by Nancy Pierce
n the way home from taking my son Dane to school, I saw the neighbor’s emu had escaped. Now I don’t feel so bad about my dog getting out yesterday. It’s a strange sight to see an emu walking down the road like it’s normal or something. Country life is a little more exciting than I had thought it would be,” observed Keitha Adams in 2009, shortly after moving her family to the country to begin their new Arabian breeding farm. And indeed, country life has proven to be quite exciting for Keitha and family, with the Arabian horse business taking them places that only Keitha ever dreamed they would go. Passionate, energetic, enthusiastic, honest, keenly
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intelligent, generous, fiercely loyal, driven, and funny — are all adjectives that those who know her have applied, at one time or another, to the force of nature that is Keitha Manning Adams. And all are qualities that have served her well in her quest to make a success of country life with Arabian horses. It wasn’t a big stretch for Keitha, a lifelong horse lover and successful show and rodeo rider, to make the switch from barrel racing Quarter Horses to breeding prized Arabian show horses. In fact, her first exposure to the Arabian breed had come fairly early in life when, at the age of 15, Keitha rehabilitated a friend’s “wild” supposedly untrainable Arabian horse nicknamed Tolla. But Keitha quickly realized that the horse would do anything for her if she “asked” rather than “demanded” — a trait she has come to recognize as a hallmark of the Arabian horse. That experience gave her a taste of what it was to be one with an intelligent, spirited, and soulful Arabian horse — and an unquenchable thirst for more.
Facing page and right: SS-Rashad Ibn Sinan (Ansata Sinan x Thee Isis SSE by Al Baraki), 2008 straight Egyptian stallion.
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After twenty years and one fortuitous trip to a Barnes and Noble bookstore, Keitha’s dream of having her very own Arabian horses became a reality. In that bookstore, she had discovered a copy of an Arabian Horse World Special Edition, and within those pages she found the ad that led her to one of Arabians Ltd.’s popular seminars in Waco, Texas – and a presentaton of beautiful Arabian horses. Three well-bred mares were purchased, along with an embryo from another mare — and MacKayne Arabians was born. The family settled their new farm on several acres near Keitha’s family in Mabank, Texas, and began enjoying their country life — with the occasional visit from neighboring emus and pet raccoons. Her early visits to Arabians Ltd. in Waco had already given Keitha an appreciation for the success of crossing Ansata Sinan blood on Thee Desperado blood — in fact, all three of the first three Arabian mares she bought had Thee Desperado blood and one of them was by the Ansata Sinan son, *Mishaal HP. These mares had the dark, liquid, soulful eyes that, for Keitha, quickly became a breeding “must-have.”
When Keitha went looking for stallions to cross with her mares, she valued the proven cross, but she was also looking for well-conformed, well-bred horses with bloodlines that were not so readily available in this country. Keitha was drawn to the beauty, substance, and the relative rarity of the Sinan lines, so when she learned that the Ansata Sinan son SS-Rashad Ibn Sinan was for sale, she traveled to Sherri Soper’s SS Arabians in Arizona to see him. She bought Rashad, and her daughter fell in love with another youngster at the farm — Negm Al Sahra, the only foal in the United States by the Ansata Sinan son Al Khalid, who has done quite well in the European showring. So both SS-Rashad Ibn Sinan and Negm Al Sahra became part of the MacKayne Arabians foundation program that day. Keitha has purposefully selected stallions that possessed the kind of size and consistency of pedigree she felt would cross well with each of her elegant and refined broodmares, enhancing their beauty. Keitha leased the only Simeon Sehavi son in North America from Hank and Sandy DeShazer for the same reason. “There are qualities I like about the Ansata lines and the Simeon lines
Facing page: Negm Al Sahra (El Khaled by Ansata Sinan x Almase Amira by Al Baraki), 2010 straight Egyptian colt. Right: Orashans Legacy RAF (*Orashan x Mystify HG by The Minstril), 2010 straight Egyptian colt.
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that I believe will cross well with my mares to produce substance, beauty, and refinement. My long-term breeding plan is to infuse this somewhat rare blood into my program and then cross the results of those breedings back on to some of my Thee Desperado-bred mares to create individuals with even more beauty and refinement. “*Simeon Ibn Sehavi is one of only two sons sired by Imperial Madaar. We have long admired *Simeon Sehavi, certainly one of Marion Richmond’s best mares,” continues Keitha. “She was sold to Dubai Stud, and her extreme type, movement, and charisma have been recognized worldwide. In looking at our herd and seeing how well our mare lines have crossed with Asfour and Imperial Madaar blood, we expect great things from bringing in this blood. We are so grateful to DeShazer Arabians for the opportunity to lease this beautiful stallion who is so much like his dam.”
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Above and facing page: *Simeon Ibn Sehavi (Imperial Madaar x Simeon Sehavi), 2007 straight Egyptian stallion, on lease from DeShazer Arabians.
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Keitha also began applying her trademark passion and enthusiasm to the showring. Led by Keitha’s pride and joy, the spectacular grey mare Alia Valentino (Thee Desperado x Ali Maarlia by Ali Valentino), MacKayne Arabians’ horses were immediately successful at the Egyptian Event, bringing home several class wins and top tens. In the farm’s second year of showing, Keitha’s beloved Alia Valentino was named the 2010 Egyptian Event Reserve Supreme Champion Mare. Nancy Gates of Heirloom Halters/Antara Egyptian Arabians remembers, “I first met Keitha Adams at the 2011 Egyptian Event. I could tell right away she had a good eye for quality. If I could use one word to describe Keitha it would be passion. I wish more breeders were like her. The horse always comes first. She is going to do great things. Keitha’s breeding program will be one to watch for in the future. We wish her huge success.” “MacKayne Arabians is an asset to the Arabian horse,” says Rory O’Neill, of Scottsdale, Arizona. “From their excellent care of the horses on a daily basis to their effervescent, positive attitudes and commitment — I feel lucky spending time enjoying the Arabian horse with this fun family. In addition, the Adams family continues to introduce the Arabian horse to new people, which benefits all of us who are involved in the breed. Cheers to their future. It is very bright.”
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“Alia Valentino or ‘Lee Lee,’ as Keitha and I both called her, was one of those mares that touched the lives of many,” says Shawn Crews of Arabians Ltd. “Years ago when she was to come to me for training, but I had not yet seen her, Michael Byatt saw her shown by Cheryl Balmer at a small show in Houston, and gave her high praise. Upon her arrival here, we all fell hard for her. I had the pleasure of showing her at the Egyptian Event in 2008 and to a second in the World Class Mares and to a Reserve Championship at Region 9 the same year. Alia also caught Frank Spönle’s eye and he asked to show her the next year. With Frank, Alia was named 2010 Reserve Supreme Champion at the Egyptian Event and she was admired by many of the handlers and breeders. “Alia gave her all to everyone. And she was a loyal horse. She was an amazing mover and never disappointed our visitors. Thee Desperado was quite enamored with her too! He always put on a nice show for guests, but it was a different level of enthusiasm when he talked to Alia for showings. We are all very sorry for Keitha’s loss … and a huge loss to all Egyptian breeders.”
Alia Valentino (Thee Desperado x Ali Maarlia by Ali Valentino), facing page and above, pictured with Shawn Crews of Arabians Ltd.
Unfortunately, MacKayne Arabians lost their beautiful Alia Valentino in 2012, shortly after she delivered the lovely bay filly Bint Alia Valentino by EA Java. On June 23, 2012, Keitha announced on Facebook: “If you know me, you know my horses are ‘my equine children.’ Today my amazing, beautiful and brave mare Alia Valentino was taken from me suddenly. I love this mare so much. She is my heart. I will miss her more than anyone will ever know … “I close my eyes and see each moment I had with you so vividly in my mind … my sweet loving Alia Valentino … the way I would groom you and you would groom me back … each day watching you play in the pastures so full of pride … tail flagged and all that snort and blow. My Majestic Diva. I can’t understand why you had to leave me, but I know you are prancing around beautiful green pastures above. You are forever in my heart my precious ‘Lee Lee.’” For Keitha, Alia Valentino’s loss was devastating, and even today, she is unable to speak about it without tears and a choke in her voice.
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Despite her loss, Keitha is resilient and focused. Anyone who spends any length of time with Keitha knows that she has done considerable thinking about her plans for the MacKayne breeding program, and she also has definite ideas about what needs to be done to keep the Egyptian horse alive and well for the future. “I’ve noticed that some Egyptian breeders base their breeding programs strictly on pedigree. They choose their breedings based on ‘paper assessments’ and not on the individual horses before them,” says Keitha. “I just don’t see how we can maintain the beauty and functionality of the straight Egyptian horse by breeding by pedigree alone. It’s important to use your eye and carefully assess the conformation of individual horses. Nice straight legs, good movement, flag tail carriage, beautiful dished head, and a long, lean neck — that’s my idea of the kind of ‘pretty’ that should be preserved.” Horses with leg problems, short necks, bad temperaments, or anything less than big, luminous eyes, are not acceptable at MacKayne Arabians.
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Valentino El Din AWR (Bellagio RCA x Alia Valentino), 2011 straight Egyptian colt.
Right: The 2012 grey colt, Falcon AWR (Falcon BHF x Alia Valentino). Below: Bint Alia Valentino by EA Java, is Alia Valentino’s last foal.
