For the Love of the Arabian!
ears ago in the United States Arabian
horse industry, there were several longtime breeding farms which developed their own distinctive looks and raised horses that could compete in classes that spanned the
cedar ridge arabians breeding for the future ... respecting the heritage.
show ring. But times changed, and most of those programs ended as knowledgeable breeders died and their children did not take up the cause. The industry changed as well; it is now virtually impossible for an
by Mary Kirkman
individual Arabian to compete successfully in several disciplines at the highest level, and breeders rarely try to accomplish their own â€œlookâ€? in their horses. They just try to produce horses who will win in their fields of endeavor.
With 40 years of history, Cedar Ridge Arabians is cast in the old mode of breeding Arabians as a lifelong pursuit, but at the same time, it recognizes what is necessary to stay on top today. Owned by Dick and Lollie Ames, the farm has an impressive record. From the 455 Arabians and 193 HalfArabians bred at the picturesque facility in Jordan, Minn., more than 200 are champions, with 116 of the championships earned at the national level. Through November 2011, Ames purebreds have won 26 national championships, 32 reserve national championships and 230 top tens, while their Half-Arabians have accounted for 41 national championships, 28 reserves and 257 top tens. They have won titles in all major divisions, but particularly in the English disciplines (English pleasure, country English pleasure, park, show hack, driving, saddle seat equitation, and hunter pleasure), reining, trail, and halter. Even a cursory list of Cedar Ridge champions summons show ring memories for nearly any enthusiast: Ames Symbolic and SG Brass Prince, early national champions by the Cedar Ridge stallion Brass; Ames Cassanova, who won national championships and reserves as an open and amateur horse in pleasure, driving and halter; Brass Star, who won his first national championship in the English Pleasure Futurity and his most recent as U.S. and Canadian National Reserve Champion in English Pleasure; Toi Jabaska, a Matoi daughter who retired in 2006 with 10 national championships earned under the Ames banner. As a broodmare, she has already produced national champions Nyte Of Temptation, Toi Money and RJ Ames, national reserve champion Prince Of Ames, and a host of national top tens. From the reign of Brass through the stewardship of Matoi, the program moves seamlessly from generation to generation. And those have been just the headline stallions; plenty of others, and countless mares whose pedigrees have fit the picture, have made their contributions. Ask professional horsemen how one farm has developed a record like that and the replies vary. There is the choice of purebreds or Half-Arabians, the suitability for open, amateur and junior, and the range of disciplines supported. But two answers in particular emerge: the Ames family’s experience in the industry and the size of their program.
Brass *Bask x Tsanar
Brass Star Brass x CB Shining Star 2 Cedar Ridge Arabians | A r a bi a n Hor se T i mes
“They know horses, first of all,” says reining trainer Crystal McNutt. “They know it’s competitive out there, so they’re breeding great broodmares to great sires and then they’re putting them in the right hands.
Ames Symbolic Brass x Deserey
SG Brass Prince Brass x Rose Of USA
Matoi Zodiac Matador x Toi Ellenai
Toi Jabaska Matoi x MC Jabaskolee
Nyte Of Temptation A Temptation x Toi Jabaska
RJ Ames Brass x Toi Jabaska
Toi Money Pension x Toi Jabaska
Prince Of Ames Baske Afire x Toi Jabaska
The bloodlines in their breeding program are proven. And they’re able to breed a lot of horses, which is nice, so you get a lot of chances to see what’s going to work.” That ability to shortcut the long process of finding the best nicks by working with a sizeable number of mares a year is often cited. Cedar Ridge’s Breeding Manager Mike Brennan nods in agreement. In addition to the farm’s roster of stallions, he says, which includes Matoi and the younger A Noble Cause, the farm is able to patronize an array of others and use the best crosses. The process supports the various divisions the Ameses breed for. “One of the things I think is important is that when they breed for English, they are breeding top English mares to top English stallions, and it’s the same with the reining and halter,” observes Andy Sellman, who specializes in halter, but appreciates performance horses as well. “They have more English breeding horses than they do halter breeding horses, but nonetheless, they have some very significant halter breeding mares. They strive always to DECember 2011 | Cedar Ridge Arabians 3
cross them the best that they can, and they hope to get the best foal they can for that discipline. They’re intelligent to do it that way, rather than to breed a big-time English horse to a big-time halter horse and get something in between that isn’t quite good enough for either division.” He adds that he knows firsthand that the practice works, because he shows a prime example: Sir Marwan CRF, out of one of the farm’s top halter broodmares, Ames Mirage, who is by Brass and out of an Afire Bey V daughter. “For Ames Mirage, they chose Marwan Al Shaqab and they ended up with a really outstanding colt that has done very well,” he says. “He has some great features from Brass, who was an awesome breeding horse—he had amazing eyes and an incredible quality of neck, shoulder and poll, and Marwan also is strong in that category, so this colt is a wonderful combination of the two horses. He was U.S. National Reserve Champion 2-Year-Old Colt in a really wonderful class of colts. That was his biggest title to date, and he was only two points behind the national champion, who is a really phenomenal horse.” English specialist Jim Stachowski recalls the Half-Arabian Brass Glamor Shot, a favorite of his from the Cedar Ridge program. “We bought him for 6D Ranch after his national championship,” he says of the gelding who was 2004 U.S. National Champion in Country English Pleasure Junior Horse and would go on to a Youth National Championship, and a U.S. National Reserve Championship and Top Ten. “He was a great show horse and a good example of their breeding program. He had the overall picture and package that I like for the show ring—he had neck, he had motion, and he had quality. And he was black, so you couldn’t miss him. We bought him because we liked him and he had a good pedigree in both the sire and dam lines.” Most recently, Stachowski saw Prince Of Ames, a Toi Jabaska son by Baske Afire that one of his clients purchased from Cedar Ridge, collect the 2011 U.S. National Championship in Country English Pleasure AAOTR 18-35. Currently, what most intrigues him from the Cedar Ridge breeding program are the Matoi horses. “Matoi was one of the greatest park horses out there,” he says. “I will always go anywhere that there is a Matoi daughter or a Matoi Half-Arabian for sale. I’ll always look at them because not only are they good show horses, they are good breeding horses.
