|*Jullyen El Jamaal|
2011 has been a year of opening the doors of our minds to more innovation and always learning new ways of improving what we do here on the farm. We have tightened our belts but kept the quality of the care of the horses and the farm first class as always. Our horses have continued to lead at the major shows with Varian Arabian being the #1 breeder at the Canadian Nationals and although the statistics are not yet out from the US Nationals, winning horses bred here at the farm or by and out of stallions and mares we have bred stands at 29 US National Champions and Reserves and 105 US Top Ten winners. *Jullyen El Jamaal had a double header Junior Hunter National Championship as Jullyanna won US Champion and San Carlos Jullyen V Reserve Champion. The Junior Western Pleasure National Champion was also a *Jullyen offspring, Monticello V who is out of Mosquerade V and the multiple National Champion Anthem V was Reserve Champion AAOTR. *Jullyen had his first Top Ten Reining and Working Cow horse Sausalito Jullyen V. Afire Bey V totally dominated the English Division again this year with some of the classes after eliminations, 8 of the Top Ten winning horses were sired by him. Audacious ps had his first US National winner since being purchased by Varian Arabians 3 years ago. Lightning Strike V received the ribbons as US Reserve National Champion Futurity Hunter. I thought Lightning Strike V was glorious so look for him in Scottsdale.
As we head into the New Year we have four beautiful weanlings that will head immediately to Scottsdale to prepare for the February show representing Audacious. This is the year we give Audacious his opportunity as *Jullyen El Jamaal and Maclintock V are well established for their winning offspring. Audacious was lost to the breed for a number of years so his babies need to be out in the public's eye and just wait until you see them. One of the smartest things I have done is to find Audacious and breed him to my mares which includes Desperado V and *Jullyen El Jamaal daughters. I will go into detail on what I believe our breed needs to keep moving ever-forward one of these moments.
Today I want to chat about the things that make a year exciting and fun for me...the horses are always a part of what I do. I am either showing horses to people that admire and love what we do or hauling my horse somewhere to ride with the "book club girls". I may be giving a Power Point presentation on the history and growth of Varian Arabians or gathering cattle on a neighbor's ranch. We will put on our 2012 Spring Fling April 28th and 29th and the Summer Jubilee August 3rd, 4th and 5th and I am excited that Eitan Beth-Halachmy who has become known worldwide for his Cowboy Dressage will be our Summer Jubilee clinician with one of his great horses. Eitan is a master horseman and fun and entertaining as well. For this I can hardly wait.
Then to top off our Summer Jubilee, Western Music Association's three times Entertainer of the year, three times Male Performer of the year and twice Songwriter of the year, Dave Stamey will give another great concert Saturday evening and of course the horses and the rest of us will do our thing as well. Without doubt this years Summer Jubilee will be a showstopper.
I had two once in a lifetime opportunities this year. Can you imagine? Two in one year!
When I was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 2003 I met and became good friends with Vicki Bass, who had much to do with getting the funding for the most wonderful Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth. Vicki is a true cowgirl and a beautiful one at that. She can ride and rope and breeds and trains top quality cutting Quarter horses at their ranch in Fort Worth. Soooooo, Vicki comes out here and rides with us or we haul our horses to Idaho and meet up with her and ride in the Yellowstone area. Vicki was turning 50 and in good Texas style an over the top Fort Worth birthday party with Vicki's choice of destination and friends was the gift from husband Ed Bass. Vicki and Ed are animal lovers, very aware of the environment, cattle raisers, skiers and hard-workers, which pretty much fits into my life's loves.
|Polar Bear photo by Bruce Bunting|
Vicki picked as the destination for her birthday celebration to watch and learn about the Polar Bear's in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. The Polar Bears gather around Hudson Bay in November to wait for this huge lake to freeze over. They ate last when the ice broke up in the spring so these are very hungry bears. I get excited all over again just thinking about and remembering this trip. Vicki invited 29 friends including Audrey Griffin and me. Audrey is one of our Book Club girls and a Cowgirl Hall of Famer a well. I was so darn excited when I received the invitation I was jumping up and down. Audrey and I were yelling and giggling over the phone, thrilled beyond words. The trip was everything one could ever hope for. The Natural Habitat organization has everything organized to a gnats eyebrow. We spent four nights and three days out on the Tundra in the Tundra Buggies, our guides Annie and Bonnie knew everything about anything that had to do with Polar Bears, birds, and all the animals that survive in such an extreme environment. Our Chef made food to die for, Paul our New Jersey immigrant ran around in a Hawaiian shirt keeping the toilets and showers running and simply keeping everyone laughing. The trip was beyond imagination - we watched Polar Bears as they wrestled each other and then slept and waited, walking aimlessly in what is called "walking hibernation" waiting patiently for the ice to freeze. The Polar Bears don't have seals to eat after the spring ice melts so for the months between the ice melting and the ice forming again on Hudson Bay they simply wander. Let me tell you this...Polar Bears are big, really, really big and absolutely fascinating to watch. We saw the Aurora Borealis because Bonnie dashed through our sleeping car at midnight shouting "Get up! Get up! You can see the Aurora Borealis!" So everyone leapt out of bed grabbing everything warm and stood out in the Canadian wilderness and watched the Aurora Borealis. Besides Polar Bear's we say Artic Hare's, ptarmagin, artic fox, gryr falcons and all sorts of birds, we had a writing class and were amazed at what we all came up with, we laughed and sang and we celebrated a wonderful friend's birthday.
|Great new friends. Photo by Bruce Bunting|
It was a trip of a lifetime that I am barely touching on here. Maybe you just had to be there... And possibly most amazing of all is the fact that Vicki Bass for her birthday invited a group of people from all walks of life, many that didn't know each other. Not one person in that group of 29 people that lived together in very close quarters with two showers and three bathrooms had a complaint or disagreement in the six days of our togetherness. Everyone was up for every activity with cheerful smiles and happy laughs. I would travel anywhere with one of Vicki's friends and know I was going to have a happy, open minded, thoughtful and great fun time. For me that speaks volumes about who Vicki is and the friends in her life. I am very, very happy to be one of them.
