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The 35th Annual US Egyptian Event
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July 24th, 2015

 

 The 35th Annual US Egyptian Event, “Stallions: Kings of the Nile”

By Lisa Abraham

 

The 2015 US Egyptian Event, “Stallions: Kings of the Nile,” from June 2-6, was a show whose importance was marked by the people who attended and who are committed to the Straight Egyptian Arabian horse. This year attendees celebrated the show’s 35th Anniversary with warm community spirit and loyal camaraderie. Guests arrived not only from the United States, but from various international destinations as well.

The pre-show promotion for the Event was outstanding—both formally and casually. Through effective promotional methods, The Pyramid Society (TPS) did an excellent job of generating excitement. Pictures were posted, plans were made and everyone was expressing their growing excitement of the coming days in Lexington. The Facebook buzz about the event was “through the roof.” I think it is important to mention that the main theme through all the messaging and posting was the excitement everyone felt to “see each other” and “reconnect.”

It is my hope that this coverage serves to document the devotion of a community to the Straight Egyptian (SE) horse and to each other as fellow breeders and enthusiasts. Mentally, I started writing this editorial at the 2015 Scottsdale Arabian Show in February. For the first time, Scottsdale offered classes for Straight Egyptian horses. What touched me the most regarding these classes was the support of the community for these efforts. Certainly, just as in any other show, there were wrinkles to be ironed out, but there were no complaints—only appreciation and an upfront willingness to be supportive.

As the economy has struggled, to write that the Straight Egyptian community has taken some pretty big hits, would be a very true statement. However, it would also be true to write that every other business has as well. Is it harder to sell horses now? Yes--but then it’s harder to sell pizza and cars. In fact, it is my opinion that if one has survived these last several years and is still in business—one could be considered a success.

According to an AP article, “Most Americans Think the Recession Permanently Damaged the Economy: Survey,” by Josh Boak, (October, 2014), “Americans are more anxious about the economy now than they were right after the Great Recession ended despite stock market gains, falling unemployment and growth moving closer to full health….The slow pace of improvement during most of the recovery, now in its sixth year, has eroded confidence and slowed a return to the pay levels that many enjoyed before the economy suffered its worst collapse since the 1930’s. About 42% of those surveyed say they have less pay and savings than before the recession began in late 2007--while just 7 % say they're significantly better off.”

This is an analysis of our entire economy—not just the Straight Egyptian Arabian horse business. So just like every other business from small to large, from mom-and-pop to corporation, we have all had to readjust to a market that is perceived by most to be permanently altered. In the world of SE Arabian horses, we are facing circumstances that are uncharted. We are now a community primarily made up of small breeders with limited resources; we are facing pedigree discrimination that may take a generation to correct itself--if that is even possible; and the core of our market has shifted to another part of the world.

Through these trying times, The Pyramid Society has worked hard to remain stable and adopt new ways to achieve their goals.  Although there are many who support and love this breed organization, it certainly has had its share of opposition. But that being written, The Pyramid Society leaders have worked tirelessly to find a common ground that serves both the breed and its membership. This year’s Event reflected positively these significant efforts.

 

Judy Sirbasku of Arabians LTD: the Exclusive 35th Anniversary Signature SponsorJudy Sirbasku--the Exclusive 35th Anniversary Signature sponsor: Judy with her Arabians Ltd gang!

It is particularly exciting for me to announce that the 2015 Exclusive 35th Anniversary Signature Sponsor was Judi Sirbasku of Arabians LTD. Through the years, Judy’s large  contribution and support of this show has been enormous. Not only has she bred and owned many of the horses competing each year, but she represents a strong client base as well. It is also important to note that an impressive number of Pyramid Society members and SE breeders were initially introduced to this breed through the efforts of Judy, her late husband Jim and Arabians LTD (USA).

Shawn Crews, the manager of Arabians LTD shared, “Judy feels strongly about supporting The Pyramid Society. So, in retrospect, I should not have been surprised when she asked me to check out the Signature Sponsorship of the Egyptian Event. Through the years, in addition to a variety of contributions, Judy has also purchased many exquisite, but very expensive, pieces of artwork to support this organization. But at this point, she felt strongly about making an even more meaningful contribution—she wanted to be the Event’s Exclusive Signature Sponsor.

“Jim Sirbasku, Judy’s late husband was one of the most enthusiastic Pyramid Society Board Members. Additionally, he was also a founding member of the group that began the Las Vegas World Cup. I feel Jim would be so proud of Judy for carrying on the support to these organizations that do so much for Egyptian Breeders.”

 

Al Rayyan Farm: the Exclusive 35th Anniversary Trophy and Ribbon Sponsor

Al Rayyan Farm is one of the most famous Straight Egyptian stud farms in the world. Established in the late 1980’s by Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani, it is also one of the oldest breeding farms in Doha, Qatar. As of 2015, presiding over Al Rayyan is Sheikh Hamad bin Ali Al Thani, who was present at the Egyptian Event with the Al Rayyan winning horses.  Sheikh Hamad bin Ali came to the Egyptian Events in the 1990's when he was manager of Al Shaqab.  It was enjoyable to have him back again, now as a competitor and overseer of the Al Rayyan Farm which is currently owned by HH The Emir Father, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the former ruler of Qatar.

Anna Bishop, the Executive Director of The Pyramid Society, shared, “The Pyramid Society seeks dedicated sponsors who not only understand this need but appreciate the Egyptian Event for what it is: the opportunity to showcase many of the world's finest Straight Egyptian horses in a manner befitting them. Certainly having Al Rayyan as the Exclusive Trophy and Ribbon Sponsor at our 2015 Egyptian Event was especially meaningful. It has been numerous years since Sh. Hamad has been to our Event and having this true horseman and breeder back, supporting the Event in such a generous manner, and also showing such a beautiful string of Straight Egyptian horses, was intensely gratifying. Further, I am confident every winner receiving a trophy or a ribbon denoting Al Rayyan as the 2015 Trophy and Ribbon sponsor joins the Society in collectively thanking them for their generous support.”

