Where are the shows heading to? Are they still the same as they were in previous years - both in status and in interest? We are not pointing any fingers, but want to provide motivatation for a clear review and analysis of the present situation, to a constructive discussion, resulting sooner or later in some good or new ideas.
The international Arab horse industry started at the end of the 60s, with small regional shows (or better descirbed as 'presentations').
The breed was exclusive and there was a limited number of horses. In the 70s and 80s, the shows became "breed shows" where breeders went to as visitors or with horses to get an impression of the breed and of the progeny and to compare their own horses to others. All the shows had been on an amateur basis and most of the breeders showed their horses in hand themselves.
In the 90s and after, more and more professionalism came in. The shows changed from a simple breeding event to staged shows, the Arab horses in gloss and glamour, on the catwalk of beauty. With the big money and business, the star glamour reached all time importance, and the fans focussing more and applauding names more than the horses itself. Within three to five years, the market has jumped into horizons and money, that nobody expected anymore, especially after the top market situation at the end of the 80s when the market had crashed in the U.S. after the tax rule changes.
Money makes the world around - and having it, makes things definetely easier! The show sponsorship has grown in the last few years immensely, and it has helped the show organizers to run, improve and increase their shows in class and style. However, the "normal" people and breeders feel more and more that they do not have a chance against the 'big studs and names'. They still understand the opportunities - to bring a young horse to a show hoping that it might get discovered from one of the agents, purchased and having the success and win with a big name behind, and opportunity that the horse deserved but could not have reached with them.
But the result of this general situation is that - more and more smaller people and breeders stay away with their horses from the shows that cost them a lot of money to return home most of the time frustrated.
Since last year, we realized in Europe that there was a reduction in the number of show entries, even in the A-rated and the major and title shows. The situation in the Middle East is different. There we normally see big classes, more and more new people, breeders and participants. Four champion trophies and four reserves seem to be not enough anymore. Since 2008/2009, three medal awards are given so - Gold, Silver, Bronze in each category, fillies, colts, mares, stallions. That makes 12 trophies, titles and 4 more happy people. But even this seems not enough anymore to make enough people happy. So where are we heading to? To more trophies? To more medals? To more categories?
The Abu Dhabi International Show in 2009 offered another interesting idea - and many people and exhibitorswere happy at the end, even when they had not won. Through the generosity of one of the sheikhs who sponsored a huge amount in prize money, all 1st to 5th placed horses in each class received a prize money of about 20.000 EUR each, the champions and reserves, even more (all details find in our coverage in "Shows/Events" about this show - or just click here). This was and could be interesting motivation for the future - but needs firstly a generous sponsor or potential show sponsorship in total; and secondly, judges of independent disposition and fine but strong personality.
We can not turn the clock backward, but we can face problems and search for better options. We need the show bizz, and we also need the breeders. We need the professionals, and we need the amateurs, and we also need the Arab horse enthusiasts and fans as possible future owners. And we need to show off the exclusive value of the Arab horse and it's versatility - as a breeding horse, as a show horse, as a riding horse, as a companion and daily friend!
Everything started in history many many years ago, when even the bedouins were in need of the basic qualities of their Arab horse. Then the horse was a part of the family, a true companion in every way. A special stallion or a high quality mare had been a private jewel, and other bedouins or tribes had already heard about the horse even before the owner arrived with the horse to them. True horsemanship counted! A stallion of quality was known, a broodmare a treasure and some, a matriarch of a valuable dam line. The relation between the man and the Arab horse was legendary and a value in itself!
So if you are not keen on the show bizz - just remember the history. Take the old days as your sample, enjoy being with your horse, see your treasure/s at home, enjoy the days with your companion, and breed on the values of your bloodstock. There are also many opportunities to enjoy your Arab horse, and nothing can pay you back what you gain in those moments and values, even outside each glamour and show.