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A JUDGES PERSPECTIVE Claudia Darius with Jeff Wallace

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A JUDGES PERSPECTIVE

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hat does your dream horse look like? I am quite sure that each breeder and judge has an ideal Arabian horse in mind. During show competitions, we judge against that ideal, and in our breeding programs we try to get closer and closer to that ideal, while breeding generations of horses. I have personally never seen my perfect or ideal horse, but several individuals come close. Perfect Arabian type combined with excellent conformation—faultless legs and impressive movements, crowned by a truly exotic face and special character—let’s keep on dreaming. If you could resurrect any two horses, who would they be and why? Honestly, only thinking about it brought tears to my eyes. I have lost during my life as a breeder, so many of my beloved horses, most of them reaching a high age and having a happy life, but some more tragic. If I could only bring all of them back! But I’m sure your question was not meant to be so personal, but more general. Nearly all of my horses are tracing back to Mammona, born in Poland and brought to Tersk, walking the whole way to Russia at the side of her dam. She founded the most important and biggest family at Tersk Stud. She would be my number one choice, directly followed by Nabeg, who influenced the whole Russian breeding program through his magnificent sons and daughters.

How has the Arabian horse enriched your life? Frankly said, the Arabian horse has changed my entire life. It started slowly, but gained constantly more and more importance, and now it seems nearly impossible to spend one day without having any impact from it. Do you prefer the desert or the ocean? That is indeed, a very difficult question, as I have spent very special moments at/in both. Being an Aquarius, I do love the ocean and swimming. That’s why I qualified early as a lifeguard and still today, take care of the swimming lessons of all kids at school. Smelling the salty water and listening to the noise of the waves early in the morning is a true privilege. Nevertheless, the desert is absolutely fascinating and spending a night out sitting at a fire and having a traditional barbeque is priceless … I wouldn’t like to miss one! Who have your mentors been in the Arabian horse business? I have been very lucky to meet several experts of the Arabian horse already, since the beginning of my breeding/judging career, especially

Who was the first Arabian horse you laid eyes on and what was the experience like? I live very close to the Aachen showground and it happened by chance that my father and I visited the famous All Nations Cup show in the 80s. I was a teenager, but got shivers sitting on the tribune while being deeply captured by all these beautiful mares competing. It was also the time of the Aswan-son Plakat, one of the first Arabian horses I had seen in my life and still remember him well. Like all girls of my age, I was riding at a local horse club on Warmbloods, but these Arabians were simply so different, and I immediately knew that there was nothing comparable to the breed. And the adventure for our family got started.

Claudia with an al Saa’eedi straight Egyptian foal.

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CLAUDIA DARIUS Sylvia Garde-Ehlert. Her successful Russian breeding program definitely had a big impact on the development of our own program and we are thankful that we could add some of her bloodlines to our foundation as well. Concerning judging, it happened—while Klaus Beste was breeding manager of the German Arab Horse Society—that I proceeded with my education for the National Judges List. He has been a really inspiring personality with lots of knowledge, and I am still thankful for the opportunity he offered me during that time.

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Name a handful of Arabian mares alive today that make you weak in the knees. I will never forget the moment in December 2013, during the World Championships in Paris, when I had the honor to judge Pianissima for the Platinum Champion title. I not only got weak in the knees, but I had tears filling my eyes, because I was so touched by her presence and overwhelmed by her beauty! A very special moment gifted to me by a very special mare. There is nothing more exciting than judging a prestigious show with a high quality mare championship, and I have so many truly beautiful


A JUDGES PERSPECTIVE

feminine and charismatic mares in mind: Najdah Al Zobair, Mahala, Badawieh AA and Emandoria, certainly belong to that amazing group that causes me goosebumps. As a woman who obviously knows a thing or two about fashion, what are the two pieces of your wardrobe you couldn’t live without? Ha-ha, you don’t expect from me now, to imagine only a few things from my wardrobe and leave the rest out? Impossible! It is no secret that I am quite addicted to shoes and handbags. Could this answer your question at least partly? What part of breeding Arabian horses lives deep in your soul? After selecting (and discussing it millions of times) the right stallion, and patiently waiting 11 months for the moment that your mare finally gives birth to her foal, is worth every effort. This cocktail of feelings when the newborn lies in the straw and starts to breathe and move—still wet—and all the other mares in the stable are welcoming the baby, is unforgettable and I will never get tired of it. Breeding is about having a vision and trying to reach that vision through creating individuals which come closer to your personal ideal of the perfect Arabian horse. You have to live with moments of disappointment as well as moments of satisfaction and joy along your way, but it is important to me to mention that every single animal deserves appreciation, no matter which subjective quality it is for us.

