Outside of horses… is there such a thing?
INTERVIEW WITH ANNA WEBB
For the last little while, I have been noticing a steady stream of beautiful Arabian Ponies appearing in my news feed on Facebook. The photos were usually taken in a stable, looked like happy snaps (they certainly made me feel happy), yet each and every one of these ponies had a certain look that I came to admire. Upon further investigation, these facebook posts were from Anna Webb of Ajay Arabian Pony Stud…so I decided to find out more, and reach out.
‘Outside of horses… is there such a thing?’ asks Anna when I question whether she has any hobbies. ‘Although the ponies do pretty much consume our lives, I also love spending time with my family, whether it be doing farm work with my son, Tim, and husband, Jon, or going on one of our family outings. We are all big NRL fans, and we try to get to as many games in Melbourne as we can. There are often many in-house disagreements with myself being a Broncos supporter, hubby supports the Eels and Tim being the Storm supporter, but it’s all in good fun.’
Anna is also the owner/operator/ saddler at Carrington Saddlery, where she specialises in hand crafting show bridles. The business started in 2004 and has grown steadily ever since. ‘I still love opening an Arabian Horse News and seeing so many horses and ponies out there in my show bridles.’
Anna cannot remember a time without horses in her life. ‘I have seen pictures of myself as a young toddler being held on my first pony and led around our then backyard. I have done many years of pony club, have competed as a show rider but as time went on, my love for breeding and preparing my own led show horses really became my passion.’
Upon returning to the show ring, albeit ‘with a little push from my amazing husband’, after a long break due to a nasty car accident, Anna found some success with her Multi Supreme Winning Welsh B gelding Quamby Park Carrington. However, with his advancing age, Anna knew she would have to find a younger horse to advance her show career. ‘I always found myself being drawn to the Arabian ring, which I suppose is no surprise after having caught the Arabian love bug as a teenager, while working at Briarwoods Arabians in Queensland.’
For horses to work in her busy life, Anna wanted to combine the versatility of ponies in the height range of 13hh – 14hh with the elegance of the Arabian, with a healthy dose of the atmosphere of Arabian shows which she found appealing. ‘The Arabian Pony was the right path for me. I went in search of the perfect one, and leased my first Arabian Pony filly who I had a ball with, winning many championships!’ In the same year she acquired the mare Quamby Park Boutique, joined her to Australian Champion ‘Malabu’ and the following year a filly was born…and thus began Ajay Arabian Pony stud.
‘I want “my” Arabian Ponies to be unmistakably Arabian. I want that exotic dishy head, the big poppy eyes, the swan-like neck, super smooth body, along with that “look at me” attitude! I know everyone has their own ideals of what an Arabian Pony should be, but for me this is the look I like. I don’t think I have ever had any of my ponies mistaken for anything other than Arabian!’
Prior to breeding Arabian Ponies, Anna was friends with Dennis Knight of Quamby Park Stud, and owner of the well known stallion Hamil. ‘When I look back at it now, Dennis was someone I really admired. He always believed in his own bloodlines and never took a gamble on the “new fad”. I remember perhaps 25 years ago, he gave me a huge stack of Arabian Horse News magazines. I never for a second thought then, that all this time later I would still be reading them, using them as a tool to research bloodlines.
To be able to continue his breeding lines in my Arabian Ponies today really means a lot to me. He always believed in me, and my eye for detail.’
To that end, resident sire at Ajay is the homebred Ajay Satis’fyd (Halimas Prince Fayrid x Ajay Shabby Chic), Victorian Championships Supreme Derivative Entire. His dam is the matriarch of the stud, multi supreme winner Ajay Shabby Chic (Malabu x Quamby Park Boutique). This mare has four progeny to date, all supreme winners aside from her 2018 foal, yet to be shown. The 2016 Australian Champion Filly, Sarahn Sophia Loren (Halimas Prince Fayrid x Snowdonvale Fantasia) has joined the broodmare band and is currently in foal to Ajay Satis’fyd. ‘We also have two pinto mares, multi champion Little G Miss Devine (B’Anembo Kool Colour x Little G Highlight), dam of the super successful Ajay Fireworks, and the newest addition is 2019 Bronze Australian Champion Junior Filly, Little G Elegance (B’anembo Kool Colour x Nagero Chatterbox), who will be bred this season.’
Today, the farm is set on 20 acres in the picturesque South Gippsland town of Tarwin. ‘We moved here only three years ago, however it wasn’t a big move… we moved three minutes further down the same road from our previous home. We just adore this area. We are 15 minutes from the beautiful beaches of Inverloch and Venus Bay, and only one hour from the snow caps of Mount Baw Baw.’ Anna feels grateful to have all the facilities she needs to indulge her passion, including eight hardwood stables, an undercover round yard and indoor wash bay. There are 20 paddocks, all separated by tree-lined laneways allowing ample paddock rotation. ‘I love this property, and I look forward each day to preparing many more Ajay Ponies from here,’ says Anna.
Anna prepares all of the ponies herself. ‘It is not just about what happens in the ring for me. The whole show experience includes watching their transformation from paddock yaks into sleek, elegant, sculptured show pieces. It is an awesome thrill to breed, to nurture, to grow and to train that one pony that is so special to you, and see them try their hardest for you. They are always trying to please, and all just for a big pat or cuddle, and of course their daily feed! The connection you make with them, training and preparing them, is an experience in itself.
‘One of my most adored memories is when Ajay Shabby Chic was awarded her first Supreme. She was a yearling, at the VAHA foal and young stock show. The judge pulled myself and an Anglo forward, and I thought it would go to the beautiful Anglo…how could a pony beat an Anglo?! Then my number was called out as the winner, it was my first ever Supreme award and it was even better to have done it with my homebred girl. There were many, many happy tears that day!’
There is one dream that is yet to elude Anna, and that is to prepare and show her own Ajay pony to an Australian Championship. ‘There have been a few Ajay ponies presented at Australian Championships previously by their owners, always bringing home a broad sash. But I have not done that myself yet…it would be such a thrill. I also really want to produce Pinto Arabian Ponies with a higher percentage of purebred blood, I just think they would be beyond pretty! The future will also see some new purebred blood added, I don’t like it to slip too far away in my pedigrees. But nothing has been set in concrete as yet! Whatever happens, the future is super exciting!’