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Druid Acres
Mar. 3, 2010, 04:19 PM
I've been looking into the whole thing that happened in the 1980s when Arabian horses were being bred as an "investment" rather than as useful riding horses (for the most part). Then the tax laws were changed in 1986 and everybody tried to dump their horses for almost nothing. I remembered the market changing, since I boarded at an Arabian breeding farm at the time, but didn't know the particulars.

Anyhoo, I stumbled on this interesting radio program (http://www.albany.edu/talkinghistory/arch2002jan-june.html)(from 2002) where some "insiders" from the era talk about their experiences. Scroll down the page about 1/3 of the way - it's the one called Segment 1: "Reaganomics on the Hoof: The Arabian Horse Industry in the 1980s."

Here's the blurb for it:
Reaganomics on the Hoof explores how something as remote and impersonal as changes in tax laws can have far reaching, and completely unforeseen, effects on obscure corners of the American cultural landscape. In the early 1980s Arabian horse breeding operations became glamorous tax shelters, and because they only qualified as tax shelters if the animals were constantly reproducing, the numbers of Arabian horses in the country skyrocketed; prices for top horses reached the millions. When the tax law changed in 1986 the industry collapsed. Horses worth tens of thousands of dollars a when they could be written off were, overnight, became walking dog food. The rich got out of the horse industry, the horse people could no longer make a living, and thousands of horses were sold by the pound. Now, more than 15 years later, the industry is just starting to show signs of recovery. Produced by Lizzie Redkey for Talking History (University at Albany).

It's 20 minutes long, so make a cup of tea and put your feet up.

summerhorse
Mar. 3, 2010, 08:52 PM
Sadly it looks as though history might be trying to repeat itself. Despite the market for most horses being in the toilet there are still the elite few that will pay tons of money for a horse they can't or won't even ride (and probably nobody else will either).

Amwrider
Mar. 3, 2010, 09:10 PM
You may want to pick up a copy of the book Trading Paper by Callie Canberra, it is all about the Arabian industry in the 80's and its crash.

winfieldfarm
Mar. 4, 2010, 12:11 AM
my family lived through the 80's crash. It was devastating but unfortunately wouldn't have affected the breed if folks weren't hiding their money there in the first place. The Arabian breed is still trying to recover, wandering lost among the other breeds and trying desperately to find value in our horses.

I managed to rekindle my parents' farm but not as a breeding operation. They were never big but produced high quality babies that were sought after by knowledgable trainers and owners as great performance horses with excellent minds. Unfortunately, my father was badly injured by a horse and had to quit his very successful blacksmith gig. He also sold Stidham trailers but the economy pulled that out from under him as well.

I was ten when my parents had to file bankruptcy. They walked away from their farm, their horses and their dreams with the clothes on their backs. I have spent the last 26 years building our farm name back up. I train and teach a heck of a lot more than I will ever breed. Breaks my heart to sell the babies! But it gives me great pride to represent my family's farm.

Just got back from Scottsdale. Didn't show but had a fantastic time visiting friends. I actually didn't watch much of the show as it's the same old, same old to me. I prefer to watch the warmup rings. Much more educational for a purist trainer like me. I learn a lot about what not to do and what doesn't work. Further justifies my training ideals and program. but I consider myself a little pickle in this big salad.

I can only hope that those of us out there can keep on keepin' on with our crazy little aye-rabs.

On a side note, my politically savvy hubby says that it was actually Carter's policies finally gaining speed that crashed the market. Reagan did a lot of good to fix things but like many policies, the effects were not seen until he was long out of office. Now me, I don't trust anyone who wants to run a whole county.

The best bit of political rhetoric I know is this:
The goverment cannot give you anything without taking it first from someone else.

mvp
Mar. 4, 2010, 09:00 AM
I remember this as a kid in NorCal.

Now driving through some of the same areas you'll see tiny hobby vineyards planted in every available nook. I don't find dirt and rows of trussed up woody plants aesthetically pleasing. Grapes also take years and years of growing before they start producing fruit. I'm not sure how much wine will come from, say, half an acre that was your front yard.

Why do this? Some tax thang has given people with little wannabe spreads on very expensive land a way to save.

Sonesta
Mar. 4, 2010, 10:34 AM
I "lived through" those times as well, but I was merely showing Arabian horses then.

I still maintain that the bad rep that the Arabian horse has today is a direct result of the market being flooded with those "living art" horses whose minds had been ruined for the halter ring so they'd look like bug-eyed, fire-breathing dragons.

Horses that had supposedly been purchased for hundreds of thousands of dollars were being dumped and low end auctions for $125 each and being bought by unsuspecting backyard people who found themselves with horses they couldn't handle because they were so freaked out from their halter "training."

The public began to believe that all Arabians were like this. So sad, when the average Arabian horse is a gentle, willing, friendly and oh-so-smart horse that is a joy to be around.

