2012 ABWC Show Highlights
By Beth Ellen Hunziker
Is it me? Or was this the best Arabian Breeders World Cup Show yet? The Opening Night Gala, the horses, the people, the competition, the organization, the all new stallion showcase, and of course the judges - every element came together to create an event that will be remembered for years to come!
Experience indicates that the success of any Arabian horse show is determined by the amount of organizing and preparation that is done prior to the event. In the case of the ABWC, that work began months in advance and the result was a show, an event, that seemed effortless and graceful, yet vibrant and exciting. It was the perfect blend of good-natured fun, entertainment, education, sportsmanship, competition, and a true celebration of some of the most exquisite Arabian horses in the entire world.
The established venue of the ABWC is the South Point Hotel and Casino. It is the only hotel in Las Vegas, and perhaps the entire United States, that includes a world-class equestrian center. Each year the South Point rolls out the red carpet to welcome the ABWC and the Arabian horse community. Las Vegas has been the perfect venue to host this event, to showcase the horses, and to welcome visitors from around the world with style and flair.
Over the past six years, the ABWC has been extremely fortunate to have the support of a generous group of patrons. One very dedicated sponsor is Cox Communications, host of the Childrens Educational Day, which gave three school’s students in grades 4-6 an opportunity to learn about the Arabian horse and the life opportunities available through our breed. The children also received a “swag bag” with goodies including a copy of Walter Farley’s classic novel, “The Black Stallion”, provided by the Black Stallion Literacy Foundation. Cox Communications also sponsors the exciting $5000 Liberty Free Style Challenge, one of the most lucrative, fun and popular classes of the show.
So many elements come together to make a successful show. However, it’s the people who are involved that really make or break a show. Every person who contributes their time, expertise, knowledge, creativity, talents or resources is important and greatly appreciated. The Judges of the Arabian Breeders World Cup are especially important to the success of the show. This group sets the tone of the event, which is why the ABWC employees such a stringent selection process. This year’s judges represented the very highest levels of knowledge, professionalism, experience and integrity. The 2012 ABWC judging panel included Scott Brumfield, USA; Bolivar Figueiredo, Brazil; Holger Ismer, Germany; Paul Kostial, USA; Fanie Maritz, South Africa and Renata Schibler, Switzerland. While this dedicated group made their evaluations and selections in each class, they seemed to earn the respect of the exhibitors for their fair and unbiased critiques of the horses. It was also extremely nice to see such high levels of sportsmanship and camaraderie shown among the competitors as congratulations were shared among many of the handlers, owners and breeders throughout the show.
An important aspect of the ABWC is the participation of amateur owners and handlers. Thursday, the first day of the show was entirely dedicated to amateur classes including the lucrative AHBA Futurities for Yearling and Two-Year-Old Fillies and Colts. These classes, which offer substantial prize money, are meant to promote and encourage breeders, as well as to reward their efforts. This year, the winners of these four classes were awarded over $128,000; and all horses in these classes were presented by amateur owners or handlers. It was very special to watch some of the winners at the show who were the breeders, owners and handlers of their horses. You could really see the love and pride they have for their horses and the sense of accomplishment in achieving such a prestigeous award. The perfect way for those amateurs to celebrate their success was to enjoy the fun at the Opening Night Gala, held at the hottest nightclub in Las Vegas – One Oak at the Mirage. It was SO much fun! The food was delicious, the music was fantastic, and everyone looked MARVELOUS! It really is the best party of the year - check out the pictures!
Even after a very late night at the Gala, everyone was ready for the excitement of Friday’s classes for the females. There were five sections of yearling fillies. The class was divided into smaller sections for the benefit of these young horses and to minimize the possibility of stress as it was the first show experience for many of them. There were two sections of two-year-old fillies and one section each for mares three, four, five, six – eight, nine years and older, and then finally for broodmares of any age. The winners of these classes advanced to the championships on Sunday.
