The most wonderful thing is that my whole family has decided to come on the journey with me
BY SAM THOMAS
What an amazing 12 months it has been for Brett and I. After being away from the horse world for more than 25 years, re-connecting with Arabian horses is a dream coming true.
Our dream was always to buy a ‘small’ property and have a couple of horses when our kids finished school in Melbourne. The first step was to find a location that worked for our family and as a place where we could enjoy horses. After searching for a property for more than three years, we found our piece of heaven in Tylden, Victoria. Rather than ‘small’ and ‘suitable for a couple of horses’, it was 200 acres of neglected farm land, covered in gorse bush, rabbits, foxes and roos.
We are slowly working on the land and building our farm so at the moment, whilst it looks more like a building site, it has a stunning view and plenty of room to develop. We have always referred to it as The Farm, better known now as Sabble Farm, taken from the first initials of myself, Brett and our children – Sam, Alicia, Brett, Ben and Luke.
My husband Brett was what I called a ‘Townie’. He grew up playing sports, especially baseball, so horses weren’t really his thing, although his grandpa was into racehorses. Back then the stables were in the backyard of their home in Mentone, so Brett visited regularly and tells me how as a kid he used to clean the stables, and clean his hands with horse poo!
I was that girl that just loved horses and was lucky enough to grow up with many special Arabians in my life. I did everything from showing, dressage and one day eventing to driving sheep to market. I think a pivotal moment when I was really young was when Robert Hammond believed in my ability enough to entrust me with his Purebred gelding Mazoe (Fable x Mazzika) to compete on and to have as my horse for as long as I needed. I absolutely adored him, he was like my best friend, just one of those very special horses. I think that’s when I really started to love dressage and showing.
There were many more horses that came into my life. Two that have a special place in my heart are Msila (Count Manilla (GB) x Safari) and Clarendon Oramah (Lord Bahram x Moulton Oranetta), both such generous horses.
As family took over, my time with horses came to a natural end however over the years, I would occasionally look at Arabian horses for sale and dream. Three years ago, I saw a stunning chestnut gelding for sale, he reminded me so much of Mazoe.
I couldn’t stop thinking about him, so I picked up the phone and called. He belonged to the gorgeous Stacey Cucca in Western Australia. After talking to Stacey I believed I was meant to see this gelding, so I convinced Brett that we fly over to Perth and meet him. For various reasons, we decided he wasn’t the right horse for me at that time but it wasn’t a total waste of a trip because I gained a good friend in Stacey.
After the WA experience I decided I would get back into riding. I did not own a horse at that time, so I found the institute of dressage at Garfield, Victoria. There, I had lessons on well-educated dressage horses, which was so much fun. It was my instructor Megan that helped me get some of my confidence back.
Everything changed the day, that by chance, I met Kate Dertell from Future Farms Arabians. Brett and I had attended an open day at Future Farms and Kate invited me out to have a look at a bay mare she was selling. As I walked, I noticed a buckskin Gleniph Tiramisu and felt an instant connection with her but she wasn’t for sale. Sometimes the world has a mysterious way of working out the way you want it, and before long that beautiful buckskin mare was my first horse in so many years. I have to thank Kerry and Richard Chapman for letting her join our family.
My horse journey changed from that moment, and with the support of Kate and Doyle, the next thing I knew I was entered in my first show. There were times I wondered if I was doing the right thing by getting back on a horse, where was all of this headed? I was given some words of wisdom from Kody Dertell, who asked me if liked riding my horse and was it fun? I answered ‘yes’, and his response was, ‘Well then, just go out there and have fun.’ That’s exactly what I have done ever since.
The Arabian horse makes it easy for me to enjoy riding. They are extremely clever, and are always willing to please. I have a trusted partnership with my horses. Plus I think that Brett has fallen in love with the beauty and movement of the Arabian. As someone that loves study and learning, he finds the breeding side of the industry to be fascinating. He often comments about how amazing the people are in the industry and how passionate they are for their horses. We have travelled to Scottsdale and met wonderful people there, and formed solid friendships in Australia, especially amongst my fellow no-pro competitors…I look forward to seeing them at shows as much as I enjoy showing the horses. People such as Carlie Beer and Ricky Carver, Shaz George and many others have really welcomed us. We enjoy being part of the Future Farm Team – they take amazing care of our horses and I have travelled to most of the shows with them. It’s like being part of a big family…nothing is too much trouble.
