The Arabian horses were as well turned out as the people who gathered from all over the world at Michael Byatt’s annual Open House in quaint New Ulm, Texas, the weekend of May 10. The weather was humid but breezy, and the thunderstorm that threatened never materialized, making it a perfect weekend to enjoy what is arguably a collection of the finest Arabian horses assembled anywhere on the planet.
Friday evening’s guests drank cocktails and dined on… Texas rattlesnake eggrolls among other delights, with a small party enjoying the historic moment of watching the beautiful mare, Ansata Millennia (Ansata Hejazi x Ansata Malaka) be bred via frozen semen to World Champion Al Adeed Al Shaqab for what will be her second foal by this stallion.
The real show started Saturday morning with a presentation of the Byatt collection. Several World Champion Stallions – Gazal Al Shaqab’ grandsons were presented, among them the world’s only two-time All Nations Cup Champion, the 3 year old Mardigras JMF (Marwan Al Shaqab x JMF Dare To Dream), the grey Shakir El Marwan (Marwan Al Shaqab x Om El Shadina), the yearlings Perignon (Marwan Al Shaqab x Psychic Karma) and OFW Magic Wan (Marwan Al Shaqab x Magna Prelude), the unanimous 2007 U.S. National
Champion Sweepstakes Yearling Colt (and 2007 Scottsdale Supreme Champion) Aria Impresario (Marwan Al Shaqab x GC Echlectica), and of course, the star of the barn, Gazal’s most famous son, the international champion stallion and most highly esteemed sire, Marwan Al Shaqab (out of Little Liza Fame). Another handsome and very typey Gazal son, OFW Shahgal (Gazal Al Shaqab x GA Honisuckl Rose) was presented as well. Like his older brother Marwan, OFW Shahgal represents the blending of Gazal Al Shaqab to a national champion mare, and obviously, this kind of cross is working extremely well for Michael Byatt clients.
Among the other colts and stallions presented was the lovely Shahteyna son, Shahteyn (by Besson Carol) who was joined in the arena by his illustrious National Champion dam, the black Bey Shah daughter, Shahteyna, looking absolutely marvelous at age 26. The senior stallions presented included the popular sire, typey bay Besson Carol
(Parys El Jamaal x Classic Krystall), the handsome white Russian/Egyptian cross El Nabila B (Kubinec x Elf Layla Walayla B), the highly anticipated South African import, the 4 year old EKS Bey Al Gazal (Marwan Al Shaqab x Starbright Bey, who represented the unique cross of a Gazal daughter back to Marwan) and finally, the king of Michael Byatt Arabians, Gazal Al Shaqab (Anaza El Farid x Kajora) and of course the prince, already mentioned Marwan Al Shaqab, both owned by Al Shaqab Stud.
According to a source close to Michael Byatt, the rising star to watch for is the tall, exotic bay yearling Gazal grandson, Perignon, bred and owned by Michael himself in partnership with friend, Luis Miguel Muzquiz. Perignon is by Marwan Al Shaqab and out of the Padrons Psyche daughter, Psychic Karma, who is, in turn, out of the esteemed Canadian National Reserve Champion and US Top Ten – Kaiyoum’s daughter, Kaiynda Special.
After the traditional Michael Byatt barbecue lunch, guests were invited to participate in a demonstration of the new AHA scoring system, led by international judge Lori Conway. As Judge Conway explained it, “If a horse neither excites you, nor offends you, it’s an average horse”. Many U.S. horse show attendees will have to accustom themselves to the idea that 10 is average and anything above that is good to excellent. Guests Philip Del Pozzo (owner of Enzo), Kathleen Wilson (longtime Arkansas breeder and MBA client) and nationally titled trainer, Andrew Sellman were called upon by Michael to use the new scoring system in judging a collection of fillies and mares, while Mrs. Conway acted as the “call judge”. It was a very good demonstration of how the system works – and an opportunity for fun and much laughter.
Saturday night’s wonderful dinner became the occasion for a surprise birthday party, artfully announced by internationally known breeder and MBA friend, Carolyn Shelton. Surrounded by new and old friends, Michael Byatt was presented with a cake and presents to celebrate his 50th birthday. Guests in attendance included the former Cindy Murch, with whom Michael had worked at Arabco, Inc., fellow trainers Steve Heathcott, Joey Canda, Brad Gallun, good friends and clients, Ray and Nora Tatum, Larry and Carolyn Shelton, Fran and Gene Haskins, the Sloan brothers of Aria International, Robin Rye, Kathy Wilson, and even Michael’s longtime buddy, Michael Weinstein, who teamed with Michael on many a horse endeavor as part of Aries Arabians and who brought Marwan’s dam, Kajora, to the team, as well as many more who have followed Michael’s long career with Arabian horses. The evening ended on a nostalgic note with a beautifully done video (by famous Arabian horse photographer Darryl Larson) of Michael’s life and career with Arabian horses. The champagne flowed amid laughter and tears – a fitting tribute to a man who has done so much for the Arabian horse breed.