Saturday, January 5, 2013

(Re)joining the Arab nation

Ever since I announced that I was thinking of leasing an Arabian, I've had a lot of people go out of their way to sell me on the breed. I've heard stories of Arabian beauty, Arabian intelligence, and--most of all--Arabian loyalty. Everyone seems convinced that a little bit of Arabian exposure will turn me into a hard core Arabian lover.

Well, maybe.

It's going to be an uphill battle, though. Rev is not the first Arabian I've ever met. On the contrary, my entire riding life has been filled with Arabians.  
Jennifer and Zhrat al-Shara (Zee), 1994
Unlike most of my childhood friends, I never dreamed of owning an Arabian. I liked them because I liked all horses, but they were not my breed of choice. Subsequent real life interactions with Arabians did nothing to alter that view. Arabians were fine, but they didn't particularly excite me.
Kiko the Arab and Bill the Quarter Horse, Tom Sawyer Day Camp, 1984
When I was eighteen I moved to Fort Collins, Colorado to attend Colorado State University. A year later, I met Trisha.
Trisha and Amie Phoenix +, 1988?
Trisha's family bred Arabian horses on their forty acre farm in nearby Wellington, Colorado.
I was surrounded by Arabians!
 For three years, I rode Arabians every single weekend.
Jennifer with NBD Charity and NBD Peace, 1991
Even though I grew pretty fond of some of those horses, I continued to maintain that I was not an Arab person. 
Jennifer on Mt Vu Angelcharm
After I graduated, I moved to Tennessee to take a job on the Hunter/Jumper circuit. There are a few Arabians showing on that circuit but not many. I reasonably thought my Arabian days were over.  Then I met Cathy...
Cathy and Rohara Samurai ++, 1994
and her herd of Arabians.
El Zortan and RA Canadian Jade, 1994
Once again, I found myself riding an Arab!
Jennifer on Tsouri, 1994
Although I really did like this little mare, I continued to maintain that I was not an Arab person.
Jennifer and Tsouri, 1994
Meanwhile, Trisha had also moved from Colorado to the Eastern side of the country. Once a year I'd go visit her and her new Arabian, the occasionally brilliant but always erratic, Zee. Here they are at Michael Poulin's winter headquarters in Florida...
Trisha and Zee, 1993
and at Jessica Ransehousen's Blue Hill Farm in Unionville, Pennsylvania.  
Trisha and Zee, 1994
Despite--or perhaps because of--her idiosyncrasies, I was a big fan of Zee's. Still, I continued to maintain that I was not an Arab person.
Jennifer on Zee, 1994
Eventually, I got married, moved back to Colorado and started a family. When I was ready to start riding again, I did so at my friend, Fran's house. Guess what kind of horses she breeds?
Iris and Pixie, 2009
Yep, more Arabians!
Cara and Miss Allison, 2009
I am not an Arab person, but somehow the Arabs always seem to find me.
Jennifer on Regal Revenue, 2012
I suppose it's possible that Rev will be the horse that turns me into a hardcore Arab lover, but I kind of doubt it...  And, you know, even if he does, you'll never get me to admit it!


  1. So the big question is....why aren't you an Arab person? There isn't really a breed that I'm NOT into. Thoroughbreds tend to be a bit too high strung for me but one of my favorite childhood rides was a TB. Just curious, everyone has their favorite breeds.

  2. Jennifer, I'm not an arab person either!

    I even leased two when I was younger, and they really just aren't my thing.

  3. You know what.. I AM an arabian person. I spend most of my life trying to figure out how to get closer to them and photograph them. However, They Are NOT for everyone. You have to have mental "understanding" when you decide you want an arabian... Like owning a border collie or an abbyssinian cat. (two other animals that I love but my current lifestyle is not suitable for them)You have to understand their mind and be committed to keeping that mind busy. So I do totally get it and If you don't want to ride that breed or that horse, then don't. Find one that you're happy with... life is too short for bad rides! :-)!

    Heather Moreton

  4. That's a good question, Christie, and I really don't have an answer other than they don't particularly appeal to me on a visual basis. If I'm an a horse expo or an all breed event of some sort, Arabs are one of the breeds I'm LEAST likely to photograph. I don't hate them, I'm just not drawn to them.

    I realize this is a minority position. A lot of people (Heather!) think they're really, really beautiful, and I get that. I don't ever try to persuade those people to change their views. It would be so boring if everyone liked the same kind of horse!

    As noted, I've ridden a lot of Arabs, and I've gotten along with most of them just fine. Honestly, I think Arab lovers tend to overemphasize their breed's specialness and otherness. Like all breeds, there is a lot of diversity. I've known hot Arabs, but I've also known Arabs that were so quiet they were perfect beginner mounts. Likewise, I've met several Arabs that were not particularly smart or busy minded. Granted, I've known more that *are* but I just don't buy into the whole "Arabs are so different" thing.

    And you know, I'm actually very happy to be leasing an Arab at this point in my life. Rev is not my dream horse. He's kind of an idiot and I don't really love his looks. Still, he fits my schedule and budget perfectly, and he's kind of fun to hang out with. I fully expect we'll end up being great friends. I just don't think he's going to turn me into an Arab lover!