On the judges panel at the 2015 Dubai International Championships.

Young generation at Darius Arabians: Da Negma Bint Magnifique (Magic Magnifique x Da Niagara, by Massai Ibn Marenga), bred and owned by Claudia Darius.

What is your favorite horse destination to travel to? Traveling quite a lot, I have found myself attracted by nearly each horse destination I had the pleasure to visit, especially in the Middle East; the density of very high quality horses is amazing. Poland, Brazil and South Africa are also fascinating for me every time. Next year I will have the opportunity to experience traveling ‘down under’ to Australia, and maybe I can add another destination to my list of favorites! What two characteristics do you love most about the Arabian horse? That is easy for me to answer. Type and character are the two keys for me! These are the two features that are so different in Arabian horses compared to any other breed. As a women who travels the world with the Arabian horse, please tell me one or two of your favorite travel memories. The first thing that comes to my mind was a trip to Brazil where I visited my mare Millennia. It is always a hard moment for any breeder to let your horses go, especially if there are not any more foals or youngsters and you have spent lots of time with them at the farm—it gets really painful. How lovely it was to see that she was treated like a princess there; beautiful stables, lots of green pastures and she looked perfectly happy! Also, just recently, I fulfilled one of my dreams of judging the National Championships in South Africa. Our visit to a cheetah rescue center and breeding program was been marvelous. The direct

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contact to this royal cat that I admire so much, was a unique experience. Everyone loves to see Barbara Walters make her interviewees cry, how does one bring a tear to your eye? You already managed that with one of your previous questions. But I am a very sensitive person; throw me into the ring judging a very high quality competition or let me watch a touching film in the cinema … both can occasionally work too! If flowers are not a way to your heart, than what is? Flowers and any kind of presents are lovely, but shouldn’t be the key to the heart of any serious person. The good thing in life is that some things remain secret and should be discovered by the right person in the right moment himself. How many times a year do you and Kathleen Olsson go shopping together? What do you usually buy? Shopping is the best medicine, and definitely cheaper than therapy. Women don’t need any excuse to go shopping and the best way to celebrate is to practice it with female friends around the globe. You have always been impressively dressed while judging a show. Dressing up nicely for any event simply reflects myself and shows respect towards everyone. As a judge, you have a very big responsibility and the organizer, exhibitors and spectators expect and deserve nothing less than doing your very best job. I love the tension before going into the ring for the first class of each competition and after many years

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of experience, I am still slightly nervous in a positive way. This keeps up my concentration and I can focus even better on each performance. Are you a breeder at heart? Tell us a few of your personal favorite creations of the four legged kind. I am, as simply said as it is. Breeding is my true passion. Our family founded Darius Arabians in 1987 and since then, have created many individuals we can be really proud of. My first self-bred mare Da Nigeria (Da Energetic x Nephina, by Neman) is still an active part of our program, as her daughters and granddaughters are. She still makes me smile every time I look at her. Currently we have some very promising young fillies, and it will be very exciting to watch them in future show rings as well as breeding prospects. Arabian Horse Times appreciates your service to the breed. Why are you doing this? Thank you very much for your kind words. It’s warmly appreciated. I grew up with the Arabian horse, and during the last 28 years have experienced various aspects of the industry: as a rider, handler, breeder, show organizer, judge, DC, author, teacher, and advisor, as well as a member of national and international boards. I have gained so much from the Arabian horse in my professional and personal life, which makes me want to give as much back to the breed as I am able to. Would you reveal one well-kept secret of yours? I have to disappoint you … a secret wouldn’t be a well-kept secret if it could be discovered so easily. n

Judge Claudia Darius  
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