2015 Scottsdale Show
March 1st, 2015
The 2015 - 60th Annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show
Text and photos By Lisa Abraham
The 2015 Annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show marked its 60th anniversary. From Feb 12-22, the global Arabian horse community gathered once again in the beautiful state of Arizona (USA) to see the horses who will be setting the standards for the 2015 show stage. According to the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show web page, “Since 1955 the Annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show has set the pace in the Arabian horse world. The first show was held at the grounds of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel which was a beautiful setting for a horse show.
“The Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show was a first class show from the very first day. After the show's beginnings at the Arizona Biltmore, Ann McCormick bought 150 acres in Scottsdale and made it into the horse facility known as Paradise Park which served the needs of the show for many years. Since that time, the show has been held at Westworld in Scottsdale. It has grown from 50 horses to nearly 2400 horses bringing top owners, trainers and breeders from around the world competing for a chance at winning.”
Westworld is a spacious facility. With two indoor and eleven outdoor arenas, there was more than enough room for the 2,332 horses competing and over 320,000 spectators that attended the show this year! Although this article is limited to the halter competitions and its participants, halter is only a small part of the Scottsdale experience. Performance disciplines included all types of English and Western, driving, jumping, reining, cutting, trail and native costume. There were classes for all ages and levels of skill.
While the industry is still struggling with the repercussions of economic woes, the Scottsdale show remains strong in its commitment to the popularity of the Arabian horse. Jay Allen, the President of the AHAA wrote, “We at AHAA are committed to the promotion and growth of our wonderful Arabian industry. Our desire is to see the Arabian horse once again become the breed of choice. That is what drives this Board to discover new ways to draw new people to Arabians, as well as renew hope and interest for all of us that have loved this great horse for years.”
One thing the Scottsdale show does exceptionally well is attract the outside community—something from which nearly every show in the world could learn. At most shows these days, as a community, we are showing and selling to each other—with only the occasional outside spectator. The Scottsdale show is so successful in its marketing efforts that literally the entire city celebrates this week and a half of Arabian Competition, which is referred to locally as “the Arabian Show.” It is only through finely tuned business skills and appropriate marketing efforts, such as those employed by this particular show, that we can hope to expand our numbers and reach the level of popularity once enjoyed. Taryl O Shea, the Executive Director of the AHAA shared, “We do all of our own marketing in house. Although we do we promote the show worldwide, by adding many ‘family’ activities to the show, we have worked hard to attract the local crowd as well.”
The presence of media, both industry and local, was very high in Scottsdale, adding to the overall prestige and excitement of the show. All of the major media were present and were diligently recording every aspect of the show. Photographers were lined up everywhere ensuring every angle was accurately covered, while journalists huddled with various show personnel and guests attempting to reveal fresh show perspectives.
Riyan Rivero, whose history in our business is life-long and whose marketing skills are employed by some of the most important farms in our business, leads the media and marketing efforts at Arabhorse.com. She shared, "This year’s Scottsdale Show was truly spectacular. The spectator attendance, the number of exhibitors and the outstanding quality of the horses presented was inspiring. There is never enough time in the day to visit or see all that we would like, but as a member of the media, I, for one, am grateful to have witnessed and to be able to promote the passion and dedication of the professionals and the breeders that give so much of their lives and dedication to the Arabian horse community."
Commercial Vendors and Shopping Expo
Although vendors were scattered throughout the show grounds, most were concentrated in the North Hall of the Equidome, the arena where many of the formal English and Western riding classes took place. There were nearly 300 vendors selling everything from show souvenirs, horse tack, high end crafts, and clothing, all types of food and drinks to trailers.
At any show, it is always a special treat to spend time with artist J. Anne Butler and her husband, Ray Tweedie. In Scottsdale, they were fortunate to have excellent booth placement on a corner spot of Wendall Arena—making it impossible to miss them. Their close proximity to the competition provided them with great opportunities to spend time with friends and potential clients.