Gold Champion Mare: Rayyana Al Aliya

 

Kentucky Horse Park

The beautiful Kentucky Horse Park (KHP), in Lexington KY, continues to be the home of this prestigious show. This park, whose history is rooted in thoroughbred racing, became the property of the state of Kentucky, in 1978. At the time, it was the only public park in the world dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse. The KHP hosted the 2010 World Equestrian Games and is home to the prestigious Kentucky Rolex Three Day Event-which is one of only six international events that competes at this top level. Furthermore, there is no doubt that this picturesque venue contributes to attracting some of the industry’s most important photographers, ensuring thorough international coverage.

Randi Clark (USA) is one of the many well known photographers who covers the Event. This year was a special one for Randi as one of her photos was chosen to be on the cover of the show’s collectable program. Randi got her start in photographing SE’s at the historic Bentwood Farm with Shawn Crews and Lisa Lacy and now works very closely with Arabian LTD. Randi shared, “The Arabians Ltd. family is my family and I’m very grateful to Judy (Sirbasku) as she has always been very generous with me. Also, because of Judy’s sponsorship of the show—this year has held special meaning. It’s exciting to see friends and clients in the show ring with their beautiful, polished horses. It's my job to capture some of that excitement and I enjoy every frame. I spend 6-7 days shooting and just as many editing. Because I see every frame twice, first when I shoot it and then again when I view it on my desktop, I actually get to experience the show twice!

“Egyptian Arabian horses to me are the best life has to offer. The people who breed them, show them and care for them know that they are special. We have done well in preserving the desert horse. I encourage anyone interested in Egyptian Arabian horses to visit The Pyramid Society website and also to join us next year for the Egyptian Event! I hope to SEE you there!”

Other photographers who attended and contributed were: Don Stine (the Official Show Photographer), Suzanne Sturgill and her assistant Cookie Serletic, Polly Knoll, Jenni Ogden, Victor and Lori Ricigliano, Nancy Pierce and a myriad of amateur photographers hoping to one day make their mark.

 

EntertainmentJaleen Hacklander and Jody Cruz stealing the show!

One thing I found impressive was the show’s emphasis on making sure attendees and participants had fun. The Pyramid Society Board of Directors and staff made great efforts to ensure lighthearted moments. As several people put their creative heads together, plans were hatched and executed—in some instances, to the complete surprise of the show’s attendees. To me, there were two “just for the sake of fun” events that stood out. On Friday morning to the complete surprise of the attendees, the TPS Board of Directors and Trustees took to their stick horses and raced. It was a well-planned skit and it was hilarious! My favorite part of the race was watching Jody Cruz’s (Rancho Bulakenyo) horse, Ansata Romeo, chase and court Jaleen Hacklander’s (Hadaya Arabians) horse, the beautiful Queen Latifa--right out of the gate. Although obviously, with that kind of behavior, neither competitor had a chance of winning, but I was too busy watching them to see who actually did prevail!

Another fun 2015 stunt involved Don Stine, the Official Show Photographer. Anna Bishop who has shared a long term working relationship and friendship with Don shared, “Any show organizer will quickly tell you the most important aspect of running any show is the staff. Hands down, they can make it or they can break it. Without a doubt our staff, who has been with us for years on end, tops all others! One of those persons in particular who can be defined as a jewel to work with is Don Stine, our photographer. In addition to capturing those great ring shots, Don is gracious, flexible, accommodating and kind--great characteristics all blended Judith Forbis and Lisa Abraham presenting Don Stine with a specially made turban! Photo by Victor Riciglianotogether by a big smile and an even bigger heart. Literally he defines ‘team player’ and I’m so thankful he’s part of our team.” 

I also think the world of Don and am proud to call him a friend. Because of my close friendship with Judith Forbis, on MULTIPLE occasions, he has told me a story of how she “owed” him a turban—all in jest of course. So this year, Judith, Anna Bishop, Jill Spizale and I cooked up a plan to honor Don. In center ring, we presented him with a specially made turban—and it was a complete surprise and great fun! (photo by Victor Ricigliano)

 

Educational Seminars

The Pyramid Society's mission statement reads, "By forming an international community of Arabian horse breeders, we seek to preserve the standards of this ancient breed. Through educational offerings with foremost experts in Egyptian Arabian breeding, such as our annual Egyptian Event Seminars and the illustrious National Egyptian Breeders’ Conferences, we ensure opportunities for our members to continually learn, grow and adapt." 

Keri Wright, the TPS’s Education Chair, shared, “As an organization whose mission it is to preserve, to perpetuate and to promote the Straight Egyptian Arabian horse, we must educate the mind, the eye and the heart of our members so that we can, in turn, preserve that which is worth preserving, that which remains true to the classic Arabian type for which the Straight Egyptian is so well known. Nothing is ever done alone.  We continue to be benefitted by the vision, wisdom and foresight of our founders, and we strive to be guided by it.  We are blessed beyond measure to have someone of Anna Bishop’s stature.  The effect of her organizational skills, her tireless efforts, her kindness and goodness is incalculably diffusive--and this goes for our amazing support staff as well.”

Susan Harris gave a seminar on Thursday (June 4th) titled, “Anatomy in Motion”—and it was fascinating! For this seminar/demonstration, we started in the arena with a horse who had been painted to illustrate equine anatomy. We then went upstairs and completed the course in a classroom setting with a PowerPoint presentation. Susan’s primary message was how to safely use a horse—with respect to a horse’s specific conformation based on factors such as breed and individual conformation. Specifically, she advised that each horse is different based on conformation and is therefore suited for different work based on skeletal structure. As a side note, she did recommend that one should not have a horse work in manner for which he or she was not suited. She also commented that she loved Arabian horses because their conformation types vary within the breed, making them capable of doing all types of work.

