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ARABIAN HORSE WORLD’S ANNUAL TRIBUTE TO SOME OF THE OUTSTANDING WOMEN WHO HAVE MADE THE ARABIAN HORSE PART OF THEIR LIVES. IT’S OUR PLEASURE TO SHARE THESE WOMEN’S STORIES OF DEVOTION TO THE ARABIAN HORSE — THEY ARE, INDEED, THE “WONDERFUL WOMEN OF WORLD.”

LAUREN GRABSKI OAK HAVEN FARMS BULLARD, TEXAS

I grew up around horses,” says Lauren Grabski. “However, my earliest memory with an Arabian was around the age of twelve when I took my first saddle seat lesson with Blake Krohn on Hucks High Esteem. He got me hooked! From that point on, I realized how versatile and incredible this breed was and that this would be a big part of my life. “Arabian horses fulfill me in every way possible. My days start and end with these incredible animals. While it makes for long days and hard work, there is nothing I would

rather do in this life. I am blessed to get to do what I love alongside an awesome partner, surrounded by an amazing team, and supported by special clients while training the most beautiful horses on earth. “Owning and working with horses has taught me the importance of forming a relationship with your teammate. Without trust and respect, you don’t get very far with these large and highly intelligent animals. You have to be able to communicate without words and listen to them, even though they don’t speak. We each have our own personalities, but when we learn to work together, the magic happens.

LAUREN GRABSKI, RIGHT, AND CASSIE BANKS, LEFT, OF OAK HAVEN FARMS, BULLARD, TEXAS.

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ELIZABETH KASSIS HARAS SANTA ANA SANTIAGO, CHILE

Passion is passion,” says Elizabeth Kassis. “And the magic about passion is that you can’t explain it. You just feel it in your bones, in your blood and in your skin every second of the day. I believe that you need passion to really feel alive. You can pass through life or you can pass ‘through’ life, and that tiny difference is about the passion you have inside. It can be passion for anything. My invitation to everybody is to find their passion. “A person once told me that my life was glamorous because I have horses. Really? Glamorous? Having horses is just the opposite of glamorous. You have to be humble to have horses, you have to be simple to have horses, you have to be sincere to have horses. If you really are a horsewoman or a horseman you have to have these qualities or you won’t connect with your horses. “Is it really glamorous to be awake an entire night taking care of a horse when he/she is ill?

Is it glamorous to be dirty all the time because you are working on the farm with your horses? Is it glamorous when you have to administer the sedation to put your horse to sleep when a serious accident occurs? No, breeding horses is not glamorous at all, but it is the most amazing and rewarding activity in the whole world. “My deepest memories around horses are when I help my horses in the dying process. Years ago, I decided that I’m going to be there with my horses the whole way. I’m there when they are born, and I’m there when they die. I do Reiki to all my horses, and I learned how to walk with them in their last walk — how to guide them into the light so they can pass away calmly. That’s one of the most profound and private moments that I’ve been through in my life. With every horse it is different, but in a way, it’s the same. Although I’m deeply sad, my heart is at peace because I helped them in their last moment. And is so strong that I can feel their presence afterward on the farm, and I feel happy because somehow they are always with me.

ELIZABETH KASSIS.