Classes on Saturday presented some of the most spectacular colts and stallions in the world. There were five sections of yearling colts, followed by sections for two, three, four, and five-year-old stallions, as well as six – eight, nine - eleven, and then stallions 12 years and older. Although it was a very full day of classes, nobody wanted to miss the next attraction. It was a new concept for the show and the debut of the Arabian Breeders Stallion Showcase. Five of the most noteworthy stallions and sires in the Arabian breed were presented including U.S. National Champion El Nabila B, U.S. National Champion Enzo, U.S. National Champion Pyro Thyme SA, U.S National Champion MPA Giovanni, and International Champion, WH Justice! For many of us, it was our first opportunity to see these living legends. After the presentation, everyone was invited down to the arena to meet these superstars – up close and personal. There was a flood of people, but the stallions were perfect gentlemen and truly seemed to enjoy all of the attention. Just when you think the Breeders World Cup couldn’t possibly get any better – they created a breathtaking moment in time that will never be forgotten.
Before we knew it – it was Sunday morning and time for the Championships of the show. It was non-stop excitement. After the morning championships, there was an encore presentation of the Stallion Showcase, which was spectacular!
The afternoon classes were started off with the colorful and patriotic Flags Of Nations presentation. I believe everyone in the area rose to their feet to honor the flags of each participating country as they were presented in the dramatic spotlight. The arena was lined end to end with flags, which was a strong visual statement of the international community that was gathered together at the show.
At intervals during the afternoon championship classes, special presentations were made including a touching memorial to the late Don Morse, a founding member of the AHBA, and strong supporter of the Arabian horse. The AHBA is a breeders organization and this year the board of directors chose to honor Dr. Aloysio Andrade de Faria of Haras Fortaleza, Brazil, with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The short, but fantastic film about Dr. Faria is in fact a condensed history of the Arabian horse in Brazil and worth every breeder’s time to see. Dr. Faria is now more that 90 years old and was not able to attend the show, he was represented by Brazilian breeder, and past ABWC judge, Fabio Amorosino.
In addition to choosing the champions of the show, the judges were asked to select from the handlers of the show, both professional and amateur, the person they believe demonstrateded the best horsemanship, sportsmanship, respect for their horses and their peers, as well as who represented the spirit of the show through their handling and presentation of their horses. The judges were unanimous in their selection of Austin Boggs of Midwest Station I. The young man’s surprise and delight were evident as he accepted the award for this special honor.
After the Championships for Senior Mares and Stallions, one of the highest honors of the show was awarded – The Arabian Breeders Cup. The top five breeders of the show were invited into the ring. The Arabian Breeders Cup is awarded annually to the breeder who achieved the greatest success with horses competing at the Arabian Breeders World Cup show. The top breeders of 2012 included Richard DeWalt of Illusion Arabians, Rhoda and Rhonda Coleal of Coleal Arabians, Larry Jerome of Jerland Farms, Dixie and Robert North of North Arabians, Brent Stone of the Enzo Partners, and the winner of the 2012 Arabian Breeders Cup, Michael Byatt.
It seemed like the ABWC literally flew by and it ended far too quickly. However, we hope that this recap of the highlights, as well as all of the beautiful images from the show will allow you to enjoy the show, the people, and the wonderful hoses, over and over again. Congratulations to all of the competitors, winners, trainers, handlers, owners, and of course, the breeders of the 2012 Arabian Breeders World Cup – enjoy your success!
2012 ABWC JUDGES' COMMENTS:
Scott Brumfield, USA: “Judging the World Cup in Las Vegas was definitely one of my most memorable experiences ever! It was definitely an honor and a privilege! The show was so exciting and exhibited some of the most beautiful horses in the world. I was fortunate to have met and worked with some truly incredible people and I will cherish the friendships we developed for the rest of my life! I thank the show committee for doing an outstanding job on this event and most of all for everything they did to make this a life long memory for me, and so many others. I strongly encourage all of the Arabian horse community to add this show to their itinerary next year, either as an exhibitor or a spectator, it will truly be an experience you will never forget!”
Bolivar Figueiredo, Brazil: “I have been coming to American horse shows for more than 25 years. However, this was my first time to judge a show here. I was very honored to be invited judge this show because it has a very good reputation already – after only six years – it is considered a very prestigeous show. Now I saw for myself, the excellent organization and the high quality of the horses that are brought to Vegas from all over the world – and I agree that the World Cup is one of the very best shows anywhere.
