Overcoming obstacles was the specialty of a versatile Arabian who started out ponying Thoroughbreds, but ended up as a field hunter and a sire with a remarkable show record. Aazrak AHR #10821 was foaled on July 22, 1956, and died in the summer of 1975. He was registered as a roan, although he was in fact a chestnut with considerable roaning in his coat. His sire Aaraf was by *Raffles out of Aarah (Ghadaf x Nadirat, by *Rizvan). His dam Aazkara was by the Rahas son Azkar out of Aarah, making his sire and dam half brother and sister.
With his youngest purebred off spring 11 years old, it is possi-ble that Enzio will be the strongest contributor to Aazrak’s legacy of purebred Arabian sport horses. But the purebreds are only part of Aazrak’s dynasty. The crossing of Aazrak with Thoroughbreds to produce Anglo-Arabians became a major part of his legacy.
The first, and certainly not the least, of Aazrak’s Anglo-Arabian off -spring was Arzab, a gelding foaled in 1965 out of a Th oroughbred mare named Fable-Lass. Arzab placed quite a bit in halter classes as a 2-year-old, and McKay started him out in baby hunter classes after she had him going under saddle. She had become interested in combined training and dressage but hadn’t had an opportunity yet to take lessons in either. However Louise Bedford, the founder of the Elkridge-Harford Pony Club, had “C” rally-sized fences built around the hunt club, so McKay was able to school there. She also built smaller copies of fences she saw pictured in The Chronicle of the Horse.
With this background, Ann entered Arzab in their first event, the New England Three-Day Championships, at preliminary level. Arzab placed fifth in spite of one stop in the cross-country phase and a dropped fence in the stadium phase that was chalked up to his youth and inexperience. His next outing was at Fair Hill, where he had another stop cross-country, but a clean round in stadium despite bad weather con-ditions. Next, Ann entered him in an event at the old Potomac Horse Center near Washing-ton, D.C. Here, Arzab was brave and jumped clear on the cross-country, but Ann came off at a big log fence on a curve - the only time she ever fell during an event. Arzab was startled by the sudden appearance of two jump judges chatting in the landing zone and made an enormous, twisting leap over the log, unseating Ann enough that she slid off when he landed. She remounted and they finished the course.
About this time, Ann and her husband Jim, who had operated a foxhunting and teaching barn together, stopped making their living with horses. Ann also injured her back during this period, and as a consequence, was unable to ride nearly as much as before. So she lent Arzab to Essie Perkins in Vermont for her daughters to ride.
Beth and Bea Perkins both evented him, one going to preliminary level and the other to advanced. They took him to training with the USET team at Gladstone, New Jersey, and a couple of their working students also evented him. Arzab stayed with the Perkins family for eight years, eventu-ally coming home to enjoy a harem of mares, do some hunter trials and even win the Masters Class two years running at the Elkridge-Harford hunter show. He showed a few times at all-Arabian shows, where the one horse who beat him was another Anglo son of Aazrak. In his 20s, he was still winning 25 to 50-mile Eastern Competitive Trail Ride Association competitive trail rides. Obviously, he inherited his sire’s toughness and basic soundness, as the only thing that ever seemed to slow him down was a terrible knee injury from opening a gate and lead-ing his mares down a road, where he was once hit by a Jeep. Chris McKay did such a good job with his rehabilitation that he won the Masters Classes after the injury healed.
Waterfoot Larrikin, owned by Ann’s friend Jeanie Gore, was the Anglo that outshone Arzab at all-Arabian shows. He evented successfully up to preliminary level, when it was discovered that his hocks had arthritic changes. Accordingly, he moved “down” to foxhunting and was a regular with the Elkridge-Harford, winning a couple of hunter paces as well. As an older horse, “Larry” introduced several students to eventing at the beginner novice and novice levels, rounding out his career as a lesson horse for selected beginners a few times a week. Despite his arthritis, careful management allowed Larry to be ridden up into his 20s. Jeanie Gore evented two other Aazrak Anglos at preliminary level: Discotheque (“Sam”), out of Skilful Eagle by Talon, and Coreographer, out of a Cormac mare.
Two other Aazrak Anglo off spring owned and ridden by Chris McKay Donovan were Goshen, a full brother to Discotheque, and Gadd John Dee, out of Debbie-K. Goshen, who Ann describes as a “lovely big kind fellow,” was Chris’ Pony Club mount, and she evented him to pre-liminary before selling him as a foxhunter to pay for college. Gadd John Dee was a stallion that Chris evented up through preliminary as well, finishing “in the money” at Essex with him their last time out. Named after the well-known local vet John Gadd, “GD” sired 10 Anglo-Arabian get and 10 Anglo grand-get before his death. The announcement that the Enzio mare Jane Morganroth (named for a dear friend of Ann’s) was in foal to Gadd John Dee prompted laughter from the crowd that was present.
