"M" Is for Mares

By Linda White

Jacque Patterson’s first date with Rod Thompson was a visit to the boarding stable to see Mac Keff, the Arabian park horse she had been showing. “As Rod took photos of me and the horse I told him about my dream of someday having an Arabian horse farm,” she remembers. “After we were married I put my dream on hold to raise our children, but when they had left home we began looking at Arabians. Rod and I went to several farms, and at Vicki Humphrey’s open house we saw PS Afire Chief, who had been 2006 U.S. Reserve National Park Champion. He was gorgeous! We looked at each other, walked over to Vicki and told her we wanted to buy him.

“Later in 2007 we purchased Baskghazi, a Baske Afire son who became a 2010 U.S. Top 10 Open English Pleasure Champion for us. That year we added the 2009 U.S. National English Pleasure Futurity Champion: The Renaissance (ML Afire Dream x Fire Essence, by Pro-Fire). In selecting mares for the three stallions, I’ve tried to find individuals who would give something back without sacrificing anything. They need to be pretty, of course, structurally sound and a little taller, with plenty of length of leg.”

Smoky Mountain Park’s broodmares include daughters of *El Ghazi, AA Apollo Bey, MHR Nobility, Afire Bey V, Cytosk, A Temptation, Mister Chips, VF Premonition and Khouros.

“I am breeding what pleases my eye,” she adds. “Last fall we took three of our first foal crop to the national futurity; they won two U.S. Top 10s and a 2011 U.S. Reserve National Championship. I feel so blessed that we’re getting that kind of consistent quality. Why those bloodlines? I have been drawn to Afire Bey V and what he has done for the breed.”

Barbara Chur and her late husband, Neil bought their first mare, a Half-Arabian, in 1979 and soon bred her. “She was the mare that convinced us to breed Arabian horses,” says Barbara Chur. “She was so amazing with that foal that we knew we had to continue. We decided we would breed purebred English performance horses.

“The mares are so-o-o romantic,” she continues. We can mentally picture Strawberry Banks Farm’s gorgeous white mares against dark green pastures, with beautiful blue skies overhead. “Who can resist feeling romantic when you see that? When selecting a stallion I try to look at what will complement that mare. I stand three amazing, national champion-siring stallions: Baske Afire, A Temptation and Hey Hallelujah. Each one passes on specific breeding traits, so I pick the one that will add the characteristics a particular mare needs.”

Strawberry Banks has long been a source for national caliber performance and halter prospects and bloodstock. Generations of mares have produced national winners. The couple purchased A Love Song (*Bask x *Elkana, by Aquinor) as a yearling at Deor Farms. Her offspring have won 10 national championships. Dancing Love is another of Strawberry Banks’ *Bask daughters. Now 32, Dancing Love is out of Habina, the national winner-producing mare.

“Dancing Love is not producing any more,” Chur offers, “but when I look at her, she brings back wonderful memories of the days when *Bask’s daughters were winning all the English classes at U.S. Nationals.” Strawberry Banks Farm is in East Aurora, NY.

Fifteen years ago, when Murray and Shirley Popplewell went to some friends’ Arabian farm to look at mares, they began to breed their own memories. “They had several for sale; that got us started,” states Popplewell. “We thought it would be easy! We would buy mares, breed them to champion stallions, and they would produce the best babies-babies people would want to buy for good money.” He chuckles at their naiveté.

When Claudinei Machado came to train at Rae-Dawn Arabians, the picture changed. Popplewell describes the transformation. “Claudine told us, ‘You can’t breed champions out of these mediocre mares.’ I bought TF Falconsimprint (Falcon BHF x Padrons Imprint) in Scottsdale. That August she was 2002 Canadian National Top 10 2-Year-Old Filly. She has produced six registered foals for us.” TF Falconsimprint’s winning offspring include RD Dynamo, a 2011 U.S. Top 10 Yearling Colt by show ring superstar Bey Ambition (Regal Actor JP x Bey Shah’s Lady) whom they bought in April 2008.

