AHT's July Leader Of The Times
Leaders Of The Times: Cedar Ridge Arabians
by LAURELLE ANDERSON
Established over 40 years ago, Cedar Ridge Arabians along with Dick, Lollie and Lara Ames, has risen to the crest of the Arabian horse community and has long been regarded as one of the most versatile and esteemed breeding facilities in the world today. One does not need to look far to recognize the solidarity of this remarkable family, or their collective passion and dedication to the Arabian horse, including the community it serves. Their journey continues to be an authentic labor of love for the entire Ames family, while one of the most important elements of their program is introducing newcomers to the breed. In doing so, an expanding family of Arabian enthusiasts has evolved around them, lending an even stronger core to the foundation of this hallmark farm.
Tucked neatly away in the quiet serene Minnesota community of Jordan, less than an hour from the Twin Cities, Cedar Ridge Arabians provides a stately invitation to this vast 500+ acre farm, where it showcases state-of-the-art training and breeding barns, two spacious arenas and plenty of grazing pasture land to best accommodate the ranch needs. Fully functional regardless of temperature, this world-class facility has successfully evolved to produce exceptional breeding stock speciﬁcally focused on three disciplines, halter, English performance and reining.
From the mesmerizing cadence and historic achievements of Matoi, to the hypnotic beauty and treasured Polish bloodlines of *Perﬁrka, and ﬁnally to the extraordinary natural ability and temperament of the multi-champion reining stallion TA Mozart, the concept of ‘versatility’ is unquestionably revered as a mandatory element at the heart of the Cedar Ridge breeding program. This essential component provides authentic insight to the astute principles and guidelines at the forefront of each breeding decision, all while adhering to the breed standard of excellence and producing exceptional versatile champions that excel in highly diversiﬁed divisions of competition. To exceed expectations in even one of these disciplines, can be a challenge. Yet, to produce multiple champions and national champions in all three divisions, is more than an achievement … it’s inspiration … and the sweetest reminder of what dreams can become when fueled with unwavering commitments to make a difference, and the difference for many has become Cedar Ridge itself. Their heartfelt and devoted efforts are to move forward with broader dreams, to grow their bandwagon of enthusiasm, and to cheer each member on to victory. After all, within the vision of Cedar Ridge, the more there is to share, the more rewarding the experience becomes.
Therefore, included within their program, is a well-designed and highly recommended learning opportunity that underscores this strong desire the Ames family has to share their passion. One program, best known as the ‘Cedar Ridge Riding Club (CRRC), offers hour-long lessons taught by Stephanie Davisson, available all year around. Students are encouraged to additionally participate in an ‘in-house’ Fun Show, if they desire to develop additional skills designed to carry them into an environment of competitive riding. This is an ‘opportunity-of-a-lifetime’ for many, in an atmosphere suitable for inspired ambitions, with all the elements of friendship, passion, focused work and dedication. As newcomers, they have a means to discover their own unique relationship within the realm of what works best for them individually. Some may aspire to breeding the ideal Arabian, others may determine that a journey toward competitive performance training is more in line with their ideal pursuits, and for many more, the thrill may simply lie within the journey itself. Regardless, this program invites participation by all, it openly encourages newcomers to actively engage within this program, or have conversations about breeding opportunities, by extending an invitation for others to get involved. In doing so, many of those regarded to be a part of the Cedar Ridge family, have gone on to win championships and national championships themselves. And, since every opportunity begins with a single step, this contagious collaboration of horses and students under the cover of Cedar Ridge, is just waiting to welcome and transform someone’s world into pathways of opportunity by joining in on this journey. The storylines of accomplishments will forever reﬂect the excellence in achievement, yet not always so easily attained. Even so, future chapters remain to be written as the CRRC program will continue to provide this fundamental opportunity to facilitate the evolution of champions and coach new custodians of the Arabian breed.
As the sun begins to set, casting mesmerizing evening hues over this vast Arabian horse retreat known as Cedar Ridge Arabians, it is this sacred light that best showcases the realization of ‘a dream come true’ for Dick, Lollie and Lara Ames. Just as inspiration may occur instantly and often without warning, the direction and scope of decided aspirations have quite possibly been revealed in the collective decisions that ﬁrst deﬁned ‘Who is Cedar Ridge Arabians?’ Undoubtedly, those were essential moments that determined the direction and scope of this farm. Enamored by the Arabian horse many years ago, their attachment to this free-spirited and captivating creature in a world ‘all Arabian’ has gone far beyond the breeding barns producing 25+ new foals a year. Far beyond the gathering of national titles. It has emerged as a ﬂagship entity … honed by a journey that can melt and even break your heart. Even so, the lessons of time have often proven to reﬂect, that without sacriﬁce, there can be little reward.