  5. I completely agree with you when you said that Arabs seem to be "overemphasized".

    Personally, I like Arabian horses. I find their historical background really interesting, and I think they are very beautiful horses. Then again, I find every horse "very beautiful", and that is probably because I would just LOVE a real horse of my own, haha!

    I find this whole thing really interesting. I go to Arabian Horse Shows all the time and look at all the pretty horses- but I would go to all different types of horse shows if they came to my area. The majority of my model horse collection consists of arab horses, and many are favorites.

    I guess I'm just a general "horse lover"...I love horses for their personalities! I do hope you have fun with Rev-he seems like such a cutie and he works well with your schedule.

  6. Oh, and in response to what Heather said about understanding them and keeping them busy...that sounds just like my shiba inu!

    Shibas aren't for everyone and she's a lot of work, but I love her and she's definitely worth it to me! :)

  7. Hehe, I think you're either an arab person or you aren't. I think they're fine horses... just not at the top of my list.

  8. Gotta agree with Heather - they aren't for everyone. I happen to not mind the hot, excitable part and enjoy the brain. I've ridden more of them in my riding life than other breeds/types so I get the whole "I went past it five times but I finally *saw* that sitting there!" spooks. But I also like horses with personality and most of the time, that's easily found in the Arabs and their crosses.

    I *do not* enjoy the hunt for suitably sized items for their bodies however! It's also a bit easier to fall from the 15hh creature than the 16.2hh one. 6 inches makes a difference!

  9. Jennifer, it sounds like your objections to Arabs are more with the arab people, and the culture about them! Which I totally get - there's a lot of snooty arab people in the world, for sure.

  10. You know, Erin, I think you're on to something. I've known some awesome Arab people (Trish, Cathy, etc), but others drive me absolutely nuts. I get tired of hearing about the exotic awesomeness of the Arabian horse. More than once, I've actually heard an Arab person imply that the reason why most people don't like Arabs is that the Arabs are smarter than they are. Seriously? They're horses. They might be a little more sensitive (one could say neurotic) than most horses, but basically, they're horses.

    Hmmm. Yeah, I think you're definitely on to something!


  11. This is really an interesting discussion. To my certain knowledge, I've ridden two Arabs in my life. The first was at the infamous riding camp in GA, which raise Arabians. It wasn't a great experience and I'm not even sure if my mount was 100% Arab. The second was a genuine Arabian, very short, and for some reason a H/J machine who picked up a lot of ribbons for kids in the Larges. I rode her in a couple lessons and then twice when I went foxhunting. I DID like her, a lot, but it's a good thing I didn't mind "little, thin and skittish" cuz she was all that. Had a funky-as-heck feeling canter, too, but when I inquired about it my instructor just said shortly, "She's won a lot of ribbons with that canter so (implied) shut up."

    But nope, not an Arabian person. I think they're gorgeous and like Chessie, appreciate their history, but I am drawn to TBs and other H/J types. Horses that are generally used and built for doing my favorite things. I know perfectly well there are Arabians and Saddlebreds and "mutt" horses with horrid conformation winning ribbons in H/J and eventing, but NORMALLY you won't see them.

    Nonetheless, I think you will have fun with your new guy Rev and look forward to hearing about him!

  12. You know Cathy McBride???? Wow. I do, too. I remember when Tsouri was born. Cathy came and stayed with me for a week a long time ago during the Scottsdale Arabian show and we helped Rohara put up their barn stuff. That is cool.

    I'm not really an Arab person either. I have ridden one, but used to go to a local breeder (Tom Chauncey Arabians) every Sunday. I have ridden one once after winning a 30 minute lesson at a local farm. I've met the great *Muscat when he still lived in Scottsdale. Even growing up in Arabian central, I still prefer warmbloods.

  13. WOW--small world! That's neat that you know Cathy (and Grouchy!). The picture of her and the grey stallion was taken an Rohara. She dragged me there several times, and I took lots of pictures. Lovely horses, despite their Arab-ness!

    It's kind of weird to me that there are people who have ridden a lot but have almost no experience with Arabians. I've NEVER gone out of my way to find Arabs, and yet somehow I've ridden a ton of them. Apparently the Arabs do not believe me when I say I am not an Arab person!

    I rode Rev today, and he was really good. He's better trained than I'd initially realized. If I can ever get him over the jigging thing, I think he's going to suit me just fine.

  14. I've seen that picture of Cathy and the grey stallion many times and may have even had a copy of it at one time. She was always sending me pictures and some were marked that I could keep and some were to be returned. I'm not surprised she dragged you to Rohara. hahaha. It was cool getting to meet John Rannenberger (or whatever his last name was...long time ago) and some of the show horses. Cathy is definitely very passionate about her Arabs.

    Personally, I don't go out of my way to look for any one particular breed of horse to ride...I just want to ride. I'm glad your ride yesterday went well.

  15. As beautiful as Arabians are -- I love the exotic look of their dished face! -- I have never had good experiences with Arabians! I am a thoroughbred kind of girl and I think I always will be. Even if my TB has some issues, he's an off track TB so he's really a one or two person horse! He's a lesson horse so another older woman and I ride him, but he always comes to me when I call his name in the field and the loves to put his head in my lap. He really is a gentle giant no matter how scary the other girls think he is (I always think of it as a good thing when other people don't like my horse -- more for me!), he is a great boy!