Cover Story - Vol. 48, No.7 - Issue #1
HA Toskcan Sun+ … A Decade In The Limelight
by CHRISTY EGAN
In the spring of 2012 a magnificent, 5-year-old bay stallion, HA Toskcan Sun+, made his show ring debut at the Scottsdale show. He won both the English Pleasure Jr. Horse class and the Championship. It was the opening show ring gambit of a success story that personifies the lifelong dream of California owner-breeder Michelle Harris. Over the past decade, Michelle and her husband Scott’s budding hope to follow in the footsteps of her Aunt, renowned Arabian horse breeder, Pat Mills, has blossomed into reality. In the fall of 2012 HA Toskcan Sun+ and his trainer, Jim Stachowski, proudly accepted unanimous roses in the U.S. National English Pleasure Jr. Horse. Jim was nearly as excited as the Harris family. “Michelle had spoken with me years earlier in Scottsdale about a package of breedings to Baske Afire,” he recalls. “I suggested she lease the Zodiac Matador daughter, Matoska and breed her.” It was a momentous decision.
Dennis Wigren of RO Lervick Arabians, has called Matoska “… the best daughter of Zodiac Matador and the best offspring of Bint Mi Toska.” Matoska was a granddaughter of the legendary *Bask show mare, Mi Toska, considered by many to be one of the all-time greatest English show mares and a premiere jewel in breeder Pat Mills’ crown. Before she was three, Matoska was already in Scottsdale and the “talk of the town.” Six years later she was bred for the first time, producing a national winner, SS Renagade. Midwest trainer and breeder, Chris Wilson, remembers the chestnut gelding well. “He was so talented; so willing,” he recalls. “After barely ten months under saddle, he was U.S. Reserve National Champion H/A English Pleasure Jr. Horse. He’s still an all-time favorite of mine.” Chris currently owns Mattatoska, Matoska’s full sister. Among Matoska’s lifetime total of 13 foals (nine of them for RO Lervick Arabians), were a Regional Champion, a National Top Ten, two additional Reserve National Champions (sired by Cytosk) and two great National Champions, the full siblings, ROL Martini and HA Toskcan Sun+ (Baske Afire). Matoska is still impacting Arabian breeders nationally. “At RO Lervick, we have retained Matoska’s 2006 Cytosk daughter, Cymply Skarlett,” says Dennis Wigren. “We have bred our National Champion producer, Passion X (Barbary), to HA Toskcan Sun+ numerous times. We are very pleased with the offspring.”
HA Toskcan Sun’s+ first appearance at Scottsdale inspired, among others, Harris’ long-time friend and horse breeder, Helen Lacey Reed. Helen’s 20 plus years with Arabian horses has given her both discerning insight and a collection of superlative English-bred Arabian mares. A heavenly partnership was formed and Toskcan found himself blessed with ladies to match him in record and in pedigree.
Within two months of HA Toskcan Sun+’s show ring debut in Arizona, his first foal crop arrived. Today, every one of them has made successful show ring careers. HA Toskcana (x VF Fires Alarm, by Allience) has been a Regional Champion and Reserve and was a 2016 U.S. National Top Ten. Owned by Burrline LLC, HA Toskcana is HA Toskcan Sun’s+ oldest daughter and is soon to take her place in Katie Burr’s broodmare band. “We also have The Poett (x GSF Poetry In Motion, by Hucks Heritage V), a Top Ten at the 2017 Nationals in the Country English Futurity, as well as several others,” Katie notes happily. “In a time when all the English Arabian horses seem to look the same, Toskcan offspring are unique. They stand out. Their bloodlines carry the physical and visual history of the best in our breed. They have enormous quality, talent, trainability and spectacular eyes. I’m a huge fan!”
Also among Toskcan’s first foal crop was HA California Sage (x Colorado Sage, by Hucklebey Berry). Shown just once as a 3-year-old, Sage was the unanimous 2015 U.S. National Champion in the Country English Futurity. The bay mare returned to the show ring in 2017 at the Scottsdale Show and won the Country English Pleasure Jr. Horse Championship, following that with a Top Ten at U.S. Nationals. Jon Ramsay, trainer at Stachowski’s California location, has always been HA California Sage’s trainer. “We took her to Scottsdale as a yearling,” Jon says. “She was the representative from Toskcan’s first foal crop that we showed during his presentations there in 2013. She’s always been pretty, simple; easy to work with and she loves the show ring! Toskcan’s babies are very athletic, trainable, and great-minded horses. We’ll be bringing a number of horses to Scottsdale in February. There will be five or six sired by Toskcan, including HA Tsocialite (x Firelite DGL, by Duel), the 2017 SSS Champion English/Country Pleasure Futurity winner.” HA Toskcan Sun+ offspring went one-two in that particular Scottsdale Signature class with Principessa KD (x Casting Crowns DFA, by Apollopalooza) taking Reserve and finding a new home with Kristine Hilton. Principessa went on to win the Buckeye English Pleasure Jr. Horse in Ohio last May.
Spirituall Gangster (x HL Justalusion, by The Chief Justice) drew attention both to his sire and the 2012 Toskcan foal crop at the 2017 U.S. Nationals where he won the Country English Pleasure Jr. Horse with Shannon Beethe and a Reserve National Championship in the Country English AAOTR Maturity with her brother Mike. Just five, his time at the shows has been limited and not without difficulty. “In spite of having health issues at Nationals, he was great,” Shannon marvels. “There is a real pureness about him. Every day he shows up with his perfect attitude and his level, clean way of thinking. He’s low key and mild-mannered, but he’s extremely smart and brings 150% to every class. He will be at Scottsdale, but we’ll take it easy. We want him happy and fresh.” Shannon and Mike are currently on the lookout for another HA Toskcan Sun+ show horse.
In a time when lifelong Arabian horse breeders are rare, HA Toskcan Sun+ is the breeder’s choice. Early in his career as a sire, Sheila Varian was his biggest supporter. Respected English Arabian breeder Irwin Schimmel has numerous foals by Toskcan, as do the Lervicks and the Stachowski family. Vicki Humphrey initially bred to HA Toskcan Sun+ because her Saddlebred mares crossed well with his sire. “We hit a homerun with Baske Afire,” says Vicki, “though part of the reason we bred to Toskcan was Michelle Harris. She’s so gracious. Our yearlings sired by Toskcan are the same quality and talent we got with his sire. We’re also breeding Barbary’s last daughter, Gloria X, to him this coming year.” Legendary horseman and breeder, Gene LaCroix, has high praise for HA Toskcan Sun+ as a sire. “I think that he might well be the next up-and-coming sire,” Gene says. “The Toskcans are trainable; they have great Arabian character, and their eyes are striking. It is not hit-or-miss breeding to Toskcan. He’s predominant for great qualities, including attitude.”
John Lambert is the Equine Operations Program Manager at the Kellogg Arabian Horse Center at Cal Poly, Pomona. Last August at the third annual online Arabian horse auction for the Center, the high selling lot was a yearling HA Toskcan Sun+ colt, CP Helios. “The school did great at the auction,” noted John. “It was a huge accomplishment. I was there when Helios was born. At birth, you could see he was outstanding. Great quality. There’s this incredibly high set neck, great body, high tail carriage and good legs and feet. Katherine Kirby, with Jim Stachowski as agent, bought him at the sale. Cal Poly is currently breeding to nine or ten different outside stallions—primarily for English—and HA Toskcan Sun+ is right up at the top of our list. I believe he’s one of the sires that will shape the future of the Cal Poly breeding program over the next decade.”
The U.S. National Open English Pleasure Reserve Champion in 2013, 2014 and 2015, HA Toskcan Sun+ is currently spending his days siring the next generation of English Arabian champions. At Stachowski, Toskcan is handled for breeding by Jim Bowman, an old friend who started him as a 2-year-old. “He’s a very kind horse and he reminds me a great deal of *Bask,” says Bowman, who handled the Arabian legend at Lasma and knew him well. “Toskcan is a happy, playful horse; very smart. He took to training easily as a young horse. He’s very good natured, likes to show off and put on a show.”
“Toskcan offspring are talented with great, flexible necks, cadence, and balance off the rear,” notes Peter Stachowski. “We like them; other trainers like them too. On top of that, they have presence and charisma; it makes for a great total picture. Toskcan’s first three foal crops are rife with major national winners, but don’t rush to call Toskcan retired. His trainer and manager, Jim Stachowski smiles when you inquire. “He looks great in harness,” Jim says. “Michelle drives him. I might drive him myself, or I might bring him back out in English.” And there are the Toskcan sons and daughters, coming each year from America’s finest English mares. The first decade is undoubtedly just the beginning.
“I never thought I would have a stallion until I met Toskcan. He was the most beautiful horse I’d ever seen, an outstanding individual, and a pure work of art. He still gives me chills every time I see him.” - Helen Lacey Reed
“I’ve had the privilege to work with Toskcan Sun+ since his show debut. Toskcan comes out every day with a certain charisma that is his own, but still he’s a perfect gentleman. His owners let me present him in-hand at Scottsdale annually. He impresses everyone under saddle, but he’s just as beautiful in-hand. He’s putting his stamp on his offspring and he’ll leave his mark on the breed.” - Ashley Roberts