I hope the people were satisfied with the results of the show. I think the judges did our very best to be fair and honest in all of our scores. I was a little surprised that we were so consistent in our scores, not that we have to agree on every point, then you do not need judges. But, I think the scores show that we did agreed about the quality of the horses. Also I believe it shows that breeders from all around the world, are thinking more alike about what makes a good Arabian horse – one that can win in North American, in South America, Europe or the Middle East – everyone loves the true beauty of the Arabian horse!
Thank you to everyone for the honor of judging this show and for making us feel so welcome here. It was an experience I will always remember for the great horses, the great people and the great friends!”
Paul Kostial, USA: The 2012 ABWC was one of the best horse shows I've ever been fortunate to judge. Such an amazing event – it was fun for everyone who attended – great horses, spectacular management, world-class competition, and the list goes on. The World Cup is an extraordinary event already and, add Vegas to the mix, it's a entertainment filled weekend no doubt, and a must add to every Arabian horse lovers bucket list!
Judging with the international panel of judges was perfectly organized and very well managed. Our scores, unilaterally, were very consistent, and not illustrative of the 'past', when American judges tended to over penalize or deduct, and the scores from judge-to-judge would vary quite significantly; not at this show specifically, just in general because of the different scoring systems used. The half points, added with the high/low score eliminated by category, make this scoring system one of the best I've ever used as a judge. Also, having one judge sit out each class, created a level playing field for everyone, and a wonderful result for the competition in that the best horse was the winner most every time, according to the overall opinion of the panelists.
I thought this panel of international judges was an amazing group of outstanding individuals. It was a pleasure and an honor to work with them. Not only were they there to do their job, each did so with class, professionalism and integrity. It was an extraordinary experience for each of us. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to judge this wonderful event.”
Holger Ismer, Germany: “I have been a judge for many years and I have judged in almost every country where there are Arabian horses. But, this was my first time judging in the United States. To be honest, I was a little concerned because I was told by other international judges, “You can’t judge with American judges because they have a very different opinion about what makes a good Arabian horse. They don’t think like the rest of us.”, so I was concerned about judging at this show. But, I think the point system that they use here at the World Cup is excellent, very logical, and I think that the scores showed we did not think so differently about the horses. The scores were consistent, fair and honest. We did not look to see if a horse was an American style horse, or a Brazilian style horse, or a European style horse – these were international style horses. We all respected the results. The organization of the show was excellent. These people understand what it takes to make a good show. So, I think this show will continue and grow.
The horses were of very high quality. But for me, the best of all were the people. They call this show the Arabian Breeders World Cup, but I think it was the Arabian Breeders Family Cup. I am so happy to have been a part of this – it was a time of my life I will never forget!”
Fanie Maritz, South Africa: “It was a great honour for me to have the opportunity to judge the 2012 Arabian Breeders World Cup. I attended the World Cup several years ago and this has become a very special show for me. As judges, we see the event from a perspective that is very different from the exhibitors and spectators. For us, it did not matter if we were in the arena or outside – every aspect of the show was absolutely fantastic. I was pleased – but not surprised – that the quality of the horses at the show was again outstanding, and I think the judging was very consistent, fair and honest. I would like to say congratulations to Austin Boggs for presenting his horses so nicely and for his win of the handler’s trophy. Also, I would like to thank the organizing committee for the honour of judging this show. I thank my fellow judges for the privilege of their company and friendship; and I thank the exhibitors, breeders, owners and handlers for the opportunity to see their beautiful horses.”
Renata Schibler, Switzerland: “Even though I have judged several of the best shows worldwide, I must say that the Arabian Breeders World Cup left me speechless. The scale, infrastructure and setting of the show make it one of a kind. These paired with the truthfully flawless organization, not to forget the “Swiss punctuality”, which was rigorously respected during all the four days, made it easy for me as a judge to perform at my best. This is though closely linked to the judging panel, which was an utter delight to work with and I feel confident to say, that it was evident in the homogenous judging.
The quality of the horses was impressive as well - definitely comparable with the elite shows in Europe and the Middle East. Also worth noting were the outstanding stallion classes, which in my opinion even slightly outshone some of the mare classes, which is a rather rare phenomena.
The reputation of the Las Vegas Show has always been excellent and I can only affirm this. I am truly grateful to have been part of this spectacular event and I definitely declare it to one of the few “must-sees” on the Arabian horse show calendar.”