Druid Acres
Mar. 4, 2010, 10:36 AM
Thanks to all for the replies. I'm not sure why I find this topic so fascinating, but I do. Maybe it's the confluence of horses, wealth, and economics, I dunno.

Amwrider, thanks for the book suggestion - I'll definitely look into it. (I always try the library first.)

Winfield Farm, sorry you had to live through it and for your folks' troubles, but it sounds like you're soldiering on bravely. I think that there will always be people who find the breed appealing, so I don't think there's a real danger of it dying out.

MVP, I know what you mean about "repurposing" farms, and I agree that vineyards aren't that glorious to look at. They're gaining popularity here, too. BUT I would rather see a little farm made into a vineyard than, say, a subdivision - an all too frequent occurrence IMHO.

I personally love Arab crosses and hope to own another one some day (had one as a kid). I'm trying to be more knowledgeable about bloodlines this time around, though.

Tamara in TN
Mar. 4, 2010, 10:50 AM
I was a teenager in those days,so had no money to loose
but the horses that were shipped to the killers,the numbers were enormous...

I specifially remember the horses sorted by BREED for each full trailer that left...

a full load of quarter horses,a full load of arabs,a full load of drafts,a full load of ponies and on and on...

and boxes and boxes of registration papers for the horses left stacked in corners...

it was the greatest slaughter I had ever seen then or since...

Tamara in TN

twotrudoc
Mar. 4, 2010, 10:54 AM
The goverment cannot give you anything without taking it first from someone else.

This!

I do hope you have a successful and rewarding life breeding and training Arabs.

Chaila
Mar. 4, 2010, 10:55 AM
What changed in the tax laws? My dad is an architect and he designed some Arabian barns for one of his clients who was a wealthy art investor. Then the guy just stopped and dumped the horses and we just thought his business went bad.

How was a horse a tax shelter in 1980?

Druid Acres
Mar. 4, 2010, 11:05 AM
What changed in the tax laws? My dad is an architect and he designed some Arabian barns for one of his clients who was a wealthy art investor. Then the guy just stopped and dumped the horses and we just thought his business went bad.

How was a horse a tax shelter in 1980?

Here's what I found on this link (http://www.answers.com/topic/arabian-horse):

In the 1980s, Arabians became a popular status symbol and were marketed simlarly to fine art. Some individuals also used horses as a tax shelter. Prices skyrocketed, especially in the United States, with a record-setting public auction price for a mare named NH Love Potion, who sold for $2.55 million in 1984, and the largest syndication in history for an Arabian stallion, Padron, at $11,000,000. The potential for profit led to over-breeding of the Arabian. When the Tax Reform Act of 1986 closed the tax-sheltering "passive investment" loophole, limiting the use of horse farms as tax shelters, the Arabian market was particularly vulnerable due to over-saturation and artificially inflated prices, and it collapsed, forcing many breeders into bankruptcy and sending many purebred Arabians to slaughter. Prices recovered slowly, with many breeders moving away from producing "living art" and towards a horse more suitable for amateur owners and many riding disciplines. By 2003, a survey found that 67% of purebred Arabian horses in America are owned for recreational riding purposes.

Wikipedia has an article on the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_Reform_Act_of_1986)if you want the particulars.

MunchkinsMom
Mar. 4, 2010, 01:02 PM
I was boarding at a very nice arabian show barn at the time (I had the only QH in the whole barn). Problem was that folks were taking massive tax writeoffs, and many of them had to pay back taxes if they tried to continue to write off their expenses, and were classified as "hobby horse owners" and not truely into it as a business (i.e., showing a profit in 2 out of 7 years).

The trainer got out of training, and changed careers, a new trainer came in and didn't make a go of it, and then the barn was leased out to a dressage trainer, and now it has a reining horse trainer in there.

Only one of my former co-boarders at the farm still shows arabians, she moved her horses to other trainers farms, those trainers that did manage to stay in business.

gloriginger
Mar. 4, 2010, 01:31 PM
There was so much more to it than just the tax shelter, there were the sydicates, the trading of one horse to another to inflate the prices...it certainly was used as a tax shelter, but what many of the big farms did was really criminal...if it were stocks and not horses, they would probably be in jail.

I met a lot of the Old timers when I lived in Phoenix, heard many many stories about those days- horses selling on ticker tapes, the lavish auctions, the over the top farms that are now used car lots and stripmalls.

I think it sad that there was such little regard for the animals. A lot of people got really screwed out of a lot of $ because they were swindled - uneducated, un horsey people who thought they could make a lot of money buying horses, and then the bottom fell out. The listened to a slick sales man...its a story as old as time.

There is still an ad that I see every know and again for an Arabian farm - a picture of a horse and it says something to the effect of "ask us how this horse paid our daughters way through college."