Their intent was never to travel this road alone, and to use the term that seems best to apply, ‘it often takes a village,” is a pivotal fact that has enabled Cedar Ridge an opportunity to engage in an unwavering commitment to breed exceptionally talented Arabians that consistently represent the most outstanding noble treasures of their respective divisions. It comes as no surprise to anyone that as one most regarded as Leaders of The Times, Cedar Ridge Farms and the Ames family exempliﬁes the ﬁnest in all they have to offer. Herein lies the versatility of home-bred victors and a mark of excellence that lines the walls of ‘passion-driven-dreams’ and paved roads to championships. All this, serves to inspire new adventures and exciting chapters, as this tireless family remains so endlessly committed to the Arabian horse.
A Conversation With Gene LaCroix …
What is it about Cedar Ridge Arabians that best exemplifies why it is that they are clearly regarded as one of the leaders? Sustained dedication to excellence with their horses from a breeding and training perspective; open minded and willing to try and support new ideas; family working together to be the best they can be at whatever they do.
How long have you been associated with Cedar Ridge Arabians, and what has been their most significant accomplishment, from your perspective, based on their commitment to produce extraordinary Arabians capable of exceptional performance? I've known the Ames' since the early 70s. Since then, we have done business together, competed against each other and have become great friends over nearly 50 years. They have bred some really great horses: Toi Slamtastic CRF, Brass Prince, Sir Marwan CRF, Noble Supreme CRF, RJ Ames and All Maxed Out RA to name a few. However, I would have to say, walking through the pastures and barns and seeing the foals and young horses, the best is yet to come. For Cedar Ridge, there has been consistent improvement in the quality of horses from one generation to the next. This is a fantastic achievement and they are doing it in three distinct disciplines, English, halter and reining.
With regard to the CRRC lesson program and their primary goal of introducing newcomers to the Arabian horse, how important do you feel this program is in terms of why it is essential for the future of the Arabian breed, and why? A quality lesson program and Cedar Ridge is really high quality; the very best way for the youngsters and even beginning riders of all ages, to get acquainted with the Arabian horse. Once the bonding takes place between a rider and horse, it is all over, youngsters are hooked for life. The Arabian breed's future is bringing in the kids, and they have done an outstanding job. Numerous riders have started at Cedar Ridge Arabians and have gone on to win national championships.
What is the most inspirational experience or most treasured memory you have through your association with Cedar Ridge? Trying to keep up with Dick.
Most people don't know, that the Ames family helped us move the remains of *Bask+ to the Kentucky Horse Park, and then underwrote the Bogucki life size bronze of *Bask+ which now sits in perpetuity in the museum at the Kentucky Horse Park. Dick called and regularly visited both of my parents in their elderly years, even called Mom on her birthday to personally sing Happy Birthday to her. Words cannot adequately express my appreciation to Dick and his family for their friendship and support through the years.
This year I have had a wonderful time in coaching and consulting at Cedar Ridge. A real highlight for me was at this last Buckeye show, seeing Dick win a driving class, Lara wining her country pleasure class, and Dicks great granddaughter, Hadley, winning at age 13, a 17 & under English class. Lollie, Dick and Lara always have fun together with their horses.
As a breeder and/or trainer, what is the most important fact to understand about the Cedar Ridge Arabians Breeding and /Training Program. First it is diversified. Cedar Ridge breeds National Champion winning horses in their three main disciplines From what I can tell by looking at the young horses of each, there is much more to come. In addition to the quality of the horses, is the exceptional beauty of its halter horses, the natural motion and trainability of their English horses, and the athleticism and temperament of the reining horses.
~Quote From Andrew Sellman~
"Dick, Lollie, and Lara Ames have enriched my life in many ways. I first met them when I was 12 and immediately latched onto them. I am now 41 and I love them like family. We have always shared a common interest in all things Arabian horses. I have too many memories of Cedar Ridge Arabians to share, the majority are wonderful, but there are a few that still scare me, like damaging Dick's equipment or farm gates! The life lessons I learned from them are invaluable and I am forever grateful for the friendship they have shown me. This family makes a difference in every life they touch, and the difference that they have made in the Arabian horse community is greater than can be explained. They truly leave everything better than they found it.
“I got my start showing horses that were bred by Cedar Ridge, and they taught me so much. When I trained professionally at Cedar Ridge, I was one of several trainers who worked there at the same time. All of us looked forward to bringing the young horses in to get started in halter and under saddle. It happened more often than not, that the products of this breeding program would be very successful in both disciplines. The Ames family has always enjoyed all the disciplines of Arabian horse shows, and their breeding program demonstrates that consistently."