Sometimes in breeding horses, they go through an “ugly duckling” stage when you can begin to doubt yourself. It’s not always easy to wait for the “swan” to emerge.
The 2013 Arabian Horse Association (AHA) High Point horse, Al-Marah Swift, embodied that tale, and to see him now, you wouldn’t believe it.
The beautiful bay stallion with a big star was foaled in 2008, bred by Bazy Tankersley of Al-Marah Arabians. His sire is dressage star Al-Marah Quebec+, Reserve National Champion Fourth Level Dressage and the first Arabian to be Trakehner approved in the US, and his dam AM Gypsy Vision daughter Reem Al Fala, bred by Al-Marah. Her offspring include four-time National Champion SHIH Al-Marah Jessica (by Bremervale Andronicus) and National Top Ten Sport Horse Show Hack Crymson Tyde (by *SA Ika).
Mrs Tankersley originally bred him to be an endurance horse, as his pedigree seemed to predict.
Instead, he has blossomed into a great hunter. With their breeding program focusing on disposition and trainability, it is no surprise that everyone loves him.
Owner Mark Miller considers Swift to be Quebec’s best offspring. “He’s been my daughter’s favorite ever since he was born. I love that he’s one of the best hunters out there and especially because he’s a Quebec son. He’s the great grandson of my Indraff daughter that I had in 1960 and here we are 50 years later,” said Mark.
When Swift was a yearling, breeding manager Jerry Hamilton decided it was in the colt’s best interest to “hide” him from Mrs. T.
He apparently may have been gelded had she seen him. Jerry and Mark both agreed that he just needed some time, and they were right.
When he came two, Jerry brought him out and Swift earned his first of many National Championships, the 2-Year-Old Arabian Sport Horse In-Hand. He went on to amass an impressive list of wins in-hand, then under saddle and even in dressage before starting in Hunter Hack in 2012. He not only competed at Sport Horse Nationals that year, earning two Top Tens, but also did two Trail classes at US Nationals, winning two more Top Tens.
Swift hit the road in late March of 2013, throughout the year attending Championships in Regions 1, 7, 8, 10, 13, 14 and Pacific Slopes where he garnered a total of 21 Champions and Reserves.
He only just started in working hunter in June, as he had gotten kicked on the walker and required some stem cell treatment on his hock. Swift’s first over fences show at Region 13 was also the first time Kristin Hardin rode him.
In August, Swift made his way to the Canadian Nationals, winning two Champions, two Reserves and a Top Ten. At Sport Horse Nationals, Swift was the most winning Arabian overall. With Championships in Green Working Hunter, Working Hunter 14.2 and Under, Hunter Hack Jr. Horse and Sport Horse Under Saddle Jr. Horse, a Reserve in Open Working Hunter and Top Tens in Open and Amateur In-Hand and Open Sport Horse Under Saddle, that came as no surprise.
A month later, Swift competed in Trail at US Nationals and again brought home two Top Tens, ridden there by Brooke Fuchs.
Throughout the season, he had been piloted mostly by Kristin, who met Swift at the shows, but then took him home to her farm in California from midsummer through Sport Horse Nationals.
“Kristin is a big part of the reason Swift won so much. She’s a great trainer and she absolutely gives you back a better horse than the one you gave her. To me, that’s the true mark of a great trainer,” Mark says.
Kristin says “Swift is the ultimate show horse, his mind is a steel trap. He walks in the ring to win and understands the game. Because he is so smart, riding him is a dream. The only thing he doesn’t like is if I am holding a ribbon, but roses around his neck are a-ok!“
At this year’s Scottsdale show, he won the in-hand stallion championship as well as under saddle and working hunter, a great start on 2014.
Swift has 10 foals on the ground, the oldest being two-year-olds. He will be standing in Arizona for the breeding season and will follow that up with trips to Canada and/or Idaho for Nationals.
It’s a safe bet that there are more roses in his near future.