Karabakhskaya in Russian, is a mountain-steppe racing and riding horse https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karabakh_horse.

  6. “Chistokrovnye” means pure-blood.

  7. Eustachy Erazm Sanguszko (1768–1844), general, deputy, horse breeder (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eustachy_Erazm_Sanguszko)

  8. “Zboy”, or more recently, “Sboy” – in relation to horses means a hitch when moving from one type of gait, or rhythm to another.

  9. “Shumka” is the name of a Russian folklore dance, well known in Podolia, Volhynia, Ukraine and Russia Rubra

  10. Slavic name for the city or land of present-day Istanbul in Turkey.

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