LINDA MEHNEY

We all loved him and bought him, creating a syndicate with three others. I managed him from there. He turned out to be a once-in-aI grew up in the Detroit area in a neighborhood lifetime horse. He was a Canadian of horse-crazy kids,” says Linda Mehney. “I didn’t National Top Ten Futurity colt and have a horse of my own, although I always had a a Scottsdale Top Ten English horse available to me when I had time away from horse and a Class A Champion. swimming meets and dancing. Coincidentally, More importantly we filled his most of those horses were Arabians. My love for breeding book and had many the horses rubbed off on my six children — five National winning offspring. We boys and a girl. So it began. We started with riding sold semen and offspring all horses then moved on as my oldest son wanted to over the world after taking raise a foal. We purchased courses at Colorado State in EVERYONE WHO BECOMES INVOLVED an Arabian mare in foal, reproduction, learning how based solely on her riding WITH HORSES EXPERIENCES HIGHS OF to freeze and inseminate ability and disposition. WATCHING NEW FOALS, BONDING WITH A and ship. The Arabian Horse When the foal was born we thought she was the SPECIAL HORSE OR PERHAPS ATTAINING Association rules changed to enable breeders to ship most wonderful, intelligent, SHOW RING SUCCESS. LIKEWISE, NO ONE frozen semen, and because curious animal we had ever IS SPARED THE PROFOUND LOWS, WHEN of those classes we were seen — somehow unique ready, and were the first farm among foals. Now many HOPES ARE DASHED OR WHEN OUR in the United States to open a years and dozens of foals DEAREST HORSES ARE LOST. semen depot in Europe. later, I know all Arabian “After searching the foals are like that, and I world for a stallion to breed to my and our appreciate each one for those qualities. She was client’s Mahogany daughters, I found Minotaur very successful in the showring. (by *Menes). I returned home to page through “So in 1983, Grand Arabians began. We took a Arabian Horse World to see a photo of Minotaur. I trip to Midwest Training Center. We bought a few was immediately impressed with this *Menes son. Polish mares that were owned by Toik Halberg. I called the owner, Roger Belton, and a couple We also bought into the *Padron Syndicate. A weeks later Minotaur was at our farm and we friend who liked my mares wanted to go back up to were partners. Minotaur had a very impressive Midwest to see if there was show record before he came, but we decided to another one of Toik’s mares show him in the United States. He was a National for sale. There, Bob Boggs winner three times. The cross was exactly what presented the yearling I wanted. We enjoyed every day having this Padrons Mahogany beautiful, macho, kind stallion with us. (*Padron x Hal Ane Versare) who had “Everyone who becomes involved with horses just returned from experiences highs of watching new foals, bonding winning a Junior with a special horse or perhaps attaining show Championship. ring success. Likewise, no one is spared the

GRAND ARABIANS GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN

profound lows, when hopes are dashed or when our dearest horses are lost.

LINDA MEHNEY AND PADRONS MAHOGANY (*PADRON X HAL ANE VERSARE).


JANINA MERZ

SUE O’NEILL

OM EL ARAB SANTA YNEZ, CALIFORNIA

O’NEILL ARABIANS LLC SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA

It has been three years since my mom passed and I have learned so much about life in that time,” says Janina Merz. “I dream about her often, and in those dreams I have so many questions I never thought to ask when she was physically here. These questions range from ‘What was that recipe?’ to ‘What do you think about this horse?’ I would love to have one more day with her so that we could hash it all out together.

I was very fortunate to be the daughter of a horse-crazy mother who taught me as a young child that life would always include being horse-crazy!” says Sue O’Neill. “Horses of many breeds and a few crazy ponies were a big part of my childhood, and yes, we had that one Arabian mare! The beautiful one in our small herd of characters, the one with all the personality and charm, the one horse that took my heart away with the typical Arabian traits I have come to understand, and that are a big part of my everyday life today.

“My non-horsey friends think I ride all day. When they visit, I like to take them to the barn with me and show them what I really do. My daily routine is definitely not as glamorous as they envision, but probably more rewarding than they could ever imagine. “I was lucky to have been born into an established Arabian breeding program. My earliest memories are common horse owner experiences: learning to ride, cleaning a stall, kissing my favorite horses while they softly breathe on me, and participating in horse shows. These are intertwined with sitting on *Estopa in her stall by climbing onto the water trough and jumping on her back, and hugging *El Shaklan’s front leg because he was so tall and I was so small. “I cannot imagine life without Arabian horses. They are woven into the fabric of my life. One of my favorite moments is when a foal is born. It is a culmination of many generations of breeding decisions and then seeing the expression of your vision, hopes and dreams, all wrapped up in one beautiful foal. This is one of the best feelings in the world.

JANINA MERZ WITH HER SON LUCA AND FILLY BY TITAN AS, OUT OF OM EL BASHARA ESTOPA, A FIFTHGENERATION OM EL ARAB FOAL.

“This affection for Arabians is easy to explain to my non-horse friends. They see the dedication, the love and the passion I have towards my horses, the long hours spent training, caring for and enjoying these magical animals, that bond needs no explanation. “I have been breeding and showing Arabian horses since 1990, so of course there are numerous fond memories. My husband, Rory, and I own and operate O’Neill Arabians in Scottsdale, a training, breeding, and marketing facility that has afforded us the opportunity to see the world because of the Arabian horse and Rory’s amazing gift of gab! We continue to create fond memories traveling to beautiful places such as Menton, France, Tuscany, Italy, Aachen, Germany, Belgium, and Paris to celebrate the Arabian horse, meet friends old and new and be a part of the horse shows, auctions and camaraderie that make this industry so wonderful. The memories continue to grow. I am blessed.

SUE O’NEILL AND MOLLY.

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DR. NANCY O’REILLY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EQUESTRIAN CENTER SOMIS, CALIFORNIA

I came into the equestrian world in 2012,“ says Nancy O’Reilly. “I was going through a major life change. I needed something amazing in my life. I loved animals and people who loved them, so a good friend took me to her barn. Arabian horses were everywhere. I fell in love. Bought a horse soon after. Started to ride. Started going to AHA shows. I went into the arena with my Arabian doing liberty classes. We had so much fun. I wore a red dress and black boots encrusted with jewels. We did really well too. This was a new venture and I loved it. My first riding class was in 2014. I now realize I did not know what I was doing. It was probably good I didn’t know. “Horses have taught me to be in the now and to understand how I am feeling and how I am approaching the world. Horses are there for you if you are there for them. “Passion is what I feel with my horses. I am allin since I received my first horse. I now ride HalfArabians and Arabians in country English and park classes. I drive country and English classes with HalfArabians and purebred Arabians. I also breed horses and have two stallions and a group of broodmares. In September, I bought my Southern California Equestrian Center near Thousand Oaks, California, and will be having our second Dressage Horse Show. I am having a ball. I am a speaker, educator, radio host, leadership teacher, and a psychologist. If I had to choose, I think horses would be at the top of the list. I am better human being having my horses in my life. DR. NANCY O’REILLY SHOWING HER CHAMPION HALF-ARABIAN PLEASURE DRIVING ATD SF STONEWOODS N COOK (SF SPECS SHOCWAVE X DOUBLETREES LADY OF INTRIGUE).

I hope my horses can teach women to be confident and use their voices and truly find their power. The power to do all things in their life. I can truly say I have. I am sooooo blessed.

TARYL O’SHEA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AHAA CAVE CREEK, ARIZONA

If I could spend a day with any woman involved with Arabian horses, past or present, it would be Sharon Chauncey-Siar — I am lucky as she was one of the first people I met when I got involved with the Arabian Horse Association of Arizona and to this day she is still a big part of my life,” says Taryl O’Shea. “I am lucky to spend time with her! She has been one of my biggest supporters and I have learned so much from her over the years. She works hard and gives selflessly and I admire her for that. There are not a lot of people in the industry that have her history and dedication to the Arabian horse. “When I was three years old my uncle put me up on his horse; from that moment on I was hooked. I begged my parents from that day on for a horse, and when I was 12 I got my first horse — an Arabian gelding that we bought from the local polo club. The horse did everything from Pony Club, shows, trail rides, parades ... anything you can imagine a horse doing, this gelding did it. He taught me about the connection the Arabian horse has with people. I did venture off into other breeds and disciplines for a number of years but reconnected with the Arabian horse when I moved to Scottsdale in the late 1990s. Since then, I have owned Arabian horses and will never own another breed. I am continually amazed at their beauty, versatility, intelligence and their predisposition to connect and care for people. “My life revolves around the Arabian horse day and night, I get to spend my days working on the TARYL O’SHEA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ARABIAN HORSE ASSOCIATION OF ARIZONA AND KARAMAT (PTRON X WB FERZONA).