I had originally met Anne and her husband Ray at the Arabian Breeders World Cup in Las Vegas in 2012. The three of us hit it off instantly. In fact, Anne shared with me that she has one of my photos displayed on her wall as a source of inspiration. I have to admit, that kind of admission was an excellent ice breaker.
Anne, who has been sculpting for 27 years, has attained global recognition for her innovative style. Her artwork has been acquired by some of the most prestigious individuals in our industry including: Gigi Grasso (Italy), Catherine and Thierry Kerjean (Italy)--owners of WH Justice, the late Patrick Swayze (USA) and Mr. & Mrs. Charlie Watts of Halsdon Arabians (UK). Her work has been collected by royalty as well. Not only have several Middle Eastern rulers added her work to their collections, but HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, also own a J. Anne Butler original.
Anne and Ray, who are originally from England, have been attending the Scottsdale Show since 1998. In 2001 they moved to Scottsdale. Anne shared, “One of the best things about the Scottsdale show for me is that I get to sleep in my own bed. It is a wonderful feeling for us to have the greatest Arabian horse show happen right here on our doorstep. But what we also love about the show is the opportunities to connect with our friends from all over the world.”
I asked Anne how she got her start in sculpting Arabian horses. She shared, “Through a course of events, my step daughter asked me to sculpt an Arabian mare and foal. After completion, I was asked to display it at a local Arabian show in England. As it was received very well, it became my start in Arabian art. At this point, my work has become almost exclusively Arabian equine art. I still do some figurative work, but very little.”
Anne also shared, “My biggest challenge is embracing success. I have second child syndrome—which is what they call it nowadays. I always feel I have to try harder and I’m never satisfied.” Affectionately, Ray added, “With Anne, perfection is a moving target.”
Currently Anne is working on a piece that I feel is her best ever—it’s absolutely breathtaking. Although it had not been cast yet and was still in the clay formation stage, it was on display for the show. I can’t imagine how many inquiries were made on this piece during the show—both in person and from abroad. It portrays a beautiful Arabian filly playfully rearing up. From head to toe to tail--it is exquisite!
The Russian Judge and breeder, Irina Stigler, who attended Scottsdale for the first time this year, was also drawn to Anne’s latest creation. When Anne said the piece needed a name, Irina quickly replied, “Layla!”
Irina, Anne and Ray have a bit of a history that began last year. Irina shared, “In 2014 I judged the Arabian Breeders World Cup in Las Vegas. At that show I purchased a beautiful bronze colt from Anne that now resides at my farm in northern Italy. This piece is very dear to me and it fits very well among my collection of Arabian art. Unfortunately though, when I purchased the piece, Anne was not present in Vegas so we never met. Finally getting to meet Anne was a very special Scottsdale highlight for me.”
The spacious show grounds and attractive barns lend themselves very well to entertainment. There were certain days where the barn parties were literally lined up one right after another—making for a very exciting several hours! E-blasts were the main form of announcement and as we were all connected, there was little confusion as to where the party was—and the next one as well. The hosting barns usually provided light snacks accompanied by beverages of all types. The barns were decorated to the hilt, with each having its own unique environment—and then horses, horses and more horses!
Not only do farms present some of the horses who are competing in the show along with sale prospects, but sometimes, they will also present horses who are retired from the show ring and/or have made notable breeding contributions. Opportunities to see some of these horses could be once-in-a-lifetime. For example, some horses that have previously been presented include Echo Magnifficoo, ROL Intecyty (the sire of RH Triana) and Enzo. This year Sandro Pinha and Gil Valdez of Arabians International presented El Nabila B, while Andy Selman of Argent Farms presented Justify.
