2015 Arabian Breeders World Cup


by Lisa Abraham
May 8th, 2015

The 2015 Arabian Breeders World Cup ~By Lisa Abraham

The 2015 Arabian Breeders World Cup, from April 16-19th in Las Vegas (USA), was another memorable show experience. This year marked its ninth anniversary as one of the world’s top showcases for Arabian horses. Known for its international appeal, competitors and guests travel from all over the world to participate. Denis Schoukens, from Belgium, was in attendance to support his son Glenn, of Schoukens Training Center. He shared, “I have been to the Breeders World Cup in Las Vegas several times and without a doubt, this year's show was the best. In many ways the World Cup reminds me of the top European shows. The staging and arrangement of the arena was excellent. It was quite elegant and nice for the people to watch and enjoy and it was an ideal set up for the handlers to present the horses. The great horses, great breeders and special friends made it a show to remember."

The South Point Hotel and Casino has been the home to the ABWC since the beginning. It is a unique locale as show participants and guests can actually stay where the show is being held—which makes for exceptional convenience. The Hotel was opened in February 2006 and is the only one in Las Vegas to offer equestrian facilities. It hosts over 60 shows annually, of various disciplines and breeds and offers 4600 seats with 1200 stalls—ample room for even the largest expositions.

Cynthia Richardson, President of the Arabian Horse Association, shared, “I have attended seven of the nine World Cups. Not only is it a great opportunity to see world class horses, but the show also provides a venue to see old friends from around the world and meet new folks. The Arabian horse industry is global and represents everything from endurance to racing to main ring performance and pleasure horses.  No one entity can possibly satisfy every need.  With a halter only show, the schedule is more relaxed and, therefore, there is more time to visit.  The World Cup continues to offer a fresh view for exhibitors and spectators to enjoy themselves.  I look forward to it every year.”



Marketing is a strength of the ABWC. The ABWC Board of Directors is filled with experienced and innovative thinkers—open to anything which could prove advantageous to overall show promotion. Promotion starts early and always makes effective use of social media in addition to more formal types of press coverage. When it comes to getting the word out, Scott Bailey (of Arabhorse.com and Iequine), in particular, is a star! Days before the show he shares his excitement by posting photos on social media creating anticipation for the coming event. This type of promotion is incredibly effective as it encourages participation thus expanding its influence to distant markets.

The show also makes excellent use of outside photographers—some professional, others not—but all are encouraged to contribute. By welcoming such a variety of participation, comprehensive show coverage is achieved. Debbie Fuentes, the AHA Registrar, has become well known for her people photos. These photos, which she posts on social media, provide participants ample opportunities to relive pleasant show experiences. Riyan Rivero, the PR and Marketing Director for the ABWC as well as a marketing representative for Arabhorse.com, has also made a mark for herself photographing both people and horses. Although an amateur, she has a talent for capturing magical show moments. At the 2013 Salon Du Cheval, amongst a sea of professional photographers including myself, it was she who captured the most memorable shot of the show. In addition to the official show photographer, other photographers present included: Beth Hunziker, Jerry Sparagowski, Laurelle Anderson, Trace & Lisa Moffatt, Javan, Kelly Campbell, April Visel and Cat McKenna. Needless to write, with this level of participation, post show coverage has been exciting!


Behind the Scenes 

The production of a horse show of this size and prestige is a monumental task. Coordination is a feat requiring nothing short of miracles combined with some very hard work in stressful circumstances. So when all seems to run smoothly—it’s no accident. Rather it indicates a strong, intelligent system with capable people who have given 110% or more. Although it is a team effort, in which every member is crucially imperative, I would like to draw attention to one individual in particular. 

Kelly Charpentier, who has been with the ABWC for all nine years, is in charge of the commercial exhibitors and corporate sponsors. Additionally, she is also involved in stabling, distribution of the awards, city and state show licensing and organizing the very special Colors presentation by the Nellis Air Force Base Honor Guard, which takes place every year during the opening ceremonies. 

I first met Kelly several years ago when I represented a European magazine who was (and still is) a corporate sponsor. It was an early experience for me, so I had nothing with which to compare it. Although I was only one person representing a smaller media, she made me feel that my contribution was important and genuinely appreciated. As my experience widened, I quickly learned that this level of attention was far from standard.  

