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Text Textby: by:Monika MonikaLuft Luft Photos: Photos:Bukra BukraFoto Foto The Thepictures pictureswere weretaken takenin inthe theHunting HuntingResidence Residenceof ofCounts CountsCastiglioni Castiglioniof of1230 1230 Photo Photoshoot shootart artdirector: director:Mateusz MateuszJaworski Jaworski 2 TuTTo ArAbi | ARABIAN HORSE TIMES


Iron Elegance Irina Stigler, ECAHO A judge and breeder. Born in Moscow, she

now resides in Italy on Lake Como, where she created a charming hideaway in which both people and animals feel good, especially Arabian horses originating mainly from Polish and Russian lines.

RUSSIA: RUSSIA: DISCIPLINE DISCIPLINE AND AND EDUCATION EDUCATION

itit when when II was was three. three. II was was practicing practicing regularly regularly until until thirteen. thirteen.

Before Before she she found found her her unique unique place place on on Earth, Earth, she she tackled tackled

ItIt was was very very hard hard for for me me because because II was was aa very very lively lively child child

aa long long and and dif difcult cult road road all all the the way way from from Russia. Russia. When When asked asked how how would would aa lm lm about about her her begin, begin, she she stops stops to to think think for for awhile. awhile. „It „It can can be be aa scene scene in in black black and and white white as as II had had aa dif difcult cult childhood” childhood” –– she she answers. answers. “My “My parents parents

and and to to be be sitting sitting at at the the piano piano six, six, eight eight hours hours when when II was was ten, ten, was was aa challenge. challenge. Other Other children children called called me: me: Irina, Irina, come come to to play play with with us us outside outside and and II was was not not allowed allowed to. to. II had had to to practice practice many many hours hours aa day. day. And And they they were were checking checking my my

were were scientists. scientists. My My education education was was strict strict as as half half of of my my

progress progress at at the the end”. end”. Used Used to to hard hard work work and and discipline, discipline,

family family comes comes from from Germany. Germany. My My father father was was German German ––

Irina Irina did did not not stop stop at at just just studying studying humanities. humanities. She She was was also also

even even his his name name Stigler Stigler indicates indicates itit –– and and from from my my mother mother

into into sports, sports, though though her her family family was was not not fond fond of of such such activity. activity.

side, side, my my great-grandfather great-grandfather was was also also German, German, his his name name

„My „My father father did did not not allow allow me me to to do do any any kind kind of of sports sports as as

was was Koch. Koch.

II was was playing playing the the piano. piano. He He was was always always telling telling me: me: take take care care

My My father father came came to to Russia Russia to to teach teach philosophy philosophy at at the the university. university. So So II have have international international roots, roots, mainly mainly German German

of of your your hands. hands. You You can can be be aa very very good good concert concert pianist. pianist. But But aa little little bit bit later later II started started fencing. fencing. II had had to to hide hide myself myself with with

blood. blood. II had had aa broad broad education education when when II was was aa child, child,

this this passion passion in in the the beginning beginning but but as as II was was aa very very dynamic dynamic

II started started going going to to school school aa year year and and aa half half earlier earlier than than

person, person, II liked liked itit aa lot. lot. II started started working working out out in in aa sport sport

my my schoolmates schoolmates as as II was was considered considered talented talented by by my my

club club when when II was was nine. nine. When When II was was fteen fteen II was was aa junior junior

parents. parents. They They made made me me study study many many things, things, among among them them

champion champion of of the the USSR. USSR. But But II could could not not get get acceptance acceptance

languages languages –– obviously obviously Russian Russian as as my my mother mother language, language,

from from my my family. family. Even Even now now my my mother mother cannot cannot understand understand

Italian, Italian, English English –– and and music. music. Everybody Everybody in in my my family family played played

how how II can can be be close close to to horses, horses, clean clean them, them, ride ride them them –– she she

the the piano piano so so II was was supposed supposed to to play play itit too. too. II began began learning learning

thinks thinks it’s it’s something something dirty”. dirty”.