Saturday, Feb 21st, was the most active day for the social barn fun. Directly after the morning classes ended, the elaborate parties began. First everyone congregated at Greg Gallun’s to see his presentation of Al Ayal AA and Truest. Then Roxanne Hart of Rohara threw a huge bash presenting some of their superstars, many of whom have competed successfully in both the performance ring and halter! The star of the Rohara presentation was of course their newly acquired Ajman Moniscione son, Montana Firenze, who is already making quite a name for himself in the breeding shed. Then hundreds gathered as Keith Krichke presented his show string.
Other unique opportunities that can be experienced in Scottsdale are presentations at the offsite farms in the surrounding Scottsdale area. Many of the country’s most prestigious farms and trainers, if not already based in Scottsdale, rent satellite farms to house and present their horses throughout the show.
These particular presentations are normally quite elaborate with delicious food and beverages offered. One trainer who is fondly known for his gracious hospitality is Michael Byatt. On Sunday Feb 15th, after showing in the last of the International Classes, Michael escorted a small group of us to Pomeroy Arabians for an intimate showing of his very impressive show string, many of whom will be staying on till Vegas.
Getting to attend one of Michael Byatt’s presentations is an opportunity that is so much more than just about horses—it’s also about the quality of people who are attracted to Michael, his taste in horses and what he contributes to the Arabian horse world. Erin Naas, of Dolce Cavallo, LLC, a longtime friend and client of Michael’s, shared, “As Michael would say, ‘I love a good horse show ‘--and I have to agree! It’s not necessarily the formal competition or even a judge’s perspective that inspires me, but getting to witness quality horses in a relaxed atmosphere and being surrounded by great company and peers.
“Michael’s presentation was wonderful. It was a casual afternoon spent in the company of such world renowned faces as Ms. Lenita Perroy, Mr. Mario Matt, Joel Desmarteau , Kirk Bardole, Philip Del Pozzo & Brent Stone and Denise Hearst--just to name a few. These people influence the International Arabian Horse as a breed on so many levels and it speaks volumes for Michael to have them in attendance.
"It was such a pleasure to meet Ferdinand Huemer, a breeder whom I have long admired, and his very special stallion, *Lawrence El Gazal. I also enjoyed seeing the rest of Michael’s strong stallion line-up, in which Kanz Albidayer certainly stood out. It was also wonderful to see the beautiful *Eryelle Meia Lua, a new acquisition I chose for my friends Dr Singh and family; a spectacular El Rasheem yearling filly bred and owned by Al Shahania Stud; and of course a young mare in which I’m especially proud, Nadira of Rohan, owned by myself in partnership with Sandhu Arabians.”
Erin Naas is world renowned herself for a very successful career both as a breeder and as a fashion model. She has enjoyed prominent placement in some of the world’s top fashion showcases including Sports Illustrated and Victoria’s Secret. However, just beneath that perfect, glossy image is an enchanting woman who loves her horses and doesn’t mind getting dirty—just like the rest of us.
Erin shared, “My first recollection of horses was taking riding lessons at the age of three—although I don’t remember much beyond getting in the saddle. As I grew up, I learned to show dressage and to jump. But it was when I was eight years old that my love for Arabian horses was born. I drew them, researched pedigrees and studied conformation. I had every issue of Arabian Horse World and I used the pictures to study. I have sketches of Naborr, *Bask, Penitent and NH Love Potion, to name just a few.
“My career as a model has provided me with the opportunity to live my dream with Arabian horses. Although I am from LA and still do some modeling work, I spend most of my time in Scottsdale on my farm with my children and horses.”
Erin offered my travel companion, Irina Stigler, and myself another type of farm presentation—one of a more private nature. Our visit was on Monday, Feb 16, around mid-day. Before visiting the horses of Dolce Cavallo, Erin gave us a tour of her home and then shared her history with us as we snacked on a tasty spread of finger foods that she had prepared.
