ODE TO St o ry b y Ca ro l in e Re id P hot os by Al e s s io A z z a l i a n d Ca ro l in e Re id
uckily for us, Philip Looyens came up with the wonderful idea of a gathering of like-minded people from around the world, with a passion for Arabian horses, to meet, mingle, share ideas and stories, expertise and experience. Philip thought it would be a refreshing change for us to be together away from the show scene, with conversation about the history, the way forward, breeding programs and points of interest as opposed to points of 19.5 or 20. And, on occasion, to not even talk about horses at all. Even more fortunate for us, Marieta Salas (a close friend and client of Philip’s for over 25 years) and Antonia Bautista (Philip’s partner) offered to host at their renowned stud farms Ses Planes and Bautista Vich, and an Ode to Mallorca was born. We welcomed the initiative, and around 150 of us arrived at the sunny island of Mallorca in early September. I was looking forward to seeing everyone in relaxed, holiday mode — none of the stress and high-tensile energy that we usually get when we
meet at shows, and yes, it was the exact opposite, relaxed smiles and relaxed shoulders everywhere, summer clothes, mellow moods and sunny faces. Mallorca is around forty miles wide and sixty long and has a balmy 21°C average daytime temperature. It has around 600,000 inhabitants, half of whom live in the thriving holiday resort of Palma — 75% of Mallorca’s income comes from tourists, of which there are around eight million a year, mainly from Germany and the UK, as we’re so close. Indeed, Mallorca to us Brits was always THE party island — cheap, cheerful and colorful. Loud and wild, with rivers of Sangria and swimming pools of shaving foam after yet another crazy all-night party. They were the only memories I had to draw on, and I hadn’t had time to anticipate this latest adventure so, therefore, had few expectations, yet Mallorca proceeded to give so much more than just a pleasant surprise. I knew there must be more to this island, as for example, the mountain range Serra de Tramontana has World Heritage Status and the Spanish royal
horses we were to meet later. family holiday here twice a year, presumably not to neck Sangria, nor yet to partake in the aforeWe beetled along to our apartment in the obligatory mentioned shaving foam fights. Fiat 500 hire-car, a fetching, dusty beige in color, and My travelling companion had found us a gorgeous although automatic, not inclined to change up a gear until we felt our ears about to implode at the scream Air BnB apartment, as opposed to a busy central of the tiny over-revving engine. This Palma hotel, and we found ourselves little beige hump was also the only one staying only a mile away from Marieta “ H AP PY H O RSE S B RE E D B E T T E R Salas’ historic Ses Planes. So here we AND H AV E F E W E R AC C I D E N T S. of us less than overjoyed to find we were staying halfway up a small were, a few miles inland, and the MY GRO O M S H AV E WO RK E D mountain. Once it had heaved us to peace and serenity were rapidly H E RE A LO N G T I M E ; T H E Y our destination, we disembarked soaking into every pore. I had never U N D E RSTA N D M Y WAY A N D thankfully to a tranquil, colorful haven. been inside Mallorca and was not only T H AT M Y H O RSE S H AV E T O B E Lush plants, bright pinks and purples, surprised at just how beautiful it is, H AP PY. I WA N T T O T RA N SM I T trellises of vines around the sparkling but also, at the ambience and the pool and a soothing silence broken only pace of life — although ‘pace’ seems T O M Y H O RSE S LOV E A N D by crickets as we absorbed the too fierce — gentle, happy rhythm of T RA N Q UI LI T Y. ” stunning views, life would be more overlooking a huge apt. One couldn’t green valley help but be touched towards Palma by the quiet charm, and the Balearic the clear Sea. Perfect. Mediterranean light, The following the olive groves and day was blissfully vineyards. The hot and sunny and warmth we felt was even The Hump both physical and seemed happy too, metaphorical, not most likely because just in the air, but emanating from the it was a tad easier terracotta red soil, to take us back the charm of our down the hosts and the mountain, and we relaxed, contented soon began to A H W > 75 < 1 1 . 1 8
Marieta Salas, owner of Ses Planes, and Philip Looyens.