Volume 45, No. 8 | TuTTo A rAbi 3


photo: home archive

photo: home archive

ITALY: AA NEW BEGINNING ITALY: NEW BEGINNING Arabian horse appeared in her lifelife right after departing Arabian horse appeared in her right after departing from fromRussia. Russia.ButButrstrstsheshestudied studiedpsychology psychologyandand

photo: home archive

photo: home archive

linguistics at at thethe Moscow University. As As a 23 year oldold linguistics Moscow University. a 23 year Irina receives a chance that sheshe decides to to take a bet Irina receives a chance that decides take a bet on.on. „I was working as as an an interpreter at at exhibitions, justjust „I was working interpreter exhibitions, to to earn some money because mymy family could notnot help earn some money because family could help meme a lot” – she says. “Just after I graduated from thethe a lot” – she says. “Just after I graduated from University I got a phone callcall from Clementoni, thethe widely University I got a phone from Clementoni, widely famous games forfor children producer. HeHe invited meme to to famous games children producer. invited come to to Italy where they were organizing a joint-venture come Italy where they were organizing a joint-venture company to to collaborate with Russia. I was very young, company collaborate with Russia. I was very young, nono commitments, so I said ok, let’s see what happens. commitments, so I said ok, let’s see what happens. So So I arrived in in Italy, in in Milan, with nono family, nono friends. I arrived Italy, Milan, with family, friends. That waswas a dif cultcult time. People working in the ofof ce ce were That a dif time. People working in the were much older than me,me, everything waswas very expensive, much older than everything very expensive, I could notnot afford almost anything. ButBut I admit it was I could afford almost anything. I admit it was a fruitful experience. a fruitful experience.

photo: home archive

photo: home archive

I also worked in ain sport club teaching children fencing I also worked a sport club teaching children fencing andandparticipated participatedwith withthem themin inseveral severalcompetitions. competitions. I even took part in the All All Nations Cup, in Como, against I even took part in the Nations Cup, in Como, against Margherita Zala , a, very famous foilist, multiple Word Margherita Zala a very famous foilist, multiple Word andand Olympic champion andand I was losing only by by one Olympic champion I was losing only one point! After six six years of of nono training. That waswas a big point! After years training. That a big achievement forfor me”. achievement me”. Though sheshe does notnot have it easy – no friends, loneliness, Though does have it easy – no friends, loneliness, communication problems – as thethe spoken language, communication problems – as spoken language, when youyou move to to a foreign country, is not thethe same as as when move a foreign country, is not same thethe one that wewe learn at the university – poor nances, as as one that learn at the university – poor nances, sheshe waswas sending thethe money sheshe earned to to herher family in in sending money earned family Moscow during hard time forfor Russians immediately after Moscow during hard time Russians immediately after Perestroika, it isit at that moment that Arabians appear Perestroika, is at that moment that Arabians appear in in herher life.life. „I went to to Verona to to thethe European Arabian „I went Verona European Arabian Championship andand I saw thethe Arabian horse – Piruet. Championship I saw Arabian horse – Piruet. I knew immediately what kind of of horses I would likelike to to I knew immediately what kind horses I would have in the future – she recalls. “I think it’s it’s all all about taste have in the future – she recalls. “I think about taste andand elegance. It’s It’s a kind of of family heritage – the beauty elegance. a kind family heritage – the beauty waswas important forfor mymy parents, they were very good important parents, they were very good looking, they dressed elegantly. looking, they dressed elegantly. And mymy grandfather waswas breeding horses, so so it might be be And grandfather breeding horses, it might thatthat thisthis passion came to to meme with thethe genes”. And so so with passion came with genes”. And with

4 TuTTo ArAbi | ARABIAN HORSE TIMES


herher very rstrst larger paycheck Irina buys a horse. “It “It waswas very larger paycheck Irina buys a horse. an an Arabian stallion. TheThe rstrst horse andand rstrst Arabian in my Arabian stallion. horse Arabian in my life.life. Everybody waswas against me,me, telling meme thatthat I was crazy Everybody against telling I was crazy as as thethe horse hadhad a really hothot blood, he he waswas kicking andand horse a really blood, kicking behaving very badly. HeHe already changed veve or six owners, behaving very badly. already changed or six owners, even though he he waswas only three. ButBut wewe became friends even though only three. became friends andand I rode himhim very successfully. WeWe competed in in some I rode very successfully. competed some endurance races together with good results. HisHis name is is endurance races together with good results. name Idet andand I still own him. HeHe is 22 now andand he he stillstill is my Idet I still own him. is 22 now is my favorite horse. When I have some spare time, I put a saddle favorite horse. When I have some spare time, I put a saddle onon himhim andand I go riding, justjust alone. Some walk, some trot, I go riding, alone. Some walk, some trot, justjust forfor pleasure. I can think, I can plan, I trust himhim totally”. pleasure. I can think, I can plan, I trust totally”.