Fralik, an Anglo mare by Aazrak out Paul’s Dream, started out as a junior hunter in Maryland and Virginia, with wins under the coaching of Billy Boyce. Later shown in jumpers under the name Crack The Sky, she was sold to the Swedish national jumping team. This talented mare competed for them until she re-bowed a rear tendon first injured when she was a foal, ending her career as a jumper. She is believed to have stayed in Sweden as a broodmare.
Aazrak’s influence on the Anglo-Arabian continues today. The bay stallion Post Exchange, by Enzio out of the Thoroughbred mare Reregret, by Sun Again, competed in open hunter shows and then at breed shows. He was named Arabian Horse Association’s National Champion Half/Anglo Arabian Adult Amateur Working Hunter in 2002 and 2003 before retiring from competition at 20 years of age. Post Exchange, who is one of only a few stallions Ann has ever sold, is owned and ridden by Ann’s friend Peggy Ingles. He was sold primarily so he would get a chance to compete, as he is a very talented jumper. Besides his national titles, Post Exchange was also named USA Equestrian Horse of the Year in 2002. He has sired 16 registered Anglo-Arabians, with more expected this coming spring.
The handsome bay Anglo stallion Quartermaster, by Yankee Lad (who is also the sire of Olympic gold medal winner Touch of Class) out of the Enzio Anglo daughter Jane Morganroth (also out of Paul’s Dream), evented at preliminary level with Terry Gibson in Vermont. Quartermaster was the 1996 United States Combined Training Association/Arabian Sport Horse Association Arabian Horse of the Year and won the Arrowhead Hildago Memorial Trophy. Later, he was shown in jumpers and then hunters by a junior rider. He sired eight registered Anglos and many warmblood crosses who were successful in eventing, endurance and jumping. Sadly, he was euthanized in September, 2006 due to EPM, but bred a few mares here in Maryland in 2005. From his last foal crop is an Anglo colt out of Victoria Regina (Gadd John Dee x Thoroughbred mare) named Master Plan that Chris is planning to keep for herself.
BETTER BY HALF
Besides having a strong positive influence on East Coast Anglo-Arabians, Aazrak sired many half-Arabians. The first Aazrak foal that Ann McKay owned was a chestnut gelding out of a palomino Quarter Horse-type mare that she bought with money earned galloping race horses. She purchased him as a 2-year-old, gelded him and trained him initially as a pleasure horse. She later sold him in New Jersey, where he competed in local 4-H and pleasure shows. There was also the chestnut mare Wickeri, who was foaled in 1965, by Aazrak out of a crossbred mare named Lassy. Wickeri was purchased as a 3-year-old by Robin Stemler, who competed her successfully as a hunter in both recognized and unrecognized shows. Wickeri was champion and reserve numerous times at unrecognized shows her first season, and she also won in hunter trials. Robin and the mare were a solid team and well suited to each other.
More recently, Enzio grandson IC Blue Shadow (by Welsh pony Severn Westwind out of a Welsh/Arab mare) was a top show hunter, winning American Horse Shows Association Na-tional Horse of the Year honors in Small Pony Hunter for several years. Ann not only bred him, but also kept several of his get in her crossbred pony breeding program. Many of those get went on to become very successful show hunters and jumpers.
Today, there is a perpetual trophy named for Aazrak that is awarded each year at the Harford Horse Show to the registered Arabian or part-Arabian winning the highest number of points in performance classes. Not surprisingly, many of the past winners have been Aazrak descendants.Although far from complete, the above illustrates that Aazrak was a sire of strong merit whose descendants are still successful in the East Coast sport horse scene. It is hoped that his grandson, Admiral Harnly AHR #559453 (Sunset Enzio x SS Magsheba [An Magno x Tochi-ba]), a 1994 chestnut stallion named for Ann’s father, will carry on this line. Admiral Harnly was bred and is owned by Ann McKay and her daughter Patricia.
With athletic progeny such as Ironman, Falcon and Hornblower already proving their abilities in the Olympic disciplines, Admiral is the heir apparent to the Aazrak legacy of exceptional Arabian-bred sport horses. Ann and Chris believe he has just as much potential as his sire and grand-sire to pass on the stellar qualities that have made Aazrak a legend.
In April 2006, the last Aazrak gelding of which Chris and her mother had kept track died at the age of 38 - but they have also seen the birth of Admiral Harnly’s fine strong sons. Although Ann is retiring this season from her bustling breeding, boarding and teaching business, she will continue to stand Admiral and more foals are expected this spring. Thus, the sport horse dynasty begun by Aazrak continues.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the Arabian Sport Horse Association newsletter. All photos courtesy of Peggy Ingles.