The mares of Dolce Cavallo are certainly worth seeing as they are not only beautiful as individuals, they possess some of the most sought after bloodlines in the world. To name just a few, she has daughters of Versace, Padrons Psyche, AS Natsir Apal, *Sanadik El Shaklan, Ajman Moniscione, Botswana , WN Ultimate Star and Echo Magnifficoo. Furthermore for 2015, they have been bred to such world class stallions such as WH Justice, EKS Alihandro, Gazal Al Shaqab, JJ Bellagio, Kanz Albidayer, Ever After NA and Marajj.
Although the quality of horses at Dolce Cavallo was exceptionally high, it was Erin who impressed me the most. She is completely hands on in the day-to-day care of her horses. It was Erin who showed her horses to us and it was Erin who knew every last detail regarding each horse and breeding. She gave detailed explanations of her various foaling experiences, shared some of her highs, as well as heartbreaks.
Erin is a respected breeder who has bred horses that are now owned by some of the top stud farms around the world. Getting to spend quality one-on-one time with Erin Naas of Dolce Cavallo was certainly a special Scottsdale experience.
The Scottsdale Signature Stallion Auction and Futurity
The Scottsdale Signature Stallion program, created by the Arabian Horse Association of Arizona in 2002, began as an effort to support stallion owners and to encourage breeders and owners. This is a two-part program consisting of the Signature Stallion Service Auction and the Signature Stallion futurity/maturity classes. In order to participate in the Stallion Service Auction, the stallion must be nominated to the program. To compete in the Futurity/maturity classes, the horse must be sired by a nominated stallion and nominated to the program. To compete in the futurity auction class, the horse must be the progeny resulting from a breeding purchased at the Signature Stallion Auction and nominated to the program.
The first part of the SSS program is the Signature Stallion Auction. There was a live service auction, which took place in the South Hall on Wednesday night. The hall was decorated nicely for the affair and as usual, there were tasty buffet items and beverages to set the mood. Greg Knowles led the team of auctioneers. QR Marc, who is quickly becoming the most famous of the Marwan Al Shaqab sons, brought in the highest dollar amount at $16,000 (all denominations are USD), purchased by Regan Rohl. Although that was certainly an impressive amount, the number of stallions who earned 8K or above was also notable. Both Ever After NA and Beiging BHF earned 8K; another QR Marc son, Emerald J, earned 9K; Excalibur EA earned 9.5K; Vitorio TO earned 11K; and both Hariry Al Shaqab and Lawrence El Gazal brought in 12K. There was also a silent auction, which took place throughout the week in the AHAA booth at Wendell Arena. Ultimately, for 2015, an outstanding amount of $332,800 was raised.
The second part of this prestigious program is the show ring competition. Due to the huge prizes, the Scottsdale Signature Stallion Yearling Filly and Colt/Gelding Auction Classes are some of the most exciting of the show. Not only are the pay-offs big in the SSS Championship Classes, but they are also Amateur-to-Handle (ATH).
For 2015, the Champions Auction Yearlings each received $28,873.16, and the Reserve Champion Auction Yearlings took home $14,436.58! The SSS Champion Auction Yearling Filly was Princess Raherra ORA (Vitorio TO X Raherra), bred and owned by Oakridge Arabians. The Reserve Champion Auction Yearling Filly was RD Alayna (Ever After NA X Bey Shahs Lady), bred and owned by Murray Popplewell. The SSS Champion Auction Yearling Colt/Gelding was Pstratosphere PCF (Pstrategy X Majoretta), bred and owned by Sam Peacemaker. The Reserve Champion Auction Yearling Colt was Captain Amerika PA (Grand Commandd X Miss Amerika), bred and owned by Pegasus Arabians.
The Classic Arabian Classes
The Scottsdale Classic Arabian Classes were judged by the five-judge system. According to the rules listed on the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show web page, "In general, the five judges in each class are numbered 1 through 5 with judge #1 designated as the ‘Call’ judge. Each judge independently places, in order of preference, the number of entries to be awarded. This number may be adjusted by the actual number of entries shown in the class." The 2015 panel of judges included: Scott Benjamin (Canada), Van Jacobsen (USA), Robert Langlois (USA), Mike Miller (USA) and Brian Murch (USA).
