One of the first things I did when I got to the US Nationals was to pick up a show schedule - it had been revised since it was posted on the web. With each passing day that schedule became dog eared and creased until I finally wised up and got a digital version for my iPhone - brilliant! But trying to decide if I wanted to watch the halter classes in the Pavilion or the performance classes in the Ford Arena - which are held simultaneously - is seriously stressful. I can't imagine what it is like for people who have horses performing in both areas at the same time. I spoke with several people today who had that dilemma. Some people had horses of their own showing, while others had sold the horses and the new owners were showing them. Either way - the breeders were very intent and committed to see both if possible. Imagine having a halter horse in one arena and a performance horse in other and some horses were competing in more than one division. Who says the Arabian horse is no longer the versatile competitor it used to be; ask these breeders and they would strongly disagree.
That made me ask them, "do you breed for yourself, the show ring or the market?" The looks I got might be what you would expect if I had asked them if I could use their toothbrush... eeeeewwwww! Each of these extremely successful breeders emphatically replied they breed for themselves; for their ideal Arabian horse, which is beautiful, athletic, and trainable. But then they each quickly added that when they were successful in achieving their personal goal, those horses were sure to be successful in the show ring and they would be among the easiest to sell or market. In other words; type, beauty, athletic ability, and temperament - all the classic breed traits of the Arabian horse - are the qualities that make the horses show ring superstars and create the strongest market.
Carol Steppe of Day Dream Arabians, told me there is a fantastic group of show horses sired by her stallions in four different divisions at the U.S. Nationals; Hunter Pleasure, English Show Hack, Western Pleasure, and two halter horses.
They are; Big Time DDA and Katie Russell, who were National Champions in the Half-Arabian Hunter Pleasure Maturity, AAOTR, Big Time DDA also placed Top Ten in Half-Arabian Hunter Pleasure Junior Horse with Cynthia Burkman, Its A Celebration was shown in Half-Arabian English Show Hack and also in Half-Arabian English Pleasure Junior Horse, and Showzim Up, showed in the Arabian Western Pleasure AAOTR 36-54 - he was the U.S. National Champion last year.
Jeff Schall showed Euphoryia in the class for Two Year Old Fillies; she is the reigning 2011 Canadian National Champion Two Year Old Filly. He Be Showy DFA was Reserve National Champion in Half-Arabian Stock/Hunter Geldings 4-6 Years Old.
The breeders I have spoken to added that they breed to achieve their ideal horse and because they love the Arabian. The key word today was l-o-v-e. I heard it, felt it, and saw the evidence of this powerful and inspiring emotion. Mike Ferrara, the official photographer of the US Nationals, spends much of the show in center ring, the vortex of this emotion, and he captures it so beautifully in his fantastic images. Among the thousands of images he takes at the show, only a small percentage are ordered for advertising and promotion; mostly the wins shots and victory passes showing roses and ribbons. But many more are never seen or appreciated, and I think some of these are the most beautiful because they show the love and bond we share with our family, friends and our amazing Arabian horses. Mike and his staff generously agreed to share some of their favorite images from the show including the cover shot of Big Time DDA and Katie Russell, the National Champions in the Half-Arabian Hunter Pleasure Maturity, AAOTR. We hope you enjoy them.
Remember to check back every day for a glimpse of what's going on around the show - inside and outside the arena - because there is definitely a lot more going on for you to enjoy!
Our sponsor for Thursday, October 27th is Day Dream Arabians