Monday, February 26, 2007

bloodlines on the brain

My friend April and I headed down to the annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show last Friday morning. April's grandparents were well-known Arabian breeders in the Pacific Northwest, so she got to spend her summers on their ranch growing up. She also bought one of our horses last year, so this was a good chance for her to get to see some of his relatives. I haven't been this excited about going to Scottsdale since I showed my gelding Zzari there a decade ago. I was also kid-less back then, so I had no idea how rejuvenating a couple of days of solid "girl time" could be. I think I can speak for April when I say we had a blast.

We got to see a nice Prix St. George dressage performance that first evening. This boy's tempi changes and extended trot were lovely, though I couldn't quite figure out how to get my camera to behave in that night-time, fluorescent Equidome lighting.

On day two, this volunteer from a Phoenix wild animal sanctuary was there in one of the exhibitor tents with her friend:

The outside warm-up arena between the Equidome and Wendell were full of action. It's my favorite place to evaluate the horses and riders because they're not trying to put on a pretty performance for the judges. This stallion really caught my eye (and April's, too). When I asked about his bloodlines, the trainer told me he was Russian and Spanish. It figures. That explains both the substance and the pretty. April's gelding is the product of our *Nariadni daughter (now, sadly, deceased) bred to the great *Muscat son, Mussiah. My husband and I love those Howard Kale/Taylor Ranch Russian bloodlines. I've never owned or bred Spanish lines, but I've long admired them from afar. In my opinion, you can't top mares like Estopa for beauty, or stallions like Gual Kubesi for exotic masculinity. I'd like to get back into the horse-breeding game someday, but not yet.

As the sun was going down, this rider had the covered warm-up practically to himself.

Here's the Wendell in-gate at the start of one of the Western Pleasure semi-finals. You can see the judges standing in the middle, awaiting their victims.

And here's a happy Native Costume champion just after her victory pass.

Don't even get me started on the food at Scottsdale. I meant to have a falafel at some point, but never got around to it. Instead, I had some awesome, spicy Thai noodles with chicken; some Miss Karen's frozen yogurt in a waffle cone (that's a required tradition); and, at the Shada barn party, a reeeeeeaaaaaallllly yummy pork sandwich with Hollandaise sauce, plus sourdough/cream cheese and cucumber/shrimp appetizers. Yeah, I'll add some minutes on to my next prairie run.

Scottsdale is also a great place to find romance. Case in point:

Her name is Marissa, and she's not even a year old yet. She is sired by an up-and-coming *Nariadni son out of a *Muscat daughter. Bred by Taylor Ranch, of course.
Did I mention that I love her?
Now I just need to go dig around under the couch cushions to find that spare $20,000 in change that has no doubt collected there.
As the husband said when I told him about Marissa, "Hey, she costs a lot less than a new F-350 Powerstroke." Oh, had he been with us, he would have been a GONER, I tell ya. It would have taken him only one moment of scritching her behind the ears and seeing her big eyes go all half-closed and dreamy, and that would have been all she wrote. We'd have a new filly in the pasture this morning, and credit card bills out the yazoo. But can you just look at this face for a moment? What's crushing debt compared to something like this? Plus, there's filly breath to take into consideration, which everyone knows is priceless.
And speaking of nice things to look at, where there are cow butts...'ll also find these:

So, while I was capturing the scenery, April was snickering and capturing ME:

Its a good thing I have one of these at home. That's all I'm going to say about THAT.

My overall impressions of the show? It was first-class all the way. The exhibitors and horses seemed happier in general than I've noticed in years past, with very few exceptions. The vendors seemed happy, too, which doesn't surprise me, since the tents were quite packed both days we were down there.
Judging by the "for sale" fliers tacked up on every available wall and bulletin board, the Arabian market looks like it's in a fairly healthy place right now. Nice horses certainly aren't being given away, but you don't see exorbitant price tags on green horses of questionable quality, which has been the case in the not-too-distant past. April was bugged by the greasy shaved faces, especially on the halter horses, but that's been going on for decades now. Overuse of whips in the halter arena and spurs/rein-jerking in the performance arenas was practically non-existent as far as I could see, and that is a wonderful development.
The weather down in the valley was quite blustery the first day, but considering the fact that we drove through a near-blizzard to get down the mountain, it didn't seem that bad. Saturday's weather couldn't have been much more gorgeous, which is another reason it's such a treat for us high-altitude folks to head to Scottsdale in February. I missed having my man there with me, since some of our best times are Scottsdale/Arabian/horse-related, but let me tell ya: There's no WAY he would have wanted to stop and ogle the pretty jewelry and clothes on display the way April and I did. I'm hoping she'll post a comment with some of her impressions, too.


  1. Lorelei10:33 AM

    Oh for a girl's weekend! Sigh. I don't know that I've done a trip without kids for hmmm....3 years. And that was with husband! Last true vaca by myself might have been coming to visit you about 11 years ago.

    The show sounds AWESOME and your pics put me right in there. My fav is the silhouette of the single cowboy. You could sell that! And then you could buy that adorable filly with the proceeds.

  2. My brain, eyes and heart are still SOOO full of the awesome beauty of each Arab that I saw (and kissed!) - inspite of all of the hair-shaving. In the "old days" the horses were more natural looking than they are now. Nicole, you have reopened my world to the wonderful Arabian beauty and spirit. I will never be able to repay you for this wonderful gift. I grew up in "God's country" and in the Arabian world with my grandparents and I never want to leave it, again. As for my "girl time" - I spent it with a woman of substance, humor and beauty! These memories will always shimmer brightly in my heart - THANK YOU, Nicole.

  3. Yay! I will always have a soft spot for Arabians. Mine was 1/2 Arab and I'll always regret not showing him at the local arab shows. Mind you, these are nothing like the show you were at!

    Yeah, I'd be dreaming about that filly too...

    And that stallion! Gorgeous!!

    And of course the cowboys. Gotta love the cowboys.

  4. Lor, it is just short of a crime that we didn't manage to get away for a girls' weekend while I was living there! What were we (not)thinking? Yeah, I like that silhouette shot, too - thanks. I can't even imagine the awesome pics you would have taken there.

    Awwww, April, you are too sweet. And yes, folks, she did kiss several horses. I told you Scottsdale was a great place to find romance, didn't I?

    Heidi, I'm all about local shows, too - class A, fuzzy schooling shows, the county fair, etc. The surprising thing about Scottsdale is that it's just a regular class A show - albeit an enormous and expensive one - that anyone can enter without qualifying. The quality of horses and riders is always very high, though, which is neat.

  5. I wanted to go so bad. Yours pics are a nice tour of the show. There was a yearling colt there that took the supreme champion title the people turned down $1.5 million so I guess the market is picking up. Haven't heard an offer like that in a while.

    Thanks for a great rundown of the show.