I don't think the breed will ever "recover" from what happened...its like any big trauma and shock, you never get over, you just get through.

I love the breed, I always will- Arabians are smart and sensitive and kind. I spent to morning working with one of the Arabians rescued from the Candia situation here in New Hampshire. She is 12 - she has very little handling, yet in just our second time together she has learned to cross tie, and lunge in one direction. She will not allow me to work on her right side--and I tell her that's okay, we will get there, someday. Her eyes speak of the unthinkable things she has endured in her life, set free on a range in Colorado, shipped cross country in a school bus, starved. Yet just the same, they are big and dark and deep, and she is always thinking, her mind open, her willingness to succeed...with all that I know she has experienced, and probably more, she is kind, she wants to trust me, she tells me that if I am kind to her, and speak softly, she is still willing to work at giving me what I ask. This is what I love about the breed, they are as hearty as the are beautiful. They are as kind as they are tempermental. They are as stoic as they are smart - and above all they are survivors.

betsyk
Mar. 4, 2010, 01:34 PM
I own one of those horses! he's now 28, and as the story goes, he stood around for the first 5 years of his life, 1982-1987, and was given/sold to a college kid when the breeder went out of business (or something like that...). He found his way to me, eventually, and has been an amazing horse - well bred, sound, great temperament - all the things we love in Arabs. Hard be believe he was essentially "free" at one point in his life. Thank goodness for college kids who like projects!

Druid Acres
Mar. 4, 2010, 01:35 PM
Thanks for the story, MM. Similarly, I was boarding at an Arabian breeding farm when the market collapsed. I remember a couple of things that struck me as very odd at the time. For example, the owner came to my door one Saturday morning (I lived roughly 12 miles from the barn) and asked nicely if I could pay my board a little early that month. I had no idea that their operation was suddenly in such dire straits, and I thought this was most peculiar, but I paid them.

I also noticed that the farm owners suddenly started buying back some of the youngstock that they'd recently sold. They mentioned something about fearing that they would be sold to slaughter or offed for insurance money. I just thought they were being eccentric, as I had no idea that the market had just fallen apart.

These were good, caring, people with nicer than average horses. I wish to heck I could remember the names of their three stallions that they stood - they were good quality and all of them were ridden and not just shown at halter.

Sonesta
Mar. 4, 2010, 02:05 PM
It was a horrifying time. Horses were abandoned at farms and the farms sent them to slaughter or to the lowest end auctions you can imagine. I bought several at that time for pennies - including the wonderful black stallion we stood for many years - Fyre One. He was an Aladdinn son out of the Bask mare, Fyre Love. She had sold in foal with Fyre for the highest price for an Arabian mare in history at that time. And he was just abandoned at the farm where he was boarded.

When the "investor" owners (mostly doctors who knew NOTHING about horses) learned they could no longer write off the incredible expenses of these horses against their regular income (thus, the tax-shelter aspect) they just walked away from them. They couldn't be sold. They were worthless. A "million dollar" horse was of no value at all overnight.

Druid Acres
Mar. 4, 2010, 02:25 PM
Thanks to everyone for sharing stories!

Sonesta, I tried to look at Fyre One on allbreedpedigree, but the photo doesn't work. Can you upload another one?

Sonesta
Mar. 4, 2010, 02:43 PM
Here you go.

Druid Acres
Mar. 4, 2010, 02:46 PM
Thanks - what a pretty boy!

Chardavej
Mar. 4, 2010, 03:35 PM
Wow he is gorgeous!!

I love arabians! Have had two board with me at different times, one is here now. Both are SO SWEET and so curious and just love people and so steady on the trail!

I had a little Arabian mix, I don't know what she was mixed with, she was given to me, and boy was she an awesome horse! Gave you 200% on the trail, go all day through anything and had very little miles on her when I got her (had a lot though when I gave her to another friend, WITH a signed agreement she is not to be bred, leased, sold or given away, she is to come back to me. I guess it's a lifetime free lease?) and she just loves her to death!

cajunbelle
Mar. 4, 2010, 04:28 PM
When the "investor" owners (mostly doctors who knew NOTHING about horses) learned they could no longer write off the incredible expenses of these horses against their regular income (thus, the tax-shelter aspect) they just walked away from them. They couldn't be sold. They were worthless. A "million dollar" horse was of no value at all overnight.

I remember this!

Doctors and investors would show up at the barn with absolutely no idea about horses. Investors just forked out tons of cash for their new nest-eggs! Those faces that had grins from ear to ear, were frantic... shortly after the new tax laws.

Watermark Farm
Mar. 4, 2010, 06:58 PM
Druid Acres, thanks for posting this info. It's fascinating! I well remember the Arab craze of the late 70s/early 80s and all the Arab farms in my area (East Bay area near San Francisco) that were going under.