BREEDER AND JUDGE: BREEDER AND JUDGE: LIVING OUT OFOF AA SUITCASE LIVING OUT SUITCASE It didn’t end onon one horse andand endurance races in in thethe It didn’t end one horse endurance races mountains. Irina decided to to setset upup a breeding farm. mountains. Irina decided a breeding farm. „When youyou areare studying psychology youyou also have some „When studying psychology also have some medical courses. So So I studied genetics, I liked it aitlot andand medical courses. I studied genetics, I liked a lot waswas good at at it” it” – she explains. “If “If I had notnot gotten into good – she explains. I had gotten into Arabian horses, I would probably choose some genetic Arabian horses, I would probably choose some genetic development – I –am a doctor in the end. development I am a doctor in the end. I enjoy also dogs, I like them because of of their elegance I enjoy also dogs, I like them because their elegance andand intelligence, butbut I am notnot able to to bebe into everything, intelligence, I am able into everything, so so I don’t breed them. King poodles areare very clever, they I don’t breed them. King poodles very clever, they areare considered to to bebe thethe most clever breed. Sometimes considered most clever breed. Sometimes I letI let somebody show them, thethe chestnut one is ais father somebody show them, chestnut one a father of of World Champions, butbut I don’t follow it much”. Horse World Champions, I don’t follow it much”. Horse shows areare something different. Here Irina participates as as shows something different. Here Irina participates either judge or breeder. When she acts as the latter, it’s either judge or breeder. When she acts as the latter, it’s sometimes hard forfor herher to to keep calm. “I am very nervous sometimes hard keep calm. “I am very nervous likelike anyany other competitor. Every breeder wants to to win”. other competitor. Every breeder wants win”. SheShe achieved a big success recently as as herher stallion ASH achieved a big success recently stallion ASH Dream of of Glory (WH Justice – Donna Diva/Ekstern) Dream Glory (WH Justice – Donna Diva/Ekstern) became Gold Senior Champion Stallion at thethe Italian became Gold Senior Champion Stallion at Italian Nationals in Citta di Castello (12.09.2014). Nationals in Citta di Castello (12.09.2014). Is judging a pleasure or or hard work? According to to Irina Is judging a pleasure hard work? According Irina – both. „A „A judge should also bebe a teacher, a person – both. judge should also a teacher, a person who is able to give the right direction to the breeder. HeHe who is able to give the right direction to the breeder. should seesee correctness mixed with beauty. ForFor sure it isit is should correctness mixed with beauty. sure a pleasure tootoo as itasmeans traveling, meeting people, new a pleasure it means traveling, meeting people, new

Volume 45, No. 8 | TuTTo A rAbi 5


Irina Irina and and the the stallion stallion ASH ASH Dream Dream of of Glory Glory

friendships, friendships, great great hospitality. hospitality. It’s It’s aa big big family”. family”. However However the the frequent frequent travels travels are are aa challenge. challenge. Irina Irina isis always always on on the the road, road, living living out out of of suitcases, suitcases, always always in in aa hurry. hurry. “I“I have have three three suitcases suitcases always always prepared, prepared, open open in in one one room” room” –– she she reveals. reveals. “Winter, “Winter, summer summer and and the the middle middle of of the the season. season. Sometimes Sometimes II change change something something inside, inside, buy buy something something new. new. II am am lucky lucky because because II can can see see beautiful beautiful horses horses so so close, close, II can can study study the the pedigrees pedigrees and and decide decide what what to to do do and and what what not not to to do. do. Traveling Traveling isis aa very very good good experience, experience, aa very very good good lesson, lesson, because because breeding breeding isis endless”. endless”. A A place place where where she she will will always always eagerly eagerly return return to to isis Syria. Syria. “Great “Great culture, culture, great great hospitality, hospitality, good good food, food, open open minded minded people, people, still still simple, simple, which which II prefer. prefer. Nicely Nicely dressed, dressed, with with good good taste. taste. And And the the desert desert –– II love love Palmira. Palmira. II feel feel the the great great space, space, great great size, size, something something big. big. II can can imagine imagine horses horses and and camels camels walking walking across. across. The The breeders breeders there there are are very very different, different, high high level, level, low low level level –– we we can can nd nd everything everything for for every every taste. taste. II am am waiting waiting to to be be able able to to go go back back there. there. My My name name Irina Irina isis aa Greek Greek name name which which means means “Peace”. “Peace”. II wait wait for for the the peace peace in in Syria”. Syria”.

6 TuTTo ArAbi | ARABIAN HORSE TIMES

Despite Despite her her love love for for the the desert desert the the key key moment moment for for Irina Irina as as aa breeder breeder was was aa trip trip to to the the US US and and meeting meeting the the stallion stallion Padrons Padrons Psyche. Psyche. She She visited visited him him in in his his stable stable after after the the show show in in Las Las Vegas. Vegas. He He made made aa huge huge impression impression on on her. her. “He “He isis the the stallion stallion of of the the century” century” –– she she says says with with aa deep deep conviction. conviction. She She also also admits admits to to being being aa lover lover of of the the chestnut chestnut coat coat color. color. “In “In the the famous famous „Kniga „Kniga ob ob arabskoj arabskoj łoszadi” łoszadi” by by Szczerbatov Szczerbatov and and Stroganov, Stroganov, published published for for the the rst rst time time in in 1900 1900 in in Sankt Sankt Petersburg, Petersburg, II read read that that chestnut chestnut horses horses are are better better movers movers that that the the greys greys and and bays. bays. So So II am am happy happy because because II have have several several chestnut chestnut horses. horses. And And they they move move like like hell!” hell!”