A Noble Cause IXL Noble Express x Sweet Summer Fire
4 Cedar Ridge Arabians | A r a bi a n Hor se T i mes
Cedar Ridge raises very, very good show horses, and they’ve always had a good breeding program—they’ve always had horses that are of interest to us, especially in English pleasure and country English pleasure.” Beyond ability in the show ring, the professionals say, the Cedar Ridge horses also are valued as good partners for amateurs and juniors. “The horses that I have picked up from them have been very trainable,” Crystal McNutt says. “I have a huge amateur and youth program, and I’ve been lucky to get some of those horses from Cedar Ridge; they’ve been a good fit for my program.” Bob Battaglia, whose four-decade career has qualified him for the title of “dean of the Arabian English performance trainers,” sees the same ability in the English disciplines. “They have bred horses that have been great in all divisions, really,” he says. “You can’t put any limit on any of it; whatever the horses are is what they’re going to be—open, amateur, English, halter and so on.
“When you’re breeding horses, you have to look for all of the factors,” he says. “Over the years, Cedar Ridge has consistently bred horses that are pretty, have motion, are trainable and are easy to deal with. I think they actually have some of the best—and I’ve had enough of them to know.” Reining trainer Tyson Randle is favorably impressed with his Cedar Ridge connection, Just N Style. “This has been the first Cedar Ridge horse that I’ve had and been able to take through a whole show season,” he says, “and I really like him.” In October, Just N Style picked up two U.S. National Championships, winning in both the Reining Futurity and Reining Junior Horses. “Just N Style—and I have to think all the others that are bred the way I know they’re breeding—has what I look for in an Arabian reining horse, and that’s a good mind. They have to be quiet. Arabians sometimes don’t have the physical characteristics to do the reining naturally, but if they’re good-minded and quiet, they will allow me to show them how to do some of the stuff they physically maybe can’t do.”
Ames Mirage Brass x Afire Inmy Eyes
1. Sir Marwan CRF ~ Marwan Al Shaqab x Ames Mirage 2. Ames Charisma ~ Magnum Psyche x Ames Mirage 3. Olympiaa ~ Magnum Psyche x Ames Mirage 4. Xanthuss ~ Magnum Psyche x Ames Mirage 5. Ames Celebration ~ Matoi x Ames Mirage 6. Marietta Ames ~ Magnum Psyche x Ames Mirage DECember 2011 | Cedar Ridge Arabians 5
Just N Style Black N Style x Bint Myraa
people to know they are Arabians. We want the phenotype—the big, dark eye, the chiseled head, the nice, laidback shoulder and short back, etc. That’s the first evaluation we do. I’ve had times I’ve called Lollie in the middle of the night and said, ‘You’ve got to come see this baby; you’ve hit a home run here!’ That knowledge, combined with his evaluation of the youngsters’ personalities, is his contribution when the time comes to select which horses move on to the training barn at age 3. “That’s where I can say, ‘Don’t let that one fool you. When you get that one in to work with him, he’ll be a whole different horse.’” Randle, who knows his way around the Arabian reining scene, says that the majority of his expertise is with Half-Arabians, where his background in Quarter Horses is valuable. There, he’s impressed with the quality of the Quarter Horse stallions chosen for the Arabian mares in the Cedar Ridge breeding program. “They’ve been breeding to a handful of horses I really like,” he says. “I would like those bloodlines in any pedigree.” Bottom line, “It’s a program that does a good job,” Randle says. “If I have a client in the reining program that says ‘let’s go find one,’ Cedar Ridge will be one of my first phone calls.” So, how does Cedar Ridge turn out horses that attract support in so many areas of the show ring? Dick and Lollie Ames are handson, but there is a strong team in place. Breeding decisions are usually made by members of the Ames family in consultation with the farm’s trainers and input from breeding manager of 10 years, Mike Brennan. Brennan is the one most acquainted with the stallions, mares and foals on a day-today basis and can furnish background on temperament and early glimpses of physical ability. A good reflection of the Cedar Ridge outlook, he is personally involved with the horses and clearly fond of them personally, but he keeps in mind that the farm’s overall mission is business, and his foremost pursuit every day is equine health care. When the foals arrive, he provides not only care, but the start of ongoing assessment. “We are continually evaluating the offspring up until they’re coming to be 3 year olds,” he says, “and we cull the herd along the way. In performance, our primary division is English, but there is nothing wrong with that good western horse or hunt horse, so we’ll market them.” He is particularly useful in monitoring the youngsters. “Some of them just sell you on their personality from the day they are born,” he says, and he ticks through some of their priorities. “We want