I just lost my 30 year old Arabian gelding last year. He was a 1979 model and part of that era. His family tree seriously did not fork --- his 'linebreeding' was something else!

Chaila
Mar. 4, 2010, 07:06 PM
I think it was kind of like "Tulip Fever" in Holland, where suddenly tulips were worth thousands.

I remember asking my dad back then when he took me to Kentucky where he was designing a barn renovation: "But what are they going to DO with the horses? Why isn't anybody going to ride them?"

And he tried to explain the art/investment thing which was totally lost on me.

chemteach
Mar. 4, 2010, 07:40 PM
It was a horrifying time. Horses were abandoned at farms and the farms sent them to slaughter or to the lowest end auctions you can imagine. I bought several at that time for pennies - including the wonderful black stallion we stood for many years - Fyre One. He was an Aladdinn son out of the Bask mare, Fyre Love. She had sold in foal with Fyre for the highest price for an Arabian mare in history at that time. And he was just abandoned at the farm where he was boarded.

When the "investor" owners (mostly doctors who knew NOTHING about horses) learned they could no longer write off the incredible expenses of these horses against their regular income (thus, the tax-shelter aspect) they just walked away from them. They couldn't be sold. They were worthless. A "million dollar" horse was of no value at all overnight.

I loved your stallion. I also have a "dumped mare." She is by Strike and out of Provactiv, both National Champions. I bought her before she was being sent to auction because her owner had not paid her training bill.

It may have became the "worst of times" but it certainly was also the time of many great Arabians. I always suspected money didn't actually change hands and really was glad to see a lot of the passive, never rode a horse investors out. But now it seems to be dominated by big monied foreign investors.

I am thankful to have seen such wonderful horses and am thankful for the great times at the Nationals.

gwenrowdy
Mar. 4, 2010, 09:28 PM
I'm old enough to remember that era, too. As I recall, the movement started in Scottsdale and the prices skyrocketed despite warnings from people who remembered a similar boom-and-bust trend with Shetland ponies in the '50's-selling for huge sums one day and a few dollars the next (although I'm not old enough to remember the Shetland pony fiasco). There were enough Arabians killed for insurance money for a former homicide detective to make a living investigating the insurance scams. I read an article about him and his work in a magazine and it was a real eye-opener.

Bank of Dad
Mar. 4, 2010, 10:32 PM
This is really interesting. I am old enough to remember the true classic farms from the 50's and 60's--NeverDie in Md, Al Marah in Md., Varian, Donahue, Cederdell, Rogers in Ca. Then when I got a farm in the 70's, they were expensive, and by the 80's unattainable for the backyard rider. I was really lucky in 1980 to be able to breed my QH mare to a Raffles grandson for next to nothing. I had kids in the 80's and stopped following the market, so I never really understood what made the breed take such a wrong turn. With the market flooded now, I purchased two (unfortunately crazy horses which I no longer have). Last year I was given a wonderful older one, and I've noticed a lot of free Arabs on the 'net.

tkhawk
Mar. 4, 2010, 10:48 PM
As I recall, the movement started in Scottsdale and the prices skyrocketed despite warnings from people who remembered a similar boom-and-bust trend with Shetland ponies in the '50's-selling for huge sums one day and a few dollars the next .

Interesting, I was not aware of a Shetland pony boom and bust.

But OP thanks for the piece, very informative. Just sad, I love Arabs. But I guess such is life.

chemteach
Mar. 4, 2010, 10:54 PM
I also remember Never Die in Maryland and Al-Marah when it was up in Barnestown. I was fortunate enough to visit Lasma and Chauncey's in Scottsdale, Varian in California, and several others. Couldn't buy anything from there but loved seeing the horses and the farms.

gloriginger
Mar. 4, 2010, 11:01 PM
Last year I was given a wonderful older one, and I've noticed a lot of free Arabs on the 'net.

Yeah, just do a search on Craiglist in Phoenix for Arabian in the farm section- there are some really nice horses being sold for next to nothing. Ofcourse the economy has impacted all areas of the horse world- but there are some very nicely bred Arabians being sold for a fraction of the breeding fees...

Mara
Mar. 4, 2010, 11:05 PM
This is really interesting. I am old enough to remember the true classic farms from the 50's and 60's--NeverDie in Md, Al Marah in Md., Varian, Donahue, Cederdell, Rogers in Ca. Then when I got a farm in the 70's, they were expensive, and by the 80's unattainable for the backyard rider. I was really lucky in 1980 to be able to breed my QH mare to a Raffles grandson for next to nothing. I had kids in the 80's and stopped following the market, so I never really understood what made the breed take such a wrong turn. With the market flooded now, I purchased two (unfortunately crazy horses which I no longer have). Last year I was given a wonderful older one, and I've noticed a lot of free Arabs on the 'net.

Al-Marah and Varian are still around; Bazy Tankersley and Sheila Varian have ALWAYS insisted that their horses have a purpose and a job other than getting wiggy on the end of a shank. The Arabians they breed are gorgeous, but they do as the Arab was meant to do - perform in a variety of disciplines.

quietann
Mar. 5, 2010, 01:12 AM
When I tried out my mare (Morgan), the owners, who didn't have arenas, trucked her down the road to a place that turned out to be Bazy T's Maryland farm, which she still owns. There aren't any Arabians there anymore, AFAIK, but it was something to ride at a place with such a "history."

ReSomething
Mar. 5, 2010, 01:41 AM
I remember Arabs being HUGE in SoCal, and of course lots of little breeder operations in NorCal. I fell in love with Bask (IIRC he wasn't as special then)and read all the articles in Horse Illustrated, about Cal Poly Pomona, Kellogg Ranch, John Davidson, Wayne Newton - this was in the early '70's so before it got so crazy.
I'm very thankful that I missed the front row seats for the crash - Tamara, the thought of all those boxes of registration papers for those horses just left in a corner to be disposed of is chilling.


Boom and bust, history is forever doomed to repeat itself.

SarahandSam
Mar. 5, 2010, 06:26 AM
I had a bunch of Arabian Journals (or whatever the main Arab magazine was called) that I somehow acquired when I was a youngster; apparently this would've been after the boom ended... I knew that Arabs had become trendy and then the market crashed, but I didn't know how extensive all of this was. I remember being a horse-crazy preteen looking through all the Arab magazines and daydreaming and naming my fantasy horses after them...

Mara
Mar. 5, 2010, 11:40 AM
I had a bunch of Arabian Journals (or whatever the main Arab magazine was called) that I somehow acquired when I was a youngster; apparently this would've been after the boom ended... I knew that Arabs had become trendy and then the market crashed, but I didn't know how extensive all of this was. I remember being a horse-crazy preteen looking through all the Arab magazines and daydreaming and naming my fantasy horses after them...

I actually had a subscription to Arabian Horse World! The regular monthly edition was as thick as a phone book, and the Scottsdale edition was two volumes. I'd spend hours reading the ads.

arabhorse2
Mar. 5, 2010, 12:09 PM
I actually had a subscription to Arabian Horse World! The regular monthly edition was as thick as a phone book, and the Scottsdale edition was two volumes. I'd spend hours reading the ads.I did too. Those were some impressive magazines in the Arabian heyday. Glossy, usually over 300 pages each month, with tons of full color pictures and a lot of many-paged spreads for the really big farms. Conny was a 'bust' purchased horse. Born in 1982, and I got him for next to nothing in 1986. His breeder went out of business, but is still heavily involved in the Virginia Arabian Horse Association.

ayrabz
Mar. 5, 2010, 12:22 PM
Obviously an arab lover here.. (duh).........but even more so a USING horse lover. I don't think horses being bred for halter is exclusive to arabians, either. Look at the 'cattle beef' style QHs with grossly over developed builds and TEENY TINY feet.

To me, breeding for usage and training undersaddle once of age (!!!) vs. just breeding pasture art is important in every breed.

But, I do agree the over inflated prices are much less prevelant anymore----I grin to think I couldn't even sell my Desperado V gelding for the stud fee to get him here ! (I wasn't his breeder, though) Times have indeed changed.

arabhorse2
Mar. 5, 2010, 12:26 PM
Conny was performance bred and had big, ole feet! Casper has big feet, too. I like a riding animal, not something that just looks picturesque posing out in the pasture.

SarahandSam
Mar. 5, 2010, 01:05 PM
I actually had a subscription to Arabian Horse World! The regular monthly edition was as thick as a phone book, and the Scottsdale edition was two volumes. I'd spend hours reading the ads.

Yep, I think that was it! I learned a lot about Arabian breeding and pedigrees from those ads... or at least I got to recognize all the important names.

mvp
Mar. 5, 2010, 02:14 PM
A dinky back-yard breeding farm in Brentwood, CA (in back of NorCal's East Bay, not the SoCal city) stood a useful stallion named HK Kryptonite. They said the breeding operation paid for itself and then some.

These were good people and horsemen. Kryptonite (a stocky, ridden bay thing) lived in the barn with the mares. He was shown in hand and under saddle in western tack. As a kid or 12 or so, I handled him and his babies. He was ridden out in the hills with mares. The breeders were honest about which babies were worthy of reproduction and which were not.

This was the first stallion-- and high standards for stallion behavior-- I knew. I'm deeply grateful to these people for showing me how it could be done.

