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Breeder: Stadnina Koni Janów Podlaski
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oo bay (Ofir — Federacja by Burgas or. ar.) born in 1938,
bred at Janów Podlaski Stud Farm

History of a horse not overcome by the war; after the long exile, the horse gained a new homeland, exerted huge influence on Arabian horses breeding and lived to see his own museum while alive.

Among others, four colts, reckoned to the ‘Big Four – 4W’, were born at Janów Podlaski Stud Farm in 1938. They were sons of stallion Ofir: Witraż, Wielki Szlem, Witeź II and Wyrwidąb (known later in Germany as Wind).

Director Andrzej Krzyształowicz that started his work in the stud farm as an apprentice in 1937, quoted the current opinion at that time that the first foals by Ofir promised well. They were correctly built, distinguished by their beauty and good movement. Unfortunately, the most of them got lost in September 1939.

According to estimation of Stanisław Pohoski, Janów Podlaski Stud farm director and a talented breeder, Ofir was the best stallion bred in Poland in the last century. He was a son of Kuhailan Haifi or. ar. imported by Bogdan Ziętarski for Roman Sanguszko’s stud in Gumniska and recognized as the best of Arabian horses brought in Poland ever. This stallion died after only two years in the stud farm; he left 14 descendants including Ofir, the best of them.

Director Pohoski decidedly appreciated horses of Kuhailan type. Surely for that very reason, he placed Witeź third after his contemporaries – Witraż (out of Makata by Fetysz) and Wielki Szlem (out of Elegantka by Bakszysz) favoured by him by virtue of their female lines. Witeź II, son of Federacja by Burgas or. ar, a typical Saklawi mare, was smaller than they but very elegant.

Someday, during turning out yearlings to grass, one of colts crowned Witeź with his croup and crushed Witaź’s arcus superciliaris; this could cause eye loss. Eng. Krzyształowicz immediately brought the perfect vet from Łódź, Dr Wilczyński. He removed numerous bone splinters and saved the eye. After two years, a trace of the injury disappeared and the contusion was almost imperceptible.

On 04 September 1939, German combat aircrafts attacked objects of the stud farm in Janów. On 10 September, Witold Pruski, chief of Horse Breeding Department at Agriculture Ministry, ordered evacuation of the stud farm southeast and did not specify a destination. On the same day, the stallions (some of them under grooms) left the stud farm. Next day, 260 horses and 19 horse carts with equipment and forage left the stud farm. A column of two kilometres moved only at night to avoid airstrikes. One night, horses were scared and frightened with lights and noise of a military truck and 80 of them escaped. Witeź was among them.

After Soviet army attack and occupation of the eastern regions of Poland, the column turned back to Janów. After twelve-day exhaustive migration at distance of 350 km, the horses reached the stud farm on 24th September. But their rest lasted not long. The Soviet troops incited civilians from villages located beyond the Bug river to rob and destroy the stud farm buildings. 5 Arabian stallions and 24 mares were taken away to a stud farm in Tiersk at Caucasus. It was such an unhappy end of the splendid development of the Janów Stud Farm.

After Red Army withdrawal from areas where Janów was situated and their occupation by German army, the invader – while appreciating value of Polish horses – started reconstituting the Arabian breeding. The buildings were brought to working order and some horses, distributed during evacuation, were gathered therein. Witeź II was also found. A forester who had looked after him, reconducted him to the stud farm when forage ran short. Horses in Janów was brand-marked, so the brands were helpful in horse retrieval and recognition. Witeź II had a brand showing a crown with a letter J on his right shoulder and a number 222 on his left shoulder. Witeź was directed from Janów to copulatory points and in 1942, transferred to Volhynian stud farm, Młynów, kept by a talented breeder Leonid Ter Asaturow.

In autumn 1942, Col Gustaw Rau managing horse breeding in occupied Poland and all countries subjugated by Germany started breeding ‘super horses’ in Czech stud farm Hostownia in Sudeten. 1500 horses were gathered therein including these of different breeds. The following Polish Arabians were among them: the stallions Witeź II and Lotnik, and the mares: Chloe, Iwonka III, Kalina, Karabela, Lituania, Sokora, Tarnina, Wierna and Zalotna. Soon after the stud farm organization, the American and Soviet armies started drawing on Hostownia. German vets, V. Leasing and W. Kroll, who attended the stud farm, suspected Russians to use the conquered horses as meat; so, they got across a front line to Third Army staff of Gen. George Patton. Gen. Patton, who was a cavalryman and crazy horseman, was easily convincible to ‘evacuate’ the most valuable horses into the American zone. On 28 April 1945, the horses were shifted to Monsbah Stud Farm in Bavaria distant by 300 km. They were transported with freight cars and trucks, and some of them, under command of William Quinlivan who was responsible for the operation, travelled this distance under saddle; Witeź II, Lotnik and Wierna were among them. After short rest, Gen. Patton, despite protests of Polish Stud Farm Management acting in the British occupation zone and these of Polish government, issued a command to send the horses with ships to the renowned American stud farm at Fort Royal in State of Virginia. At that time, a journey on a heavy sea in the height of winter was not easy but Polish horses spent it fit. Aboard, Wontez was born, out of Iwonka Ul by Witeź II.

Polish horses’ arrival to the United States changed the course of history of Arabian horse in this country. This resulted in a breeding shock and opened a way for the next invasion of Polish Arabians in 1960. The stallions impressed breeders at the very most. Lotnik was a faultless horse. Only his head, although of Arabian type, did not represented such a classical oriental type like Witeź.

Gladys Brown Edwards, the worldwide authority in Arabian horse breeding and their well-known lover, describes Witeź as follows: the stallion has a beautiful head, full of expression, big eyes and thin ears. And also, a good upper line, short back, horizontal long croup and perfect formation of front and hind legs.

After acclimatization at Fort Royal, the horses were sent to Fort Robinson and then to Kellog Farm (the army’s property at that time) at Pomona, State of California. Witeź II was a leading sire there until the United States’ government decided to use the horse no more in the army. On 25 May 1949, there was an auction organized in Fort Reno where 12 Arabian horses were sold. The average price was USD1,467.70. Witeź II was bought by a Polish horse’s lover, E. E. Hurlbutt, a president of International Arabian Horse Association, for a record price of USD8,100. For comparison, a price for a yearling filly was then USD600.

At Hurlbutt’s farm, Colarabia, in California, Witeź II, highly esteemed stallion, spent calmly his last years of his adventureful life far away from his intense war-past. This splendid stallion was visited by numerous breeders and admirers.

After a great and dangerous fire that ruined 70 thousand acres of forests adjacent to the stud farm, the owners decided to transfer horses to Barrow and Lou Bettsthe, the friendly breeders who popularised Polish horses for many years now.

Witeź II, his son Witezar, 20 mares with Witeź’s blood and 8 mares with Skowronek in their pedigrees were transported to Colorado with a giant car – „Palas Car”. The car for transport of such a great number of horses and their maintenance in comfortable conditions was built especially by Union Pacific Railroad. After 62-day journey, the horses came to their destination and were welcomed by movie sets, press crews, cameramen and enormous crowds. The horses were placed at the farm Circle 2 Arabians, in new-built stables with new- established pastures.

To fix and celebrate memory of Witeź II that was recognized a ‘super sire’ in his second home country and aroused general admiration and worship, Lou Betts built a museum of the stallion’s keepsakes at the farm.

At inauguration, she said: Here, at the cross-road of the West, we hope “Witezeum” to be Mecca for Arabian horse lovers from all quarters of the world. We want it to be not only an expression of homage and recognition for a great contribution of Poland for the Arabian horse world but also for a liberty love, a symbol of which is Witeź II.

In the United States, memory of Witeź is fixed by “Witeź II Fan Club” incorporating breeders and admirers of this stallion’s offspring as well as by great groups of young people interested in Arabian horses breeding.

Linell Smith described a life history and adventures of this great stallion in the book “And Miles To Go” .

One of the greatest experts of Arabians’ breeding, Carl Raswan, who accompanied Bogdan Ziętarski during purchase of Kuhailan Haifi, Witeź II’s grandfather, for duke R. Sanguszko, defined him as “Living Treasure of the World”.

Witeź II, representing the best Polish lines, was an ideal, classical type of Arabian horse. He transferred strongly his features to his offspring: a perfect, lively and gentle character, ease in training and use, great beauty, speed, endurance and regenerative abilities. Horses with his blood are characterized by a long complete stride, quick trot and good action in canter.

Witeź II’ offspring used to win at all show competitions. The horses by Witeź, in the first generation, won 19 National Championships and in the second generation, as many as 63 National Championships.

Already in the first performance at shows in 1953, Witeź II won a title “Pacific Coast Champion” and his son Zitez became a Vice-Champion in this competition. The father’s success was repeated by his sons, Zitez and Natez (twice).

The horses by Witeź came in Top Ten at National Championships of U.S.A. and Canada: Yatez, Fertezza, Nitez, Nirzan, Witezar, Black Magie, Tango (twice), Natez, Faro, Ibn Witez, Amatez and Bolero, the son of which, Zarazo, won National Stallion Championship in 1968.

