A JUDGES PERSPECTIVE R ic ha rd Pet t y with Jeff Wallace
hen, where and how did you come to know the Arabian horse? I grew up in Southern Colorado in the ‘50s and ‘60s. My parents, especially my father, loved the Arabian horse and dabbled in breeding horses more so as a hobby than a business. When did you discover your passion for the Arabian horse ran so deep? Please describe. It was during those years in Colorado that I began to discover my passion for horses, primarily Arabians. I grew up in the “heyday” of the Estes Park Show which was a very big deal bringing in horses from all over the United States: Varian Arabians, Lasma, DeLongpré Arabians, Carol Chapman and Burr Betts to name a few. As a teenager, to be able to witness the animals they exhibited, in the flesh, made me realize that I needed and wanted to be a part of that world. Tell us a little about your life working with Mike Nichols. Working for Mike Nichols was, of course, the dream job of the century. Talk about someone who had a passion for the Arabian horse! Mike was a genius in his world
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and he always treated us as if we were geniuses in ours. I can’t believe he’s gone. Richard, I know that Barbary was a very special horse to many within the breed, please tell us why. Barbary was a horse way before his time. No one, including us, had ever seen a horse that was the charismatic athlete he was. Judges either loved him or didn’t know what to do with him. In the beginning of his show career, I had the distinct honor of showing him for the very first time as Don DeLongpré was committed to showing other horses in the barn. Our first show was the Blue Ridge Classic in Louisville, Ky. Jim Fisher was the judge. At that time we showed in English pleasure and pleasure driving, and won every class. Barbary went on to win numerous championships, but as we soon came to discover, his true place was in the breeding barn. Did Barbary make size irrelevant to talent? Yes, he did. He, along with *Bask and Kemosabi, were under 14.2 h. It didn’t seem to hinder them in any way, shape or form in the show ring or breeding barn.
You have spent a long time on both the East Coast and West Coast, which do you prefer and why? The West Coast offers climate possibilities not available on the East Coast, although surrounded by the rich American history and culture offered in the East is second to none. All things equal, I prefer the East Coast. I know you judged the Polish Nationals last year. After years of training and showing Polish related horses, what was it like to judge their National show? I have had a great admiration for the Polish breeders ever since my first visit to Janów in the ‘70s. Their gracious hospitality, even amid their struggles of that time, embedded memories I will always cherish. Judging the Polish National show will remain as one of the highlights of my life. How has the Arabian horse enriched your life? One never knows where life will take you, but I’m fairly certain, without my involvement with Arabian horses, I would most likely not have the opportunities to travel the world or meet wonderful interesting people who share my passion, not to mention exposure to human talent only afforded to the rich and famous. When you walk out into the arena holding your judging card in your hand, what goes through your mind and what do you always hope to represent to the exhibitor? Will this be the day I am privileged to see the likes of a mare the quality of Pianissima or *Wieza Mocy, or a performance horse as gifted as Afires Heir or as versatile as our Barbary. I strive to convey the message loud and clear that all exhibitors are being judged on a fair and honest playing field.
In a perfect world, what would our judging system in America look like? Three ethical and honest judges all judging comparatively. Period. Sundance Kid V seems to be dominating the western world as a sire, why? There are breeders today who breed specifically for western performances, ie. pleasure, reining, working cow, etc. We always bred for conformation that was specific to English pleasure athletes, however, every now and then a horse would mentally and physically prefer western pleasure. Share with us one burning topic that is on your mind right now regarding the Arabian industry. Nothing new, but something that’s been going on within the Arabian industry for years is the negativity and pettiness that is so rampant among our owners and trainers. Is there any wonder why new people don’t want to be a part of it? Folks spending the amount of money it takes to be involved in the horse world want to have a good time, a fun and positive experience. In order to survive, all of us in the breed need to desperately change our ways. If you could resurrect any two horses, who would they be and why? One horse stands out in my mind as the most significant. His blood, in turn is responsible for those horses and their offspring that we most admire, ie. Bask, Barbary, Negatraz and Wisjon. That individual is Amurath Sahib. What do you see for the Arabian breed 10 years from now? There will always be Arabian horses. The Arabian breed is well and healthy in most parts of the world. However, the breeding of Arabians in the U.S. continues to diminish annually.
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When you look back, who were your three most important mentors in the Arabian breed? Dr. and Mary Jean LaCroix, Mike Nichols and Don DeLongpré for their combined wisdom. What needs to happen to save our halter world in America? Let’s take the Scottsdale show for instance. People from all over the world come to watch halter horses for ten days, not necessarily the performance divisions. On the other hand, people from all over the world travel to Tulsa to watch the U.S. National performance divisions. Wouldn’t it make sense to have a National halter show earlier in the year in a place such as Scottsdale and a performance nationals later in the year as it is now? What do you do to relax, Richard? Having lunch with friends on the Rogue River and spending time on the coast with our beautiful Whippets. ■
Richard and Khemosabi.
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