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Windt im Wald Farm
Geauga County, Northeast Ohio

since 1995


At the 1987 Al Khamsa National Convention in Memphis Tennessee, the general membership voted to set up a committee to select an Al Khamsa volunteer of the year to honor for their hard work and dedication to the organization. The membership also voted to begin this series by first honoring Charles Craver so we present for you the following tribute:

First Chairman of Al Khamsa
Khamsat, Volume Five, Number One January 1988
Copyright by Alice Martin
Used by permission of Alice Martin
           If you ask Charles Craver who first conceived the idea of an organization dedicated to preserving the desert Arabian, he will say, "Jeanne".
           Jeanne Hussong was a music teacher in southern Illinois who had made a start in horses of the BLUE CATALOG and began publishing a mimeoed newsletter named the Breeders' Service Bulletin in 1972. The production quality, the content and the mailing list blossomed with each issue. It was proposed that those interested in meeting each other face to face gather in the basement of Walter Schimanski's then unfinished house in Decatur, IL.
           People from several states attended, a good time was had by all, and they decided to do it again. In February or March of 1974 they met in Nan Burket's kitchen in Decatur. The long distance award belonged to Jim Bullard for coming from Virginia to attend. He made the time sequence unforgettable by greeting Jeanne who had just become engaged to Charles with "I sure would have lost a hell of a lot of money on a bet on whether or not Charles would get married. I just wanted to see the woman who was going to marry him."
           If you ask Jeanne the same question about the origins of Al Khamsa, she will admit that perhaps she proposed the first get together, but it was Charles who had the idea of the scope that such a group could ultimately assume.
           "Obviously there was a need for such an organization." Charles recalls. "Obviously there was also a large constituency in Illinois. The next step was to see if there was a national need. 'Chub' (H. B.) Stubbs, who had attended the first two informal get togethers, volunteered to make arrangements at his hometown Edwardsville (IL) Holiday Inn."
           Charles Craver chaired the first two national meetings held at Edwardsville in 1975 and 1976. There the group committee system was instituted. Various areas of interest were proposed: education, advertising, by-laws, finance, etc. An area was designated for each interest. Anyone attending the convention could make himself a member of the committee by moving to that area and taking part in the discussion that ensued. Each group informally selected a spokesperson who then reported the ideas of the committee back to the Board of Directors. The beauty of having no funds in Al Khamsa's treasury meant each committee not only had to conceive ideas to serve their particular interest, but had to also figure out a way to implement them.
           A great deal of time and often financial resources as well were donated to the club by committee members who wanted to see their ideas come to fruition.

    "One of Al Khamsa's great strengths," Charles says, "is that it has always offered support to those with worthwhile projects whether it is research, preservation of an endangered line, or the establishment of a world-wide list of foundation horses. Now the support may end up being nothing more than a listening ear and a "Well done". But that kind of support is also needed, sometimes even more than the monetary kind."

           When Jeanne was asked what she felt were her husband's greatest contributions to Al Khamsa, she answered,
           "Charles has this knack to see long range problems. He knows that the issue today, with the people involved today, is no problem, but as time rolls on and the organization grows, the same issue can be very thorny and therefore needs careful attention now. He also has been very strong in his stand against any form of commercialism creeping into Al Khamsa activities. That has helped make the organization unique in its service to the Arabian community. Its focus has always been education and service."
           Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know Charles Craver for many years are aware he was promoting desert breeding long before any formal organization existed. For years he advertised in the classified section of various horse magazines: "Wanted: Interesting visitors to enjoy our herd of Davenport Arabian horses." The visitor may not have been interesting but the owner of the Davenports certain was. Before the visitor left, gentle seeds of the desert breeding had somewhere been planted in his mind. The first time visitor may well have been unaware of what he was hearing but as further visits unfolded the concept was enlarged upon until the preservation of horses of desert breeding was paramount.
           Through his own research by 1955 Charles had established the lines of Arabian breeding in this country he thought were most promising for the future. His thoughts on the subject were clarified and enlarged upon by visits and correspondence with Alice Payne, Jimmie Wrench, Dr. J. L. Doyle, articles in the Arabian Horse Journal by Jane Ott, a continuing friendship with Carl Raswan, and contacts with Jane and Kathleen Ott. There was no organized "purist" group at that time, just a handful of breeders having the same general goal. Serious thinking and active "Al Khamsa" type breeding was being done by a number of breeders, among them the Krausnicks, Dr. Doyle, Craver Farms, Babson Arabians, Richard Pritzlaff and Judith Forbis.
           In 1961 the Blue Catalog by Jane Llewellyn Ott was published and became an important part of this context, providing a systematic approach and organization of data and thought.

