A Modern Mare with Historic Lineage
By Beth Ellen Hunziker
A hot wind blows, lifting the grey mare's full forelock. It seems like a veil that is removed revealing her large black eyes, fringed with long, thick lashes. Who is this vision of beauty? Could it be Farida El Debani, the dam of the great stallion Dahman, and the beloved mare of her owner, the legendary Egyptian horseman and breeder, Ali Pasha Sherif. There is a family resemblence. Perhaps it is her great, great granddaughter, Dalal, bred by Prince Ahmed Kamal Pasha in 1903. No, in fact this lovely, champion straight Egyptian eight-year-old mare is Alia Valentino - a mare who boasts 16 generations of ancestors, including some of the most famous Egyptian mares and stallions in the history of the Arabian horse breed. It's no coincidence that Alia Valentino's look is reminiscent of the classic mares bred and revered by the Bedouins; each and every one of her predecessors can be traced to the desert.
Centuries ago the Bedouins valued their mares among their most prized possessions. These fierce warriors appreciated mares of great beauty and they were enamored with physical qualities such as large, dark eyes; delicate, well-shaped ears; expressive nostrils, dark skin and a coat like silk; graceful carriage and flamboyant tail carriage. They also valued the deeper qualities of bravery, loyalty, pride and gentleness. Keitha and Wayne Adams, and their children Mikayla, Mackenzie, and Dane of Mackayne Arabians, the proud owners of Alia Valentino, share those values. How does a young, modern family from Texas become the owners of a treasured, straight Egyptian Arabian mare? It all began with a secret wish.
Keitha Adams grew up with horses; they were another breed - perfectly nice horses - but not Arabian horses. Years later, when Keitha and her husband were busy raising their family, Keitha decided to indulge in a guilty pleasure and visited the local Barnes and Noble bookstore. Keitha loves all animals and especially enjoys animal publications. She purchased a magazine about Arabian horses and as she turned the pages, Keitha saw an ad from Arabians Ltd. It announced they were hosting a seminar about straight Egyptian Arabian horses at their farm in Waco, Texas, which was just an hour and a half from the city where Keitha and her family lived. It was Keitha's wish that her family could someday have a home in the country - a place where they could enjoy nature and raise a few horses. Keitha noted the date of the seminar. Later, she invited her husband to spend a romantic weekend at a bed and breakfast in Waco, Texas; it just happened to be the same weekend as the Arabians Ltd. Event. Keitha and Wayne decided to attend.
The Adams had both seen horses before, but nothing like these. They looked at each other in stunned amazement. Keitha knew it was a life changing moment, "When they brought out a stallion, I looked at Wayne, his eyes said it all. Later, he told me he had never seen an animal with such pride and nobility. The stallion that had made such an impression on Wayne was Thee Desperado. We continued to attend events at Arabians Ltd. and in March of 2008, on a visit to the farm, Wayne said he wanted to show me a horse he had seen. Shawn Crews brought out a rose grey filly. She was beautiful, but the thing that captivated us were her eyes - there was something so special about her - we had to have her. Wayne takes pride in the fact that he chose our first horse, Lady Mishaal RCA (Mishaal HP x The Scarlet Lady). She went on to be the Egyptian Event Champion World Class Two-Year-Old Filly.
The horses have enriched our lives in so many ways. Our children love them too, especially our oldest daughter, Mikayla. She has an unbelievable way with the horses and loves to study their pedigrees. She has an incredible eye and can recognize members of families based on their physical traits, the way they move and their mannerisms. Wayne believes the horses are good for our souls and I agree. Now that we have our own farm, we really like having some of the horses here with us. We find it very relaxing and joyful - working with the mares and babies every day is very special. Our children truly look forward to spending time with them.
In December of 2008, on one of our many visits to Arabians Ltd., we told Shawn we were interested in a mature mare; one that we could show and later would be a good producer. She told us she had the perfect mare for us. When she brought out Alia Valentino, our jaws dropped, she was the most beautiful mare we had ever seen. Almost immediately, she became a part of our family. It has been an honor to own such a special mare. She was a Regional Reserve Champion Mare, and Greg Knowles showed her at the Egyptian Event Reserve where she was Champion 4-5 Year-Old World Class Mare. Frank Sponle showed Alia in 2009 and 2010 and she was Champion 6-7 Year-Old World Class Mare both times. Frank Sponle also showed Alia when she was Supreme Reserve Champion Senior Mare and Supreme Reserve Show Champion Mare in 2010.
In addition to her show career, Alia has been everything we had hoped for in a foundation mare for our emerging breeding program at Mackayne Arabians. We know Alia is a great producer - Frank Sponle has her daughter, Alia Lahab RSA, by Al Lahab, in training at his farm in Germany. We want to enjoy the horses as a family, and because our daughter Mikayla is so knowledgeable about pedigrees and practices, she has become very involved with our breeding decisions. Mikayla shared her family's plans for Alai Valentino, "This year she gave us a wonderful colt by the black, straight Egyptian stallion, Bellagio RCA.
Since then Alia was bred to Falcon BHF, we did another embryo transfer and now her recipient mare is here at our farm; she'll foal out here in 2012. We chose Falcon BHF, a double Bey Shah son, for Alia because we love the stallion Royal Shabaz who is by Falcon BHF and out of a straight Egyptian mare too - so Royal Shabaz was the inspiration for our breeding.
"Next we plan to have Alia bred to the straight Egyptian stallion, EA JAVA by True Colors, owned by our friends Martha and Charley Suarez of La Dulce Vida Arabians. We love Java - he is so beautiful - he is really exotic, and he has a great pedigree. We think this could be an excellent cross for Alia. That will be another embryo transfer foal. We are lucky to have Dena Horton working with us. Dena has over 18 years working with horses. She assists the vets with all of the breeding, she works with the mares and foals, and she also is starting to break out some of our older horses so we can ride.
We are ready to bring Alia home. She really is the foundation of Mackayne Arabians. I want to be the one who cares for her, and when she does carry her own foal, I want to be the one who foals her out. We love Alia so much - we want to give her the best of everything in return for everything she has given to us."
"Alia Valentino has beauty, imposing size, and amazing carriage. But this mare was different - she is very powerful, when leading her you feel as though you have a stallion on the line."
"Alia Valentino is one of those amazing gray desperado daughters that is not only incredibly beautiful, but flat out irreplaceable. I wish she were mine!!!"
In 2010 Frank Sponle showed Alia Valentino to the Reserve Supreme Championship at the Event for Wayne and Keitha Adams and their family. It was a thrill for the Adams and all of us who love this great mare. I just saw Alia's 2011 colt by Bellagio RCA, he has that same special quality too. Alia is a great mare, she has great owners and the promise of her future is very exciting!"