Women’s History Month: Anne Blunt, Lady of the Horses

Lady Anne Blunt was a trailblazer in the world of Arabian horse breeding and preservation.

Anne Blunt, British Library, Public Doman, Creative Common License.

Born in 1837, Lady Anne Blunt’s fascination with horses began at an early age. Her father, William King, was a renowned horse breeder and enthusiast, and her mother, Ada Lovelace, the daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron, shared her husband’s passion. After the death of her mother, Anne travelled extensively with her father and in 1869 met and married Wilfred Blunt.

Together with her husband, she travelled through Europe, India, and the Middle East. It was in the deserts of Syria, Egypt, and Arabia that Anne became fascinated with the Arabian horse. She immersed herself in Bedouin culture, learning the intricacies of Arabian horse breeding and forging relationships with local breeders. Anne’s diaries reveal she met with sheiks often, critiquing the horses she saw before buying or contracting breeding rights with only the best.

Photograph of Anne (AB) and Wilfred Blunt (WSB) on horseback, British Library, Public Domain, Creative Common License.

One of Lady Anne’s most significant contributions to Arabian horse preservation was the establishment of the Crabbet Arabian Stud in England. Founded in 1878 on the Blunts’ estate in Sussex, the Crabbet Stud became a breeding ground for purebred Arabian horses, with Lady Anne overseeing the program and meticulously documenting the lineage and characteristics of each horse. The Crabbet Stud played a crucial role in preserving the bloodlines of Arabian horses in Europe and America, ensuring that the breed’s distinctive qualities were passed down through generations. A majority of Arabian horses today have at least one Crabbet ancestor.

Diary of Anne Blunt from 1881, British Library, Public Domain, Creative Common License.

In 1882, she opened a second stud farm outside of Cairo called Shaykh ‘Ubayd. It was there she began compiling a book on the Arabian horse, and her notes were later used in her daughter Judith’s volume, The Authentic Arabian Horse (1945).

Photograph of Anne Blunt on horseback taken by Gertrude Bell , British Library, Public Domain, Creative Common License.

After divorcing Wilfred in 1906 and temporarily living with her daughter, Lady Anne permanently moved to Shaykh ‘Ubayd in 1913. She died in Cairo in 1917.

Lady Anne Blunt’s legacy as a pioneer in Arabian horse preservation continues to resonate in the equestrian world today. Her efforts to safeguard the purity and integrity of the Arabian horse breed ensured its enduring popularity and recognition as one of the most esteemed horse breeds in the world. Through her passion, dedication, and adventurous spirit, Lady Anne Blunt left an indelible mark on the history of horsemanship, earning her a place of honor among the great equestrians of all time.

Watercolor by Anne Blunt, British Library, Public Domain, Creative Common License.

Go riding.

Amanda Uechi Ronan is an equestrian, author, and wannabe race car driver. Follow her on Instagram @amanda_uechi_ronan.

Blunt, Lady Anne. A Pilgrimage to Nejd. London: John Murray, 1881.
Blunt, Lady Anne. The Bedouin Tribes of the Euphrates. London: John Murray, 1879.
Archer, Rosemary. The Arabian Horse: History, Mystery, and Magic. London: Quartet Books, 1986.
Wentworth, Judith Anne Dorothea Blunt-Lytton. The Authentic Arabian Horse and His Descendants. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1945.
Blunt, Wilfrid Scawen. The Arab Horse. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1906.