Shopping is an important feature of the ABWC. Due to the high profile of the show, it attracts some of the industry’s most prestigious artists and vendors. One can shop for anything from fine art, high-end crafts, exquisite handmade halters & breast pieces to real estate.

Kelly shared, “Although the shopping does add more, truthfully, all the pieces have to come together to make a grandiose event—it’s the total effort that counts. It is our job to make sure that those who contribute to the success of an event feel our appreciation—that applies to both the vendors and corporate sponsors. Not only am I grateful to those who choose to do business with us but it is also important to me that the event is a success for them as well.”

J Anne Butler, who has exhibited her internationally acclaimed sculpture work in Vegas for eight years, shared, “We have had the pleasure of working with Kelly Charpentier since 1998. Kelly’s ability, fairness and integrity puts her at the top of her field. She is not only a wonderfulperson but also a caring organizer. We have exhibited at horse and art shows internationally and look upon Vegas as coming home to Kelly's family.”

Nancy Gates of Heirloom Arabian Halters, Breast Collars and Accessories shared, “I have exhibited at the ABWC for four years. As a vendor, I have to say that the level of support and assistance that Kelly offers is unprecedented in my experience.  Most importantly, she is hands on and present—she is always available. When I arrive, she actually has a team set up with big carts to help unload and transfer my set up and inventory—that’s a big deal for a vendor. Commercial Vendor Nancy Gates of Heirloom Halters (right) and Kelly CharpentierShe is also genuinely concerned that we, as vendors, are happy and comfortable. Thanks to Kelly’s efforts, I am able to focus far more of my attention on the show guests.”


The IntArah Dream Embryo Auction

The 2015 “Dream Embryo Auction,” brainchild of the IntArah group, was an evening many of us will never forget! The IntArah group consists of Lucinao Cury, Mario Zerlotti and Greg Knowles. The “Dream Embryo Auction,” which was first introduced in 2011 (in Brazil), raised an astounding $1.9 million (USD)! The vison behind this incredibly prestigious auction is to bring back the glamour and high dollars that existed in the auctions of the 70’s and 80’s. 

Dixie North, of North Arabians, remembers the allure of those early auctions. She shared, “Those were exciting times.  The auctions were looked forward to with such anticipation and the promotion that went into the sales was outstanding.  Everyone clamored to have previews of the horses beforehand and the slick, beautiful sales catalogues are still treasured today. It was exciting to see the guests who were brought in by helicopters along with the glitzy gowns, the furs and Hollywood entertainment. And the horses—they were exotic in that day for their pedigrees and fame.  Well known people of the world attended adding to the excitement. I remember one auction where there people dancing in the aisles to the Pointer Sisters!  As for the sale itself, it was thrilling to listen to the auctioneer bring the huge prices.  It was upscale Disneyland for adults—and it was magical!”

Taken from www.intarah.com, “The concept for the embryo auction is easily explained. The goal is to offer for sale unborn foals, also known as embryos that are of the finest bloodlines available in today’s market. The sires and dams of these foals are many of the most successful Arabian mares and stallion in the world. The opportunity to purchase an unborn foal out of a mare that many breeders could only dream of owning was the inspiration for the title, ‘Dream Embryo Auction.’ Embryo sales have been quite successful in the private market for several years. The IntArah Group is motivated to providing that dream opportunity to the Arabian horse community in an elegant, tasteful and exciting setting and believe that by doing so, the market will be once again ignited and inviting to those who seek the elegant lifestyle offered by the Arabian horse.”

Previous to the event, I asked Greg Knowles why they chose Vegas for the second IntArah event. He shared, “We thought Vegas would be an excellent fit for us since it is a world class event—and we want to be in the middle of that. Most importantly, IntArah is also great for those looking for bloodstock out of some of the best mares in the world—this is an incredible opportunity. I think this is going to be big and everyone is feeling it!”

The auction took place Saturday night in the South Hall of the Casino. The evening was nothing short of a success as sales generated over $1.4 million (USD)--a spectacular achievement! The two highest selling embryos were those of Marwan Al Shaqab X RD Marciena and of QR Marc X Valori TRF, both for $120,000.  

Although the auction was outstanding in its entirety—there are two horses who stood out in both value and significance: QR Marc and RH Triana.  Auction sales for unborn foals sired by QR Marc and out of QR Marc daughters accounted for $475,000! Riyan Rivero, who in addition to her Arabhorse.com responsibilities is also the US Promotional Director for QR Marc, shared, “When Bob Boggs asked me just over a year ago if I would be interested in the position of Promotional Director for the QR Marc Campaign in North and South America, I had difficulty replying in a professional manner. I was beyond excited and truly honored to be considered.  