best Arabian horse events in the world! As Executive Director for the Arabian Horse Association of Arizona (AHAA) I get to work with the AHAA Board of Directors to help organize and implement their plans for the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, the American Cup Championships Arabian Horse Show, the Arabian National Breeder Finals and various other smaller shows and events including the Arabian Breeders World Cup. At the end of the day, I get to go home to my newly acquired Arabian horse farm with my four Arabian horses that I have dreamed about my whole life. As a young child my dream was to live on a farm. If I had grown up on a horse farm, I don’t know if I would ever have ever left. “My fondest memory was riding in the Celebrity Slide at Scottsdale in 2013. I had intended to practice every day, but as I should have expected, I had no time to practice. Leading up to the event, I would wake up panicked, trying to think of ways I could gracefully back out. Trainer Nathan Kent must have wondered what he had done to be paired with the ‘dud.’ I was the lowest selling ‘celebrity’ in the Calcutta, and I overheard a group of the pros wondering who the ‘office girl’ was that Nathan got stuck with. I couldn’t get my chaps on, it took two people to help me pry the zippers together and three people to hurl me on my horse, Kermit (Karamat). I couldn’t move! I kept telling myself, ‘just don’t fall off!’ On top of all that we were drawn as the first in the order of go. First draw is generally the kiss of death in reining competitions. I went into the arena and said I am going to give this everything I have, I not only stayed on but in the end Kermit and I held the lead score until the final horse competed. We got a Reserve Champion Celebrity Slide belt buckle and to this day, it’s one of the best things I have done. “I tell friends, ‘Experience the Passion for the Arabian Horse.’ I encourage them to come out to meet the horses, I honestly believe people just need to meet these horses to appreciate just how special they are. Their beauty and friendliness are hard to resist. “Having horses has taught me so many things, to name a few: the value of hard work; to be present — to get the best out of my horses I need to focus on them and not carry thoughts and emotions that can distract me from them; leadership — some of the best lessons I have learned have been when I was nervous or scared and needed to step up to take the lead with my horse. I have learned to push through in times of doubt or insecurity to get to the desired goal. “In the rare time away from horses, my husband Greg and I are hiking the McDowell Mountains, biking,

and working in the yard.

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RENEE PELZMAN HOLLY HILL FARMS OCALA, FLORIDA

I love Sheila Varian’s philosophy of breeding horses she liked and allowing them to tell her in what area they wished to excel,” says Renee Pelzman. “That is what Morgan Runyon and I try to do — to set trends rather than follow them! “Arabians fulfill me because life is way too short to ride anything that isn’t beautiful, smart, and never boring. Plus, their personalities are hilarious. “I don’t need to explain my love of Arabians to non-horsey friends because here in Ocala, everyone is a horse person. However, if the occasion were to arise, I would just take them to the barn, and let them see for themselves. The rest would be history.

RENEE PELZMAN RIDING MK GOLDRUSH (BEYOND GOLD X KLASS IT CASH [APHA]).


MORGAN RUNYON HOLLY HILL FARMS OCALA, FLORIDA

My earliest memories spent with Arabians start as a very young child,” says Morgan Runyon. “I grew up at the barn, always with my mom, helping her with every aspect of owning and caring for our Arabians. I would walk up and down the barn aisle and pet every muzzle and give each a carrot. When it was feeding time, I would sit in the wheelbarrow and help give out feed and hay — it was a hoot! Looking back, I have always known Arabians were going to be a crucial part of my life, and indeed, they have been a constant for my entire life. “I have many favorite moments spent with my Arabians but there are two in particular that always stand out to me. The first is when I arrive to the barn earlier than usual and all the horses are lying down asleep, dreaming of national championship roses, and I get to go lie down with them. It is a special moment to savor; to brush their mane, to pet their neck, and to rub their chest while they’re waking up, and the look they give as they turn to you and say ‘Good Morning.’ The second is when you’re working on a particular ‘thing’ with your horse, trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Suddenly, one day, the light bulb goes off and everything clicks. That ‘ah-ha!’ moment, to me, is such a rewarding feeling. Together we spend a lot of