Foxtrot's
Mar. 5, 2010, 02:54 PM
Even in Canada - I remember a recording artist that we knew, he knew we were into horses - he came around with gorgeous glossy phamphlets and tried to sell us on the 'deal'. He happened to be one born with a silver spoon in his mouth and we stayed on our own path. He had a lovely place with lovely horses grazing in the pasturres - never did anything with them except try to sell them and the concept.

Like everyone else, he lost his shirt.

...memories of Llamas, ostriches, pot bellied pigs....

sketcher
Mar. 5, 2010, 04:52 PM
Al-Marah and Varian are still around; Bazy Tankersley and Sheila Varian have ALWAYS insisted that their horses have a purpose and a job other than getting wiggy on the end of a shank. The Arabians they breed are gorgeous, but they do as the Arab was meant to do - perform in a variety of disciplines.

That is definitley true. I'm a huge Sheila Varian fan. But, it also helps to have a vast family fortune.

greysandbays
Mar. 5, 2010, 07:08 PM
What was the Varian family fortune? IIRC, she was a schoolteacher in her younger years, and that's not the sort of thing some rich girl who wants to play with horses would do...

I always thought of them as one of the last of the era where "the exceptional stallion made the farm famous", rather than as more recently has been the case, where "the farm makes the so-so stallion famous".

MsM
Mar. 5, 2010, 09:30 PM
I got to see a couple of investment/tax-shelter farms just before the crash. I was involved in University horse-judging teams and we got to tour a number of beautiful barns.
One of the Arab barns we saw stands out in my mind. Owners were rich non-horse people but enjoyed the status and hoopla. The barn I saw was a show and sale barn. It was all set up for in-hand and "liberty" showing. I dont think there was riding tack on the property. The manager informed us that these were halter Arabians and "too valuable to be ridden!" He very nicely took out a couple of the horses and had them stood up while he explained points of conformation and breed type.
Then he confided that this is not how a buyer would see the horse. He pointed to the window that overlooked the small arena. The buyer would not enter a barn but would be escorted directly to the climate-controlled Viewing Area complete with bar and food. Then he told the assistant to put on a show. The arena lights dimmed and flashed and a smoke machine started (honest!). Meanwhile, the handler was in the barn aisle getting the horse worked up - spinning it, jerking on it and cracking a whip (not pretty). Then he slipped of the halter and let it snort and blow into the arena. A couple of assistants would keep it moving and firey. Buyers who bothered to see the horse commonly never saw it standing still and only viewed through the glass!
No wonder there were so many Arabians not trained to ride or drive when the market collapsed!

sketcher
Mar. 5, 2010, 10:09 PM
What was the Varian family fortune? IIRC, she was a schoolteacher in her younger years, and that's not the sort of thing some rich girl who wants to play with horses would do...


Regardless of the money, Sheila Varian is a class act who breeds beautiful, quality useful horses. She is an amazing horsewoman and there are not many like her in the horse world.


To be honest, I see in her biography on her website that she had to borrow money from her aunt to keep her farm running in the beginning. I was told while living on an arabian breeding farm in the 80's that Sheila was a member of the family that owned the businesses below. Was that misinformation?:

Somewhat irrelevant because I think the family sold out years ago but this is ONE division of Varian which just sold for 1.5 BILLION:

http://www.agilent.com/about/newsroom/presrel/2009/27jul-gp09016.html

Also:
http://www.varian.com/ (semiconductors)

If you've had an x-ray or MRI there is a good chance you have met a Varian instrument but they are in general a technology company with all kinds of technology. Varian is into all areas of Technology. I would guess it has all been taken public over the years...

FatDinah
Mar. 6, 2010, 01:02 AM
I still have my Khemosabi daughter, she's 33.
She was a true English pleasure horse with tons of natural trot. Yet, after we left the ring, I could toss my young kids on her back and walk through the dark to our aisle in the show barn.

sketcher
Mar. 6, 2010, 08:34 AM
Yes, those Khemo daughters are something! I knew three of them. One of them produced my all time favorite foal. He unfortunately died young, he fell in his paddock, slid under the fence and broke his leg. His owners tried everything to save him including amputation an prosthetic leg but he just couldn't handle it. He was out of a Khemo daughter by a Bask son and he was amazing. He would have been a top stallion for sure even amongst the zillion Khemo/bask crosses he stood out.

Bank of Dad
Mar. 6, 2010, 04:44 PM
Arabian Horse World, now that was a class magazine. I still have some of the pictures pasted in an adolescent scrap book. I had all those bloodlines memorized. Every birthday, I got to go to the Arabian Horse show in Santa Barbara, CA--the Earl Warren showgrounds. That was back when the Washington International Horse Show was still at the DC Armory.

quietann
Mar. 6, 2010, 05:34 PM
Varian Electronics was founded in 1948 and Sheila Varian has been in the Arabian business since the 1950s (Her "golden jubilee" was held a few years ago.) She imported her first Polish Arabs in the early 1960s. I do not know for sure (and my understanding is that "Varians" in general are pretty private), but I think her father or one of her uncles were involved in the founding. I doubt they had that much money when she was first getting started....