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Keitha has recently become involved in a grassroots movement designed to help fellow small breeders stay afloat and even prosper in today’s weakened economy. With the help of like-minded breeders like Jerel Kerby of Dogwood Springs Arabians, Keitha and others have begun organizing the Straight Egyptian Small Breeders Association (SESBA). The intent is to help small breeders help each other with everything from farm management tasks to developing effective marketing strategies and having a bigger voice in the Egyptian Arabian horse industry. The association also hopes to open a dialogue among all Arabian horse breeders to implement classes specifically for straight Egyptian horses at major Class A shows.
This page: Lady Mishaal RCA (*Mishaal HP x Thee Scarlet Lady by Thee Desperado), 2007 straight Egyptian mare. She is pictured above with trainer Rory O’Neill.
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“There still exists a prejudice in the ‘open’ Arabian horse world against straight Egyptian horses — though, ironically, it is often the straight Egyptian that people use to put more Arabian type into their non-straight Egyptian horses. We want to educate people to dispel this prejudice,” Keitha says. According to Keitha, “Numerous small breeders who are dear friends of mine are having difficulty in this economy selling the beautiful horses they have bred to sell. I started thinking of ways we could work together to save some money and hopefully have extra money to be able to promote our horse and the SE breed with training and showing at the Egyptian Event. Yes we do want to continue to support the Pyramid Society — we just want to create added support for small breeders on the local levels — like an extension of the Pyramid Society to ensure the future of our breed.” Adds Jerel Kerby, “When Keitha Adams approached me about starting a Straight Egyptian Small Breeders Association and asked me to spearhead it, I thought it was a great idea. It will provide an avenue for small breeders to band together
and have greater possibilities with marketing, possibly trade breedings of one another’s stallions to save money, and promote a more diversified gene pool instead of one small breeder breeding all their mares to their one stallion out of economic necessity. “The Pyramid Society does important things for the straight Egyptian horse and for us as members, he continues. “Ideally, I would like to see our group provide constructive comments and strong ideas to help stimulate the overall growth of the Pyramid Society.” As one who grew up riding horses, Keitha would specifically like to see more straight Egyptian owners and breeders giving their geldings jobs to do. Straight Egyptians are so smart, so willing, and so much happier when they are put to work, she firmly believes. Keitha’s own horseback riding was cut short by injuries suffered in a series of car accidents back in the early 1990s; however, she will never forget the exhilaration she felt mounted on her friend’s “untrainable” Arabian when she was just a kid.
Lady Asileh AWR (Thee Asil x Lady Mishaal RCA), 2011 straight Egyptian filly.
Al Amir AWR (Thee Desperado x Lady Mishaal RCA), 2011 straight Egyptian colt.
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Dreamers Juell AWR (The Sequel RCA x Pimlicos Dream RCA), 2011 straight Egyptian filly. “My perfect ride was undoubtedly on that first Arabian, Tolla. I loved riding Tolla through the pasture across from our family land, jumping the creek, and stacking logs for Tolla to jump. Many afternoons we would ride for hours in the pasture, then ride into town to practice barrel racing. My mouth would be so dry by the end of the day that often I would take a different route home — a route that took us right by the local Dairy Queen. I guess people thought it was quite a sight to see this 15-year-old girl riding her horse in the Dairy Queen drive-through for a soft drink, where I taught Tolla to step on the line to activate the speak box.” According to Keitha, any day she got to ride was a great day. Keitha sees the youth market as wide open and largely untapped by Egyptian horse breeders. With that in mind, MacKayne Arabians is in the process of adding two performance trainers to the farm’s staff. Keitha realizes that the Pyramid Society has made some attempts to target the youth market, but she feels there is much more that can be done. Keitha’s oldest daughter, Mikayla,
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Above: MA Latico (Pimlico RCA x Latte by ZT Faa’iq), 2006 straight Egyptian mare. Left: EAI Eskalia Afeena (Safeen x Eskada Alicia), 1996 straight Egyptian mare.
already gets up at 6:00 a.m. every morning to feed horses before she heads to school, and Keitha has secret plans for a Christmas present that will encourage even more participation among her own children. No one who knows Keitha well would be surprised to find her the driving force behind any organized effort to make things better. She is a true giver, usually without a thought of anything in return. Her generosity of spirit and deep love of family extends to her animal family and to her friends, and she is one of those rare individuals with the ability to channel her energy and enthusiasm into the kind of thought and work that just makes good things happen — she is a “doer.” Those qualities are what make Keitha so special to her friends and such a valuable asset to those who care about the future of the straight Egyptian Arabian horse. Her “can do” and “will do” attitude will undoubtedly contribute to making MacKayne Arabians a significant show and breeding farm for years to come. Says Keitha, “I do plan on being here for the long haul!”
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16861 Tarlton Drive Mabank, Texas 75147 903.880.6589 email@example.com
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