“While in Belgium visiting the farm, meeting Mr. Gheysens and his incredible staff and touring his business in Belgium, I noticed the tagline used on billboards, buildings and promotions for Mr. Gheysens business, Creating the Future Today. I knew the moment I saw it that it was the perfect slogan for QR Marc and the campaign we were about to launch. 

Creating the Future Today has proven to be more than a slogan for QR Marc. He is the Sire of Champions all over the WORLD - Paris World, Polish National, United States National, Arabian Breeders World Cup, Scottsdale, Aachen, Menton, Belgium, European National, Brazilian National, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and UAE Champions. Breeding, Show Ring and Marketplace Results - QR Marc is a World Champion Stallion producing Champions across the Globe. As we enter phase two of the QR Marc campaign, Bob came up with the slogan, Raising the Bar. Again, a true statement, especially when considering the success of QR Marc progeny at the 2015 IntArah Dream Embryo Auction—where he has most certainly done just that.”

RH Triana, who is one of the Arabian community’s most treasured mares, was also an auction standout. Her breeding right, which was purchased by Dan Grossman & Partners, earned $200,000! Jeff Sloan, of Triana Holding LLC, shared, “I was thrilled with the results! To me the sale of a Triana embryo right at the price paid in the IntArah Auction was not surprising. Owning a baby out of Triana as part of someone’s elite collection and/or breeding program is a unique opportunity--and given that we’ll be offering fewer opportunities to acquire embryo rights, I can fully understand and appreciate the desire to make this acquisition.

“Triana will be one of those iconic Arabian horses that people will talk about and reference for years to come. While no horse is perfect, there is no denying that she is one of the most unique and identifiable Arabians of our time. I think it’s fair to say that Triana is a legitimate ‘one-of-a-kind’ mare. She’s certainly proven herself in the show ring, and there are two or three more titles she will pursue before retiring. I know when we look back on her career as a show horse, she’ll have won it all. I am very grateful for the efforts of the IntArah Group for making such an opportunity available.”

   The 2015 IntArah Dream Embryo Auction











 The Ambassadors Award

One thing that has been very special about the ABWC is that the organizers make special efforts to recognize the people and/or horses who have made significant contributions to the breed. Often this recognition is made formally by being honored with the coveted Ambassadors Award, while other times through moments of silence and/or commemoration.

Some who have been recognized include: Patrick Swayze, Wayne Newton, Dr, Hans J. Nagel, Judith Forbis, Dr. Nasr Marei, Jim Sirbasku and Don Morse. Last year, time was taken to celebrate the life of Thee Desperado with a very touching video made by Darryl Larson. This year, a memorial film to Magnum Chall HVP was presented--also produced by Darryl Larson.

Sheila Varian was the recipient of the 2015 Ambassadors Award! In March of this year, our community lost Izabella Pawelec-Zawadzka (POL). Izabella, whose contribution to the Arabian horse and its community was immeasurable, was a previous recipient of the ABWC Ambassadors Award. In the current show program, Scott Benjamin wrote, “Wherever and whenever Izabella was involved, Arabian horse activity flourished. Her passion, positivity and enthusiasm for the Arabian horse were an inspiration to all who had the privilege to know her and share in her life’s journey. The life of Izabella Pawelec-Zawadzka was one of unwavering dedication and devoted commitment to the Arabian horse.”

For 2015, the Ambassadors Award belonged to Sheila Varian. It is impossible to measure Sheila’s influence as it is as deep and it is wide. Sheila Varian is a horsewoman. Not only has she bred top quality horses are that are competitive in the halter ring, but they are also performance champions and cherished, usable companions. There are very few people in this industry that can claim such achievement.

Aude Espourteille, of Deor Farms located in Oregon (USA), shared, “Sheila Varian is everlasting LOVE to the Arabian Horse and to her friends! We met at Lasma years ago when she brought over Bay El Bey for a little English lesson with Gene. Since I studied the Arabian Horse Magazines, I did know who she was. Additionally, she had bought Bay Abi from Mary Silva who lived close by, here in Southern Oregon.

