Khemosabi – Superhorse of the 20th Century

Khemosabi-Standing

It is difficult to conjure an image more striking than the amazing Khemosabi++++//.  To Arabian enthusiasts, this stallion is a beloved icon, but what makes him truly special is that so many people across cultures, breed affiliations and countries have given a little piece of their hearts to this horse, in the form of poetry, stories, models, statues and artwork.  Often dubbed the “Superhorse of the 20th Century”, Khemosabi was not only one of the most influential stallions in the Arabian horse world, he was also a shockingly successful performance horse in his own right.  When it comes to an “all around” ambassador of the breed, Khemosabi wrote the book.

Not every champion comes into the world in a state of the art foaling stall at a million dollar breeding barn, in fact, Khemosabi was foaled in a backyard in Whittier, CA, by Dr. Bert and Ruth Husband.  The Husband’s immediately knew that they had something special with this little bay stud colt, who sported four pure white stockings and a blaze on his exceptionally typey face.  Maybe it was the way that he came into the world, or simply the close relationship with his “best friend”, Ruth, but Khemosabi was known throughout the industry as an exceptionally kind and inquisitive stallion.  More people came to “visit” Khemosabi during his 34 glorious years of life than any other “famous” Arabian in history.

Born a Champion

Khemosabi was born a champion, but he didn’t know he was anything except a horse that loved people, enjoyed adventure, and thrived on attention.  Whilst he was still a youngster, Khemosabi’s career was popularized by a series of cartoons created by the Husband’s son, Paul, which detailed the adventures of a “masked horse” and his faithful companion, a red-haired girl named Ruth, who fought for “truth, justice, and the Arabian way”.  The cartoons proved to intensify the already enthusiastic fan base surrounding the stallion, who was quickly becoming a household name in Arabian circles.  Eventually, in the 1990’s, Breyer created a model with his likeness, and it remains one of the top selling models since its creation.

Khemosabi-Running

Arguably the most impressive aspect of Khemosabi’s rise to legend status came in 1976, where he was named Canadian National Champion Halter Stallion and Canadian National Champion in Western Pleasure…at the same show!  He remains one of only a handful of stallions to have been named National Champion in both halter and performance, and to have it occur in the same year was groundbreaking.  In a world where most halter stallions are quickly retired from the showring as soon as they have gained enough notoriety to be profitable breeding stock, the idea of a horse of this caliber being competitive in both areas is impressive even to this day.  Indeed, this is what made Khemosabi great; He was a horse that was as good in the performance ring as he was in the halter ring, and he managed to pass this athletic and showy ability on to his offspring.

Khemosabi was sired by the stallion Amerigo and out of the mare Jurneeka++, both horses whose pedigrees were essentially products of the W.K. Kellogg breeding program, which was significantly based upon stock obtained from the Crabbet Arabian Stud in England in the 1920’s.  Interestingly, during the 1960’s and 1970’s, the “in style” thing in the industry was to import horses for breeding stock, and thus most popular stallions had sire’s and/or dam’s that were imported, but Khemosabi’s closest imported relative was his granddam, *Szarza, who was Polish bred, thus he was often touted as an “All American” horse.

During his show career, Khemosabi earned the Arabian Horse Association’s highest achievement award, the Legion of Masters (++++).

Khemosabi’s Legacy

Khemosabi was foaled in 1967 and stood for his first breeding season in 1969 at Varian Arabians in Arroyo Grande, CA.  Shelia Varian, a staple of the SLO County horse world, used Khemosabi’s western athletic ability as one of the foundations for her own legendary breeding program.  In 1980, after bringing home championships at several consecutive national level shows in the U.S. and Canada, the stallion was syndicated, with his oldest friend, Ruth Husband, serving as syndicate manager until the stallion’s death in 2001 at the age of 34.  During his show career, Khemosabi earned the Arabian Horse Association’s highest achievement award, the Legion of Masters (++++).

On that day in 2001, a legend of the Arabian breed was lost, but perhaps more so than most, was not forgotten.  Khemosabi++++// is one Arabian of influence that will live on in the hearts and dreams of his many fans forever.  Indeed, even as I type these words, standing proudly on my bookshelf is a little bay Breyer model with four pure white stockings and a blaze.

 


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I have been an equestrian most of my life, having gotten my first pony at the age of 5, and 30 years later, I competitively exhibit my Half Arabian Reining horse on both the Arabian and NRHA circuits. There are three passions in my life, riding, photography and writing. Being able to combine all three of these things is a dream come true.

2 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply April 23, 2017

    Michelle McDermott

    We had one of his grandson, named Chester. Unfortunately my stepdad never broke him to ride, he looked like his grandfather.

  • Avatar
    Reply August 28, 2019

    Sheilah

    I have one of his grandsons, Valkhyrie. I’ve owned him since he was 4 years old and he’s now 20. He is an amazing horse – the smartest one I’ve ever known. I rode him in endurance riding for 15 or 16 years and he learned how to “read” the ribbons that indicated turns in the trail. When I got tired after miles and miles on the trail, I let him take over and he would get us safely home. He’s still going strong and we are growing old together. I truly don’t know what I will do when he’s gone…

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