wend our way up the long red earth drive to the legend that is Ses Planes — or rather, Marieta Salas — to attend the Breeders Seminar. Again, there was an air of tranquility and charm. Charm in the vine-clad old buildings, the red-brick stables, the lemon trees and the colorful flowers amidst so much greenery and palms. We wandered inside the long stable barn, greeting horses and friends. There was no structure, no formality, no formulaic lecture. That’s not to say there was no organization — refreshments were laid out, and there were chairs and tables, pads and pens. But it was all so relaxed. We sat, we chatted, Marieta came over and sat in front of us, and of course, we all fell quiet because we so wanted to hear her life experiences and expertise. Whether about her initial foray into Arabians, her judging, or her breeding program, our remarkable hostess flitted from subject to subject with searing honesty, openness and humor, without ego or props, and we all strained to hear every precious word. I could have sat there all day, or indeed all month. Philip Looyens, whom she has known since he was 16, was by her side. It soon became evident that Marieta’s main priority is her horses’ happiness, which seems so obvious of course, but their happiness came up again and again when she spoke of them, and her care and passion for her horses was at the fore of all her talks. We all became infused with her love for the Arabian horse and her quiet yet passionate ways. “As a child I was very lucky and had long holidays
— three months at a time! My friends all stayed in the city, but we came out to the country, with no TV, nothing, just animals.” So, Marieta started riding — anything — mules, donkeys and then at the age of 12 her father bought Marieta her own horse. He also took her to southern Spain where he bought “… three or four Congo
“ O UR B I GGE ST M I STA K E I S T H AT W E H AV E FA I LE D T O M A K E USE F UL H O RSE S, A N D W E H AV E N O T T RA N SM I T T E D T O N E W P E O P LE T H E I R WO N D E RF UL T E M P E RA M E N T S. ” daughters. I loved them, so I then went on a buying mania, and bought more, but they weren’t any good. It was a catastrophe!” said Marieta dryly. However, more good mares were added to the breeding program, resulting in Abha Hamir (Bambu x Garbi), who went to California with Marieta in 1978. This mare became U.S. National Champion and then went on to win many performance awards including U.S. National Driving Champion. “I went to America and learned fast there and came to like good conformation and a long neck, and
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Antonia Bautista with INDIA MPE (Windsprees Mirage x Shariba), co-owned by Bautista Vich and Dalia Arabians.
I became a judge. “We bred in America and over here and then in the late ‘80s had a dispersal sale and came back here,” where Marieta concentrated on her own breeding program at Ses Planes. One of Marieta’s most famous additions to her stud was the legendary El Perfecto (Vallehermoso x Barich de Washoe) whom she particularly admired for his charisma and movement, which can be seen in all her horses today. And in 2001, Don Diego Mendez told Marieta about a wonderful colt he had seen in Aachen, resulting in her writing a long letter to Sheikh Hamad, explaining why Marwan Al Shaqab should come to Ses Planes! Telling him that at this tender age Marwan would benefit from the “freedom, sun and happiness” at Ses Planes, experience life and that all of this “would be a
very important period for his physical and mental wellbeing,” rather than stand in a stall 23 hours a day. The letter obviously worked, and in January 2002 Marwan Al Shaqab came to visit for six months, and Marieta was allowed to use him on eight mares. She adored this easy-going colt, and they used to play together with a ball in his paddock. The rest, as they say, is history, with all the Marwan babies conceived at Ses Planes winning internationally, the most famous of course being “the best male I ever bred,” Abha Qatar (x ZT Ludjkalba by Ludjin El Jamaal), winner of the Triple Crown in 2009 (European, Nations Cup and World Champion, plus Scottsdale and U.S. National Reserve Champion). Full sister Abha Myra and Abha Palma (x Abha Ghazali by El Perfecto) are also notable champions by Marwan. On breeding: “Breeding is an art, and you have to have a feel for it. We have to be more critical of our
“ YO U WO ULD T H I N K M Y FAVO RI T E M O M E NTS WO ULD B E M Y SH OW I N G RE SULT S, B UT N O , M Y FAVO RI T E M O M E N T S A RE SE E I N G N EW F OA LS A N D M Y H O RSE S H A P PY A N D LI V I N G A S N AT URA LLY A S P O SSI B LE . ” own breeding programs. If you take your eye off the ball you lose it. Plus, there is luck involved. “I like to use mares and stallions that are related or similar in type. I give two chances to breed a mare, if the mare doesn’t give at least 33% she goes. Faults are difficult to get rid of. The Spanish can be a bit heavy in the muzzle. I like a kind horse, with big eyes, good throat latches. I wish I had used WH Justice more.”