“Sheila became a mentor to me, and through the years, we have had many laughs and conversations--all about the Arabian horse. During those early years, Sheila would stay with us in Scottsdale during the Arabian Horse Show and was there to hold my hand when I bought *Elkana++, in 1976, at the Mike Nichols’ Sale. I admired Sheila then and I still do—she is a true Ambassador to the breed and her enormous contribution will be remain relevant for years to come.”


The Handler of Excellence Award

The Handler of Excellence Award is one of my favorite recognition awards. Handlers who are able to ethically showcase quality deserve this recognition. One of my favorite ABWC handling experiences was in 2013. In a Senior Broodmare Class, David Botha showed HED Shania. Behaviorally it was obvious HED Shania had been living the leisurely life of a treasured broodmare. The ring was obviously intimidating to her, yet David caringly showed her without pushing. Her quality was abundantly evident, so getting a hard stance was unnecessary. As she stepped and scooted and stepped and scooted, unable to stand still, David softly let her wiggle till she found her own comfort level—which she eventually did--by the rail, nowhere near center ring. From where I observed, I was only one of several people who were noticeably touched by David’s patience with this mare while presenting her. 

Another handler who demonstrates exceptional show ring deportment is Ricardo Rivero. Ricardo has been honored as the recipient of the Handler of Excellence Award twice.  Not only does he represent himself well, but the “in-the-ring” behavior of his horses is proof of his training abilities and practices. His horses want to please him—and they are never afraid. Sandy Colangelo, of ABC Arabians in Kentucky (USA), has enjoyed a long relationship with Ricardo. She shared, “What impressed me the most is that Ricardo knows how to handle a horse and he does it with a gentle touch. He is a true horseman and, to me, that really shows.” The 2015 Handler of Excellence was Ted Carson of Butler Farms!

The 2015 recipient of the ABWC Handler Award was Ted Carson of Butler Farms. Ted is another handler who is held in high esteem by the Arabian community. Ted always has top horses and shows them with respect. One quality in particular that makes Ted standout is his ability to move. He literally runs like the wind and is therefore able to showcase the movement of his horses. This is not always a strong quality among the American handlers, as movement is more treasured in Europe. However, for me, what is most impressive about Ted is that he has created and maintains an exceptionally loyal client base.

Connie Connel, of Burnt Hickory Arabians in Ranger, GA (USA), has been in the Arabian business of breeding and showing for over 30 years. For the last fifteen years, she has been one of Ted’s loyal clients. Of her extensive experience with Ted, she eagerly shared, “Ted has worked with me in a manner that has been way above and beyond any other experiences I have ever  had—that’s just who he is. Even though I might argue with him, he has never steered me wrong and he always ends up being right.

“Over the years I have visited his farm on many occasions, sometimes for days at a time--and observed, like a fly on the wall. Ted is firm, but he has a calmness about him--and his staff is the same way. And even though he maintains a 48 stall barn, his standards of care are extremely high and the farm is always pristine.

“There are three things I would like to share about Ted: (1) For me, his strongest suit is his integrity—he is very honest. To the best of his ability, he will tell what he thinks of the potential of your horse AND what it will cost to get him or her there. He will not just take your money; (2) Upon returning home from Ted’s, the dispositions of my horses are just as good, if not better—they are always well mannered. I have never had a horse come back from Ted fearful—neither of me, nor of the whip; and (3) Ted has a gift for seeing the total horse. He see all the parts and what their potential is beyond being beautiful halter horses. This is very important to me.”

  The 2015 Champions!



The Classes are judged by a group of five with a mix of both American and International judges. The intention is to have a single standard against which to judge rather than having a solely regional perspective.  Furthermore, the AHBA website states, “To create a more unified standard; to achieve transparency in judging by showing all scores following the judging of each horse; and to engage the crowd more since they can score along with the judges and better understand what it is that makes for a winner.”

The 2015 panel of International Judges included: Connie Cole-O’Brien (USA), Emrys Jones (UK), Reinaldo De Rocha Leao (Brazil), Richard Petty (USA), Colleen Rutherford (AU) and Karl-Heinz Stockle (GER). Taryl O’Shea, the ABWC Show Director, shared, “The team this year showed up and they all knew they had a monumental job to do. They were professional and took their judging assignment seriously. When I gave them the ‘AHBA Judges Oath’ to read and sign prior to the start they all read it and executed it with precision.” 

