by KARA LARSON A new show in a category all its own, the Arabian Foal Festival, held at the Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Center, October 5th and 6th, hopes to offer something fresh, unique, and positive for all involved. Board members Kelly Elm and Henry Metz stand by the premise of a show that puts the well-being of the Arabian foal first. For Henry, there are several points that make The Arabian Foal Festival a unique and worthwhile experience. “It is as much a showcase of the various breeding programs here in the Santa Ynez Valley as it is a competition amongst breeding farms.”
and the diversity the show offers. “I really believe that the vision and the driving spirit behind this idea comes from the need to be bring people from all over the world to this area, because we have one of the most geographically concentrated areas of Arabian horse breeding in the world.”
A show for weanlings and yearlings that have not previously been shown, Henry considers the show a debut event for the breeders in the Valley. All participants must be a member of the Santa Ynez Valley Arabian Horse Association, so the show has this geographical guideline along with the age requirement. However, for breeders outside the area, Arabian enthusiasts, and anyone looking to see some of the finest foals in the industry, the event bestows the ideal place to see the future of the Arabian breed. A show that doesn’t allow stand up, whips, chains, or a professional handler, the Arabian Foal Festival encourages carrots in the arena and promotes a positive first show experience for these young Arabians. Held in a prime location of the Santa Ynez Valley, Henry puts great emphasis on its ideal location, the board’s mission,
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Henry continues, “We also have one of the wider varieties of bloodstocks available when you consider we have Polish, Spanish, Egyptian, and Domestic bloodlines, and then you add the various crosses such as Spanish/Egyptian, and you end up covering the whole gamut. We arguably live in one of the most beautiful spots in the country, possibly the world, and we want to have events like this to attract people to come here.” Kelly Elm agrees that the location extends great opportunities for all. “Dating back to the 1970’s, and maybe even earlier than that, the Santa Ynez Valley has been called ‘The Valley of the Arabian Horse,’ due to the large number of Arabian farms in a concentrated area.” With the opportunity to bring people back into this area, the Arabian Foal Festival will serve to promote the breeding programs in Santa Ynez and help the Arabian horse gain valuable exposure in this prestigious valley. Another unique factor about the show is that they not only divide classes by age and gender, but they also include classification for future use and discipline. Henry shares what this means for the breeders and owners. “This gives the breeder a chance to enter horses that may not have all the attributes and characteristics to compete in the high-end halter horse arena, but they could be used as performance horse candidates or for future breeding stock. Spectators will be able to see by class entry how these breeders stack up their own horses.
Classes by Division—
Performance or Show There will be a Gelding, Colt and Filly class with a goal of ﬁve entrants per class. It will be broken down by Foal/Weanling and Yearling classes. To begin, there will be four classes for Foals/Weanlings and six classes for Yearlings; if there are more than the ﬁve entrants per class, sections will be added. Example: Foal/Weanling Filly Performance Future - or - Yearling Filly Show Future. With a minimum of 10 classes on Saturday and 10 championship classes on Sunday, the show is mapped out and ready for the prestigious foals to join the fun. Also in the mix are the Perpetual Trophies for Best Small Foal Breeder (5 and under foals a year), Perpetual Trophies for Best Large Foal Breeder (5 and over foals a year), and Best Handler Trophy.
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All handlers will be amateurs and will be vetted by a committee in an attempt to keep the playing field level.” The final, truly unique aspect of the show remains the judging system. “The judging will be different in the sense it will be from a positive approach viewing the horses attributes and not deducting points, which becomes a more negative approach,” Henry observes. “Each class will have just one judge and while some of the judges have an AHA card, some do not, but they are breeders who know a good horse. There are rules that will closely monitor the cosmetics, the presentations, and making sure no whips, chains, and stand up are utilized. We hope for the horses to be presented in a more relaxed, yet animated manner.” All in all, the mission of the Arabian Foal Festival is simple. “The Arabian Foal Festival presents young Arabian horses and the people who love working with them in a positive, caring light,” shares Kelly Elm. “By design, it offers as stress free of an environment and as level of a playing field as we could come up with. It is also a way to break down the “us and them” feel that sometimes exists between judges and exhibitors, and for all to hear the reasons why the judges have chosen their particular winners.” Although it isn’t easy for a new show to gain legitimacy and influence in the Arabian industry today, Henry has confidence in the Foal Festival’s ability to help enhance areas within the Arabian community that are currently lacking. “The Arabian Foal Festival offers a fresh take on the variety, scheduling, fun, and lifestyle of a horse show. It will provide an opportunity to see a wide variety of bloodlines. There will be get and grandget from horses whose lines are highly respected and sought after throughout the world.” And in conclusion, Henry invites all to attend this show in its inaugural year. For more information, visit www.TheArabianFoalFestival.com to check out the story behind this show, the goals set forth, and more details on the separation of divisions. “I don’t know what could be more fun and exciting than watching all these beautiful Arabian weanlings and yearlings come trotting into an outdoor arena, where the vista includes vineyards, wineries, and the Los Padres Mountains. It just doesn’t get any better than that for a fun and entertaining weekend. We hope you will come join us.”■
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with Show Board Member
Bart Van Buggenhout “Why foals? Well, they represent the future, we love them, they are so cute, and everybody is excited about the possibilities in store for them. I think they are the best way of getting the breeders back together in a close working relationship; but also showcasing our breed to the local community and hopefully stimulating sales of these horses. Their destiny doesn’t have to lie just in being a top halter horse in an international market. We’ll encourage families to enjoy our Arabians, and performance-minded individuals may find their next superstar at a younger age, and the beginnings of new breeding programs may also result. By opening up a new market, we will enable our current breeding farms to keep the bloodlines that are so valuable without the sacrifice of selling their best stock to ensure the rest of the farm is fed.”