Words and Photography © Chris Ros
This may not be as easy as it sounds. It takes dedication from more than one person to organise it and then the owners/riders of the horses must be prepared to participate. Event organisers must be approached and ideas put forward.
We have been lucky here in Western Australia (WA) and here are some ideas we tried with success. Quite a few years ago we had a lady who worked for the WA Turf Club. This lady did not have horses of her own but she knew the value of the Arab to the very early Thoroughbred breeders. I have forgotten who approached whom with the idea but it ended up with our Arabian horses being paraded at the most prestigious of events on the Racing calendar here – the Ascot Summer Carnival. We had owners of Arabs who were prepared to take their valuable stud horses, including mares with foals at foot and stallions for an afternoon out at the races. As well, we had horses in costume and under saddle. These horses were paraded on the velvet green of the Ascot home straight in front of crowds of racegoers. One year we even had the horses in costume gallop down that same straight for a trophy provided by the Turf Club.
Later on this same lady, who published her own Racing/Thoroughbred magazine promoted two of the Western Australian Tom Quilty Gold Cup events by publishing endurance articles in that magazine for the 12 months preceding those events. Naturally the Arab breed was featured.
At Pinjarra, one of the country racetracks, we had similar parades with horses ridden side-saddle, Western, English, in costume and in harness. One stud even sponsored a race which was then named after that stud, not a major race worth a huge amount, but still it got the Arab’s name out there. The stud owners were even required to join the officials on the track for the presentation of the trophy.
The biggest event for getting the general public to see our Arabian horses was called the Night of Stars. This event was held indoors, at night at the state equestrian centre Brigadoon. The first year it was held veteran stallions were paraded and it was a sight to see these older horses showing off. This event evolved into a night where animals from all breeds could show off their prowess under saddle or with some of their progeny. Police horses, Clydesdales, minis, pony clubs, endurance, Saluki and Jack Russell dogs, camels and belly dancers all showed off their skills as well as free jumping Warmbloods. Olympic riders, show jumpers, dressage horses, trick riders and horse trainers all helped to make these nights a spectacle. In amongst all of this the Arabs showed what they were capable of doing.
Arabian horses used to participate in the Annual Christmas Pageant as well as taking part in the parade to showcase the Perth Royal Show. Both events going right through the centre of Perth.
All this promotion did not come without a cost though, as eventually the same people who organised it and participated all got tired of it being left to just those few, so unfortunately these excellent promotion events fell through and didn’t happen anymore.
At most of the WA All Breed Shows, when the judging of the breed classes are finished, the supreme champions (halter) and champions (under saddle) compete under all the judges for the day, sometimes up to eight of them, for the Supreme or Champion of the show. This means that the Arab breed competes against all other breeds, from minis to Clydesdales and everything in between. We have several Arabian bred horses which regularly win these titles. One Derivative gelding has won well over 20 of these Supreme Champion of All Breed titles and now he is starting to do the same under saddle. What better promotion can the Arabian breed have than that?
Our Arabian horses participate in Anzac Day events, in the uniforms of the Light Horse.
Promotion does rely on ideas but it also relies on someone who is willing to get out there and do something, not just a person who says ‘it should be done’.