I traveled to the US with huge curiosity: how is life like there, what horses will we see, what type comes out the winner across the ocean. I have seen and heard so much previously… After all, Scottsdale is the Mecca of Arabian horses in the New World! An enormous market, thousands of horses (including those known from DVDs or photos in the AHW magazine or various championships), the place of origin of many victors of shows of the last years, as for example Royal Colors, Venetzia or the sons of Marwan (the majority of whom were discovered and purchased precisely there: Marquis, Marajj, Mardigras, QR Marc). Besides, it is the homeland of the best sires of all times when it comes to progeny winning at the shows, beginning with line of Padrons Psyche (Enzo, Magnum Psyche, Magnum Chall, Psytadel, WH Justice, Justify), ending with the famous line of Bey Shah through Versace and his sons: DA Valentino, DA Vinci and Odyssey SC.
Scottsdale, a city located on the outskirts of Phoenix, turned out to be a pleasant place to live – broad streets, pretty one-storey architecture in natural colors and most of all tens of studs or divisions of studs, where horses stay during the so-called season: from November to the Scottsdale show in February (up to now) and lately up until the show in Las Vegas. Afterwards the horses head to their maternal studs located across the entire United States, but also in Canada, Brazil, Argentina. Of course the unsold horses, because the season is also an easy penetration of the American market by buyers from the Middle East, Europe (mainly Italy, Belgium and the UK) and South America.
The divisions of studs located in the city are sorts of „outlets”: a stable, a small arena for showing horses, an automatic walking track and a hot walker. All exclusively for the purpose of preparing a horse for the shows and to present him during the open days at the stud. The lack of additional paddocks, pastures (which on the desert would be a hard thing, but not impossible – the Arabs seem to manage quite well). The divisions are located almost in the centre of the city: this area could even be compared to a villa district. But nobody is annoyed by this, because everyone owns horses: it is possible to walk by foot to some dozen studs located within a couple of kilometers. Directly opposite Midwest is the division of North Arabians, some tens of meters further more stables. The studs located on the outskirts of the city and outside of it are also rather small – this shouldn’t surprise anyone as a hectare of land is priced at $400,000.
The first day of the show sobered me up – the horses didn’t seem appealing to me: outstretched, on long pasterns with poor joints, thin-boned, additionally with straight and longer heads than in Europe. When this is topped off with a poor body and terrible legs, the picture seems totally discouraging. 80% of the horses are overdone in the croup, even tough their front hoofs are let long and shod with 3cm supports. Movement is a separate story: because the horse is shown on 5 meters and most handlers qualify to the oldboy category, it can be considered that different standards apply here than in Europe.
Judges choose horses by placing them in the order from best to worst. At the end of each class the horses are set as many times as is the number of judges, placing from 1st (best) to 10th. Sometimes the same horse is first with one judge and 10th with another! There were however some pearls spotted by the Polish team already at the warm-up ring; they found acclaim also with the judges. The first of these gems was Stival, to which the Polish group referred to as “the bay chestnut”, who was unanimously given first place by all judges. Another was Vegas by Ef Kingston. We also liked Eden C, while were not at all
convinced by Marcedes, who we named “the mermaid” (“syrenka” was a car produced in Poland between 1957-1983, in the very beginning made of wood), looking totally different than on the omnipresent photos and ads. However it was him who won the class besting Eden C. Pianissima’s daughter, heavy and indistinct, didn’t hit it with the public nor the judges; despite her best efforts and royal pedigree she did not make it into the Top Ten. Much prettier was the daughter of El Dorada by Ecaho, who placed second in class.
In the senior mares category the favorite was JJ La Estrella by Magnum Psyche, led by David Boggs, who in the opinion of one of the judges placed only second in class behind Janów’s Olita. However with the rest she was first besting Olita and with that becoming the winner of the class and later of the championship. Olita became, as we know, the Reserve Champion.
What’s interesting is that the horses presented at the studs were nicer than those on the arena: some of them were not even being prepared for Scottsdale but at once for Las Vegas, where the point scale is more European: six scale of evaluations, but with “our” head and neck separated into head and neck and shoulders. Mares in the studs, especially the older ones, with Polish and Russian blood, were more appealing to the breeders from Poland. An interesting group was presented to us at North Arabians: some dozen mares by Padrons Psyche, very leveled, robust, with rather good movement and charisma (naturally the owner could’ve chosen the best out of hundreds by that stallion). A second interesting presentation was given to us at Midwest – an impressive cast of chief sires and mares of the highest quality by Magnum Psyche, however with the “Polish” Dumka by Laheeb in the lead. The stallions: DA Vinci, DA Valentino, Magnum Psyche, Fausto, Justify, Legacy of Gold, Ryad El Jamaal emerged from smoke and among stage lights on a specially prepared platform (a horse looks better from below than from above).
In the barn stalls – unfortunately only coldblood mares with foals from embryotransfer. The embryos are collected at the spot, frozen and sent to Texas, where they have a herd of a couple of hundred draught hybrid mares, to whom the embryos are transferred. The world moves ahead, however it is difficult to imagine in Poland for now.
Across the road, in the division of North Arabians, we saw another stallion from the line of Padron – Magnum Chall. Unfortunately a couple of generations and doses of Brazilian blood caused this stallion’s conformation to stray from the confirmation of the favorite of this line, Padrons Psyche. The mares by exotic stallions without a large dosage of Polish and Russian blood also appear to be outstretched: narrow, shallow, on high legs. Mares offered for sale looked, in our opinion, much better than those on the arena, especially dams by Padrons Psyche – including a daughter of Zagrobla and a filly out of a dam by Eukaliptus. They represented a type much closer to the one we know from our own backyard.
Always interesting are youngsters offered for sale, which are foals at foot and youth up to one year of age. It is the largest group of horses which changes owners; annually a couple hundred of youngsters are sold there. The sheikhs buy wholesale purchases through agents, even in lots consisting of 20 individuals – there is always a chance that something out of that lot will be chosen for the championships in the Middle Eastern countries. The sale of embryos is growing more and more rapidly. At Midwest the latter generates ¾ of the income. This will be the dominating direction in the upcoming years. Will it be desired in terms of breeding? We will see for ourselves when the first horse from embryotransfer wins the Salon de Cheval in Paris. After the performance of Pianissima’s daughter born from embryotransfer I still believe that it is buying a pig in a poke.