|Prized horses bred on Cotati acreage
Destinyís Arabians really shine at competitions in California and Arizona
“I am going to show horses this year. I’m going to put my energy out there and show,” proclaims Kathryn Wickstrom of Destiny Arabians horse farm.
And show she did.
One of Wickstrom’s horses, Skorr DA, a 2-year old purebred colt, was a Halter Grand Champion at the Golden Gate Arabian Horse Show held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in March, and a Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show Top Ten winner last February in Arizona.
“I could give you a bunch of hype and Arabian owners would go, ‘she’s putting feathers in her cap that don’t belong,’” responded a humble Wickstrom.
Qualifying for regional Halter
The Santa Rosa placing also qualified Skorr DA for the Nor-Cal Regional Halter competition, and Wickstrom also had five horses in the show.
The Scottsdale show is popular for breeders and almost eclipses the national show in horse sales because of the quality of stock, according to Wickstrom.
“More horses change hands than any other horse show for the entire show season,” she said.
To halter an Arabian for show performances, the trainer/handler of the horse demonstrates a confirmation stance of the horse to accentuate and highlight breed characteristics to judges. The head is carried high and the neck stretched out. The proper stance is to have the front feet square, the back feet parted, so that one leg is set perpendicular to the ground, and the other slightly behind it, in order to tighten and flatten the relatively horizontal croup and show off the high-set tail.
Wickstrom, over the past 15 years, has been breeding and specializing in half-Arabians of color on her modern 20-acre Cotati farm. An undertaking not all Arabian breeders attempt, according to Wickstrom.
“Usually, they’re (breed) quarter horse and paint-based…what I produce is color,” she said. “Arabians (purebreds) only come in five colors. Anybody can breed a quarter horse to an Arabian – both of those horses are solid in color. Who cares? I like to have the color. I have the spots (pinto markings). Mine are tobiano (pattern). That would be my little niche. I like them personally.”
In the past, Wickstrom, who prides herself in being “hands-on” with all her horses, would produce an average of five foals per year, but the demand for Arabians has been very poor for over two years, so she is focusing her efforts on selling the current stock and competitions.
Arabian market crashes
“The Arabian horse market fell into the dumper two years ago and has still not recovered. The middle-market ($30,000-$80,000), normally where I sell, has pretty much evaporated. You don’t need a horse, but you may want one,” Wickstrom says realistically. She expects to produce no foals this year because of the situation. “I did not breed any horses last year. I am over-horsed.”
The Arabian or Arab horse is a breed that originated on the Arabian Peninsula. With a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage and one less rib, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world.
It is also the oldest breed of horse, and every breed of horse traces back to Arabian bloodlines. The average size of an Arabian ranges from 14-3 to 15 hands measure.
“They are like a statue. When you look at it…it’s as if somebody made him – (like he) was not born,“ comments Jesse Saldana, Wickstrom’s award-winning veteran Arabian trainer of almost 40 years. Saldana also runs his own training center. Saldana is Skorr DA’s handler.
Athleticism and disposition
“You want that horse to move correctly and to be ridden eventually. If I find three faults, I do not like that individual,” said Wickstrom.
“It took me nearly six, seven years before I could really feel confident about what I was doing.”
She credits successful mentors for helping guide her through the years of the learning process.
“The disposition comes from handling,” says Wickstrom.
Cameras in the oversized stalls allow her to immediately know when a mare is close to foal.
“Seventy-five percent of my horses’ disposition come from me. I handle them (foals) from birth. I am there the minute the baby hits the ground,” Wickstrom said.
From that point on she is raising, handling, and training (groomed, bathed, trailered, tied) the horse until it is ready to be halter trained by Saldana. Wickstrom has personally bred more than 30 horses.
Destiny Arabians horse farm features riding arenas, a round pen, barn stalls and pasture shelters.
The farm is currently breeding, boarding, training, and selling Arabian horses. More information www.destinyarabians.net.