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On raising her horses and their well-being: “Happy horses breed better and have fewer accidents. My grooms have worked here a long time; they understand my way and that my horses have to be happy. I want to transmit to my horses love and tranquility. “We like our horses to have a natural lifestyle. They live out all year except for foaling and showing. We wean in a group, and we don’t show our yearlings, except at the Spanish Nationals. It’s not good for them to have to travel so much and be put under so much pressure at that age. “In regard to behavior, in my opinion, it has much to do with the way they are brought up.” On the future of the Arab horse: “Our biggest mistake is that we have failed to make useful horses, and we have not transmitted to new people their wonderful temperaments. We should go back to the roots of why we like them, how much enjoyment they give. These horses are so faithful, so intelligent, that is what we should have been promoting.” And finally, asked ‘What have been your favorite moments?’ Marieta’s answer epitomized her continuous thread throughout … “You would think my favorite moments would be my showing results, but no, my favorite moments are seeing new foals and my horses happy and living as naturally as possible.” Marieta then took us outside, past a gorgeous old stable yard housing the stallions, and here we saw a couple of youngsters in an arena, including an absolutely stunning bay yearling filly by Fadi Al Shaqab out of Abha Quraysi by Alfabia Damascus. This gorgeous girl, with her huge soft brown eyes, The showing of Bautista Vich horses included: left, BV STROMBOLI (WH Justice x Lady Moura), and right, VERA BV (Mahder Al Jamal x Penelope BV).
pretty face and fabulous movement entranced each and every one of us, and we couldn’t help but burst into spontaneous applause. However, Marieta had a little trick up her sleeve, or rather, an interesting discussion point. A grey mare was led quietly into the arena. At this point, to be perfectly honest, I did wonder why Marieta would pick this mare for us to see, as her conformation was not the best. Her head was pleasant, but not exotic, and I know Marieta won’t
“A N D T H E N T H E M A RE WA S T URN E D LO O SE , A N D W I T H I N A N I N STA N T M Y H E A RT LI F T E D A S SH E T RA N SF O RM E D I N T O T H E A RA B I A N T Y P E M O ST O F US F I RST F E LL I N LOV E W I T H . ” mind when I write that this mare’s body and topline left a bit to be desired. And then the mare was turned loose, and within an instant my heart lifted as she transformed into the Arabian type most of us first fell in love with. She pranced, she danced, she snorted and blew her way above the pink sand and boy did she love that we were loving her! Finally, she was led out, still on fire, still with head and tail held high and her chestnut daughter was brought in. Although again not close enough to see legs and feet, it was obvious to all that filly was better conformed, with a good body and topline. She also had a prettier face and lovely eyes, and she carried her tail and moved nicely. And then, Marieta asked us which one we preferred. And apart from one, all of us, judges, breeders, enthusiasts alike, said without hesitation we preferred the faulty grey! We all knew the chestnut would beat the grey in
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Antonia Bautista and Philip Looyens with Caroline Reid, and scenes of Bautista Vich.