6 Cedar Ridge Arabians | A r a bi a n Hor se T i mes
One of the dangers of a breeding program with Cedar Ridge’s standing is that often it is subject to stereotypes. Primarily performance, and no place to go for halter? Hardly. The list of halter champions at all levels of the show ring has been consistently high in the program for years—perhaps surprisingly so, given the farm’s reputation for English power. All English and no western? The reining trainers especially would beg to differ. And how about price tags—given the number of national champions, too high for the rank-and-file? “They have a lot of high-powered horses, but don’t be afraid to go there and look for your amateur,” says Crystal McNutt. “Not everyone is going to buy a $100,000 yearling. They will have those, but you can also shop there and feel comfortable not being overwhelmed with prices and things that you can’t even touch. They’re making really nice horses, good-minded and athletic.” “The Ameses are thought of or stereotyped as performance people,” says Andy Sellman. “They have great passion for performance horses. (I actually do, too.) They love English horses and have some phenomenal ones, but they also love halter and love reining and love western—they love all things Arabian. If halter people don’t go by and see what they’re doing, I think they would be missing an opportunity.” Halter showman David Boggs, who has observed the Cedar Ridge breeding program since its early days, sees the broad context when considering Cedar Ridge’s role in the industry. “Living the dream— and making it possible for so many others,” he says. “The Ames family and Cedar Ridge are an amazingly tireless and dedicated family that not only have reached the pinnacle of success in our breed, but have brought many others along that journey with them. From my childhood days as a boy in love with Arabian horses, I watched and listened as Dick Ames, my father and fellow Minnesota breeders formed and established the Minnesota Breeders Association and at the same time laid the foundation for the future and direction of our breed.”
Afire Inmy Eyes Afire Bey V x Angyl Eyes
Ames Fire Devil Brass x Afire Inmy Eyes
G Kallora El Ghazi x Kajora
2011 Colt Brass x Afire Inmy Eyes
Like many others who have known the Ameses over the past 40 years, Boggs has a hard time differentiating between the family’s commitment to the breed and the enterprise that is Cedar Ridge. “The Ameses’ contributions to the horse, and to young people in every aspect of life whether it be horses, sports, business or simply much needed advice in achieving life’s goals have been an inspiration for all of us to emulate,” he says. “Quite simply, they are the best!” “They always were my friends,” says Andy Sellman simply. He began showing for them at the Minnesota Fall Festival when he was 12, spent summers working there while in college, trained for them, and handled their horses even after he’d moved on to develop his career. Their devotion to Arabians, he reflects, is indicative of their character. “One of the things that stands out to me is that they have remained very committed to me and our friendship. They’ve been committed to their breeding program too and remained loyal to that. They’ve had the means to go out and buy whatever is hot, but rather than do that, they have stuck with their roots. They would much prefer to breed a champion than to go out and buy one, and that’s something I have great respect for.”
Ames Jasmine DS Major Afire x G Kallora
Ames Lora Afire Bey V x G Kallora
Michael Byatt reaches much of the same conclusion, but arrives from the other end of the time spectrum. “I didn’t know them that well until this week,” he says, having just spent several days with the family at the Salon du Cheval. Before that, he says, he had known them “only in the peripheral way you know people at horse shows.” “Listening to them talk about their experience in Arabian horses really was such an enlightening thing about the Ameses. It’s not only their patience in breeding horses, but they have great taste, they have a vision of what they want to do, they are aesthetics people, and they have the desire to create an athletic horse. The whole family rides and the fact that they are in tune with beauty, I think, has made them really interesting breeders. “It’s wonderful that they could afford it, that they had the patience, that they had the desire and the taste, because through that, they were able to create their vision and bring it to where it is today. That’s been my take-away moment from the Ameses. I really appreciate their passion, their humanity and that they have dedicated resources, and more importantly, time. They’ve stuck with it and they’ve had an idea of what they wanted to do. As a result, the Ames name is significant.” ■
DECember 2011 | Cedar Ridge Arabians 7
Dick & Lollie Ames and Mike Brennan
The Ames Family | P.O. Box 8 | Jordan, Minnesota 55352 | Tel: 952-492-6590 email@example.com | www.cedar-ridge.com