I also got Arabian Horse World for about 12 years; my grandmother gave it to me as an Xmas gift every year starting when I was 12 (1976). The stallion issue was well over 1000 pages (split into two volumes) at the height of the boom. I used to draw pictures based on the photos in AHW. Unfortunately my parents threw them away at some point.

Noplainjane
Mar. 6, 2010, 11:02 PM
My former horse was an Arabian mare foaled in 1984. Her story before I owed her was similar to all of yours. I did some research on the breeding barn in Utah that she was born. Sometime in the early 80's it "evaporated."She was likely sold as breeding stock to the barn I bought her from. She was not a give away horse. She was in foal to an Andulsian stallion every year until I bought her. She wasn't really ridden until I bought her. Thanks for the post. I don't hear enough good things about Arabs these days.

Druid Acres
Mar. 8, 2010, 10:31 AM
Well, it looks like my little thread is winding down. Many thanks to everybody who shared stories, and I loved hearing from folks who still own horses from that era.

I would still recommend listening to the radio show (link posted in first post) if this is a topic of interest to you.

arabhorse2
Mar. 8, 2010, 12:57 PM
Druid, you sure brought back a lot of memories. I met a few celebrities at the Nationals when Arabians were 'investments'. Gawd, talk about glitz, glamour and glitter back in the day! Not all of them thought that way, and the ones who didn't still have them to this day. Wayne Newton and the Swayzes come to mind as people who love them as horses, and riding horses at that. :)

ZiggyStardust
Mar. 8, 2010, 01:11 PM
It was a horrifying time. Horses were abandoned at farms and the farms sent them to slaughter or to the lowest end auctions you can imagine. I bought several at that time for pennies - including the wonderful black stallion we stood for many years - Fyre One. He was an Aladdinn son out of the Bask mare, Fyre Love. She had sold in foal with Fyre for the highest price for an Arabian mare in history at that time. And he was just abandoned at the farm where he was boarded.

Wow, Sonesta, that is so interesting, I think that would make a great article for Equus or another magazine, if you haven't already. Or even if you have, it would be good for people to read about in this age of speculation.

dr j
Mar. 8, 2010, 01:16 PM
We had one of the "biggie" farms in our area and subsequently in the practice I joined after vet school ( I am sure winfield farm knows them). Although the bubble had burst by the time I graduated we still dealt with a lot of fall out not the least of which were huge outstanding vet bills.

Somewhere in my posession, I have the accountant's report- gorgeous, spiral bound and glossy- that the farm gave to prospective clients. I also had a list of investors and syndicate members on certain horses. Shocking number of business savvy individuals with one thing in common....... virgins to the horse industry. My father, a very successful businessman in the area, was approached but when they found out we already owned horses, they backed off..... obvious. If you looked at the prospectus it was ludicrous.

As I recall..... one mare 100k. Ten syndicate shares. The farm retained one share. All expenses were then split 10 ways.... while the mare stayed at the farm ( shareholders paid all vet, board, breeding fees etc). Of course bred to one of the farms stallions. Selling the foal was the big pay-off of course. LOL! I think the first foal from that particular mare $1300! Thank heavens for the tax write off! Most disturbing to me is the farm keeping the mare just as they would have had she not been syndicated and reaping money not only on the initial buy-in but for board etc etc. Of course they retained all decision making rights also.

I do believe this farm owner went to jail eventually, although I think it was unrelated.

Of course the TB industry went through a very similar cycle but their end product had a higher value and an already established auction market for their product. Not to mention the potential to actually win a little money along the way if you were lucky!

ASB Stars
Mar. 8, 2010, 01:35 PM
I had a family friend refer a boarder/client to me, who had Egyptian Arabians. She had a friend in the area who had them, also. That led to several years of going to the shows, and the Egyptian Event, down in Lexington, KY.

There was a fellow named David Gardiner, who was managing the Ruminaja Ali syndicate, if memory serves. I remember a sale that they did at Fasig Tipton. This guy could market with the best- the quality of everything that was done was top notch. Presentation, brochures-- the lot. I knew several other people in the area who ended up buying a couple of these horses- and then, they bought something else to actually ride. Very strange times.

The family friend had a really nice mare, and I started her in dressage. She was a lovely, smart, talented mare. We had a whole lot of fun at horse shows, and she did her share of winning.

When the wheels fell off, it was just a massive mess. Most of those folks had no idea what to do with the horses, and all of the horrors described apparently began. Poor horses!

Grataan
Mar. 8, 2010, 01:54 PM
Princess is by a Ruminaja Ali son out of a Khemo daughter.

I love that mare to pieces :)

Apparently, I didn't have enough coffee this AM as the above should read Princess' PASTUREMATE lol.