time working on figuring out, simply, what works and what doesn’t. “Horses have taught me so much about myself, both in and out of the showring. Not to be afraid of change is one of them. They have taught me and given me confidence, not only in myself, but in my abilities, and have shown me what it means to be responsible for a being other than myself. They have also taught me the value of hard work, and the sense of relief when it all pays off. They have taught me a grand amount of patience — Rome wasn’t built in a day and greatness doesn’t happen overnight. They have taught me to be aware of my surroundings, my mindset and emotions, and my dealings with others — to be mindful. One very special horse, in particular, has taught me to be ‘big and brave,’ as I like to call it. Horses have taught me lessons about always being humble, no matter what. More than anything, the Arabian horse has taught me to be driven. Talent can get you pretty far, but to learn to ride a horse — really ride a horse — takes years and years of learning, riding and training. Everyday I learn something new, but in order to learn now, we must participate. Do it, read about it, and practice until you get it. I will never know everything there is to know about riding and horses, but I am willing to learn everything horses and people have to teach me to be the best horsewoman I can be!

MORGAN RUNYON RIDING GET RHYTHMN BF (BOLT WB X CLOVER HILL’S BLAZING LUCK [ASHAM]).

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KATIE RUSSELL HIDDEN RIVER RANCH SANTA YNEZ, CALIFORNIA

Most of my friends outside of horses are aware of my passion for Arabian horses,” says Katie Russell. “I’ve explained to them that I am beyond lucky to have a hobby/ passion that I love just as much now as when I was a little girl. I think they all know I am a horse-crazy girl and always will be. “Arabian horses have taught me a lot, and continue to teach me every day. They have taught me about love — an incredible, fulfilling, heart warming love; patience; perseverance; sacrifice; empathy; loss; trust and gratitude. They are tremendous teachers. We are so lucky to share our lives with these magnificent creatures. “When I’m not with the horses, I enjoy time with my family, husband Joe, and our two sons, Max and Mitch, at our ranch in Santa Ynez or at a Dodger game.

KATIE RUSSELL WITH LIGHTNING MCQUEEN CRS (*MARIACHI WA X JASPERINA).

YVONNE VAN STIPHOUT OM EL ARAB SANTA YNEZ, CALIFORNIA

When I was younger I always wanted to do something with animals, but my mom believed it would be hard to make a living with that unless you went to veterinary school,” says Yvonne van Stiphout. “So I decided to become a teacher. During my first year at university, we had to do internships, and that’s where I realized I just couldn’t do it. The patience that teachers have is something I didn’t know I was missing. I finished up my internship, already knowing I was going to drop out and find something new. If you would ask me now what I would do if I had to leave the horse industry, I would say something along the lines of personal training. I’m looking into getting certified as a personal trainer, and I could see myself doing something like that. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had grown up on a horse farm. The idea sounds amazing, and it was always my dream to have horses at home instead of at a boarding facility. But I wouldn’t have been introduced to the Arabians if I had. I grew up with Dutch Warmbloods, and it wasn’t until my internship at Om El that I got to experience the Arabians in such a close manner. “I have learned so much in those years, made life long friends, moved to the other side of the world, and I wouldn’t want to change that for anything in the world. “I started weight training in November of 2018 with a new trainer. He is located in Lancaster, which is about 2.5 hours from Santa Ynez. So these days on my day off, I get up early, get in the car and get put through the ringer by my coach! There are mornings when it’s hard so get up, but once I’m there and putting the work in, and seeing those results, it’s hard to not love it!

YVONNE VAN STIPHOUT.

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