On Friday (June 5th), Joe Ferris gave an outstanding seminar titled, “Stallions: Kings of the Nile.” One of the things I admire about Joe is that he appreciates the whole horse, not just the head. Joe speaks from a base of deep knowledge, but also with passionate love and it’s from his heart. He is able to express his passion for certain horses and their conformational power and influence not just with illustrations, but also, in some instances, with warm stories.

Using an impressive library of images and illustrations, which clearly took a lifetime to collect, Joe discussed sire lines. Joe shared why certain stallion lines were lost, such as in the case of stallions who did not produce sons; conformational traits related to various sire lines; and how certain lines were preserved.  He also spoke at length about the influence of the stallion Nazeer and his many sons in relation to sire lines that are still used and are popular in today’s breeding programs. This was an inspirational seminar which offered information that not only had interest value, but also could be used to help refine breeding skills.

Other seminars offered were: “Harnessing the Power of Social Media and Web Advertising” by Augusta Hammock and Kory Wilcox on Wednesday (June 3rd) and “Sport Horse In-Hand” by Larry Jones on Saturday (June 6th). These informative seminars were well attended and very much appreciated.

  Educational Seminars: Susan Harris teaching on the subject of "Anatomy in Motion"Educational Seminars: Joe Ferris with the subject of "Stallions: Kings of the Nile"   

 

Youth Activities

If we want our children to carry on our love for the horse, we must educate them, which is why programs that teach our youth are so important. Three years ago Melinda Jeffries (Jeffries Arabian Center) and Jillian Whitlow (Empire Egyptians) joined forces to start a program to do just that.  Melinda shared, “As parents of young children, Jillian and I have a vested interest in educating our kids about the various subject concerning the Egyptian Arabian horse and our lives with them.  OThe Youth Tentur goal is to promote and cultivate the youth to have the knowledge and leadership skills needed to be the next generation of ambassadors, breeders and participants of The Pyramid Society. We focus on well-rounded knowledge of basic horsemanship and camaraderie through fun and enjoyable youth activities.”

The center for all youth activities was the “Youth Tent,” which was located on the arena concourse among the vendor booths. Not only was this the official meeting place for all activities, but it was also a place where kids could relax throughout the week with movies and snacks. The schedule of activities included: A meet-and greet (June 2), “Kings of the Nile” art project (June 4), “Horse Nutrition and how to Make Horse Treats” (June 5), an ice cream social (June 5) and, on Championship night, “Mocktail Hour & Stick Horse Prep.”  

Jillian Whitlow shared, “I really felt this year was our strongest year yet. We had lots of participation from our current members with several new ones as well. It was exciting to see the growth in participation this year--which means we are on the right track. Currently we are working towards offering scholarship programs and more youth membership benefits. Throughout the year, as we reach out at different shows around the country, we are hoping to further raise awareness and expand membership.”  

A very special show moment, one that seemed to touch the hearts of attendees, was when the artwork created Art created by the kids was auctioned offby the children was auctioned off. This was done on Saturday, just before the EBC auction and it was a delightful way to start the afternoon’s festivities. Cynthia Culbertson (El Miladi Arabian Stud) and Becky Rogers (Kehilan Arabians) offered darling descriptions of the pieces as they were shown. It was both heartwarming and impressive that each piece sold and went for respectable money, earning the program over $500 for future activities.

Another very touching moment was during the “Stick Horse Class” on Saturday night. Among the mob of kids anxious to win this prestigious Class was little Brayden Jeffries—only three years old. The arena is quite large and as he struggled to make his way back around, Ring Master Mike Frame, picked him up and ran him to the finish line! (photo by Nancy Pierce)

 

Vendors and Shary Akers 

For shoppers and fine art collectors, the Egyptian Event offers various exciting opportunities as some of our community’s most important artists and vendors participate. The vendors set up on the concourse which surrounded the arena ensuring convenience for shoppers to peruse in between classes. This year some of the artists/vendors included Zan Economopoulos, Deborah (Rush) DeRosier and Nancy Gates of Heirloom Halters.

Zan Economopoules, a painter, has been selling her fine art at the Egyptian Event now for five years, with two sell The 2015 Youth Stickhorse Class--Ringmaster Mike Frame carrying Brayden Jeffries over the finish line! Photo by Nancy Peirceout years. Zan shared, “The Egyptian Event is a great show experience as The Pyramid Society gives personal attention to each one of us. Everyday someone came by to check on how things were going—and actually listened if something needed to be addressed. My favorite thing about the show is visiting with all the people. But, due to the specific venue, customers are not limited to just the show. Since there is always a lot going on at the Horse Park, I have enjoyed making sales to a variety of people from dog breeders to hunter jumper participants.

“My most special show memory was from my first year. To my amazement, Judith Forbis was in my booth. Not only did she look at everything, but she also made a purchase! As a lifelong Egyptian Arabian enthusiast, I was so honored. Although she complimented me, she also offered valuable advice which was very helpful. The next year I presented Judith with a piece I did personally for her and her reaction is something I will always cherish.”

However, on the concourse nearest the in-gate, there was a spot that had annually been filled with gorgeous original art, where for the entirety of the 2015 show, stood a memorial. On Sept. 22, 2014, Shary B. Akers, a beloved member of our community passed away. This has been a great loss, felt most powerfully at this past Event. As a community, we were all touched by Shary’s warmth, her kindness, her generosity and especially, her talent. Shary’s booth was always a welcome place to visit and to see her latest creations. In honor of her life and passing, a memorial was set up where her booth traditionally sat and friends gathered to share their memories.

Pat Connors, a dear friend to Shary shared, “This memorial gave me closure and something special to remember.  People were so kind and I heard so many wonderful comments about her. I know she is sitting in a field of flowers, surrounded by her animals and painting something with a colorful sunrise or sunset.” 