Let the 2015 Arabian Breeders World Cup Classes in Las Vegas BEGIN! Friday: Fillies and Mares A score of 10-20 is awarded for the following categories: Type, Head, Neck & Shoulder, Body & Topline, Feet & Legs and Movement. The high and low scores in each category are eliminated. The Championship Classes are scored comparatively. It is important to note that there was not a single unanimous Champion. As the judges were relatively aligned among their top choices, this was a strong indication of the high quality competing.

The ABWC Gold Supreme Yearling Filly was Aria Athena (WH Justice X Jawharra) bred by Oakridge Partners LLC (USA) and owned by Athena partners LLC (USA). Although Judge Stockle chose her for Gold, the Silver went to Malaya NA (Ever After NA X Margarita PSY) owned and bred by North Family Trust (USA). While RD Tora (Vitorio TO X TF Falconsimprint), owned and bred by Murray or Shirley Popplewell (USA), became the Bronze Champion.

The Yearling Colt Championship was also competitive as indicated by the score cards. The Gold Champion was clearly Magic Mystery Z (OFW Magic Wan X Marys Diva) bred by Luciano Cury (BRA) and owned by Zerlotti Genetics (USA), as four of the six judges chose him to win. Although he was awarded straight 20’s for Head AND Judges Jones and Stockle chose him for Gold, Artemas GA (JJ Bellagio X TR Scarlet Ginger) owned and bred by Isaac or Jessica Taylor (USA) earned Silver honors. Jalal Aljassimya (WH Justice X Annaiss PASB), owned and bred by Aljassimya Farm (USA), became the Bronze Champion. The level of competition in this Championship was strongly indicated by the fact that five of the top ten were also chosen to be medal winners: Sharaf Al Shahania (by three Judges), Davinicis Prodigy, Ameer Al Ajman LRA, Zakai and IJ Bellatore.

The Junior Mare Championship could not have been tighter as the Judges were equally divided between Gold and Silver. In such case, the highest Class score determines the winner. Ultimately it was Elle Flamenca (Ajman Moniscione X Allamara MA), with a Class score of 343.5, who became the Gold Champion.  Elle Flamenca, a 2013 mare and the youngest of the three medal winners, was bred by Markelle Arabians and is owned by Jeff & Sybil Collins (USA). While the 2015 Scottsdale Champion Pitonisa AS, (Ever After NA X Psyches Amber Dream), a 2013 mare bred by Lisa Markley or Leanne Reel (USA) and owned by Arabian Soul Partners, with a Class score of 342.5, earned Silver. The Bronze went to Aria Qatars Angyl (Abha Qatar X BHF Dark Angel), a 2012 mare owned and bred by Desert Horse Partners LLC (USA).


Gold Junior Stallion Titan AS (El Nabila B X OM El Beladeena)


The Junior Stallion Championship was one of the most exciting of the show. It was so close that each of the eventual medal winners was chosen for Gold by at least one Judge. Ultimately, it was Titan AS (El Nabila B X OM El Beladeena), a 2012 stallion bred by Psynergy Ent Dev & Om El Arab and is owned by Arabian Soul Partners (USA), who became the Gold Champion. Additionally, Titan AS, with a Class score of 342, was the highest scoring Male of the show. The Silver belonged to the 2015 Scottsdale Reserve Senior Stallion Champion, Truest (Trussardi X Marlene Dietrich). Truest is a 2012 stallion bred by Rojo Arabians (USA) and owned by Truest Partners LLC (USA). Finally, although Judge O’Brien chose him for Gold, Jeryan Aljassimya (WH Justice X Psierra), a 2013 stallion owned and bred by Aljassimya Farm (USA), became the Bronze Champion.

In any show, the Senior Mare Championship is always a favorite. The beauty of the mares is without question, but I feel what makes this Championship uniquely special is that the mares show with such heart. The Senior Gold Champion was a mare who is a sentimental favorite in our Arabian community—RH Triana (ROL Intencyty X Sylviah WLF), bred by Robin Hood Farms (USA) and owned by Triana Holding LLC (USA). Since 2011 when RH Triana became the US National Champion as a yearling, she has collected every major title this county has to offer. The Silver Champion, also a US National Champion, Abha Qalams (Alfabia Damascus X Abha Mudira), bred by Ganaderia SES Planes S L (SPAIN) and owned by Al Shahania Stud (QAT), who was not only oldest of all the Champions, but she was also the highest scoring horse of the entire show. In her Senior Broodmare Class, Ahba Qalams earned straight 20’s for movement with a total of twelve 20’s awarded overall. The Bronze Champion was Valentino’s Angel MI (DA Valentino X Always An Angel), a 2011 mare bred by Mulawa Arabian Stud (AUS) and owned by HRH Prince Abdullah Bin Fahad Al Saud (KSA).