RUSSIA: THE TRADITION Though Though she she lives lives outside outside of of her her homeland, homeland, she she isis aa Russian Russian patriot. patriot. “I“I am am strongly strongly connected connected to to my my home home country, country, II travel travel there there often, often, my my country country gave gave me me education education and and prepared prepared me me for for my my life life abroad”. abroad”. Irina Irina also also pays pays close close attention attention to to Russian Russian breeding breeding –– she she isis aa co-organizer co-organizer of of the the Russian Russian National National Championships. Championships.


Volume 45, No. 8 | TuTTo A rAbi 7


“The Russian Tersk Stud and other breeders were very

I can evaluate the result of my decisions, the weak points,

famous in the past and big amount of money was paid

the strong points. Of course nobody can know how they

for Russian horses. After many years of stagnation the

will develop. But for sure you can see immediately the

breeding program was suffering a lot and the horses

quality. It’s difcult to explain how, it’s a kind of talent – to

were receiving poor treatment. But I think that now

see it or not to see it. You just catch a glance and you

people like Igor Bochkarev are investing money and time

are able to predict a little bit if it’s a future champion or

in development. Next year we would like to organize

not” – she explains.

a big international event, probably in Sankt Petersburg to give more vision to Russian breeders. Russian people like to read, they remember the history, they look back

SADDLE AND MOUNTAINS: MOMENTS TO HERSELF

and into the future. The tradition is a living tradition, it’s

Horses are not the only professional activity of Irina. Not

not dead at all. I am personally helping Russian breeders to return to the international arena, for example by offering breedings, as many of them cannot afford the fashionable stallions. In some years they will be very competitive. Education needs time but some day the market will be much more open”.

many people know that she is still active as a psychologist, runs a pet store and rides horses regularly. “I am most familiar with dogs, then with horses. The only time when my mind is completely clear, when I can think and do the planning is when I ride my horse in the park. I am happy when I put on the saddle – a big military saddle – and go

At her stud Irina has horses mostly with Polish and

alone with my horse. It is a special collaboration between

Russian blood. “I have a lot of Polish-Russian blood,

two beings – me and him. He has to understand me,

mostly Russian, 75%. Russian horses are descendants

I have to understand him. And we are close to nature

of Polish horses – as we know, Polish horses have been

– which is important too”.

taken during the war – but then different stallions were

Many frequent show observers associates Irina as

used in both countries. So they are similar to a certain point. Egyptian blood gives a lot of renement but at the end of the day I think the winning combination is not

being the most elegant judge. She always turns heads with original attire, excellent accessories and attention to detail. “Probably it’s coming from my father” – she

pure breeding, but some kind of mix. You are very limited

smiles. “He was always very well dressed, playing piano

if you work only with pure breeding. And I am looking

or organs, giving concerts. And I like to be different –

for a correct horse, strong movement and a beautiful

I am an anti conformist with everything, also with clothes.

eye”. Some say that it is not possible to breed a horse

So it’s probably genetic. I hear sometimes “Oh, you are

that would be both correct and blessed with a beautiful,

the most elegant judge we have ever seen. Where do

exotic head. But Irina thinks that it’s worth to try. „I am

you buy your clothes?” Living in Italy helps for sure – we

looking for a combination of good legs and beautiful

have many elegant shops here. The funny thing is that

head. Is it possible? It’s hard but we have to try. Fashion

Lenita Perroy pictured me as a Polish Queen!”.

is changing, people are realizing that bodies and legs

Irina can allow herself to feel satised. She is professionally

are difcult to repair. It’s difcult but it’s an everybody’s dream. Nothing is impossible. If we say “it’s impossible” we have to give up. So it comes slowly, but a clever breeder can achieve it if he is lucky. He can have a dream horse”.

fullled, knows how to make her dreams come true and she may very well be in the best time of her life right now. “I would repeat everything I did in my life” – she sums up. “The only thing is maybe the quality of the people – would be nice to repeat it with higher level people that

She emphasizes, that for her the best time in the year is

are not playing behind your back. But even hard times

when the foals are born. “I really wait for the new foals.

can open new doors for your future life”.

8 TuTTo ArAbi | ARABIAN HORSE TIMES

Judge Irina Stigler  
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