2010 in Review

The year 2010 has drawn to a close, and looking back I am humbled and appreciative of all the events that have occurred throughout the year.

Michael Byatt Arabians started the year in Scottsdale, ringing in the New Year with friend and colleague Andy Sellman and his team.  Mike, Ashley, Denise and I joined his crew to host a New Year’s Eve showing of horses.  Hundreds of optimistic, happy people converged on Scottsdale; it was there that the “Scottsdale Time” really took off. Between Andy’s group and our own, over the next 2 months we were able to bring together 22 new horses with new owners, many of whom became successful in rings around the world.

OriginalIn between the sales events taking place in Scottsdale, I took a week and flew down to Punta Del Este, Uruguay where I judged a wonderful show with a small number, but very good horses.  As anyone who has been there knows the Uruguayan people are among the most social and gracious in the world.  I was especially pleased to be teamed with two outstanding judges, Ms. Cindy Reich and Mr. Fabio Amorsino – excellent honorable people who in all instances tried to do what was right.  Cindy and I even found the time to go to the Isla De Los Lobos where we enjoyed viewing the second largest seal habitat in the world. From Uruguay, I left to Buenos Aires, where I checked in with Count Federico Zichy Thyssen and shared a delightful dinner and conversation.

The Scottsdale show itself was a grand success.  Michael Byatt Arabians took home the Supreme Championship and Champion Mare with Abha Palma, the Champion and Reserve Champion Stallion titles with EKS Bey AL Gazal and OFW Magic Wan respectively, and the Junior Championship in colts with Onitnelav.  In addition, sales continued and more ribbons won.  David Botha, Michael Carpio, and Ashlee Alfreds continue to prove they are the best team in the world.

From Scottsdale, I took the night flight over the sea to Doha, Qatar in time to witness Al Shaqab’s beautiful Open House.  On a clear blue night under the stars in the desert wonderland that is Qatar, a parade of beautiful horses entertained all Al Shaqab’s guests.  A couple days of meetings and horse looking, I was back on the plane to the USA.

With a short re-group, it was back to Dubai where I had the honor of presenting the World Champion Baanderos to Champion Stallion in Sharjah.  The Marwan / Besson cross is the perfect blend.  From Dubai it was off to Australia for a memorable week with memorable people, the McGlinns of Mystica Arabians.  I might get redundant but this job of mine is crazy wonderful.  Being able to fly across the world, be treated so well, see so many beautiful horses, and then be shuttled off to Thailand for some R&R just does not get any better.

Back in Texas, the first foals were well on their way; we were celebrating their potential.  There were also shows to attend.  *Abha Qalams and *Bey Al Gazal both needed to be qualified for the Nationals.  We took them to local shows where they were each named Champion.  Las Vegas is always a special event, and we were honored to present the glorious *Negma Al Shaqab to the Reserve Championship in the Mare division.  Then, back to our home base to prepare for Regionals and the Egyptian Event.  David Botha headed to Region 9 in Ft. Worth and dominated the purebred halter.  He took home the Champion Colt, Filly, Stallion, and Reserve in the Mares.  At the Event, present for the first time in many years, Michael Carpio, Ashley, and I headed with a few, but mighty horses!  The end was a resounding success.  Each horse won and at weeks end both the Supreme Champion Stallion and Mare titles were won by Al Shaqab’s *Farhoud Al Shaqab and *Negma Al Shaqab.

With only a day to regroup, it was off to France for the Mediterranean Championships in Menton.  Again, Michael Carpio was on the advance team where he met up with our partner and friend Giacomo Capacci.  Together they assimilated the string in Italy and made their way to France.  I joined them and had the honor of presenting horses for Al Shaqab and Al Khalediah.  And again, we were thrilled by the success.  Champion Stallion – Baanderos, Champion Mare – Athenaa, and Champion colt Fadi Al Shaqab!  What a week in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

From Menton I headed down to South Africa to check in on Elkasun and their new foals.  I was more than satisfied.  People say what a chore it is to get horses from South Africa to anywhere – these horses are well worth it. They are so beautiful! Go! Do not be dissuaded by the distance.

Leaving South Africa, I headed to the amazing island of Mallorca to check in with Marieta Salas and await the arrival of a client that might be interested in some horses.  There cannot be much more to say about Marieta, her island, her horses, her home; they all speak for themselves.  For sometime, I had my eye on the filly Abha Raipur. She had already been Spanish National Champion.  Typical of Marieta’s horses, big eyed, flamboyant, sound, in a word – wonderful!  Thankfully, Abha Raipur would become another prize in the stable of Al Shahania and be heading to the United States as soon as I could make it happen.  Within a short time, she was in Texas getting ready for Scottsdale 2011.

I took most of July to travel the US, and the best part was that Ann and youngest daughter Hallie went with me.  We went to Region 5 and showed the Champion filly for Gerry Canda and to Orrion where we rode, hiked, and enjoyed a legendary hostess’s good company!  We also took a side trip to Las Vegas to see shows and relax – with Hallie at our side, seeing The Lion King among others took on a whole new level of fun!  But July quickly came to an end, and it was back on the road to shows.