Before reviewing the Senior Stallion Championship, there is one horse wSenior Stallion 9+ Art Dekko TT (Audacious PS X HC Amareea)ho I think deserves special mention: Art Dekko TT (Audacious PS X HC Amareea), a 2003 stallion. My  first encounter with this stallion was in 2011, at the US Nationals. I was wandering around the stalls with my travel companion, Gina DuPree of Arabian Fancy. We were actually outside, behind the barns where this breathtaking horse was being walked after being bathed. We both stopped dead in our tracks and said, “Who is that….!” Despite the “non-ring” circumstances, his beauty, his strong Arabian type AND his charisma were undeniable. That year Art Dekko TT became the US Reserve Champion Stallion. Since that time I have followed his career and was thrilled to know he was acquired by Jeff Sloan of Aria International, in 2013.

Jeff shared, “I LOVE HIM! I think my intense passion and appreciation for this horse comes from the fact that I was introduced to Arabians by watching the Black Stallion movie. Art Dekko has that very romantic nature about him--both from his looks and his ability to light it up. For me, he embodies the romantic, idealized version of an Arabian stallion and is everything one would expect. He just does it all for me--he’s it. But I also have a soft spot in my heart for him because things have not always been easy and a lot has been asked of him.

“My goal now is to give him the best possible life – lots of turnout time – lots of green grass – and lots of love and admiration. He may appear in one more show but it’s likely that the 2015 World Cup was his last appearance in the show ring--and I thought he looked absolutely great. David and his team had him perfectly conditioned and trained, and I have to say that I’ve never seen the horse so happy! I can say with certainty that he’s bright and happy in the Midwest system as it showed not only in the ring, but also while simply standing in his stall. Every time I would visit him, he was at the front of the stall, interested in what was going on--and always ready for a carrot!

“I told David when I sent the horse to him that it was my top priority to make sure the horse was happy--and the Midwest team delivered big time! Winning the 9 & Over Stallion Class was more about validation and letting people see him at his best again. I wanted him to end his show career on a high note and with this win, he did. Now it’s time to focus on making babies and proving him as a valued sire.”

The Senior Stallion Championship belonged to Sultan Al Zobara (Gazal Al Shaqab X Inra Al Shaqab), a 2011 stallion owned and bred by Al Zobara Stud (QAT), who in his Class was awarded straight 20’s for Head. As a side note, this 2015 ABWC Gold Champion was leased by Al Shaqab (QAT) in 2012 and was successfully shown by them as a yearling in Europe. Silver honors were earned by the 2012 US National Champion, Trussardi (Stival X Precious As Gold), a 2009 stallion owned and bred by Rojo Arabians (USA). While Spitfyre VF (TF Psymreekhe X Red Flame BRSB), a 2008 stallion bred by Ventura Farms (USA) and owned by M G Steenhart (CAN), became the Bronze Champion. In this Championship, the Judges were relatively decided on the medal winners with one interesting exception—Judge O’ Brien chose Art Dekko TT for Silver!

Gold Senior Stallion Sultan Al Zobara (Gazal Al Shaqab X Inra Al Shaqab)



The Arabian Breeders World Cup is an outstanding show for numerous reasons. Some of these reasons include that the show takes place in one of the most exciting cities in the world; through thoughtful promotion and execution, it has created tremendous support, both domestically and internationally; and it showcases some of the most important horses in our breed. 

However, because everything, including accommodations and meals, are able to take place under one roof, it facilitates unique social opportunities. As there is no need, many guests never leave the hotel once the show begins. Therefore, the ABWC provides endless occasions to mingle and form relationships that would otherwise be far more difficult—or even logistically impossible. AHA Registrar Debbie Fuentes and AHA President Cynthia Richardson

I would like to close with a special experience that in this particular show environment was far from unique, but will remain special to me. On Friday evening, after an invigorating day of Mare Classes, I enjoyed a quiet dinner with my Arabhorse.com colleague Beth Hunziker and Judges Connie O’Brien and Richard Petty. It was a casual meal upstairs in the hotel’s Mexican restaurant. The conversation began as we primarily discussed our own horses and how we enjoy our lives with them. Connie was impressive to me as she discussed her interest in the western disciplines and her positive relationship with her trainer. Her mannerisms were warm and she was an easy conversationalist.

