Benedykt Chmielowski, the author of the first Polish encyclopaedia under the entry “horse” put a short but a concise note: “what a horse is like, everyone can see”. In those times, when every single Polish gentleman owned a stable full of horses, the term “horse” was pretty obvious to everyone.
With the rise of light cavalry, the stamina and agility of horses with Arabian blood gave an enormous military advantage to any army who possessed them. Thus, many European monarchs began to support large breeding establishments that crossed Arabians on local stock. Notable imports from Arabia to Poland included those of Prince Hieronymous Sanguszko (1743-1812), who founded the Sławuta stud. Poland's first state-run Arabian stud farm, Janów Podlaski, was established in 1817. By 1850, the great stud farms of Poland were well-established, including Antoniny, owned by the Polish Count Potocki (who had married into the Sanguszko family); later notable as the farm that produced the stallion Skowronek.
If you are looking for the most beautiful horses in Europe, sooner or later you must get to Janów Podlaski. This is the place where the first state-owned stud farm in Poland was established. From its very beginning it was famous for its thoroughbred Arabians. In 19th century the Arabians from Janów were being sent to merchants all over Europe and since 1930 they have even been exported to the USA. The breeding, which in Poland has over 200 years of tradition, has been often put to hard tests. At the beginning of WWII 80% of the horses disappeared and the ones that were rescued 5 years later were sent off on a long and exhaustive exile. They were evacuated to the mansion a long way south of Kiel. In the journey the wanderers were accompanied by fearsome raids and bombings. Fortunately both the employees and the horses survived unscathed. The animals came back to Poland in 1946, but they were not able to go back to Janów before the 60s. Now it has about 300 Arabian horses, the representatives of noble lines: 8 male and 14 female.
Picturesquely set amidst lush meadows along the border river Bug, Janów Podlaski is undeniably a true "equine paradise". A big attraction is the 19th century stable complex situated in an old park. To this day, the Farm has maintained its 2 breeding lines, the Pure Arabians and the Anglo-Arabian Half Bloods. The Arabians are bred for their export potential. The Anglo-Arabs were initially intended to strengthen the Polish workhorse, not least in agriculture. Now, however, new uses like recreation, sport and export. Since 1960, the Arabians from Janów are sold abroad - most of them to USA.
From 1969 onwards Janów has been the host to the auction offering Arabians as well as the most important event for Polish Arabians - the Polish National Arabian Horse Show (since 1979). The show is a feature event at the Polish Summer Festival of the Arabian Horse, held annually in mid-August. This festival encompasses several days of activities, and is centered around the National Show and the annual Janów Sale, considered the world's premier Arabian horse auction, called “Pride of Poland”, which is widely attended by Arabian horse breeders and enthusiasts from around the world. Each year, the National Shows showcase over 100 of the most beautiful and most valuable Arabian horses bred in Poland.
Among the best sales of the stud was a stallion called El Paso sold for 1 mln USD in 1981 and 4 years later a mare called Penicillin - for 1.5 mln USD. It was bought by David Murdock, a millionaire businessman who is one of the 200 richest people in the world. Enormous sums of money, the auction fever and the presence of Europe’s noblest and most beautiful horses make the auctions an uncommon and highly appreciated tourist attraction. What is more, world celebrities are attracted to Janów as well. Mick Jagger, the leader of the Rolling Stones has taken part in the auction several times. The drummer of the group, Charley Watts and his wife are present in Janów every year. Shirley Watts does not save money on noble horses. She bought 3 horses in 2000, paying 100,000 USD, 110,000 USD and 200,000 USD.