Arabian Horse Times

Magazine Cover Stories

*RFI Sophie AlMaktub: The Brazilian Queen Comes To The United States

Cover Story - Vol. 51, No.7, issue 3

COVER STORY: *RFI Sophie AlMaktub: The Brazilian Queen Comes To The United States


They say that some things are worth the wait. That’s definitely the case with RFI Sophie AlMaktub (RFI Maktub x RFI Sophia Al Neschi, by Neschnij), the 2010 bay mare from Brazil.


The first time Stuart and Carol Nierenberg, Silver Box Southwest, saw Sophie was at the 2018 Brazilian Nationals, the day before her appearance in the Senior Mares class. It was love at first sight. “I wasn’t aware at the time of Sophie’s global renown, but Cindy McGown and Mark Davis of Royal Arabians, apparently knew her well,” recalls Carol. “Together, we immediately tried to buy her, but we were told she was not for sale, at any price.”


The following night, after watching her in Senior Mares, the foursome became even more interested in obtaining Sophie. “Ringside, I watched, spellbound – frankly, with fingers crossed that she wouldn’t do well, and hence that owner Rodrigo Foz Forte (RFI Arabians) might change his mind and decide to sell her,” Carol says with a laugh. “Alas, Sophie owned the ring that night, electrifying the crowd with her perfection and her presence, and was crowned National Champion Senior Mare of Brazil.”


Despite subsequent repeated partnership attempts to purchase Sophie, Rodrigo continued to hold the line – the mare was not for sale. Recalls Travis Rice, sales manager for Royal Arabians: “We kept getting the same answer – no, no, no, and for emphasis – no.”


But at last, some two years later, Forte did put a price tag on Sophie. Without hesitation, the four partners agreed to it.


In a sense, the mare was coming home: Rodolfo Guzzo, the halter trainer for Royal Arabians, Silver Box Southwest and the foursome’s partnership entity, Royal/Silver Box, had been the first to show Sophie, in Brazil as a yearling, leading her to her first national championship title. Now he would be preparing and showing her again.


Arriving on U.S. soil at the end of 2020, Sophie proved to be everything her admirers had perceived at their first meeting in Brazil.


Carol describes her as the “Katharine Hepburn of Arabian mares. Like Hepburn, Sophie AlMaktub possesses an elegance, the epitome of class, refinement and presence that are unique to her – breathtaking, utterly singular, unmistakable and unforgettable,” she says.


Travis, who was with the four partners when they first became interested in purchasing the mare, says Sophie is “perfection. She just makes anyone stop and ask, ‘Who is THAT?’”


Beyond her presence, correctness, uniqueness and show-stopping beauty, Sophie has also proven her value as a broodmare. Her get include well-decorated and highly admired progeny from a variety of sires.


There’s Pharaoh HBV (by Psyche HBV), the 2016 All Nations Cup Silver Champion and 2017 Dubai Silver Champion Colt; RFI Sawari (by Excalibur EA), 2017 Brazilian National Gold Champion Junior Filly; and RFI Splendor (by El Tino), the 2018 Brazilian National Silver Champion Colt.


Guzzo will present Sophie on U.S. soil for the first time at the April Arabian Breeders World Cup on the polo grounds in Scottsdale. He is “ecstatic” to be able to partner with the mare again, and show her to Arabian enthusiasts in the U.S.


“There’s no person that sees Sophie who doesn’t fall in love with her,” he says. “She has gotten better and more beautiful over the years. I am excited to run into the arena with her as she makes her debut in America. Even more people will fall in love with Sophie.”


The Royal/Silver Box partnership, too, is looking forward to her U.S. show ring debut –and to many years of cherishing Sophie Almaktub. Says Carol: “Rodrigo Forte graciously permitted Royal/Silver Box custody of The Queen. She is now our greatest treasure. But in truth, she belongs to the whole Arabian world. Her genetic contributions have been, and will continue to be, immense. Sophie is, quite simply, a singular sensation. She is an icon of the Arabian breed. We are grateful every day for the privilege of being in her presence.”

Magazine Cover Stories

Life Inthe Fazt Lane

Cover Story - Vol. 51, No.6, issue 2

COVER STORY: Life Inthe Fazt Lane


When it comes to Amazing Horsewoman LLC’s founder, Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, never did she expect that her involvement in the Arabian horse industry would include ownership of a performance stallion such as Life Inthe Fazt Lane (Vegaz x Riverdance NA).