“We added GF Simply Magic, a Magic Dream daughter, in 2004,” Popplewell continues. “We bred her to Falcon BHF and her 2006 filly, RD Fabreanna, was 2007 U.S. National Champion Breeders’ Sweepstakes Yearling Filly. Two years later she was the U.S. Reserve National Futurity Filly, and in 2010, she became the U.S. Reserve National Champion, Jr. Mare.

“We both fell in love NW Siena Psyche, so we bought her embryo. The resulting QR Marc filly was 2010 U.S. National Champion Breeders’ Sweepstakes Yearling. We had reached our goal of breeding a national champion!

“Our next goal is to breed and still own a national champion when it wins the title!”

In 2003 Don and Janey Morse bought their first Arabian horse, a stallion, and by 2006, they had a breeding program at Oak Ridge Arabians. Together they collected daughters of Marwan Al Shaqab, Bey Shah, FS Ritz, Justafire DGL, Baske Afire, WN Ultimate Star, Padrons Psyche, Magnum Psyche, Falcon BHF and others to complement their stallions: Vitorio TO, Fausto CRH, Vegas DPA and Giovanni Chall, whom they co-owned.

“Don and I felt that we knew which mares worked for us,” his wife explains. “Now, being around them helps give me peace. Having lost someone I loved and adored who was so devoted to the mares and foals, I feel such kinship with them. Don loved Vitorio TO and the last mare we bought together, Almanara DT, is now in foal to him.” Morse now has 30 broodmares, and would like to keep 12. “And I’m excited about an amazing, good-minded Fausto CRH colt we have who shows great promise as a performance and halter prospect.”

Fausto CRH, at Oak Ridge since 2006, has been a sure winner for Morse’s grandchildren, who earned 2010 and 2011 Youth National Top10s in Western Pleasure JT 13 and Under, and JT 14-17 aboard him.

For more than 35 years Larry Jerome has been breeding generations of champion Arabian horses at Jerland Farms. Jerome is very clear about his breeding objectives. “I look for mares that will be genetically compatible with producing beautiful, functional offspring. It’s great when you breed a beautiful horse, but after a halter career that typically lasts only a few years, what is the horse’s future life going to be? I want to breed Arabians that will have a lifetime of use.

“For example, Promise V, a 1990 U.S. National Top 10 Futurity Filly, has given us offspring that have received multiple national honors. One of her foals is Khaja J (by *Khadraj), who was chosen 2012 Silver Supreme Champion Colt at the Las Vegas World Cup. This youngster moves fantastically and has an incredible mind. He is the total package, and genetically, he will pass on this excellence.

“Promise V has the kind of ‘snort and blow’ I observed years ago in the Gazon daughters at Lloyd and Evelyn Burton’s. I fell in love with the Arabian type those mares exemplified. I bred a mare to Gazon in1977 and she produced a very special individual that became my foundation mare. So yes, I look at phenotype, but I also look at genotype. Some bloodlines are not compatible with what I’m trying to achieve.

“I’m excited about our mares’ longevity and consistency. In fact, I’m more excited today than I have been in a long time. The oldest MPA Giovanni daughters are now producing performance and halter offspring. I have four phenomenal Half-Arabian *Khadraj colts, three of which are out of full sisters by MPA Giovanni. I know I have a market for these colts.”

When Eric Wolfe moved his training and breeding operation to Apopka, Florida in 1991, he brought along a lifetime of knowledge, experience and show ring success. Wolfe’s passion for high octane English performance horses is well known. A popular judge, he has also shown a number of halter horses-some of which he bred-to national titles.

“Some of the foals we’re raising are the third and fourth generation we’ve bred,” he says. “Exquisitely Bold, by Bold Ladd ORA, has produced eight fillies and one colt for us. She’s out of Chal Royal Jabask, a GG Jabask daughter I used to show for Jim Gillespie and his family. Exquisitely Bold’s daughter Magnums Valentine, a black, has produced two fillies and a colt. The gelded colt, Ghazzali EWA, became a 2011 U.S. National Top 10 Gelding. Valentoia EWA, her black daughter by DA Valentino, is a U.S. National Top 10 2-Year-Old Mare. (The “we” refers to himself and Sue Rothman, his partner of 21 years.)

