Idlib: Groomers await pedigree certificates for their Arabian horses

An Arabian horse inside one of the stables of the city of Binnish in the eastern countryside of Idlib - September 2, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)

An Arabian horse inside one of the stables of the city of Binnish in the eastern countryside of Idlib - September 2, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)


Enab Baladi – Idlib

Abdul-Malik Rumman, a horse breeder and groom in the northwestern Idlib region, faces a problem convincing customers of the authenticity of his horses because they do not carry seals to preserve lineage and prevent forgery and tampering, and this greatly affects their price.

The buyer relies on trust and personal knowledge when buying and selling purebred horses, and contracts are written that include a penalty clause in the event that the buyer is unable to register the horse later, which incurs great losses to the breeder during the sale due to the inability to stamp and register it.

Horse breeders in Idlib suffer from their inability to register their purebred horses with the World Arabian Horse Organization (WAHO) due to the lack of its offices in northern Syria and its Damascus office being limited to areas controlled by the Syrian regime.

The lack of an office for the organization in the north turns the breeders’ horses into national ones instead of internationally registered purebreds.

Horse breeders in Idlib hold the organization responsible for not registering their purebred horses because of its refusal to receive any samples of new horse blood from northern Syria, except through the Ministry of Agriculture in Damascus, which in turn refuses to deal with breeders outside regime areas.

Losses in thousands of dollars

Abdul-Hamid al-Sayed, another horse groom who has been raising purebred horses for eight years in Binnish city, said that newly born purebred horses need to be registered and stamped by the WAHO.

Al-Sayed owns seven purebred horses, two of which are registered and have international numbers, while the rest of the horses that were born eight years ago were not registered due to the organization’s refusal to deal with breeders except through the regime’s agriculture ministry.

He added that the importance of registration lies in giving registered horses international stamps and numbers, which preserves their lineage, prevents fraud and manipulation, and allows the breeder to sell the horses outside Syria, pointing out that failure to register exposes the breeder to major financial losses if he decides to sell the horse.

The horse groomer explained that the price of a registered male horse reaches $2,500, while the price of an unregistered horse does not exceed $1,500, while the price of a registered mare reaches $30,000, while its price in the case of non-registration does not exceed $5,000.

Samples for registration

If the horse is born from registered parents, the groom usually sends samples of the blood of the mother and father along with their papers and a sample of the blood of the newborn horse to the competent organization, which in turn studies the samples.

After being matched by the WAHO, the organization notifies government agencies to carry out the stamping and registration process, and the born horse is given an international number.

The groom, Abdul-Hamid al-Sayed, told Enab Baladi that the breeders were taking samples of the blood or hair of the parents and the newborn horse to the headquarters of the WAHO in Damascus, which sent these samples to Germany for matching so that the organization would give the newborn horse an international number.

After granting the international number, the organization notifies the regime’s ministry of agriculture of the international number, which in turn completes the registration and stamps the born horse to distinguish it from unregistered horses, according to the groom.

Regarding registration conditions, Abdul-Malik Rumman said that there are no conditions for the registration process except that the parents must be registered.

Some horse groomers are trying to send samples to the WAHO’s headquarters in Damascus without announcing the presence of horses in northern Syria.

But, they are unable to complete the full registration process due to the presence of horses in the north. The registration process is considered incomplete, but it is better than nothing, according to the breeders.

National horses

Failure to register horses in the international organization does not mean that they are not purebred but rather makes them national horses that can only be dealt with in a narrow internal environment.

This results in huge financial losses for breeders, so they tend to keep the samples needed for registration until this is possible.

The horse groomer, Rumman, believes that there are no alternative solutions to the registration process other than keeping samples of the parents and recording the lineage of the horses on special papers until a solution is found to register them.

He told Enab Baladi that a horse he had died years ago in a bombing on the Aleppo countryside. It was a registered horse and the father of several unregistered horses, and that he took samples of its blood and hair after its death so that he could register its children later and not lose their lineage.

Rumman pointed out that an incomplete registration process is better than no registration and helps in stabilizing the lineage of horses and not incurring major financial losses until conditions improve and the registration process is duly completed.

A number of horse breeders in northern Syria called on the competent authorities and international organizations to work to solve the registration problem by convincing WAHO to open an office in northern Syria or to deal with it through its office in Turkey.

Horse breeders in northern Syria suffer from a lack of interest from concerned and supportive bodies, a lack of necessary medicines and vaccines, and a lack of specialized veterinary personnel and veterinary equipment to treat horses, which threatens their breeding in the region.

What is WAHO, its activities

The World Arabian Horse Organization has the responsibility of ensuring that standards acceptable to all its Registering Authority Members are established and maintained in the matters of regulations, methods of registration, and production of stud books, according to its official website.

The basic objectives of WAHO are, in brief,

– To preserve, improve, and maintain the purity of the blood of horses of the Arabian breed and to promote public interest in the science of the breeding of Arabian horses.

– To promote and facilitate the acquisition and distribution of knowledge in all countries of the history, care, and treatment of horses of the Arabian breed.

– To advise and co-ordinate the policies and activities of members of the organization.

– To co-operate with any person or body of persons domiciled throughout the world in an endeavor to promote uniformity in terminology, definitions, and procedures relative to the breed of Arabian horses.

– To act in a consultative capacity in discussion and negotiation with international, national, and other authorities on matters concerning horses of the Arabian breed.

Horse pedigree 

The horse pedigree stamp is an important mechanism used to prevent forgery in horse pedigree. It is placed on the horse’s neck, and the stamp includes three sections. The first is called the “A” stamp, and indicates nationality and is stamped from left to right.

The second section is the horse’s number and is written in special symbols that a specialist in horse registration can read (it is not written in numbers, whether Arabic, English, or other).

The third section of the stamp includes the date of birth and is also written in symbols. The horse cannot be stamped except after its lineage is proven through the blood classification process and a lineage certificate is issued for each horse.

The pedigree certificate bears the horse’s name, date of birth, and five generations of ancestors, in addition to the father and mother.

Enab Baladi’s correspondent in Idlib, Anas al-Khouli, contributed to this report.



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