Witeź’s name occurs many times in pedigrees of the best “cutting horses”. Classes for these horses, introduced in show programmes in 1950, become more and more popular.

Witeź’s blood occurs in pedigrees of horses moving up in the world in long-distance rides. Witeź II’s grandson, Wotezarif, Witezar’s son, won Trevis Cup three times in succession.

The winner of the first race for Arabian horses organized at the United States in the distance of 2.5 mile in 1959 was Ofir by Witeź II out of Tiara. He won this race twice more and was the second once.

Witeź II’ offspring showed jumping accomplishments and used to win steeple-chases.

The best horses were descended from connection of Witeź II with daughters of Polish stallion Skowronek’s sons bred in England: Raseyn and Raffles. This pedigree combination was called the “golden cross”. Thanks to such a “golden cross” – Witeź II x Raseyn – a great number of champions occurred in performance classes, especially in racing, long-distance rides and trials. Raseyn transferred outstanding athletic accomplishments.

One of the most outstanding Witeź II’s sons, Nitez, was just a result of such a “golden cross”, out of Raseyn’s daughter, Nafa. This stallion was also well-known due to transferring black colour, not very often in Arabian horses.

Instead, horses out of Raffles’s daughters, by Witeź II, were both athletic and beautiful.

As you can see, Witeź II without a doubt pioneered as regards the heritage of Polish Arabian horses in the United States.

Witeź’s son, bay Wisok also participated in popularization of Polish Arabian horses in U.S.A. at the same time. He was bred at Stud Farm in Janów Podlaski, born in Hostownia in 1944, out of Sokora by Hardy, missing together with his dam during the war in 1944. Both horses were found in Germany. Sokora returned to Poland and two-year Wisok came to the United States with the group of horses sent by Gen. Patton. He was severely injured during his journey to California. The animal for slaughter was “adopted” by an employee of stud farms for army. Until 1960, Wisok was used in half-bred horses breeding and had only one pure-bred Arabian descendant. He served as an ideal horse for children, at parades and to work with cattle. He was able to walk very quickly. Over the recent years of his life, he left a series of pure-bred Arab foals.

A stallion that played a significant role in European breeding after the World War II was another Witeź II’s son, Wisznu, of spectacular brown and copper colour, bred by Fryderyk Piotraszewski. Wisznu was born in Ołyka in 1943, out of Malaga (from Janów) by Mazepa II. As a yearling, the colt was evacuated with other horses in 1944. They tramped through a half of Europe to northern Germany. He was out of condition and was sold to a German farmer. He resold him to the circus Apollo11. In the circus, he was shown in dressage. As a result of a mishap, he lost his eye during training. On order of Gertraute Griesbach – a well-known breeder (called a German Lady Wentworth) and an owner of the famous stud farm Achental (compared to Crabett Park) – Wisznu was found after long research and taken from Apollo Circus11 to Achental by a young admirer of Polish Arabian horses, Liselotte Tarakus. Mrs Griesbach’s daughter Imielin, a vet, succeeded love of Arabian horses. In the second half of the sixties, Imielin moved to Argentina with some dams, one Wisznu’s son and a stallion Birbas by Witraż, imported from Poland. She established a stud farm that exerted great influence on breeding in South America.

Wisznu stayed in Achental where he gave a highly esteemed offspring with perfect mares gathered by Gertraute Griesbach. In 1964, in consequence of different circumstances, G. Griesbach moved her stud farm to Stróhen belonging at that time to Ismer family. Wisznu, under lease to Stróhen stud farm, reached his last days therein. He died suddenly on 22 August 1968.

The remaining Witeź II’s offspring born in Poland – i.e. the mares: Wieszczka, grey, out of Kalina, born in 1943, bred by the duke J. Radziwiłł in Ołyka and Wiklina, chestnut, out of Kalina Wnuczka, born in 1943, bred by Władysław Kołaczkowski in Dobużek; and the stallions: Wiwat 1943 and Wiktor 1945 out of Iwonka III, both chestnut and born in Hostownia – did not come into being in breeding.

Witeź II died calmly on a pasture on 10th June 1965. He left behind 215 foals in U.S.A. and he is a grandfather of 3534 horses. His offspring includes several thousand of horses now.

Read more…

Author: Zenon Lipowicz

The licence granted by Mr Zenon Lipowicz’s family to BoberTeam, for the needs of the project Polish Equestrian Legends.

Click the links below to go to the Polish Digital Equestrian Library (will open in a new tab):

„Witeź II – Wielki Wędrowiec” (2007) – Zenon Lipowicz

„Witeź II – The Great Wanderer” [EN](2007) – Zenon Lipowicz