“Magnums Valentine is in foal for 2012 to Trussardi, the colt I showed to his 2010 U.S. Reserve National Champion Yearling Colt title. Majorette EWA, Magnum Valentine's daughter by DS Major Afire, is also expecting a 2012 Trussardi foal. I’m also partial to Trussardi because I showed his dam’s dam, Autumn in Gold, as a yearling and 2-year-old. In 2007 we bought GA Cameo because her dam was closely line-bred to Promotion, who was a national champion park horse. We bred GA Cameo to Afires Heir in 2008 and kept the filly: Princess Heir EWA.

“Our *Muscat daughter, La Scatta, produced many champions, including First Heir EWA, Altimatum EWA, and Rapid Fire EWA, who was 2005 U.S. Reserve National Champion English Pleasure , Jr. Horse.”

Andy and Christine Steffens bought their first Arabian mare, Merri Porcelynn (Shaklans Padron NA x Merri Jadaana, by Gdaan) as a 2-year-old in 1999. “We had no barn, no facility, and no horse farm property,” Christine explains, “but Andy loved horses, and he wanted one to show. Merri Porcelynn was very lovely, so we took her to Shada, and she went to Scottsdale in 2000 with Jerry Schall. We showed her lightly, and she has produced five foals for us: three fillies and two colts.

“We found a 5-year-old Ruminaja Ali granddaughter, DAR Heartbreaker, who was 2003 Canadian National Top 10 Sr. Mare, 6 and Over for us. We have bred her to Magnum Gold and Marhabah, and she has produced two lovely MCA Magnum Gold fillies: Heart of Gold AC and Saraina Gold AC. Her youngest filly, Christiana AC, is by Versace. We have high hopes for all three. We purchased the rest of our mares as yearlings. They would have been less affordable had they been older, proven broodmares.

“We got TF Psynergy (Padrons Psyche x Overlook Judith, by Fame VF) as a yearling,” Steffens continues. “She has produced two SSS and Minnesota Breeders’ winners for us, and another Regional Top 5 yearling. We bought an older mare, Premonishahn (Bey Shah x Sonoma Chiffon) in 2002. Steve Dady will be taking her Egyptian-related daughter, Shahseq AC, to the 2012 Egyptian Event.

The Steffens are enjoying the Avalon Crest horse facility they built from scratch on vacant land five years ago. “When we walk down the barn aisle,” says Christine, “the mares and foals take our breath away!”

Arabian mares have played a major role in Raymond Mazzei’s life. “Years ago, when I was in my 20s,” he remembers, “I showed my Egyptian mare (Babson, top and bottom) in Most Classic Head at Pomona. She won the class and a perpetual trophy, which was a big deal because Most Classic Head was more of a breeding class in those days.

“I showed a lot of horses for Bob Strathmore, including the *Serafix daughter SX La Quinta. She was a 3-year-old when I showed her to a 1976 U.S. Reserve National Champion Mare title. In 1978 I bought Comar Bay Brummel, an Azraff son, and bred the Babson Egyptian mare to him. He was intensely line-bred to *Mirage on the bottom, and seemed to cross best on Egyptian-style mares.

“Now, 40-something years later, history repeats itself. Look at today’s most successful pedigrees and see what combinations work. I had 10 straight Egyptian mares, and another group that were Russian and Polish/Russian. They were all good mares and I bred them to proven sires. To me, a proven sire is one that has consistently sires champions. He may sire one or two superstars in his lifetime, but does he consistently sire champions who then pass on their high quality? The same goes for mares. For me, a proven broodmare is one that consistently produces better than she is.

“As a breeder, I must go forward. I use the past as a foundation for creating something better. When I bring in a stallion, I breed him to all different kinds of mares, and then I cull. I keep only the best offspring for breeding. With a mediocre stallion or mediocre mare I’m only going to create more horses-not more good horses.

“When I hit a home run that horse will be remembered, but you can’t just look at a baby and say, ‘Oh, that filly is going to be superstar!’ Let’s see how she grows up.

“My ancestor, Filipo Mazzei, was the King of Poland’s personal equerry. Filipo said, ‘From the seeds of the past springs the harvest of the future.’