Thousands of years ago their ancestors moved with the same elegance and grace. Like ghosts floating with untamed power, these majestic animals ruled the desert plains. Napoleon, Alexander the Great and George Washington were belittled in their presence knowing they were partnering with equals. Bred to be war mounts, the Bedouins trusted their incredible endurance and quick movements as they rode into enemy camps. And today? The Arabian horse is still one of the most mesmerizing animals you will ever see. For me, I fell in love the first time I caught sight of the freedom and beauty they exhibited. Before me was a single Arabian, circling, dancing, his mane and tail flying in the wind. I knew I was completely and totally in love.
So let’s go back a few days. Before I completely and thoroughly lost my heart I was just an innocent soul traveling to Scottsdale for New Year’s Eve. Sipping a cup of joe on Saturday morning, my sister and I scanned the paper and discovered the Arabhorse Farm Tour (presented by Schneiders). Whow! To visit an actual Arabian Horse Farm – how could we resist? This event was a preface to the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show which occurs in February (details below). Not sure what to expect we headed over to the one of the open houses which was at the Cactus Rose Ranch at Scheier Farms.
As our car bumped and curved along the road to our destination we realized we were in the no longer in the city…we were headed out into the desert. When you’re visiting Scottsdale it’s easy to forget the word “desert” since you’re surrounded by lakes, grass and shops. But out by the farms you’re removed. There is a sense of quiet, a serine that is missing in the city…Cacti are scattered with other plants indigenous to the area, manzanita, saguaro, to name a few. The houses are elegant and made of stucco. The wooden fences line the roads and you see horses grazing. We parked and followed a scattered group up to the entrance.
The first Arabian Horse I saw took my breath away – I could literally feel the explosion of power and excitement as we approached. I walked up to the fence and held my breath, hesitant – and to my surprise he galloped over, stopped and nuzzled my hands, and then my cheek. Did he steal my heart? Yes… x a million.
Over the next couple of hours they brought the horses out into a large arena. The music was playing over the loud speakers; You could smell the fresh brewed coffee and baked goods. But even with this beautiful spread, the crowd was locked on the horses who commanded their attention. As I’m typing this, I would give anything to go back and watch them run … camera in hand. I learned a few things about Arabian horses over the next few days, and then researched some more. I wanted to share what I learned. It’s a drop of water in an ocean of information but either way it will get you started.
First, they are an incredibly friendly horse, each with distinctive personalities. But what I loved the most were their eyes, which glow with confidence, happiness and fire. Along with that fire there’s a softness that will break your heart. I also found some other interesting facts about Arabians:
– They have refined, wedge-shaped heads, a broad forehead, large eyes, large nostrils, and small muzzles. The large nostrils are important because they originated in the the desert with dry, harsh conditions. Large nostrils and lung capacity, gave them greater stamina and endurance.
– I heard someone talking about a “dish” – that refers to a distinctive concave profile (between their eyes and nose)
– Some Arabians (not all) have 5 lumbar vertebrae instead of 6. And 17 pairs of ribs instead of 18. A friend told me the ones with 6 are from the Asiatic continent bloodlines; the ones with 5 are from African genetic origin, same number as the zebra. (This may be a photo/travel blog but there’s a few after dinner conversation factoids too)
– Arabians are expected to have long tails (it’s a breed characteristic) so you’ll see a lot of Arabians with tails that touch the ground. Because of this, the owners wrap their tails so they don’t get stepped on and break them. This also keeps their elegant tails clean.
If anyone has anything to add please do! But for now, I hope you enjoyed the photos I shot at that day at the Cactus Rose Ranch at Scheier Farms. I thank them for their hospitality and kindness.
Next, open your calendars and save the date. The 58th Annual Arabian Horse Show is February 14-24, 2013 in Scottsdale, Arizona. http://www.scottsdaleshow.com/
If you are even remotely close to this event I beg you to go! Also, if you are traveling solo events like this are perfect. There are so many things to see and do you’ll find it easy to keep busy.
Here is the website for the Cactus Rose Ranch at Scheier Farms – www.cactusroseranch.net
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