The Junior Filly Champion is one who is already comfortable in the winner’s circle. Pitonisa AS, (Ever After NA X Psyches Amber Dream) is a 2013 filly, bred by Lisa Markley or Leanne Reel and owned by Arabian Soul Partners LTD. As Pitonisa AS was the 2014 US National Champion Yearling Filly, the 2014 Arabian Breeders World Cup Supreme Gold Champion Filly, the 2014 Scottsdale Champion Arabian Classic Junior Filly and the Unanimous Class winner in her 2-year-old Fillies of Jan1-April 15 Class—she, along with her handler Sandro Pinha, seem to be unstoppable. The Reserve Junior Filly Champion was Byronica RH (ROL Intencyty X Sylviah WLF), a 2014 filly, bred by Robin and Drago Kragulj, of Robinhood Arabians, and owned by Lady Georgina Pelham of Argentina. Of the four Junior Champions, Byronica RH was the youngest – she is also a full sister to National Champion RH Triana.
The 2015 Junior Colt Champion wasSoul of Marwan AS (Marwan Al Shaqab X RD Challs Angel), a 2013 colt bred and owned by Arabian Soul Partners LTD. The Reserve title was earned by Falah Al Shaqab (Fadi Al Shaqab X Joseph Just Emotion), a 2013 colt, bred and owned by Al Shaqab Member Qatar Foundation. It is interesting to note that in the Junior Championship Classes, Sandro Pinha, of Arabians International, showed both Champions and David Boggs of Midwest Training Center showed both Reserve Champions.
The Champion Mare is one who has enjoyed the support of nearly the entire Arabian Community. She is elegant and radiates joy in the ring—and there is little doubt she knows that she was born to win! The 2015 Scottsdale Champion Mare Wieza Mocy (QR Marc X Wieza Marzen), a 2010 mare, owned and bred by Michalow State Stud (Poland) and on lease to Janey Morse and Midwest-David Boggs, is also a Polish National Champion, a European Gold Champion and an Arabian Breeders World Cup Champion. She was also the Unanimous winner in her Classic 5 year Old Mare Class.
Anette Mattesson, a European photographer and Polish historian shared, “My all-time favorite mare was Wizja (El Paso X Warmia), the 1977 US National Champion Mare. She was quality with such presence and charisma that captured you totally, even just standing in her stall. Wieza Mocy is her great grand-daughter and when I saw her the first time as a foal I was in awe with her – just like Wizja - she just claims attention with her beauty and charisma and it was a pure joy to be around her. Wieza Mocy also has a great personality! She loves company and if she could have it her way, you would stand in her stall for hours scratching her. I am so happy for Janey to experience this great journey with this amazing mare and I hope that she will return to Poland leaving Janey with a ‘mini-Mocy’ in the United States. For me, Wieza Mocy is the ultimate show-mare, so much charisma and attitude, she is THE best and she knows it!”
The Reserve Champion Mare was also a crowd favorite, Honey’s Delight RB (JJ Senor Magnum X Honeymoon), a 2008 mare and also a US National Champion, was bred by Adriana Espindola B De Moura and owned by Masterpiece Arabians LLC and shown by Greg Gallun.
For me, a highlight of the Mare Classes was getting to see US National Champion, Abha Qalams (Alfabia Damascus X Abha Mudira (Marwan Al Shaqab)) compete. She was the class winner in the Classic 8 Years and Older Mares. She was bred by Marieta Salas of Ganaderia Ses Planes Stud and is owned by Al Shahania Stud of Doha, Qatar, and shown by Michael Byatt.