Friends gathered to celebrate the life and passing of artist Shary B.Akers

 

Egyptian Breeders’ Challenge Live Stallion Auction

The annual Egyptian Breeders’ Challenge (EBC) Live Stallion Auction is always another show highlight. This year's auction was scheduled on Championship day when energy was high! The arena was magically converted into an exciting auction house with staging for live presentations. As usual, to get everyone warmed up, attendees were treated to wine and a generous selection of tasty finger foods.

Breedings to stallions enrolled in the current EBC program were auctioned off. The resulting foals from the breedings generated from this auction are then eligible to participate in the lucrative EBC classes as yearlings. Additionally it is also an opportunity to purchase breedings to certain enrolled stallions whose stud books are not open.

One of the highlights of the Stallion Auction was to see some of the stallions presented live. Words cannot express how fortunate we were as a community to have a stallion like Botswana presented. As he was being presented, it was tenderly announced that as through the years, people talk about seeing this or that great stallion—Botswana is one of those stallions that we will be able to look back upon and share that we saw him at the Egyptian Event. Most farms are not willing to risk bringing a stallion of Botswana’s value to such a public occasion. It is with tremendous gratitude that we thank Allison Mehta of Talaria Farms (USA) for generously sharing Botswana. Botswana was also presented on Thursday night during the Barn Party presentation at the Talaria Stalls. The 2015 EBC Live Stallion Auction: the great Botswana being presented

Allison shared, “Curt and I have always endeavored to bring Botswana to the Egyptian Event. With the exception of two years, he has attended since he was a suckling. I think it’s crucial to see stallions which you are considering for your mares. Moreover, he  loves going—and will literally drag whoever has the lucky job of taking him off the trailer straight down the aisle, bellowing his arrival, to the very stall he has occupied 14 times since 1998. He loves both the attention and visitors, and is, I think, a little sad when we take down ‘Botswana Land’ each year and head back to Georgia.”

The 2015 winners of the Egyptian Breeders’ Challenge Amateur to Handle Classes shared from a pot of $115,860! The EBC Colt Champion, who earned $23,132, was Jaguar ABC (Jaleel ABC X Ohanna Di Style JM), owned and bred by Mario Colangelo (USA). The EBC Champion Filly, who won by unanimous choice, was Bint Bint Asila RCA, bred and owned by Rock Creek Arabians (USA). Bint Bint Asila RCA earned her owner a check for $23,212!

Although every win in every show is emotional, Shawn Crews shared her feelings after Bint Bint Asila RCA’s victory, “The EBC Class is Judy’s (Sirbasku) favorite class as we both feel this is a hugely important Egyptian Event program. Bint Bint Asila’s importance to us is very sentimental as she was the only Mishaal HP baby born for 2014—and she was the last. But as the Class progressed, we were nervous since she didn’t seem to get the attention of the judges. The immense pressure mounted when they first announced that the winner was unanimous and then counted out the top 10 placings….Needless to say Judy, David Reissig (her Amateur Handler), Adam Schwalm (Marketing Director), Luis Paniagua (Head Trainer), Tara Maus (Client Services) and all the grooms jumped for joy when the Reserve Champion was called and our little Bint Bint Asila was the only one left! I have been doing this for many years. But it never gets old!”

 

Gala and Premier Art Auction

The annual Gala, which was on Friday evening (June 5th), was yet another memorable Event occasion. Gail Mailloux, TPS Gala Chair, shared, “Friday night during Event Week is special.  For years we have set it aside as OUR night.  The classes stop, the barns are quiet, and we put on our finest.  In today’s world, functions like this are few; but not in Lexington—and not with this group.

“This year we had a very hard act to follow. The incredible success of the 2014 Gleannloch Fundraiser in the Embassy Ballroom could never be repeated.  None of us will forget the Nazeer halter selling for $230,000!  What would be the next step? How could we make the next Gala as special? The answer was behind a mysterious ornate gate off of Ironworks Pike--Spindletop Hall.”

In 1925, Miles Yount and his wife Patsy, after striking it rich with oil at Spindletop Field in Beaumont Texas, established Spindletop Farm in Lexington with a herd of American Saddlebred horses. Taken from the Spindletop website, “The house was to be a showplace of Kentucky, a modern mansion of classical architecture. The mansion consisted of 40 rooms, 14 bathrooms, 133 full size exterior and interior doors, 102 windows with screens of copper and 11 fireplaces.  There are over 45,000 square feet of floor space and at the time of construction, the circular staircase and 30 X 60 foot living room were the largest in Kentucky.” Among many other amenities, the property sat on over 1000 acres, had over seven miles of metal fencing and eighteen barns. However, in 1959, after life changes, Pasty sold the farm to the University of Kentucky. In 1962, Spindletop Hall became the residence of the U of K Faculty, Staff and Alumni Club—whose roster contains of over 1000 members.

Ultimately, Spindletop Hall provided the perfect venue for an elegant evening rich in Southern history and quaint Kentucky charm. Furthermore, with thanks to the kind sponsorship of Tom and Martha Salome, there was a cigar bar on the veranda for guests to enjoy as the sun slowly set.

After an enjoyable dinner and some quality social time around the lower level of the mansion and veranda, we all made our way to the chairs set up on the lawn as we prepared for the Award Ceremony and Auction. This auction has always been an important fund raiser for The Pyramid Society. However, this year they chose to focus more intently on a fewer number of quality items, including two vacation packages.

 

Gail  Mailloux with her winning prize from the auction  The 2015 Gala at Spindletop Hall The 2015 Gala at Spindletop Hall

  

Milestone Award

In 2015, The Pyramid Society created the Milestone Award to recognize those who have devoted their lives to breeding the Straight Egyptian Arabian horse. The inaugural recipient of this honor was Albadeia Stud (EGYPT) in recognition of 80 continuous years of Straight Egyptian breeding. Accepting the award on behalf of Albadeia was its present owner, Dr. Nasr Marei. This award was given the evening of the Gala, directly before the Fundraising Auction. It was a touching moment made all the more emotional in the warm evening air and under a starlit Kentucky sky.

Emily Love who has long supported Dr. Marei and shares a warm friendship with him shared, “There is an air of graciousness, of kindness and unfailing politeness that emanates from Nasr Marei. His hospitality extends to all who enter the gates of Albadeia.  If he is ever inconvenienced by the demands of others, he does not show it.  

When he sees an old friend, the love for that person is evident in his very posture. His love for his horses, and all horses, is a passion.  I have heard him express dismay from his perspective as a judge, but not anger. ‘They’re only babies,’ he murmurs by way of protest when, as a spectator, he sees a colt or filly feel the sharp hand of the handler.

I can best describe Dr. Nasr Marei by saying that he knows who he is.  He knows what he expects of himself – and what he thinks others expect of him – and he spares himself nothing to live up to that standard."

Dr. Marei has a talent for touching his listeners with words that are both humble and deeply sincere. After his acceptance speech many people came to him to tell him how they were moved by his sentiments. As I myself was also touched, I would like to share his acceptance speech in full:

“Distinguished Guests, Board Dr. Nasr Marei accepting the Milestone for Albadeia Stud in recognition of 80 continuous years of Straight Egyptian breedingof Directors of the Pyramid Society, Fellow breeders, Ladies and Gentlemen, large 

“I thank you with great humility for one of the crowning moments of my life. Any honor or recognition, which comes from one’s peers is always deeply moving and humbling.

“My original love for horses began in my early childhood because they were always a part of our lives. My father, Sayed Marei was the first to introduce me to the enchantment of the horse. His father had begun back in 1935 on one of the earliest Arabian breeding farms in Egypt. I am privileged to state that I represent the third generation in my family to carry the program and its traditions onward with more than 11 generations of horses to our credit.

“Although, it was my grandfather who made the first step in founding our program, it was my father in fact that took it to a level that was not imagined back at the start. My father had a vision, enough motivation and dedication to create the base on which our present horse was founded. It took him a considerable number of years to collect and refine bloodlines to establish a gene pool and create what was to become an internationally recognized and respected program. My job was and is to pursue the dynamic nature of the breeding program and apply new concepts and approaches. My across-the-borders exposure and experience enabled me to take the program even further into the future.

“In my opinion, in order to be a true breeder, one must know the horse. One must understand and appreciate conformation, movement, function, balance, harmony, coordination as well as the character of horses. It is also paramount to study and learn from preceding and established breeders before you can form a well-considered approach to your own program.

“I have certainly learned a great deal from pioneer breeders of Egyptian horses from around the world. Even after spending decades breeding, the learning process still continues. I do follow closely and study what present successful breeders are doing. There is always something new to learn.

“The Pyramid Society has established the modern standards and the definition of the Egyptian horse. Since it was founded 46 years ago, The Pyramid Society has promote, preserved and safe guarded the cause and welfare of the Egyptian horse. It has done so when other Arabian horses posed enormous challenges in the USA and worldwide. Its message and objectives have crossed borders and affected the breeders of the Egyptian horses globally. Breeders around the world followed. I wish to thank The Pyramid Society and it members for their invaluable generous contribution to the world of the Egyptian Arabian horse.

“Since we are dealing with living beings, breeding is a constantly evolving world. There are traditions to which we hold as well as evolutional steps we combine to create what we feel is worthwhile. We combine science and art wrapped with love and dedication to reach what we wish to create and hopefully will be a horse of value at many levels.

“I have been most fortunate in that my life has allowed me to travel throughout the world meeting breeders and judging in international shows. By seeing many horses and farm programs, I have been able to appreciate varying views and approaches to breeding. I gave a great part of my life to the horse and the horse has opened my world.

“I wish to thank The Pyramid Society, its Board and all of its officers and members for this great honor bestowed on me today. I also wish to honor and thank all of those who have proceeded and inspired me through the years. To all of you and the great pioneers who have brought the Egyptian Arabian horse to the level where it is today, my heartfelt thanks and great respect.”

On Saturday (June 6th), Dr.Nasr Marei was also available to sign his privately published books the “Albadeia Stud Books” (Volumes 1 & 2) and “The Arabian Horse of Egypt.”

 

The Trustees’ Award
For the Opening Ceremony on Championship night: Rachael Tracey riding Thee Federali carrying The Pyramid Society Flag

The Trustees' Award is one of The Pyramid Society's highest honors. It is an award chosen by the Board of Trustees which, "Seeks to acknowledge and formally recognize the   lifetime of achievements and the passionate dedication of its recipients--both to The Pyramid Society and to the Egyptian Arabian Horse." Past recipients of the Trustees' Award include Amid Abdelhamid, Anna Bishop, Joe Ferriss, Willis & Imogene Flick, Donald & Judith Forbis, Barbara Griffith, Martha Murdoch, Tom McNair, Dr. Hans Nagel, Judy Sirbasku, Rhita McNair and Polly Knoll. Representing the Board of Trustees are: Dr. Joseph (Jody) Cruz, Robert Fauls, Judith Forbis, Martha Lucas, Christie & Henry Metz, Sherry Mosely, Tom Salome and Howell Wallace.  

Judith Forbis wrote, “Occasionally the board selects more than one recipient based on timing and merit. This year we have chosen to honor Bait Al Arab and Mr. Mohammed J. Al Marzouk due to the interwoven and remarkable accomplishments of both. The courage and fortitude shown by Bait Al Arab in rising from the ashes of the Gulf Wars has been inspiring and of historical importance to the Arabian breed. Bait Al Arab has become a guiding light to Kuwait and other countries through it exemplary Straight Egyptian breeding program, its long-term commitment to education and to maintaining the tradition and culture of this historical breed for future generations. All of these benefit the Arabian horse community worldwide.”

