By Alex Gallagher
Horse season is set to kick off in Scottsdale on Wednesday, September 14, when the Arabian National Breeders Finals returns to WestWorld of Scottsdale through Saturday, September 17.
The show, which is a small sampling of the grand Arabian Horse show that comes to Scottsdale every February, is one of the few shows in the world where fans can see the weanlings — or infant horses — trot around a stadium with the finest horses from around the globe.
“It’s a boutique show that we started and our vision was to host a high-end horse show that attracted the best Arabian horses from around the country to Scottsdale,” Arabian Horse Association of Arizona Executive Director Taryl O’Shea says. “We wanted it to be a boutique show because we wanted it to be intimate and people to have a good time.”
O’Shea has seen the show grow in its quality and prestige over the past decade-plus since its debut in 2011.
“We’ve also grown in our efforts to make the show elegant and beautiful; through that, we’ve attracted, you know, the top-end horses to compete at this show,” O’Shea says.
Not only does the show attract some of the shiniest equines from across the world, but the show’s setup also complements the coats and other features of the horses competing.
“We set it up to look like a stage in that we black curtains along the whole back of the arena and the horses compete in this beautiful venue where there’s a red carpet and lighting,” O’Shea says.
At the show, horses will compete in classes based on their age — from month-old equines to 15-year-old animals.
In the mornings, the horses show off how well they can ride in different disciplines.
“So, the people ride the horses in different disciplines like hunter pleasure, Western pleasure and English pleasure — where they lift their legs really high when they trot,” O’Shea says.
Following the elegant morning fanfare will be a show where horses will be judged once again, but this time on their beauty and conformation in comparison to the standard of the Arabian horse.
As the horses trot through the sandy pastures inside of WestWorld, fans can indulge in activities around the stadium. Food and drinks and an array of locally made products and crafts will be available for purchase.
“We have a small selection, but a high-end selection of artists, jewelers and clothing that our horse exhibitors buy things from, and so we’ve kept it small and allowed hand-picked vendors to come that fit the ambiance of the horse show to vend here,” O’Shea says.
O’Shea admits that her favorite part of the three-day competition is glancing at the future of the Arabian horse scene when the starry-eyed weanlings trot through the grounds of the stadium and the conversations that emerge from the spectators during the show.
“My favorite part, personally, is seeing the babies compete,” she says. “It is just such a fun thing to see them in the showroom together. This show also has a lot of really good camaraderie and people take time to visit and get to know one another better.”
Whether people come out to shop, sip or enjoy a unique show, O’Shea says there is one thing to be expected from the three days of competition and fanfare.
“Expect a well-put-together horse show that has some of the best horses, a cool ambiance and then just some good camaraderie,” she says. “Expect an Arabian extravaganza with a lot of fun.”