               "It was," Charles continued, " an essential publication for the preservation of the desert Arabian horse."

           The organization owes a debt of thanks to Charles for the uncounted hours he spent editing the Anthology section of the Al Khamsa Arabians 1983 Directory. He gave reading assignments to as many people as he could rope into it, but the selection process meant reading and re-reading hundreds of volumes to present the gems of the collection to the members of the Education Committee for final selection. He was adamant that the effusion common to so many works about Arabians be eliminated. He demanded footnotes for everything and positively would not use something, no matter how tempting, if it could not be nailed down as to source. Every item used in the Anthology was checked against the original source in case subsequent reprints contained errors in transmission.

               "Al Khamsa today is certainly different than when it was established." Charles says.

               "Its future depends on which route it chooses. It can be a pleasant organization with a nice annual meeting that gives cordial support to a fine magazine which we are extremely fortunate to have. Certainly some of my favorite moments in Al Khamsa have occurred at the annual convention. One great thing is that Al Khamsa can be just plain fun. Everyone can enjoy it and have a good time.

               "There is a tremendous diversity within the horses of Al Khamsa; there is a tremendous diversity within the people involved with Al Khamsa. It is a leveling experience to be part of such a diverse group and to enjoy the atmosphere of friendship and cooperation. Al Khamsa needs to be careful that we do not become so concerned with having a good time that we forget there is an urgency to educate ourselves and the Arabian public to the danger that the blood of interest to us can be lost. Education is the key to Al Khamsa's future."



from the StarWest Ad of that issue

           What the Arabian world (every pun intended) needs is more Charles Cravers. My father and I were on our three-state swing in 1963 to purchase my first Arabian mare. We had gone north from Effingham, Illinois to Munsons, Friendship Farms, into Iowa to several places, dropped down into Missouri, and decided at rather the last minute to stop at this place that advertised in the classifieds of Western Horseman. "Wanted: Interesting visitors to enjoy our herd of Davenport Arabians." That seemed intriguing enough to warrant the final stop of our long weekend trip.

           We met the nicest low-key man who seemed in no hurry to show us his horses one-by-one. I fell in love with Sir, but we were looking for a mare. My father, not incidentally a good judge of character, wanted to buy the mare from this man. Unfortunately he would not sell us one.

    "How old are you?" Charles asked me.

    "Sixteen," I replied.

    "How much money do you have to spend?"

    "Two thousand dollars."

    "Alice," he said. (We were now on a first name basis and it was a good thing for Charles introduced my father and me for years as the Watsons from Martin, Illinois.) "you take that $2,000, go buy books on the Arabian horses with the money, study, and if in a year you still want a horse, come back and we'll see that you get one."

           The only flaw with than wonderful plan was if I spent my $2,000 on books, I would not have had any money to buy my horse. The only flaw in my reasoning is that Charles Craver didn't say anything about buying a horse, he said that he would see that I got one. Now I know his advise was the soundest and would have saved me countless dollars in the long run, but at 16 a horse in the hand was worth two in the book.

           We bought a yearling filly in Iowa, but I remembered Sir when it came time to breed her. She produced my favorite riding horse Star Sir Tristam and made sure that we continued visiting Craver Farms on at least an annual basis ever since. I am sorry Charles did not sell me my first mare. Charles is sorry he did not sell me my first mare, but we are both glad we met over that incident. Charles remains to this day the wisest of my horse friends, the worst punster I've ever known, the one I turn to for advice with a breeding or veterinary problem, the one I argue with about lunging a horse, the one I send dressage books to, the one who has been responsible for breeding the best riding horses I have ever been on. the list could go on and on, but the ad cannot.

           Thank you Charles for all that you have given me of your time and talents over the years. You're the best.
StarWest The training division of
New Berlin, Illinois 62670
Dressage training for the horse and rider.
Star M Stables

Watson Illinois 62473

Farm since 1842. Arabians since 1963 John R. Martin, owner

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