In August I attended Towerlands, once again with friend and partner Giacomo Capacci.  In Towerlands we presented several horses and were fantastically successful.  Champion Mare and Stallion went to Al Khalediah with Jamilla Al Zobair and Marquis. The Champion Filly was the lovely Marwan filly owned by Mystica Arabians named Mystica Indiah.

In September, I was honored to be asked to judge in Brazil.  The show was located in Araxa, a small gracious city in the interior of the country, and together with Urszula Leczyca and Murilo Kammer, we judged some very worthy entries.  I personally liked all of our champions.  I visited a couple farms before heading back to the US and, as always, was treated wonderfully and saw many beautiful horses.  From Brazil I flew to Germany where I participated in the prestigious Aachen show.  This is a show that is always filled with great horses and great energy.  And this year was no different.  Many former world champions were in the competition which made for a great horse show.  In addition to the regular faces, many Americans made the trip over to see and experience a European horse show.  Kit Hall said it best, “Now this is a real horse show”! Indeed the Nations Cup is.  I was privileged to present the Champion stallion Baanderos and the Reserve Champion Mare Jamilla Al Zobair.  The champion mare Emandoria was beautiful and sired by the legendary Gazal Al Shaqab.  Leaving Aachen, I had the absolute pleasure of attending the first ever international show in Prague.  The show was well done with many nice horses.  Prague itself is a city one should not miss.  It is beautiful, historic, and the people amazing.  Put Prague on your list of “must visit”.  With the arrival of October, it was not time to turn my full attention back towards the United States and our Nationals.  Tulsa was just around the corner.

OriginalThe Unites States Nationals held in Tulsa, Oklahoma is the last jewel in the crown in the US calendar.  Preparations go on all year for this grand finale.  Our horses were loaded in Houston with high expectations.  They were perfectly prepared and beautiful individuals.  By the end of the week, what started out as a very successful year, ended in triumph.  *Abha Qalams was National Champion Junior Mare, AAS Elishahh was National Champion Yearling Colt, RD Marciena was National Champion Yearling Filly, Miss Giovana (shown by us for Andy Sellman) US National Champion Futurity Filly, OFW Magic Wan was US National Champion Futurity Colt, *Negma Al Shaqab was US Reserve National Champion Senior Mare, EKS Bey Al Gazal was US Reserve National Champion Senior Stallion, and Perignon was US Top Ten Futurity Colt.  In addition, progeny by the stallions we stand were dominant.  *Marwan Al Shaqab was the leading halter sire for the show, Gazal Al Shaqab produced many winners, and *Besson Carol produced the National Champion Futurity Western Champion.

With the US Nationals in the history books, our attention now turned to the Salon Du Cheval and the World Championships.  This year, in order to be as well prepared as possible, we rented a facility an hour outside of Paris.  The week after US Nationals Michael Carpio was back on the plane, this time heading for Paris to get our string settled and organized.  A few days later, I met him and spent a week getting ready for the year ending event.  The French countryside with their lush forests, ancient buildings, and pheasants decorating the landscape was a feast for the eyes.  I could see myself as a gentleman farmer with my many acres of land to tend, where the aroma’s of French cooking filled the air.  Horses were everywhere; children riding their ponies. Ladies and gentlemen putting their mounts through their elegant dressage paces. It was a feast for me.  Our horses were well tended, my staff enjoying great adventures and me, in France…what could have been better.  Oh but then the snow, massive and crippling, frozen ground and frozen feet!  Luckily we had indoor arenas and the stalls were filled with ample bedding so our horses were warm and cozy.  But the line from a famous movie came roaring into my head, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!” So, with the onset of a vicious winter, trying to transport horses in order to attend the competition, I decided Houston would remain my home and I would be a happy visitor in France.

The results of the World Championships once again affirmed *Marwan Al Shaqab as the leading sire in the World.  With this award, coupled with his being the leading sire at the Brazilian Nationals and the US Nationals, leaves no doubt that Marwan is the undisputed King of our era.  In the stallion division at the World Championships I had the honor of presenting Baanderos, a son of Marwan, to the title of World Champion Stallion.  In addition to this win, his sons QR Marc and Marquis were the winners of the Silver and Bronze awards making it a clean sweep for the Marwan progeny.  Additionally, I presented the Besson son, Fadi Al Shaqab, to the title of Reserve World Champion Colt.  Fadi is out of a Marwan daughter.  It is interesting from a breeder’s point of view to note Baanderos is by Marwan out of a Besson daughter and Fadi is by Besson out of a Marwan daughter.  While these two are the most visible of this cross, they are by no means the only. Several more are set to take the stage.

The year’s shows have now come to a close.  It was a memorable year.  Our best ever.  The horses we showed dominated the world over. And most importantly, the horses that we bred, or by the stallions we stand, were the most dominant in the world.  We are appreciative that our vision is represented so completely the world over.

And one last mention, I was honored to have been awarded the Norman K Dunn award by the United States Equestrian Federation.  This award is presented to a handler from all disciplines, all breeds, that reflect the best of the sport.  I knew Norm Dunn since my teenage years. I am much honored to be the recipient of any award which bears his name, and am appreciative to all who made this possible.

I close by acknowledging that nothing would be possible without the great owners, a great staff, and the horses that have, for more than 40 years, made my life so much richer – it has been amazing.