Located at Dr. O’Reilly’s Southern California Equestrian Center (SCEC), the 9-year-old bay stallion has been in training with Lowe Show Horse Centre for just under three years and each year has been better than the last. When “Eddie” stepped foot into California, trainer Jim Lowe was so in awe of the stud, he went and bought a broodmare to breed Eddie to so he could have his own Life Inthe Fazt Lane baby.


Since training with Lowe, Life Inthe Fazt Lane has won two reserve national championship titles, both in the Open English Pleasure with Lowe up at the 2019 and 2020 U.S. Nationals.


During last year’s class, Eddie got to trot in the arena with his sire Vegaz, ridden by trainer Chris Wilson. Vegaz performed for the first time in years and looked his best yet. Those who got to see both stallions in the arena witnessed a historical moment. There were four breeding stallions in the English Open class to close out the nationals show, and Life Inthe Fazt Lane proved he belonged at the top of the judges’ cards with his father and the rest of the competition.


“He is going to do great things for our breed,” Lowe said. Highlighting the best features of Eddie, Lowe continued, “He has an unbelievable amount of talent. He is kind, hardworking, beautiful, and trains like a million bucks. I am excited to see his babies on the ground and see how they perform. I think they’re going to be special.”


Dr. O’Reilly has several foals on the ground by Life Inthe Fazt Lane, which she has high expectations for. Exhibiting their sire’s same beautiful features and great necks, his get are proving to be trainable and showing the same performance potential. It is hard not to fall in love with the next generation of these “easy on the eyes” champions.


Despite her shorter (8 years) and later in life involvement with horses, Dr. O’Reilly’s love for the Arabian breed is apparent. From humble show beginnings in liberty classes, her Southern California Equestrian Center is now home to top show horses, as well as a successfully growing breeding program.


Life Inthe Fazt Lane is just one of three stallions at Lowe Show Horse Centre. Eddie’s stablemates include the legendary Mamage, owned by Beth Jupp, and Dr. O’Reilly’s multi-national champion Affliction, by Mamage. Each stallion brings their own excitement to the show ring, as well as their babies.


The sky is the limit for Eddie and Dr. O’Reilly’s potential within the industry. We saw just how talented his get can be when one of Life Inthe Fazt Lane’s progeny hit the show ring this year. It is only a matter of time before the public will be joining Dr. O’Reilly and Jim Lowe’s excitement for more Life Inthe Fazt Lane babies in 2021 and on.

Magazine Cover Stories

Garavani AN—Carrying On A Legacy

Cover Story - Vol. 51, No.5, issue 1

Cover Story: Garavani AN—Carrying On A Legacy


When the world lost DA Valentino nearly a decade ago, the entire international Arabian horse community mourned. Now, it’s beginning to seem apparent to many that one very special young stallion, with DA Valentino on both his sire and dam side, could be the one to carry the torch of his grandsire’s legacy.


Garavani AN (Polidoro FC x Maria PCF), owned by Anivia Equine, LLC, captured the Arabian horse community’s attention with his championship titles of 2019 Gold Champion Colt at the Arabian National Breeder Finals and 2020 Scottsdale Junior Champion Colt, winning the hearts of many with his stunning and striking resemblance to DA Valentino. David Boggs, who is enamored with the young star, led Garavani to his victories, and says the Scottsdale win in particular was a rocket launch and a thrill.


“Garavani has a great attitude, is very charismatic and reminds me so much of DA Valentino, it’s actually spooky,” says David.


Breeder Sam Peacemaker was on the sidelines at the show and recalls, “The quality he exhibited, his scope, cleanness of throat and elegant standup were unmistakable. I was very happy with how well he showed and as the breeder, of course I was thrilled to see him win unanimously.”


David says the young stallion is following in his grandsire’s footsteps and predicts Garavani will reach the same popularity as DA Valentino both in the show ring and in the breeding barn.


“DA Valentino had an incredible international fan club during his lifetime,” recalls David. “Not only did he have show ring presence that was unparalleled, but he also became a very popular sire and his offspring, including Garavani, are representing him well.”


Sam Peacemaker had that in mind when he decided to breed Polidoro FC (DA Valentino x Abha Palma) to Maria PCF (DA Valentino x MCA Afire Beylee). “As I evaluated the phenotype of the individuals combined with the known pre-potency of the pedigrees, I felt I had a good chance of getting a long elegant neck, well set into a deep laid back shoulder with a smooth and balanced body.”


Anivia Equine’s Stacy Sachen, a life-long horsewoman and Arabian breeder, felt the same and purchased Maria PCF while she was carrying Garavani in utero and she couldn’t be more pleased with the end result. “Fixing the throatlatch, neck set and balance of body is very difficult to achieve as a breeder,” she says. “For these reasons, Valentino always stood out to me as not only a great show horse, but the top choice for a breeder. I feel Garavani is positioned to bring back to life that answer for the Arabian industry.”


Looking to the future, the Garavani team plans to provide the support necessary to make him as much of a legacy to the breed as his grandsire. Stacy plans to breed him to a select group of mares herself, and there are already significant breeders lining up with their best mares to capitalize on the stallion’s unique ancestry.


Peacemaker predicts Garavani will pass along great attributes to his progeny. “The qualities of the individuals in his pedigree are very similar to their phenotype and consistent deep into the pedigree,” he says. “I think the key features he will contribute will be a well-set long neck with a clean throat, tight well-shaped ears, a deep laid-back shoulder, balance through the body with smooth coupling through the hip and a well-set tail.”

Magazine Cover Stories

Sabina Berglund

Cover Story - Vol. 51, No.9, Issue #6

Cover Story: Sabina Berglund...Putting it all into perspective




With the 2020 Spring show season being almost completely canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, every junior rider is looking forward to Youth Nationals. And Sabina Berglund is one of these youth riders eager to get back into the show ring this year with her horses.


Eight years ago, Sabina started riding lessons. Her parents thought she would go for a few lessons to try it out and that would be that, but Sabina was hooked and so began a life full of horses. With her riding career beginning on an Arabian horse, Sabina has a deep love for the breed that has encouraged her to dedicate her life to horses, with the goal to become an equine surgeon.


At Youth Nationals this year, Sabina is bringing her three saddle seat horses. First is EA Apollomalu, showing in Arabian Country English Pleasure. He reminds her of the high school jock that knows he is the coolest guy around. Her firecracker, Noble Bey CRF, shows in Arabian English Pleasure. Last year, Sabina and Noble Bey CRF were National Champions together. “No matter how the ride goes,” she says, “he is a thrill to ride. I’m always happy at the end in the line-up, that I’m lucky enough to show such an amazing horse as him.” Lastly is MJM Hit Man, her newest mount who will be her equitation teammate. Going through colic surgery last fall and with the pandemic stunting the show season, Sabina is excited to finally get to compete on Hit Man in Half-Arabian Saddle Seat Equitation and Half-Arabian Country English Pleasure.


The two weeks in Oklahoma City for Youth is something Sabina looks forward to every year. There’s nothing like the atmosphere and the energy that comes with trotting into the Jim Norrick arena on her geldings. “I’m looking forward to enjoying every ride,” says Sabina when looking forward to Youth 2020, “not overthinking it, living in the moment, and appreciating the fact that we get to do this; that we get to have these amazing horses and these bonds with them, and get to enjoy the time in the ring with them. Roses are always nice but having fun with my horses is most important.” To all her competitors that are nervous about competing at Youth, Sabina says, “Don’t stress it. Just do your best and enjoy it. With time will come the experience, so just sit back and take in the energy of the show and learn from it!”


This is Sabina’s first show season with trainer Josh Shino. Wanting to dial in her equitation more, Josh has been the perfect fit helping her grow in the discipline. The skills she’s learned from him for her equitation have helped step up her game with all her horses.


Showing horses comes with a lot of different aspects and challenges. Having a true connection with your horse before going into the show ring is something Sabina highly values. “By learning how to communicate with them,” she says, “the mutual trust that comes out of it is very special. Then as a team you can do anything.”


Because of the coronavirus pandemic, she has not been able to see her horses as much as usual. Sabina says it is sad not being able to spend as much time with them but when she can see them, it means so much more to her now. Her barn family and the horse show atmosphere that Sabina misses the most about going to shows, is something everyone is looking forward to!