Arabian Farm Tours
11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Rae Dawn Arabians, 11249 E. Arabian Park Drive, Scottsdale.
2 to 4 p.m., Arabian Expressions, 9870 E. Jenan Drive, Scottsdale.
6 to 8 p.m., Pegasus Arabians, 12470 N. 93rd St., Scottsdale.
Noon to 2 p.m., Royal Arabians, 1660 N. Lindsay Road, Mesa.
For full details and information: arabhorsefarmtour.com.
Beauty is big, dark eyes, a dishy face, a high-arching neck and huge nostrils.
At least if you’re an Arabian-horse show judge.
Today through Tuesday, Scottsdale’s Arabian farms are inviting the public in for free tours to see the horses up close and learn about what makes them so special.
The tours are a primer for the annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show at WestWorld, considered the largest Arabian event in the world. The show will be held Feb. 14-24.
Owners will be hustling as clients from around the world take part in December sales of potential champions. But a portion of the farm owners are devoting their two-hour presentations to the 50 percent who attend the show but know nothing about Arabian horses.
Champion Scottsdale trainer Greg Knowles is devoting his entire Monday tour to explaining the history of the horse, what judges look for during shows, and buying Arabians as an investment.
“People want to know — what do you do with the Arabians?” said Knowles, owner of Arabian Expressions farm in Scottsdale. “This is a lifestyle for us, not a job. We’re up at midnight foaling, we’re out all day. I shut down the barn at 10 p.m. and when I go into the kitchen to drink a glass of water, I look out the window and count (horse) heads. Once you get bit by the bug, you get bit.”
During the tour, Knowles will share fun facts, such as Arabians having one less vertebrae in their back than other horses, or that all of them have black skin under different shades of hair — the skin being suited to their desert heritage. Visitors also will learn about judging — for example, that judges look for a high-tail carriage that waves like a flag to demonstrate charisma.
Knowles’ partner, who goes only by her first name, Riyan, said people can learn about training in which no expense or effort is spared.
It takes three to five months to ready the horses for competition.
“They’re athletes and they go through a lot to be 100 percent prepared,” she said.
They train on treadmills. They work out different muscles on different days with trotting and cantering exercises. This week, one of Arabian Expressions’ mares received her veterinary chiropractic treatment. It’s not uncommon for horses to receive equine acupuncture, Riyan said.
Many presenters at the farm tours, which can draw up to 500 people, also will address the myths about Arabians.
Knowles keeps 20 horses, ranging in worth from $35,000 to more than $250,000, and has rock musicians, professional athletes and Arab sheiks as clients — but Arabians are not only for the rich.
Like the real-estate market, now is the time to buy Arabians, he said. Spectacular horses can be purchased as family pets and recreational animals for a few thousand dollars.
Also, David Cains, a breeder who is offering tours at his Scottsdale Stonewall Farm Arabians on Sunday, said people are surprised to learn Arabians are not standoffish.
“They’re more like big dogs,” he said. “They come to the front of their stalls and they want to be petted and brushed and loved on.”
Also, while the breed receives a lot of ink for their distinct look, they’re not just pretty show horses.
Arabians make great endurance horses, competing in rides as long as 100 miles in a day.
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