ALLIENCE+// KAREDIN KAMEO
25 year old purebred Arabian Black Mare
Foal date Apr 1, 1995 (25 years)
Courtesy of Thalia Bertuca
December/January 2010 • MODERN arabian horse
The best stories are the unexpected. They make you laugh and cry, feel that you have a chance and good things really can happen, even when you least expect it.” The tale of All Staar (Allience+// x Karedin Kameo) —the “ugly duckling”—began 14 years ago on April Fool’s Day. Thalia Bertuca of Coloma, Michigan, was 11 years old at that time. She remembers the younger days of “Staar” clearly, though. To many, they only saw Staar as the ugly, black foal with the white star on her forehead. But, to Thalia’s grandmother, she always saw Staar’s potential. “She just kept telling us, ‘just wait my Staar will be something’,” recalls Thalia. As a youngster, Staar bounced around to different trainers trying to find where she fit in. Each time, she would end up back in a pasture. At age 3, the Bertucas took her to the Stachowskis for an evaluation. “We were given the same opinion from them,” Thalia says. “At the end of 90 days, they put her in the pasture. Jimmy even told us that he wouldn’t pay $100 for her,
and she would never amount to anything. Of course, we didn’t take it to heart. She was only 3 and still had some growing up to do, so she came back home.” When she was 5, the Bertucas sent her to John Powers in Florida, where she was schooled as a junior country English horse. After showing her a few times and succeeding, the Bertucas decided to send her back to the Stachowskis for another shot. Shortly after, they took her to 2001 U.S. Nationals to be used as a back-up horse for Patricia, Thalia’s mother. The back-up plan became the plan that year, and Patricia showed her to a Top 10. The next year, Thalia, who was in her last year as a youth rider, started working with Staar in English Pleasure and Park. Two years later, Staar moved into the role of Jim Stachowski’s Open Park horse. At the Ohio Buckeye and Region 14 that year, Staar was named unanimous champion in Open Park. Then, capped off the year with a Top 10 at U.S. Nationals. The following year she had her first baby by Baske Afire, so she was not shown. In 2005 she was unanimous champion in Park AOTR and Open at Region 14 and earned another Top 10 at U.S. Nationals. In 2006, Staar won the AOTR at Region 14. At Nationals, Thalia finished Top 10 in AOTR, and Peter
Stachowski rode her for the first time in the Open and was Top 10. All ducks finally seemed in a row for the ugly duckling to become great, then tragedy hit. As the entourage arrived in Albuquerque for U.S. Nationals in 2007, Staar
came off the truck wobbly. She could barely walk and had to lean against a wall to stand up. Everyone was perplexed. Staar was taken to an equine medical hospital about 45 minutes away and placed in intensive care. After three spinal taps, test for EPM, West Nile Virus and many other diseases that could paralyze horses and full-body
X-rays, the vets were at a dead end. “They thought at best if she survived she would never be able to be shown and that she would be a broodmare,” Thalia says. “She stayed in intensive care for the next two weeks while Nationals was going on. She had her shoes pulled and was wearing cushioned shoes, because she was putting so much pressure on her front right leg that they were worried about laminitis.” Following the show, the Stachowskis dropped her off in Lexington, where a clinic did more testing, multiple MRIs and a CAT scan. For the first time, they found something. Hemorrhaging in the brain and a cause was not known. She was given vitamin E for six weeks.
After taking it easy for the winter, the Bertucas sent Staar back to the Stachowskis that July. “Everyone was
excited especially my grandma, because that was her horse she always believed in her,” Thalia says. “Peter
long-lined her in between shows during the summer but never rode her. Finally entries were due for Nationals,
and Peter told us to enter her, he thought that she would be ready, but he hadn’t ridden her yet. During the summer, grandma became ill and was diagnosed with ALS. The doctors said she only had two to six months to live. “The day I entered Staar for Nationals, I told my grandma the good news. She was excited, and I promised that when I went down to ride I would keep her updated and at Nationals she would be the first person that I called after my class. On September 2, I was supposed to go to Stachowskis to ride for the first time since getting sick, but my grandma’s condition deteriorated very rapidly that day and she passed away later that afternoon.” Despite the tough loss, Thalia knew her grandma would want her to continue in their quest. “Monday, the day of my class, I thought that I was going to go crazy,” Thalia says. “I went and got a massage, went for a walk, did everything that I could to calm myself down. It’s the waiting that kills me. Once I’m in the ring I’m fine. While getting ready, I was fighting back tears thinking about my grandma and how I wouldn’t be able to call her when I got done, how she wouldn’t be able to say ‘I told you so, that’s my Staar, she showed all of you.’ During the warm-up the nerves were melting away like they always do, and I wanted to show everyone that after everything that happened this past year with Staar, struggling to even walk and stand, that she could do it, she deserved it. “I had an amazing class Staar…,” Thalia recalls. “When it was time for my victory pass, Peter let her go and we started down the rail. I was having an incredible pass (the kind people only dream about) and forgot to tell the photographer not to use the silver sheet to get her ears up…The next thing I knew, I was on the ground and Staar was trotting over to where Peter had been standing on the rail. Yes, I fell off on my victory pass and had to walk out of the arena.” Despite ending the show on an embarrassing note, Thalia was determined that Staar was really going to step things up as a park horse. After solid conditioning and training between 2008 U.S. Nationals and this year’s event, the Bertucas have a lot of faith and heart riding with Staar. At Canadian Nationals, Peter and Thalia boasted championship titles in both the Open and AOTR Park divisions. “I’m not sure, but she may have been the first mare to do that,” Thalia says. Thalia and Peter each rode Staar to a Top 10 in AAOTR and the Open at U.S. Nationals this year.
Progeny : STAARDOM,
STAARS ROYAL HEIRESS,