A blog dedicated to the horses of the North American Shagya-Arabian Society and their owners. Not just horsepower, ShagyaPower!

Monday, August 28, 2017

What it's all About

I love rereading articles from old issues of NASS News - they are a treasure trove of information about the tradition of the breeding in Eurupe.  Here is a brief excerpt from "Consolidating a Breed", originally written by Dr. Ekkehard Frielinghaus, 1985

"The Shagya Arabian is a further development of the purebred breed of the "Arabian Half-bred" developed by the Austrian and Hungarian Stud farms of Radautz and Babolna, during the 19th century.  The stud farms' aim was to develop a breed with a military, agricultural, and economic usefulness which maintained the constitutional advantages of the purebred Arabian.  The Shagya Arabian had to be superior to the Arabian in height, frame, and bone, while retaining the purebred Arabian qualities of: excellent endurance in riding and driving (the ability to go 12 to 18 miles nonstop, several times a day), easy keeping (requiring only 3 or 4 lb. of oats and enough hay for necessary roughage), and good fertility and longevity (a life span of 20, 25, 0r 30 years).  This breeding aim is still valid today, with an emphasis on particular features which serve for riding -- big frame, rounded topline of neck, well developed withers, smooth coupling and correct, smooth and elastic movement in all three gates."

I love this succinct explanation of the (very high) standard for the breed.  Lots of "sport horse" type qualities although that wasn't really a term in 1985 and certainly not in the Austro-Hungarian empire.  But the goals are aligned.  Furthermore, because of the very careful and controlled development of this breed over time, it is extremely consistent in type today.  The same cannot always be said for "sport horse crosses" today.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Small but mighty - Nicolatina Star AF

Hi Readers!  Welcome to a first in a series I'll be calling "Mighty Mares of the NASS herd".  This one will feature Nicolatina Star AF.  I've always been drawn to this mare although I never got the chance to meet her in person (yet!), so I asked her owner Shelley Housh to give us an exclusive interview! :)

JB: Nicolatina Star AF (aka Tina) has been a part of Sterling Shagyas since the early days of the breeding program.  What was it about this horse (whether that be pedigree, personality, or something else) that inspired you to bring her home?

SH: I was looking for my first Shagya mare that I thought would match well with Sterling.  Since he was Shandor/Oman, I wanted something outside those lines. Starwalker was an obvious choice to cross with.  I had the choice of Nina (Janos/*Nicolette) or Tina (*Starwalker/*Nicolette).  I was hesitant because Tina was a twin and I bought her sight unseen.  But she appeared to have good bone and I really liked her hind end, had a nice hip.  She has always had a big head and ears that didn't quite match her body, but I figured that was due to her twinning.  I had seen Nicolette on video and thought she was the type of Shagya I wanted to breed - big bodied, large bone and she had the most beautiful movement.  Her sire O'Bajan 1-10 was an accomplished dressage horse but what I found out many years later while visiting a breeder in Denmark is that he was actually an amazing jumper.  Tina has inherited that jumping ability- she jumped out of a 5-foot pen while 325 days pregnant because she missed her friends on the hillside!

{Scroll through images of Nicolatina Star AF below!}

Nicolatina Star AF JB: How would you describe Tina in the following three contexts:
a) as a member of your herd/day-to-day:  She is an almost alpha more while in the herd, loves to be with her buddies and can get a bit pissy when she leaves them, but once on the trail she just goes.  
b) as a riding horse:  She eats up the trail when I ride her and for as small as she is (14.2 h), her stride is huge!  I wish I had the time to properly condition her as I know she is a Tevis horse.  
c) as a mama: She is a wonderful mother, always very attentive to the foal and is fine with anyone going in with her and playing with the foal.  She is very maternal and enjoys being pregnant.  I will go sit in the field with her and she will come stand over me, nuzzling me for attention.  If she were a dog she would be one of those small dogs that would go everywhere with you in your purse.  I call her my pocket puppy.

JB: Tina has had three foals by your head breeding stallion, Sterling Silver AF, who is also a purebred Shagya Arabian.   In your own words can you summarize the commonalities between these offspring either in conformation or in personality or both?
SH:  Tina's 3 fillies by Sterling are near triplets - really like 3 peas in a pod.  They all had really similar build, but Nefertari was a tank at birth with huge joints.  They were all very feminine, had beautiful movelment.  Nike, she was a bit stand off-sh till she got to know you.  The other 2 were extremely friendly from the start.  I wish I had updated photos of them all to see how they developed.  Nike is a backyard riding horse, Nairobi has started in dressage and Nefertari went to Mexice to be an endurance prospect.  What I really like is that I know exactly what I will get when I crossed Sterling with Tina.  Shagyas breed so true to type!

{Scroll through images of Tina's progeny below}

Progeny of Nicolatina Star AF

JB: This year you chose a Trakehner stallion to pair with Tina, and got a fabulous big colt that you named Navigator's Song SH.  There are LOTS of options out there - what about this stallion (Songline II *Ps) convinced you he would be an ideal match for Tina?