The 2015 Champion Stallion, Hariry Al Shaqab (Marwan Al Shaqab X White Silkk), a 2010 stallion, owned and bred by Al Shaqab Member Qatar Foundation, has little else to prove. Although David Boggs showed him to his most recent victory, it was Michael Byatt who showed him to his 2012 Scottsdale victory when he was just a young unknown yearling colt. After this early win, Michael sentimentally shared, "Hariry Al Shaqab is one of the very special horses that has come into my life. From selecting his mother in 2006, to owning and showing her father (Dakar El Jamaal) to US National Champion stallion, to his birth, Hariry has been a sparkling gem from the beginning.”
In an article written by Anne Stratton, Mohamed Al Sulaiti, the Breeding and Show Manager of Al Shaqab, shared, "Hariry is the future of Al Shaqab. As an individual, he meets our highest criteria, and we rank him equal among the most accomplished of all the Al Shaqab stallions." Included in his many show titles is being named the 2013 Unanimous US National Champion Junior Stallion and the 2014 Gold Supreme Champion Stallion at the Arabian Breeders World Cup in Las Vegas where he was awarded the highest scores of the show.”
The Reserve Champion Stallion was Truest (Trussardi X Marlene Dietrich), bred by Rojo Arabians and owned by Truest Partners LLC. Not only was Truest the Unanimous Winner in his Classic 3 year old Stallion Class, he was the youngest of all the Senior Champions.
Every horse show has special moments. Sometimes these moments occur in the ring where dreams absolutely can come true, but other times they can occur in the most unexpected places. There a local bar right off Shea called the 92nd Street Café. It is located just 7 or 8 minutes from Westworld and has become a very popular after-show social destination.
On the last Saturday night, soon after the show festivities ended, everyone headed over to the 92nd. For many of us, this was going to be a last night together as most of us were scheduled to leave on Sunday directly after the Championships. I had spent several nights at this bar enjoying good drinks and some very bad Karaoke and on this evening, it was no different except that everyone was out!
I was sitting with friends, one of whom was a young photographer named Ashlyn Coleal. Ashlyn literally grew up in the business, as her mother and grandmother are the team behind Coleal Arabians, a forty year breeding program which produced several aristocratic mares, along with legendary stallions Genesis C and Eden C.
Several years ago Ashlyn took up photography and is attending college with a double major of business and photography. She works hard at shows and her photos of the family horses are surfacing everywhere as she has now attained a skill appropriate for professional marketing purposes.
Just like every other aspect in the Arabian world, photography can be very competitive. Photographers can be proprietary with clients—often stepping over lines. As a photographer myself, I had to learn the business in the dark. I asked several photographers about apprenticing, but for reasons that are more obvious now, no one was interested. For this reason, the point of my story will be understood.
We had been comfortably chatting, or at least as comfortable as one can be in a packed, noisy place, when KellyCampbell, of Arare Photography LLC, wandered in and found her way to our table. Kelly, who is from northern California, has been making quite a name for herself as one of the country’s most in demand photographers. She has excellent technical ability as well as a skilled eye for composition. But what is also special about Kelly is her personality—she radiates joy and happiness.
Often those of us who work at shows see each other, but are usually unable to actually visit with one another. So having Kelly stop for a chat was a treat. As we all spoke, the conversation narrowed to Ashlyn and Kelly. Kelly asked Ashlyn about her progress and in turn, shared some of her stories. Then Kelly made the most wonderful gesture—she invited Ashlyn to assist or even just attend any of her photo shoots. Kelly actually offered to “teach her the ropes.”
Considering how difficult it was for me to learn the ins-and-outs of equine photography, I was completely touched by Kelly’s sincerity. It was also clear that she did not feel threatened by a newer photographer whose future seems bright. I hope that this serves as an example we can all follow. As our industry continues to shrink—we need each other. To me, this was the most special 2015 Scottsdale moment.
Click here to view the entire Photo Gallery of the 2015 Scottsdale Show by Lisa Abraham
Lisa Abraham is an International Journalist and Photographer from the United States. Although she does free-lance for various media, her primary dedication is to Arabhorse.com as a Premier contributor and representative. She is also a breeder of Straight Egyptian Arabians.