Nojacketrequired
Mar. 8, 2010, 01:57 PM
I drive past Stonebridge Farm, in Ont. twice a day.

I still remember the gala's, the floodlights, the celebrities and helicopters....

I still remember the day the owner disappeared and that you coudn't sell those horses at the local auction.

MANY of them went to the KB's. I'd say most, even.

NJR

Sonesta
Mar. 8, 2010, 02:36 PM
Ziggy, I've never had the heart to write about it. But I am reminded of it daily, as one of my dearest friends is Rhita McNair - the famous Arabian trainer who was married to equally famous Tom McNair.

Rhita is a real lady and when the market burst, she and Tom were out of jobs (Glennloch Farm) and fell onto increasingly bad times. Now Tom has died and Rhita is still riding 6-8 horses a day (she's in her 70s) but mentally she still lives in the 80s when things were riding high. She just has not been able to accept that her wonderful horses are no longer worth many tens of thousands of dollars. She breaks my heart.

ambar
Mar. 8, 2010, 02:43 PM
Can't mention the McNairs without thinking of Sakr. Now that was a horse.

hitchinmygetalong
Mar. 8, 2010, 03:00 PM
This thread brings back memories of a different kind for me. In the mid-80's I worked for an equine hospital that was sitting smack-dab in the middle of Arab World Central - Bell Road, Scottsdale. The farm across the street, the name of which I can NOT remember, stood Padron if I recall. I remember going to one or two of their "shows" and watching the horses dancing around at the end of the threads that passed for lead shanks.

Lasma was down the street and I saw the stall that Bask lived in, by then turned into a memorial.

And I went to an auction at the big place on Scottsdale Road - another one I can't remember the name of. But it was theater at its best.

What I found so strange is that all of these farms would dump most of their colts for something like $100 each every year. They wanted mares. (I'm now in the TB world and it is just the opposite.)

My very dear friend's husband was the stall manager at the Scottsdale show for years and years. We would go out there together and gawk at both the horses and the people.

Lots of memories - all those farms are gone now, replaced by McMansions packed in like sardines. But that's life I guess, always moving on.

MunchkinsMom
Mar. 8, 2010, 03:24 PM
The one other thought from the glory days that comes to my mind was the shockingly (to me anyway) amount of money it cost for folks to show the Arab show circuit. My manager at work and I would chat horses all the time, and when she told me how much it cost for a one weekend show for her, I almost fell out of my chair, as it was more than I would spend on the AQHA show circuit for a whole year!

But then again, I recall she came to see me at an AQHA show once, and she came at lunch break, as we were all in the arena schooling our horses (everything from WP, jumping, and reiners), and when I came out of the ring, she was pale and shaken that anyone would ride in such chaos!

ambar
Mar. 8, 2010, 03:30 PM
What I found so strange is that all of these farms would dump most of their colts for something like $100 each every year. They wanted mares. (I'm not in the TB world and it is just the opposite.)


Exactly -- it was a pyramid scheme based on selling fillies/mares to be bred to the stallions already standing. Performance geldings? So what?

"The basic product of your breeding program is the riding gelding." Bazy Tankersley (Al-Marah Arabians)

Sonesta
Mar. 8, 2010, 05:06 PM
Can't mention the McNairs without thinking of Sakr. Now that was a horse.

SICK 'EM, SAKR!

Grataan
Mar. 8, 2010, 10:38 PM
SICK 'EM, SAKR!
I had his AHW ad in my locker in middle school.

Please give Rhita my best-I've always admired her from afar as a true horsewoman.

Sonesta
Mar. 8, 2010, 11:14 PM
You know, Rhita loves to talk Arabians and the old days. And she is NOT shy. If any of you would like to contact her - just to say hello or to ask her about the glory days, PM me and I'll be happy to give you her email address. She is not very computer savvy, but she can reply to an email and certainly WILL do so - with copious amounts of information.

I'm sure she'd enjoy knowing there are those who still admire her.

Tamara in TN
Mar. 9, 2010, 09:50 AM
Arabian Horse World, now that was a class magazine. I still have some of the pictures pasted in an adolescent scrap book. I had all those bloodlines memorized. Every birthday, I got to go to the Arabian Horse show in Santa Barbara, CA--the Earl Warren showgrounds. That was back when the Washington International Horse Show was still at the DC Armory.


most of the modern horse world could take lessons on advertising from that old magazine;)

Tamara in TN

cowgirljenn
Mar. 9, 2010, 12:38 PM
You know, Rhita loves to talk Arabians and the old days. And she is NOT shy. If any of you would like to contact her - just to say hello or to ask her about the glory days, PM me and I'll be happy to give you her email address.

PM sent. She's someone I have admired 'from afar' and would love to let her know how much she means to a lot of us!