SH:  This year Tina's foal is by the Trakehner stallion Songline II *Ps.  I've always liked Trakehners and their story is similar to the Shagya.  I have been to a few of their conventions and talked with some breeders who are familiar with the Shagya breed.  They do like/want Shagyas in their bloodlines.  I had been to a sporthorse seminar where I had the opportunity to go with Timothy Holecamp (former ATA president and lessee of Songline) to see Songline ridden by Michael Pollard at his farm.  I was impressed, not only with Songline's performance record, but his temperament as a stallion and his lovely movement, and an especially nice canter.  He is beautifully put together and I thought he and Tina had similar builds that would compliment each other.  Songline was the champion at his inspection Germany as a 2 yr old and was sold that day for 320,000 euros - a record at that time.  He then qualified for the 5 yr old tin championship in Germany - he did not copete, but then qualified again as a 6 yr old and won.  Tina is an incredible mover, has a huge powerful stride, and with her natural jumping ability I thought I'd like to breed her to an eventing horse to get an eventing prospect.  Why not breed to a champion?  I must admit I also did it because I'd like to see more Shagya bloodlines in the Trakehner breed, plus Trakehners are more marketable than Shagyas.  Tina's colt Navigator's Song is just what I had imagined.  He is huge (should mature 16.2 h) and is a lovely mover, very uphill, but he does not have the super easygoing Shagya temperament that all my other foals have had.  He is definitely all colt and wants to do what he wants to do.

Navigator's Song SH - 2017 Trakehner colt (Songline II *Ps/*Nicolatina Star AF)

JB: Imagine we were hosting a party to celebrate Tina and you were the MC.  Do you have a little funny or inspiring anecdote or two that you would share with us?  Do tell! 
I did not get Tina started under saddle till age 11.  She was an excellent broodmare and I just never had the time between babies to get her started.  I finally did in 2015 and did a 15-mile AERC "fun ride", then a 25 mile LD with her after only a few months under saddle.  I was scheduled to ride in the Rose Parade that year and after the mare I had planned to ride in the Rose Parade colicked and had surgery my options were limited to Sterling or Tina to ride in the parade.  Tina had been under saddle only 10 months, but she was level headed and I really trusted her. She was amazing! We spent the week at the LA Equestrian center practicing daily and doing an Equestfest performance.  Even with airhorns and all the crowds and chaos, she was steady as a rock during the parade.  I was so proud of my little "Tiny Tina"!  It was a once in a lifetime experience and I am glad we did it together.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Happy birthday, Skamp!

Wishing happy 12th birthday to a very special boy, Shagya Skamp AF.  Here's a recent photo from the hills of Vermont, with owner Joanna Lasher up.  Jo and Skamp have been campaigning the limited distance endurance ride circuit in New England, and they make a fantastic pair!  (Click here for AERC history)

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Last fall Skamp was even featured on the cover some promotional material.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Baron AF, oldest living member of the NASS herd?

Dear Shagya Enthusiasts:  I'm proud to present the first post in a series called "Where Are They Now", where we try to touch base with the senior citizens of the NASS Herd.  Hopefully we will hear from some other owners of senior Shagyas in response to this post, but to get things started we are featuring BARON AF (*Oman/*Biala) NASS/ShA-89-034.

A study of Baron AF's PEDIGREE (click here to view) shows an impressive mix of traditional European lines.  His sire line traces to O'Bajan and includes the influential stallion Bajar.  *Oman's dam came from Mersuch/Gazal lines, while *Biala  took her main Shagya influence from the Dahoman line.

Breeder Adele Furby writes: "*Biala's two colt foals by *Oman did not resemble each other to a great degree.  Baron AF took much more after *Biala, and Bayram took more the type of *Oman.  I sold Baron AF when he was quite young to Beverly Thompson.  When Bruno Furrer saw Baron at Bev's as a two-year old he was quite enthusiastic about him. (Bruno was our visiting international Shagya-Arabian judge from Switzerland.) But at that time NASS did not inspect or approve stallions who were only two years old.  So Baron AF was inspected three years later by Anna Aaby (visiting international Shagya judge from Denmark) as a 5-year old at Gwyn Davis' farm in Illinois.  It was interesting because Bayram AF was there too, so everybody who attended had a chance to see the two full brothers."

Click through the slideshow of images below to see Baron AF from his first steps to adulthood!

During his official 1995 inspection, Baron AF earned an average score of 7.08.  Records indicate he measured 15.01/2 hands, 193 cm at the girth and 20 cm in the cannon.   The judges comments were as follows:
"A compact, masculine stallion with a very good head and eye set on a slightly short neck with good topline. Powerful body but the back a bit soft.  Good legs and good leg angles, moving too close in front at walk. Strong trot but moving on three tracks."

Beverly Grimes Thompson has cared for Baron AF for nearly his entire life.  She remarks: "Today Baron is thriving at 27 years young.  Although he is retired from breeding, he is still very interested in his mares and considers himself king of the farm!"

Baron AF's records show nine registered offspring.  Hopefully we will catch up with each one of them as this series continues.  If you or someone you know has ever owned the horses below, please reach out to me and let's help spread the word about the amazing Shagya breed and the accomplishments of these horses.
  • Augustus, 2001, USA-San Pierre, W 
  • Cameo, 2006, USA-Columbia City, S 
  • Cherie, 2004, USA-Columbia City, S 
  • Chiron, 2005, USA-Columbia City, W 
  • Countess Bessenyey, 1996, USA-Columbia City, S 
  • Crystal, 1998, USA-Columbia City, S 
  • Fauna, 1992, USA-Hall, S 
  • Florence, 2002, USA-Columbia City, S 
  • Franklin, 1998, USA-Columbia City, H

Also, do you know of any NASS registered horses who are over 25 years old?  If so, please contact me, Jamie Bratt (jamieindc@gmail.com) - we'd love to hear more about your horse and his/her adventures!