Connie’s history in the business is lifelong. She started her career as a trainer. At that time, trainers were not specialized and had to know how to do it all.  This could include: Western, English, driving and halter. Connie later shared, “Anything you were asked to do, you had to know how to do it.” Her first big break came from Wayne Newton as she worked as his head co-trainer from 1984-1986. This is also where she developed an interest in breeding as she dedicated herself to learning about the pedigrees and individual traits of the 200 plus horses at the farm. She shared, “This was a hard task as they were all grey withbig, huge, black eyes.”

Our table discussion merged to the European show scene. As a female, it has been evident to me the difference in female representation (in the ring) in Europe as opposed to the American show scene. In Europe, although it is far from a 50-50 split, there are several females that show and they show competitively. It is not unusual to see a female handler in the winner’s circles—earning any of the top medals. As a female myself—this is meaningful. At the 2014 All Nations Cup in Aachen, Michelle Lyall, from England, tied for first in the Handler competition, which I found impressive.

Connie then shared a very special story, which involved her own experience in a prestigious European winner's circle. “I met Dr. Nico Jung of Karolinehof Stud, a Spanish breeder, and his family at the 1984 Salon Du Denis and Glenn SchoukensCheval, in Paris. Because of my experience with Wayne Newton and his Spanish Arabians, Dr. Jung contacted me and asked if I would be interested in coming to Europe and show his horses. Graciously, Wayne agreed to let me go.  

“I showed a mare for the Jung family named Gual Hassika (Pepete X Akelfa), a 1980 mare bred by Dona Maria Teresa Gual de Pons on the island of Majorca, Spain. Hassika was a classic, typey mare who also was a very intelligent, logical thinker. She was quiet and feminine, but at the same time, had presence. In hand, she moved lightly and freely. However, her most outstanding features were her large, dark eyes.

 “I arrived in 1985 and we started the season with Hassika winning second in her Class at the Nations Cup in Switzerland. The winner was mare named Jassrah. Then, fourteen days later, we were in Aachen competing at the All Nations Cup, again against Jassrah. But this time we prevailed as Gual Hassika became the Gold Champion Mare…!”

As we continued to converse over chips and salsa, I have to admit how enamored I was of Connie’s achievement—she actually showed a Gold Champion Mare in Aachen…! I asked her to describe her emotions regarding this win, she shared, “I felt like I had won an Oscar! People were jumping over the fences to photograph us and all chaos broke out. It was an unbelievable feeling—just amazing. This was  a really thrilling time in my life--I’ll never forget it.”

Connie, who is married to John O’Brien, the syndicate co-manager of *Padron and creator of Sandspur Arabians (originally in Scottsdale), has managed Sandspur Arabians  (now in Winnemucca, Nevada) since 1987. At this point in her career she manages a small group of breeding horses and enjoys her time in the saddle. She also works as a Judge. She shared, “I no longer breed, train, buy or sell horses—so there are no conflicts of interest when judging. I also feel that my experiences at Wayne’s ranch; my years in Scottsdale during the heyday; and my travels in Europe were priceless. It was a fun time as I got to see many of the foundation horses and as a judge, this has been helpful as I know generations of pedigrees.” 

For me, one for the most interesting features of the ABWC is that each day in different. There is a serendipitous quality to time in regards to socializing. I have formed more meaningful friendships and acquaintances in Vegas than in any other show—and nearly each one is rooted in impromptu opportunities due to this unique venue. My invitation to dine with Beth, Connie and Richard came directly after Classes while standing at an elevator—there were no prior arrangements. The evening ended warmly as the conversation continued as we walked out of the restaurant and made our way to the elevators where we then said our good nights, knowing that the next day held more opportunities for us to share our love of the Arabian horse.





Please make plans to attend the tenth annual 2016 Arabian Breeders World Cup in Las Vegas. For information about how to become a sponsor of the event and other important details, please visit the website at www.arabianbreedersworldcup.com.

 Thank you to Haras Royal de Bouznika and His Majesty Mohammed VI - King of Morocco for donating the exquisite awards earned by Medal winners


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.