Barely home from Polar Bearing and the US Nationals, the Book Club Girls Kristin Reynolds, Audrey Griffin, Lisa Thompson and her husband David and I headed for New York. Here is how that adventure happened; we were sitting on our horses on the side of a mountain on the gorgeous old Alisal Ranch at shipping time in May waiting for Art Green and a couple of guys to start the cattle up a canyon. We were prepared to spread out and be sure no cattle slipped away down a draw or hid under a tree. I had watched the Tony awards on TV a few nights before and saw a little piece about the fabulous Broadway play The War Horse. I said, "I would sure like to go to New York and see that play The War Horse". Everyone, of course agreed but as those things go usually there is a lot of agreement and not much action. Lisa however, got busy and bought her tickets and mine. Kristin jumped right in and of course Audrey wasn't about to be left so we were going to New York in November. Lisa is a pilot and is good on the computer so she found a hotel for us a block off Times Square. Kristin's husband Bill is involved in a wonderful new magazine Ranch and Reata and his partner Peter Cuneo and wife Maris live in New York - Ah Ha! So to this sold out play we were able to get tickets and not only that but passes to go backstage afterwards and see the horse puppets. Lucky for us, Jonathan one of the puppeteers gave us a wonderful tour, how things were done, where the horses' puppets came from etc, etc,. Well needless to say, we all immediately loved Jonathan and became friends and now Jonathan is going to come out and ride on a real horse with us one of these moments.
The story continues...
|From left: Me, Audrey Fisher, David Thompson and Audrey Griffin in the cellar of the 21 Club.|
|Kristin, Audrey, Lisa, David, Audrey Fisher and me at the 21 Club.|
Some 28 years ago I sold several horses to the wonderful farm in New York, Dunromin Arabians, owned by Arnold and Audrey Fisher and have stayed friends with the Fishers all these years. Audrey came out to our Summer Jubilee to touch base and see the horses after so many years and I mentioned we were going to New York in the fall. Typical of the Fishers, Audrey invited us to have dinner with her at The 21 Club and if Arnold was in town he would come too. Oh boy, oh boy this was going to be tooooo much fun. "And would we like to tour The Intrepid?" Audrey Fisher asked. "Yes, we echoed back". The Intrepid is the Navel Aircraft carrier that President George Herbert Walker Bush crashed his plane off and thankfully lived to tell about it as President. The Fisher family brought the Intrepid back to New York and made it a museum of memorabilia from World War II. We had our own guide, who gave us great stories and made us feel very important. Then dinner with Audrey at The 21 Club. Old time, such a famous place and with Audrey Fisher as our hostess we were treated like we were very special which of course we dearly loved. I had heard about The 21 Club speakeasy underneath the dinning room during Prohibition days and asked Audrey if there was a possibility we might go down and see where all the drinking went on during the roaring 20's. Shortly we had our own guide who we followed into the kitchen down a narrow little circular stairway through a massive foot wide door and into what is now the wine cellar for very important people. For some reason there wasn't any wine down there with my name on it however I must just not have looked hard enough - anyway, since we were having such a good time, our guide took us upstairs in a side elevator to see a large group of original Remington art. Wow is all we could say! Since we all ride, Remington art is very familiar to us.
|Audrey, Lisa, me, Kristin and David.|
The evening was simply more than can be described. Another time you just had to be with us. In the three full days we were in New York; we rode the subway, stopped at Twin Towers, spent some time in the lovely church right by Twin Towers, and stared at the folks sitting in front of Wall Street. I must admit I suggested to one of the "sitters" that perhaps he should go get a job, which didn't go over very well. The police looked like they really wanted to get on with other things and there were so many police there I wondered who was minding the store. Went down to Battery Park, back through Greenwich Village, saw The War Horse, Toured the Intrepid, dinner at 21 Club, hiked in Central Park in the rain, toured the Metropolitan Museum, checked out the Ralph Lauren mansion where I looked at a nice little credit card and coin purse with a price of $4,500 (put it right down) and finished by going to the wonderful play Billy Elliott again as guests of the Fishers.
We walked the streets mostly with our mouths hanging open, at least mine was. Kristin, Audrey and Lisa fit right in. The people dress beautifully, boots, scarves, hats, no dirty levi's hanging down around the knees, not in Manhattan anyway. It is all so tall, the lights so bright, the people all going somewhere but what really amazed us all was the kindness of everyone. Maybe we looked like we were having a wonderful time which we were, maybe it was because we were lost some of the time which we were, maybe it was because my subway pass didn't seem to work and so I was always getting locked out by the little arms you go through to get on the subway...whatever it was none of us have ever been anywhere that was friendlier, more helpful or seemed delighted that we were in their city. New York, we loved you. Anybody want to go to New York for any reason, don't hesitate to call.
So there you are, another year passed and a new one to look forward to. I hope you are well and that good things will be coming your way.
Merry Christmas everyone.
I am honored to be nominated as Arabian Horse Times Breeder Of The Year in their 2011 Readers Choice Awards.
Please visit their site and vote for all your favorite nominees.
**MARK YOUR CALENDARS**
Spring Fling April 28 & 29, 2012
Summer Jubilee August 3, 4 & 5, 2012
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO