Merrilee Lyons, of Silver Stag Arabians, loves her horses—always has, through decades of Arabian ownership. First in her heart is Turismo RA, whose undefeated show career includes tri-colors as the champion stallion at the U.S. Nationals (Junior), Canadian Nationals, and Scottsdale. It was, therefore, understandable that when Merrilee decided to move her 9-year-old favorite from the east coast, she chose Scottsdale, the center of the halter world. This past spring, Turismo joined Andy Sellman’s barn at Orrion Farms, accompanied by his sons Evolution CCA and Picasso SSA, and Merrilee’s Canadian National Champion Mare Edens Fantasy. So began a new chapter in their lives.
Sellman, who had shown against Turismo in the past, says his regard for the stallion has only deepened since working with him: “He’s an impressive creature. Aesthetically, physically, he’s a one-of-a-kind horse. He has a stand-up that is unbelievable; you rarely see something this statuesque, and it’s easy to look at because it’s not forced.”
Even better, he is equally taken with the stallion’s personality. As Turismo has settled into his new home, it’s apparent that he enjoys interacting with the staff. “He loves when we put our arms around him,” Andy grins. “I think he’s very sensitive; he’s a kind horse. I have more respect for him each day.”
Johnny Ryan, who cared for Turismo in the month preceding the stallion’s move to Scottsdale, agrees. “He’s a cool horse,” Ryan says. “He radiates being a stallion and he has a great snort button, but he’s totally within himself—very regal. You can walk by his stall and be captivated because everything is majestic.”
Both trainers mention what Turismo can contribute to the breed as a sire. “He can add such balance, carriage, shape to his neck, tail carriage—I think he’s going to put ‘a little bit more’ into [his foals],” says Johnny, who judged the stallion at Scottsdale. “A little bit more size, more stretch to the neck, and in some cases, more type. I’ve been fortunate to see several of his babies, and he puts an incredible neck and shoulder on them.”
Andy sees that and more in Evolution CCA, already a national top ten in halter, and Picasso SSA. “They train great,” he notes. “To me, that mental feature is just as important as physical features. I really value people that breed good-minded horses and stallions that breed good-minded foals that are willing and enthusiastic, and he is that.”
Both see Turismo’s potential for a crossover into the performance ranks. “There is every reason to believe he could be a sire along the lines of a Jullyen El Jamaal or a Sundance Kid,” Johnny says, “the type of horse who has done well in the western and hunter world.”
“Turismo’s a horse I’d like to have in our gene pool,” Andy states flatly. “I can’t think of another stallion as functional as this guy. He’s a horseman’s horse, one that would be universally liked by performance-oriented people as well as halter people.”
With Turismo, Edens Fantasy, Evolution and Picasso in Scottsdale, Merrilee also rerouted the others she owns. Two youngsters went to Dwayne Hankins to be prepared for sale in performance, while retirees Citationn and RGT Breathin Afire, along with Afires Midnite Heir, are with John and Christine Ryan in Pennsylvania. “Merrilee’s only a couple of hours away, so she visits them about once a month,” Johnny says, adding that there are Turismo foals in the area that she likes to monitor.
Turismo is now at home in Scottsdale—and as Andy says, “We’re in a very good place.” He is optimistic and the stallion is happy. Back east, though, Turismo is missed not just by Merrilee, but Johnny Ryan too. “Every day that I took him to the round pen, I would just marvel at what a magnificent animal he is,” Johnny says. “He’s got a certain aura about him, almost like he knows he’s great—he probably does know he’s great. I was actually sad to see him leave, even though I knew that was the plan all along. I just enjoyed my morning time with him.”
Merrilee knows just how he feels.