The way we have found our horses, and the people that have helped us along the way...it has been life changing. I have no regrets leaving horses behind to raise our children, it was really important to us to invest time into their lives, see them grow up and establish themselves as young adults. Today, they are so supportive of our new endeavour and why not? We now have the most stunning group of horses, and I am so proud.
Gleniph Tiramisu (Crave FF x Gleniph Bombe Alaska) is our golden child. She has had a phenomenal season, not only in the Arabian world but also at Open shows, winning Champion Galloway classes, excelling in both led and ridden buckskin and then to top it off, was runner up 6 year old dressage pony at Dressage With The Stars, only missing out on top honours by the smallest margin.
Jalilah FF (Crave FF x Mystica Jamarlee) was our first purebred as Brett just loved how she looked and moved. We then followed by purchasing A-Vitoria FF (Vitorio TO x Audrey H JCA), a gorgeous black mare that I have always loved and finally convinced Kate and Doyle to share with us. I admire Arabian Warmbloods, especially as riding horses, and we are lucky enough to have Fahrenheit FF (Sir Charmed FF x Double TT Fevia), a beautiful big gelding that started his show career this year. Recently we wanted to bring a young horse into the farm and purchased Rivoli Magic FF (Fever FF x Romance FF), a grey Arabian Warmblood filly with lots of personality and size. I see all our horses as ridden horses, so the plan is to continue showing them, and of course having fun on Tiramisu (including lots of lessons to improve my riding!).
Earlier this year Brett and I had the chance to go to Scottsdale with the Dertell family. It was very much a lastminute thing and we had no idea what to expect, but off we went anyway. We had a wonderful time and saw some magnificent horses. Scottsdale has this energy and enthusiasm for Arabian horses that really inspires people. We went to the United Auction preview and out came the most impressive grey filly from Stella Bella Arabians – all snort and blow, floating above the ground. We all loved her!
With no intention to purchase anything, we attended the auction a couple of days later. When this grey filly entered the ring, it was electric, and I felt that special connection to her. Brett put his paddle up and the next thing I knew we had just purchased Bella Mirelle SBA (EKS Alihandro x Martini Thyme RTA).
Over the following days, still somewhat reeling over the logistics of purchasing the filly, we attended several stud farms and presentations. At Krischke Training Centre we met Keith and Maureen who presented a stunning grey mare with unique breeding for Australia, Joi el Jiuliusz (Jiuliusz de Wei x Enjoi E), whose dam is by Enzo. She too now calls Australia home and will be a great asset to our show team and breeding program.
And then we met RD Dynamo (Bey Ambition x TF Falconsimprint). Wow, the minute we saw this charismatic stallion and felt his amazing presence, we fell in love with him. We had seen his sire Bey Ambition at the Rae-Dawn open barn and thought he was stunning. Both amazing stallions, but at that time we had no thought of bringing a stallion to Australia, let alone one of such renown. RD Dynamo was presented at the Marquis Auction at Scottsdale and sold to Michael Byatt Arabians, but then events led to the opportunity to purchase this great horse after he spent a period with Michael Byatt in his breeding program…I still pinch myself to see if I am dreaming.
I know I am, and I think other people will also fall in love with him. He has also proven to be a very impressive sire in the USA. We were lucky enough to see his son Delacroixx at Scottsdale, where he won unanimous Scottsdale International Gold Champion Stallion.
The past year has been a whirlwind for me and I’ve loved every minute, most of all that my husband has become just as enamoured with the breed as I am. When I think back to that first show, riding Tiramisu and being nervous, to how we finished the season, I just can’t believe how far we have come.
Everything feels right, like it’s all just meant to be.