the show arena, especially under the points system, but we all preferred the grey because she ignited our passion. Is this right? A paradox or a travesty?! Off to a local restaurant to ponder over a bottle of cool, crisp dry rosé accompanied by fresh, organic local fare, whilst sitting outside on the veranda watching the warm orange orb (a rare experience for my Scottish companion) dip slowly behind the mountains, and again, the only sound that of the crickets, and on occasion an appreciative sigh as I shamelessly devoured my rich, intense chocolate soufflé. What diet? After a day of nothing … which was amazing in itself … simply lying by the pool and actually reading a book … we were treated to an evening presentation at the stunning Bautista Vich Stud, tucked away in the Mallorcan countryside. Bautista Vich was founded in 1991 by the brothers Guillermo and Pedro Bautista and is dedicated to breeding Arabian and Andalusian horses. Pedro concentrated on Arabians of Spanish decent, however, Guillermo’s type was Polish, and he bought well at the state studs, even getting to use Monogramm on his best mares. So the brothers crossed their two types and have had many show successes over the years, and the lovely Antonia, Guillermo’s daughter, is now farm manager.
Dusk was falling as we arrived, and here again, it was quietly beautiful. The lighting was gorgeous! The farm was lit up like a fairy garden, with lights draped over the trees, chandeliers hanging from branches and even the large round hay bales were festooned with fairy lights. Not forgetting the huge balloon-like paper shades surrounding the arena. We were served champagne and gorgeous canapés whilst we mingled with friends from around the world, all encompassed in relaxed, happy holiday mode, and more remarkably, no horsey clothes. Even I wore a skirt, so that shows just how much the island had worked its charm on me. Or how much champagne I’d had. The horses looked fabulous under the lights, and the presentation started with a liberty display by the lovely stallion BV Stromboli (WH Justice x Lady Moura) who obviously had a great rapport with his handler, but was a little bemused by the music, lights and large crowd! I’m sure we all empathized with his
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handler when this chestnut boy’s concentration lapsed from time to time! BV Stromboli’s dam is out of one of Bautista Vich’s famous foundation mares, their homebred chestnut Monogramm daughter, Fotogramma. Darkness began to fall as the presentation continued, actually making the surroundings all the more magical as the horses performed with a backdrop of midnight blue sky. We all adored the classic and classy India MPE, this beautiful flea-bitten grey mare is by Windsprees Mirage, out of Shariba — herself a daughter of the incredible producer Thee Rahiba (BJ Thee Mustafa x HMT Farima), an extremely beautiful and prepotent mare. India MPE’s super-grey daughter, DAA Itaca by Emerald J, was also presented, and she was shortly to be crowned Silver Champion Yearling Filly at the Spanish Nationals. Amongst others we saw were the delightful grey Penelope BV (WH Justice x Factura), followed by her Mahder Al Jamaal daughter Vera BV, and later Vera BV’s exceptional daughter, the bay Vilma BV by RFI Farid. Immediately Vilma became an absolute favorite, as she was seen pinging along the walkway, tail over back, head held high and indeed she coped better than her elders on entering the arena to find several hundred people watching her. This elegant little madam loved it as she pranced around, lapping up the attention as a showgirl should. The frothy white stallion BV Unik put on a great display, this very pretty, typey boy is the epitome of his pedigree — by Shanghai EA out of Flavia, a mare of mostly Spanish bloodlines with a touch of
Camargue. BV Unik was represented here by another favorite of mine, Xaia BV, a two-year-old grey filly with movement and attitude to burn and also a super showy grey colt foal out of RHR Bellacontessa. This lovely presentation finished with a ridden display with one of Bautista Vich’s magnificent Andalusians. And then the party started. Live music and traditional dancing ensured this most glamorous of evenings ended with colorful energy and hangovers. On the following day there was a lunchtime presentation of the horses at Ses Planes. It rained! I have to say it! The rain in Spain didn’t stay mainly on the plain! It was actually lovely warm, quiet summer rain, and there was a stack of colorful brollies at the ready. But to see brollies up, even just for ten minutes, seemed a tad incongruous, although unsurprisingly at this moment in time they didn’t induce any home-sickness whatsoever. We sat around little tables on the banks alongside the arena, itself surrounded by yet more greenery, sipping wine and nibbling on traditional fare and canapés whilst each horse was brought forward. If ever you wanted a group of horses for the perfect presentation, then of course Marieta’s was it! And to be perfectly honest, I have never seen horses show off individually as much, if that makes sense. Taken away from their friends to the arena, unable to see another horse, yet each and every one without fail flagged their tails, snorted, and truly enjoyed showing off in front of us, so happy and confident in their own skin. And of course, they are all so very Not minding the rain: Kirsty and Steve Patrick of Redwood Lodge Arabians.
