Arabians are our YourDressage Breed of the Month for July! One of the oldest horse breeds on earth, and the influence for many other breeds, these elegant horses are easily recognizable with their delicate faces and high tail carriage. They excel in many sports, particularly endurance riding.
Dressage enthusiasts who ride Arabians have the opportunity to earn special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards as Arabian Horse Association, North American Shagya-Arabian Society, and Performance Shagya-Arabian Registry are all Participating Organizations.
We recently asked our social media followers to share stories about what makes these horses so special. Here, a Region 7 rider shares how she had never owned an Arabian, until one yearling’s photo on a Facebook kill pen page caught her eye.
By Kristine Buist
I discovered ‘kill pens’ sometime in 2016. For those who don’t know, horse slaughter is illegal in the United States, but it is unfortunately perfectly legal to purchase horses here and ship them over the border to Canada and Mexico. I did my research on the pens, and I understood the pros and cons- there are many of each. One of the pens I followed on Facebook was in Kaufman, Texas. I watched horses go through there for months, and never made the move to purchase any of them.
I was promoted at my job in August of 2016. This gave me tons of time to peruse the horses onFacebook kill pens, since I was working the graveyard shift and awake at odd hours of the night. In March of 2017, the cover photo for the album of one horse caught my eye. I clicked on his picture, and this truly beautiful yearling Arabian was featured. I had never owned Arabians, and at the time I already had three horses. I was smitten with his sweet face and sent his ad to my friend Becca, who does know Arabians! Fortunately, Becca also worked the graveyard shift and was awake. She immediately responded back that this colt, TCA Success Express, was very well bred and she couldn’t imagine how he wound up in a kill pen. Within an hour of being posted on the page, I purchased him for $825.00. I was now an Arabian owner.
Next step was finding a location to quarantine him. The quarantine is particularly important for kill pen horses, as many of them have been purchased at sales, then placed in a large holding pen with other horses who also have unknown health history. Fortunately for me, there is the Arabian Feedlot and Auction Horse Rescue Team page on Facebook. These ladies work tirelessly to place the numerous Arabians that find themselves in kill pens all over the country. Becca was able to find the Triple Cross Ranches, who agreed to do the colt’s quarantine. He was picked up the next day to start his month-long quarantine.
I received quite a few pictures of him while he was in quarantine. He was ribby and a bit beat up from being in the pen, but nothing too bad. I worked on a transport from Texas to Las Vegas and arranged to have him hauled in a box stall by McCarty Limited.
Once all that was handled, the only thing left for me to do was come up with a barn name! We had been calling him the ‘little nugget’, but that didn’t seem to fit, and his registered name didn’t lend itself easily to a short nickname. While driving to lunch one day with the barn girls, the song ‘Whip It’ by Devo came on. He was quickly given the barn name of Devo, because when a problem came along… well, you know the rest.
Devo arrived home on April 19, 2017. He was more beautiful than his pictures even, although he had that ‘unfinished’ look yearlings often have and he was still a bit thin. He got wormed, got a new fly mask and halter, and we started getting to know each other. I discovered rather quickly that he had obviously been extensively handled. He picked up all four feet, led well, tied, and did most of the things I would expect a yearling to know how to do.
I now had four horses in a boarding situation. After writing the first board check for four, I decided that buying a horse property was in the cards for me. In August of 2017, I moved all four horses to my own place. Devo really was the catalyst for making this move, and I LOVE having the horses at home.
Devo was allowed to grow up over the next two and a half years. He got turnouts and was handled regularly. We even made a few trips to our local horse park to get him used to the idea of traveling.
We worked at home for several months, where he learned to stop, turn, pick up both canter leads, and carry himself in a frame. He hadhis first trip off property under saddle in December of 2019. Other than a couple big spooks (who knew dried leaves were so scary?), he was perfect.
We did our first show February 8, 2020. We just did Intro B, and it was a big day for Devo. We got through the test and even managed to clear a 60%. The judge called me up afterward though and asked me if he was broke. I couldn’t stop laughing and simply told her it was his first show and he was a baby Arabian! The following month, right before Covid shut down showing, we competed at Intro A and Intro B and received scores to 68%. He had done very well for being a four-year-old at his first few shows and I was so happy with his progress.
We worked throughout the summer and showed again in fall of 2020, this time at Training Level. His scores are consistently in the mid-60s, in Open classes. We showed through May of 2021 at Training Level. Devo has learned to behave very well and has shown through Training Level Test 3. He always tries his hardest and gives me his best at shows. We are aiming to compete in Training Level Test 3 and First Level Test 1 in the fall. There are no summer shows where I live in Las Vegas.
Devo has been a fun project and I am planning to keep him. He did not get quite as tall as I would have liked, but he has the best heart. I always tell people he is the prettiest horse I have ever owned. To borrow a phrase from a friend “pretty is as pretty does”, but he has shown he can do. He competes in Open classes as a small- 14.3 hands- horse and does well. I am so happy that I saw his picture late that night and decided to make the leap and bring him home, sight unseen. He has been worth every bit of effort, time, and money.
On a final note, kill pen horses are not suitable for everyone. I have ridden since I was child, train my own horses, and ride and teach as an Open rider. I used to do problem horses when I was younger and knew I could manage whatever came to me from the pen. Kill pen horses aren’t necessarily cheaper than a locally purchased one either, due to the costs of quarantine, transport, training, and vet care. Since I got Devo, I have pulled three more from the pens- two mules and an appendix. I have really enjoyed them all. The journey with every single horse is what really makes this sport the best there is, and my journey with Devo has only just begun.
Information about the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards