By Les Crowl, MAHA Board Member (December 11, 2002)
The thought of an upcoming Minnesota winter, as well as the fact that I had not been to Arizona in years and had never visited this world famous breeder, provoked my curiosity to the point of deciding to travel to the great southwest over Veterans Day weekend and visit the farm of Mrs. T.
I have wanted to attend the Al-Marah (Arabic for ‘The Very Happy’) Winter Forum for the past few years but due to timing and/or circumstances, was never able to go, until this year. Besides, the registration fee was reasonable and I couldn’t beat the deal I got on the hotel room and airline tickets, flying through Dallas-Fort Worth airport, rather than non-stop to Tucson!
Friday evening was welcome night where we met at the hotel for conference registration and hors d’oeuvres. Our hosts were Janis Halstead and Cynthia Chesnutt, Farms Operations Administrator and Marketing Director, respectively. Quickly, we realized that Arabian enthusiasts, coming from all over, including Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Maryland and Hawaii were attending this year.
Saturday, we were picked up at the hotel by Al-Marah Farm Operations Director, Jerry Hamilton and were shuttled in 15 minutes to the farm for a welcoming coffee and introduction of weekend speakers, starting off, of course, with Bazy Tankersley, herself.
Mrs. T. gave us an extremely informative overview of her breeding philosophy and program over the past sixty years. The center focus of her program being the Crabbet-related horses of her earlier years in the business.
Throughout the first day, attendees listened to not only Mrs. Tankersley but also to Jay Faircloth, Breeding Manager, who spoke on Breeding Techniques, AI and Foaling and gave us a tour of the breeding barn and adjacent lab. We then attended a clinic on Halter Breaking of Foals, given by Director, Jerry Hamilton. Between clinics, we refreshed ourselves with lunch of a southwestern cuisine and discussed and viewed horses in the patio square between the show barns.
Afterwards, Dr. Dean Scoggins, DVM, presented an outstanding clinic on Green Breaking and Trailer Loading. He took a two and a half year old filly, who was only halter and lead broken and, within 45 minutes, had her accepting being sacked out, saddled and bridled with a rider on her in the round pen! To top that, he trained her to trailer load (she had only been trailered locally, twice), willingly, and on cue, in 30 minutes!
Returning from a break, the audience listened intently as local equine vet, Dr. Michael Conaway, gave an overview of his opinions when it comes to Care, Feeding and Supplementing the Pregnant Mare and subsequently, the nursing mare and foal. I asked him about cold-weather supplementation and he suggested anything that is, preferably, sorghum-based with moderately-high protein and moderately-low fat. I use Strategy, by Purina, myself, as I was introduced to this product by my race trainer at Canterbury Park in 1998 and, overall, my horses have done quite well on it either as a modest addition to grain or in lieu of it. Moreover, they seem to love the taste and palatability!
Saturday night we were provided with a fabulous Senora-style buffet dinner which honored, this year, Mary Jane Parkinson, who was writing one of several books on Mrs. T’s Arabian-horse career. For entertainment, we were privileged to watch a youth group performing lariat-rope dance steps and maneuvers. Moreover, one of Bazy’s elderly horses was brought in the indoor arena, at the age of 31, to be honored for its birthday!
On Sunday morning, we sat for a clinic by Dr. Robert Steffens on Selecting a Riding Horse and Equine Health. Immediately following Dr. Steffens was Jackie Alkin, a local Dressage and Hunter/Jumper trainer who had two riders demonstrate Basic Dressage then went on to speak about the Sport Horse.
After a break, we were then presented with an interesting clinic on Endurance by Dr. Bill Sanders and several riders who are actively involved in endurance in the southern AZ. area.
After lunch, we took a pasture walk to view mares and weanlings and discussed lineage, conformation and breeding consistency. The discussion was led by Mrs. T. and it was extremely valuable information to hear her philosophy and opinions…60 years worth of knowledge in an hour and a half stroll!
On Monday, our last day, we lounged in the patio area for coffee and listened to Howard Shenk give a casual talk on the State of the Arabian Horse Community, especially as it relates to the Arabian Horse Owners Foundation, the IAHA/AHR merger, the proposed disassociation of IAHA and USA Equestrian, (which is now a moot point, at least for the time being) and the Recruitment of new people to the Arabian Horse Community.
Dr Steffens then talked about Form and Function then, specifically, back and leg problems, which were of particular interest to me in that I am personally interested in racing Arabians as well as showing them. I asked him a couple of questions about length of cannon and steepness of croup, which he concurred, may cause a lot of problems in today’s show horses but not so much in endurance and racing animals. Many of today’s taller, show Arabians are too long in the back, have too level of croup, overly long cannon bones and weak pasterns which can cause limb weakness, lameness and osteopathic problems during the aging process although, of course, each horse has its own set of durability factors such as overall conformation, breeding and utility.
After the break, our final clinic was on Judging Conformation, given by Mrs. Tankersley, Drs. Scoggins and Steffens who, individually, discussed their ideas of conformation and then they and the audience actually judged a four gelding halter class and a four mare breeding class. In my opinion, just as we did at IAHA Judging School, these hands-on, in-the-ring, situations are actually the best way to study and learn animal judging, supported by slow-motion video tape.
We wrapped up the event with an outdoor picnic lunch on the grounds, then shuttled back to the hotel and hopped a cab to the airport. The trip back was with anxiety as all weekend, the temperature had been in the 70s and I was returning to Minneapolis where, seven hours after I left Tucson, where it was 72 degrees, it was a balmy 32!
This is a casual and fun yet most informative event I would encourage any Arabian horse enthusiast to attend, when convenient, as I believe one can always learn something.
**All of the articles included in the re-launched Crabbet.com site from the original website, Georgia Cheer, Silver Monarch Publishing and The Crabbet Influence magazine are shared here with permission of Georgia Cheer given May 16, 2012.**
Last Updated: March 14th, 2019