As neither a representative of Bait Al Arab, nor Mr. Marzouk were able to attend in person, the Awards were given on Saturday night, just before the Championships, to provide live-feed viewing to those being honored. Judith Forbis, a lifelong friend, took the podium with a gracious speech and accepted the award on their behalf.

 

The Belmont Race

The Belmont race, which is known as “the Test of Champions,” normally takes place on the last Saturday of the show. Because of the importance of this particular race, at 6:30 on Saturday just before Championships, we watched the race live as a community. As American Pharaoh became the Triple Crown winner, the first since 1978, it was an exciting moment to share. To Egyptian breeders, the moment was even more meaningful as American Pharaoh was bred by Ahmed Zayat--an Egyptian. Randi Clark shared, “Watching American Pharaoh win the Triple Crown in this arena was a show highlight for me!” This victorious moment was a wonderful way to start the 2015 US Egyptian Event Championships.

 

 

Classes

In 2013, The Pyramid Society released the official guideline for judging in its,Standard of Excellence” publication. The show guide states, "Addressing the important facet of a Breed Standard for the unique horse that is The Pyramid Society Straight Egyptian Arabian, the Standard of Excellence also serves as the basis for the Scorecard used at The Egyptian Event."

The Futurity and Straight Egyptian Classes are judged on what is referred to as the Modified European Judging System. "This system seeks to assess the individual horse against the 'ideal' or 'standard.'" The categories being judged are as follows: Type; Balance; Quality and Substance of Walk; Head; Neck and Shoulder; Body and Topline; Legs and Hooves; and Movement. The guide further advises, "The success of Egyptian Arabian Breeders rest in the notion that their horses can be readily identifiable as Egyptian Arabian--in any company. Therefore our score for TYPE is weighted by a multiplication factor of 5" (as opposed to the other categories whose multiplication fact is by 4). The EBC and Championship Classes are comparative.

One thing I found personally refreshing was the firm stance on excessive clipping and “make-up.” I attended Aachen in 2014 for the first time and was very impressed with their strict guidelines on this matter. Although this commentary is not meant to express any negative judgement regarding one’s choices, it is well accepted that most Egyptian breeders and enthusiasts prefer horses presented in a more natural appearance. Although some oil and clipping is required and accepted, most prefer that the clipping be non-aggressive and the “make-up” light. Several years ago Judith Forbis, while judging a major international horse show, took a stand with a co-judge and refused to judge a horse with excess make-up. Judith shared, “The key to the success of these rules is enforcement.”

A few weeks before the start date of the show TPS released an E-blast addressing this matter. The design was appealing—but the message was very clear. Anna Bishop shared, “This is a matter of great importance to us and we would like to take the lead enforcing these rules. The E-blast we sent out regarding this matter received a greater (and quicker) response than anything we have sent in a long time—all positive.”  This matter was also addressed on The Pyramid Society Facebook page with a response that was overwhelmingly supportive.

The 2015 International panel of Judges included: Manfred Hain (GERMANY), Talal Al Mehri (KUWAIT), Richard Petty (USA) and Ferdinand Schwesterman (SWITZERLAND).  Judge Talal Al Mehri and Bob Miars, the President of The Pyramid Society

Of Judge Talal Al Mehri, Judith Forbis shared, “It was refreshing to see an Arabian judge wearing his native Kuwaiti clothing--as well as his usual smiling face--while judging at the Event. It was also a joy to meet his charming wife and his young son.  Indeed all three were wonderful ambassadors for their country.

“I've known Talal since he first began to enthusiastically embrace Arabian horse breeding in Kuwait after the Gulf War. He has become a most knowledgeable and discriminating breeder over the years and is an asset to his country's long tradition of breeding Arabian horses.   Starting with a very small farm in Kuwait City he later purchased a very beautiful palm-lined property in Wafra where he built his new stud farm and continued developing his significant breeding program.  

“Talal is a real student of the breed; and he can remember pedigrees better than I can now.  He has also become a collector of fine Arabian horse art and the walls of his new farm house display it beautifully.  As the late Dr. Ameen Zaher mentioned in his book on Arabian horse breeding:  ‘Two equally important things are needed to know a good Arabian horse, namely experience and an artistic eye.  Each one is not effective by itself.’  Talal has paid his dues in experience, patience, and study.  I always look forward to visiting him and his horses during the Kuwait International and Egyptian Show, as do many others who attend.  He is a wonderful host.  It was a great pleasure for me to see him judging in America.”

Before reviewing the Championship Classes, I would like to share what I considered one of the most exciting and competitive classes of the show--the Straight Egyptian Fillies: 3 Years Old. At the start of the Class, both energy AND expectations were high. Michael Byatt was handling the horses for Al Rayyan (QATAR) and his hands were full as there were three Al Rayyan Fillies competing—and all three were capable of winning. First Michael ran in with Nawaal Al Rayyan (Ansata Sockar X Nadrah Al Rayyan); then, assisting Michael, it was Austin Colangelo with Sahla Al Rayyan (Ansata Sokar X Sundos Al Rayyan). They were followed by Silvio Moraes, also for Michael, with Menouah Al Rayyan (Farres Al Rayyan X Bint Messoudah M HP).

To the roar of the crowd, the Al Rayyan fillies earned first, second and third, in the order they were presented. This was an emotional victory.  Following the class, Michael shared on Facebook, “What a thrill to be part of the experience!” I have to admit and I’m sure this sentiment was shared by many in attendance--it was a thrill to watch!

However, the Class as a whole was incredibly deep—in both phenotype AND genotype. The pedigrees of the Al Rayyan fillies reflected years of Al Rayyan breeding based heavily on Ansata influence. But there was another interesting element to the top five: Horst Preuss of Germany. Menouah Al Rayyan was out of a mare bred by Horst Preuss and both the 4th and 5th place winners were by Mishaal HP.

The Winners of the Three-Year Old Filly Class--ALL AL RAYYAN!!

Also interesting to note was that there were two horses competing that were produced through the frozen semen of hugely influential horses who have since passed: Ali Nadal B, by Ruminaja Ali (x Showboat CAHR, a Safeen daughter), bred by the Bergren Family (USA); and El Farid FWF, by Anaza El Farid (x Imperial Kabisah, an Imperial Al Kamar daughter), bred by Kendra Wells (USA). Both horses were class winners.

For 2015, rather than have a “Most Classic Head Class", the winner of “Most Classic Head Award” was chosen from those competing in the Championship Classes. Each recipient of the “Most Classic Head” award was also the Gold Champion.

The unanimous Gold Champion SE Filly was Nawaal Al Rayyan, owned and bred by Al Rayyan Stud (QATAR). Sheikh Hamad bin Ali Al Thani (Sh. Hamad) shared, “Nawaal Al Rayyan comes from the best classic lines of Al Rayyan Farm. Her father, Ansata Sokar, has been the senior stallion for Al Rayyan for many years. Her dam is the incomparable Nadrah Al Rayyan, a daughter of two legends: Ashhal Al Rayyan and the glorious Ansata Nefer Isis. She is the reflection of her parents: bold, dry, classic and a delight to be around.” The Silver Champion and youngest of the three medal winners, was Barmyre Salimeh (Imperial Shehaab X ESA Anishah) owned and bred by Barbe Jo Myers (USA). The Bronze went to Sahla Al Rayyan (Ansata Sokar X Sundos Al Rayyan) also owned and bred by Al Rayyan Stud.

The Gold Champion SE Colt was Montage CCA (Ramses Mishaal Nadir X Bint Ananda CCA) owned by the Bint Ananda Syndicate and bred by Michael Cimino (USA). As a yearling, Montage CCA was the youngest of the three Champion Colts. The Silver Champion was JA Al Jazzab (Etaya Sudan Amir X Al Amirah) owned by Al Jazzab Partners LLC and bred by Barbara Sim (USA). While the Bronze was earned by Mantis Sig (Mishaal HP X Thee Phoenixx) owned and bred by Stacey and Eric Mlak (USA). As a side note, Mantis Sig was also a 2014 EE Bronze Champion and is a full sibling to Lola Sig who was the 2011 EE Silver Champion Mare (now owned by Linjawi Arabians, KSA). Furthermore, their dam Thee Phoenixx (Thee Infidel X Minstrils Mist), who suffered a near fatal leg injury as a foal, was the 2004 EE Unanimous Junior Champion Filly and Reserve Supreme Mare.

The Gold Senior Champion SE Mare, who was unanimous, was the exquisite Rayyana Al Alia (Ashhal Al Rayyan X Asrar Al Rayyan) owned and bred by Al Rayyan Stud. Sh. Hamad proudly shared, “Rayyana Al Aliya is one of those special mares, a picture prefect for type and gracious femininity that we should all search in a mare.” The Silver Champion was D Folah (Royal Colours X DF Faaiqs) owned and bred by the Dubai Arabian Horse Stud (DUBAI), while the Bronze was earned by Amirah Gemaal DB (Bellagio RCA X Silkh SWA) bred and owned by Dreamco Breeders LLC (USA). In 2012, as a yearling, Amirah Gemaal DB was also the Champion of the competitive Egyptian Breeders Class earning her owners $22, 318!

Like each of the other Championship Classes, the quality in the Senior Stallion Championship was inspirational. Also by unanimous choice, the Gold Senior Champion SE  Stallion was Phaaros (ZT Faaiq X Bint Atallah), bred by Judy Guess (USA). Judy, of Blackwind Arabians, a breeder for over 30 years, was also awarded the 2015 Egyptian Event Breeders Cup. She shared, “The name Phaaros means ‘A Bright, Guiding Light.’ It was with great joy after all of these years of breeding to see another one of my ‘babies’ at the US Egyptian Event. Farid Nile Dream was shown and won somGold Champion Stallion: Phaaros e years ago; Mmecca won many honors in the Middle East; and now Phaaros. Phaaros, who arrived back in the country only 30 days ago, has never been shown in a competition ring.

“To have a stallion that I have envisioned, bred and foaled out grow up and be awarded Supreme Champion Stallion and Most Classic Stallion Head at the Egyptian Event is OVERWHELMING! A big thanks goes to Michael Byatt and his team, who handled and showed Phaaros in the best possible manner. Also, congratulations go to his owners Alfala and Alfabia Stud Farms!

“I am a small breeder and am not really breeding for the changeable show ring, but for a ‘Classic Arabian’ that will stand the test of time. I feel that Phaaros is such a horse. I want to breed foundation horses for the future and with the fundamental qualities that the Arabian horse is supposed to encompass.

“Bint Atallah, his dam, was a very special mare bred by Judy Jones, of Atallah Arabians. She was absolutely balanced and harmonious; she had excellent breeding; and was incredibly beautiful. Her head was exotic with the ‘look of eagles.’ She was intelligent, smooth, charismatic and a great mover who always carried her tail up. She embodied the spirit of a true war mare. She produced several exceptional foals, one of which is Tallahsman, who is well known in the Middle East, along with others who were never off of my Farm.

“I want to encourage other breeders to love their horses. If you want to breed, decide on your goals. Study pedigrees and conformation, learn how to see your horse's conformational plusses as well as things that need improving. Do the same with the Stallions you are interested in and see the horses ‘in the flesh’ before making your decisions. If I can do it--you can do it! Follow your dreams and I wish everyone happiness and success. I am looking forward to breeding to Phaaros.”

The Senior Stallion Silver Champion was Sabeh Al Salhiyah (Ansata Nile Echo X Mareeka) owned by Azienda Agricola San Pietro di Damilano Paolo and bred by Mohammed Bin Saleh Bin Mohd Bin Laden. Finally, the Bronze was earned by a horse that is much loved by this community--Ibn Raad (Scapa X LPS Thunderstruck) owned and bred by Elizabeth Witt (USA). Not only has Ibn Raad competed respectfully in top Purebred competition, he was also a 2013 & 2014 EE Silver Champion AND he was an EE Class winner from 2012-2015, every year since he was a yearling.

Of the competition, Christie Metz, of Silver Maple Farm, shared, “One of the things I enjoyed so very much at this year's Egyptian Event was seeing the diversity of styles in the Straight Egyptian. For example, in the Stallion Championship the horses looked very different BUT there was no question that they were Arabians. There were very masculine stallions that were also very beautiful and stallions that were more feminine but still all boy! This year’s show has been a celebration of diversity in style, which added to the excitement of the week.”

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Earlier in this editorial I referenced how the face of the Egyptian Arabian market has changed. I mentioned that we have become a market that has become dominated by smaller breeding programs. From a fiscal perspective, this has created new commercial dynamics—for everyone. I would like to share a wonderful example of a family run breeding program.

The Mario and Sandy Colangelo Family is from Bronston, Kentucky. Their program is called Arabians By Colangelo, at Starview Farm and use ABC as their suffix. Their entire breeding program is based on the 1983 SE mare Zahara Shariah (Ansata Omar Halim x Samiaa by Kayed), who is the dam of eight champions and who has produced very well for them. I first met Mario and Sandy several years ago at US Nationals. But long before I became personally acquainted, I had seen Mario and his children showing their horses at the Event. From strictly a spectator perspective, they stood out as a close knit family who supported one another.

The Colangelos are a family of seven. Although the two oldest sons, Ben and Jared, both live in CA and work in creative media and film, their careers began on the farm by photographing and filming the family horses. April, the oldest daughter, showed their horses since she was young. At the Egyptian Event, in particular, April has made many successful trips into the ring as well as winning the Region 7 Stallion Championship (ATH). She has also been heavily involved in the imagery of their horses. The youngest daughter Savanah, who is 19 years old, is also a very talented up and coming amateur handler.

What most impressed me about the Colangelos is that they participated as a family. Together they bred the horses, took care of the horses, trained them and then showed them in the ring—fearlessly going head-to-head with the professionals. Their first big break at the Egyptian Event was in 2008 with a colt that they had bred named Jaleel ABC (Kenz Noor x Zahara Shariah). That year, Mario showed Jaleel to a Reserve win in his Yearling Futurity Class in which he was awarded straight 20’s for movement.

2015 marks the Colangelos 16th year attending the US Egyptian Event—many of those years they showed horses as well. But 2015 also represents a year of tremendous success—the kind of success that makes all the sacrifices, long hours and hard, back-breaking work worthwhile.

To have bred a horse that wins a title at a prestigious show, such as the Event, is big. But, to win with the offspring of that animal, is even bigger. Breeding two generations of champions is a significant mark of a talented breeder. But that is just what this family did.  In the EBC Challenge, one of the most competitive of the prize winning classes, Mario took the top prize with Jaleel ABC’s son, Jaguar ABC (X Ohanna Di Style JM)—an enormous accomplishment! The EBC Colt winner: Jaguar ABC

Not only does this win come with “icing on the cake,” it is an excellent example of what a family can do when faced with a potentially life-altering hardship. In November of 2014, Mario sustained a fractured neck when he fell from a ladder. Initially he couldn’t move his body from the waist down. He and Sandy spent nearly six weeks at UK Medical Center and Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital while Mario relearned how to walk, feed and dress himself. During this time, the children took turns traveling to Kentucky to help Savanah care for the farm and to run Mario’s business. This win came only seven months after Mario’s accident.


But, for this family, the success at the 2015 Event did not end with Jaguar ABC’s win there’s more. Austin is the fourth child in the Colangelo family. Sandy shared, “Austin was seven years old the first year the family attended the Event. He loved Arabian horses so much that he was continuously reading about them and studying pedigrees to the point of angering his little sister, Savanah, who just wanted him to play with her. Fortunately, he would occasionally take the time to ride horses with her--bareback, playing games such as ‘sword fight’ with sticks.”

After being taught how to “stand” a horse by Mario, April and later Ricardo Rivero, Austin started showing their horses in 2009. At the 2010 Event, as a Novice, he won the Novice Handler Class and was named the Junior Highpoint Champion. In 2012, Austin moved to Scottsdale to work with Guzzo/Rivera International. It was there that his status changed from Amateur to Professional.  In 2015 Austin returned to the Event, at the age of 22 to show Phaaros to his Gold Champion victory. Indeed the 2015 Egyptian Event will be an Event long cherished by the Colangelo family.

I would like to close this editorial with some lovely sentiments shared by Sandy. “Though our children are all grown now, being involved with Arabian horses has blessed our family in many ways.  Since there were seven of us, rather than everyone going off in separate directions to different activities, we all worked together as a team.  Because we homeschooled our children, we could incorporate horses into their education, which included a great deal of ‘hands on’ learning.

“On the farm, they learned not only good work ethics, but also, to be responsible for something other than themselves. They gained the knowledge and skills of running a small business such as using a computer, marketing and website creation and maintenance. Through competing with our Arabians the kids developed confidence and self-esteem, as well as good sportsmanship and communication skills.  Our involvement with Arabian horses and in the Arabian horse community, in many ways, helped to launch the careers of our children.  So many people go into the horse business thinking mainly of the ‘big money’ that can be made off of sales.  But there are so many other benefits that can come from affiliation with horses. For us it has been all great memories that we have made together that will last a lifetime!"  

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The 2015 US Egyptian Event was a show whose success reflected a community of individuals devoted to the Straight Egyptian Arabian horse. This was a week of celebrating, sharing, bonding and connecting in a way that will ensure the success of future shows. The 2016 US Egyptian Event will take place on June 7-11, in Lexington Kentucky. For information, please visit The Pyramid Society web page: www.pyramidsociety.org.

  Please join us  in 2016!

 

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.