AHT's February Leader Of The Times
Leaders Of The Times: *Khadraj NA ... Jerland Arabians’ Blessing Evermore
by CATHERINE COLE FERANDELLI
It was a magical year. Having followed him literally from infant-hood, Larry Jerome remembers 2007 with credulous clarity, being as it was the year he acquired Khadraj NA.
“Yes, Khadraj drew me into his life 16 years before I was gifted with the opportunity to own him,” Larry recalls. “Even as a youngster, it was obvious to me that Khadraj possessed exceptional physical prowess, athletic ability, and exuded a natural charisma that just cannot be taught. I yearned to have Khadraj but never dreamed it would be possible. Turns out that dreams really can come true!”
Awarded the youngest-ever Brazil National Champion Colt while at his dam’s side, Khadraj (*Ponomarev x Khatreena NA, by *Padron) was attracting attention world-wide before he was weaned! The Brazilian accolades didn’t stop there, with 2-year-old Khadraj awarded another Brazilian National Championship in 1993. This stunning chestnut colt was clearly going places.
The late Rose Taylor, owner of the famed R-A Aloha Arabians knew Khadraj was the stallion to complete her progressive breeding program. For Rose, Khadraj represented the perfect combination of classic Russian, Polish and Crabbet bloodlines. A deal was reached and Khadraj made his way to the States.
Many agree young Khadraj’s show career at this point was stellar enough. Still, after having won some impressive halter prizes in the States, Khadraj was started as a performance horse, revealing a phenomenal talent for western pleasure. Shown by his trainer and lifelong friend Greg Harris, Khadraj brought home the roses at Canadian Nationals and many a regional championship. Owner/Amateur Devon Benbrook successfully showed Khadraj during this time too, revealing that he was beautiful, athletic and happy to show with a trainer or an amateur on his back.
In 2007, fate intervened when Larry learned that 16-year-old Khadraj was available for purchase. “Khadraj was building big fame as a sire; his offspring dominated prize wins at U.S and Canadian Nationals,” Larry smiles. “I felt privileged and enjoyment as a breeder, but our first meeting also revealed an intense connection and attraction. That was the biggest prize of all.” Larry expounds, “My biggest joy was just being around Khadraj, the horse. Seeing him put on his show to our mares in his daily pasture turnout was always a thrill. His emotions were always easily readable through intelligent expression. Khadraj was always proud, yet kind and fair. He and his stall mate, MPA Giovanni, were both the proudest stallions you’ll ever meet and had a genuine liking and respect for each other. That’s a special stallion intelligence one cannot replicate.”
Fast forward to 2019. To describe it, Larry says, “It was the best year, it was the worst year. We could see that Khadraj was slowing down. We began preparing for the end, all the while certain that he would tell us when it was time. We knew when the inimitable sparkle in his eyes flickered, we would be there.” In early October, when Khadraj was picking at his specially prepared hay with his eyes shut, grievously, Larry and all of Khadraj’s loved ones knew the time had come.
Initially Larry shared Khadraj’s passing with only a few dear friends, while compiling a warm, touching video to be shown at U.S. Nationals. Proud Khadraj, showing his stuff, surrounded by his multitude of friends.
Throughout the show in Tulsa, Khadraj’s inevitable presence remained front and center through his first- and second-generation progeny. Big wins included Jerland Farms’ double homebred bay stallion Kola J, U.S. National Champion Arabian Western Pleasure Junior Horse. 2015 Half-Arabian bay stallion Gin J and owner Holly Connnaker were Western Pleasure Maturity AAOTR Top Ten winners after having earned 2019 Canadian National Champion Half-Arabian Western Pleasure Junior Horse. Khadraj’s progeny graced all the show pens, proof positive that Khadraj lives on through his descendants.
Forever grateful for his and Khadraj’s journey together, Larry says singer Ronny Milsaps’ verse describes Khadraj best, “You’re my sunshine day and night, oh what a difference you’ve made in my life.”