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The showing of horses at Ses Planes included: top left, ZT MAGRUMIFF (ZT Magnanimus x ZT Rumifantasy), top right, ABHA CELINDA (WH Justice x Iseult) and bottom right, ABHA DUNIA (RFI Farid x Iseult).
much of a type, with huge movement, tremendous confidence and self-carriage, born from not only the breeding program, but nurture too. Even the yearlings showed off with extreme pizzazz, appreciated by all of us! The horses were shown in family order, which made the presentation all the more interesting. They were mainly grey, although as is often the case these days, the babies were bay. There were too many gems to mention all, but they included ZT Magrumiff (ZT Magnanimous x ZT Rumifantasy by ZT Shakfantasy) a huge moving grey with huge attitude was followed by her lovely chestnut Abha Qatar daughter Abha Baidah. During the seminar Marieta had said how highly she thought of Khidar, and his daughter Iseult was a stunning example of his contribution to her illustrious breeding program, Iseult’s dam being Abha Jamaica by El Perfecto, out of Abha Zenobia out of Abha Hamir. Three of Iseult’s progeny were also shown: Abha Yaiti, a five-year-old grey stallion by ZT Marwteyn; Abha Celinda a pretty grey two-year-old by WH Justice; and Abha Dunia, a gorgeous bay 2018 filly by RFI Farid. All three having their dam’s elegance and charisma! The stunning white mare, Abha Quraysi (Alfabia Damascus x Gual Samantha by Navarro III), entranced us all and was also dam of one of the favorites, the precious and precocious bay 2018 filly Abha Dameer, whom we had previously fallen in love with at the seminar, and who was only too happy to strut her stuff for us again. Marieta said, “The presentation went very smoothly just as I liked it. The horses presented
showed their charisma, movement, and beauty with wonderful expressions, feeling, happy and sure of themselves. I believe showing families was great fun and the attendees to the Ode to Mallorca really liked it. I have to thank my people who made this event very coordinated in regards to the organization. For me it was very wonderful.” Then we were treated to a great luncheon with superb wines, traditional paella and wonderfully decadent chocolate desserts, in a huge marquee overlooking Ses Planes’s magnificent valley. Another relaxed affair, going on late into the afternoon, as it was our last chance to see everyone together. I’m sure most of us attending this inaugural event would agree that it was more of an Arabian retreat. Yet not only was it relaxed, refreshing and tranquil, it was also a timely reminder as to why we originally became captivated by these most noble of animals, and what I really hadn’t expected, was that this island would also be so good for the soul. So thank you, thank you Philip, Marieta, Antonia, and all those who helped to create this most memorable Ode to Mallorca.
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In a beautiful setting, an opportunity to meet, mingle, share ideas and stories, expertise and experience, with others who share a passion f...
Published on Nov 7, 2018
In a beautiful setting, an opportunity to meet, mingle, share ideas and stories, expertise and experience, with others who share a passion f...