Meet an Arabian Horse Month

Welcome to the Emerald Empire Arabian Horse Club's 

Virtual "Meet the Arabian Horse" Month

Each day throughout the month of May, we will be adding features presented by club members sharing the Arabian horse history, versatility, and personality and how you can get involved with others who share your passion and interest in the Arabian horse. The first week of May will focus on individuals and their stories about their special Arabian horses. If you missed a day, you're still in luck!  Just scroll on down the page for each day's presentation.  Horse ownership is not required.  We'd love to hear from our visitors, so be sure to tell us what you think or leave any questions that you may have in a guestbook entry using the entry below.  Be sure to bookmark this page and come back again throughout the month to meet our Arabian horses.  If you would like to join our group, checkout the "Join Us" link under the "Home" tab at the top of this page.  

Again, throughout the month of May we will be virtually sharing our beautiful Arabian Horses with the world.  Please enjoy these wonderful stories.  Scroll through our page to meet "The Proud Breed" and their people. Enjoy! 

 feature by Sigrid Thompson Brannan


     After literally growing up on horses, about fifteen years ago I’d given up riding.  I’d had a bad wreck on a mare I loved, and it so terrified my horse-phobic husband that I re-homed the 3 mares my girls and I had loved and ridden happily on our hill overlooking the Spokane Valley.  

    Then, a charming horse-trader moved into the neighborhood.  I’d see him when I was out on walks and we’d chat about horses.  Seeing his herd brought me comfort as I went about my horse-less life, working as a school principal and going to grad school at night and on weekends.  Something must have clicked for my husband, because when “Bud” showed up at our house one April morning and told me he had “just the horse” for me, my husband and I  knew it was the right time at last.  There was a hole in my heart only a horse could fill, and my husband seemed to finally understand it.  So, I bought Beau, a lovely bay Arab gelding and resumed my horse life at last (this time with a helmet). But this is not Beau’s story. 

     In the way of many such folks, Bud had crossed too many trust and money lines with too many friends, and left the state, leaving four horses in the neighbor’s pasture with nothing to eat and winter coming.  I tracked him down by phone and offered to find homes for them.  He agreed (with relief, I suspect, as the next call would have been to the sheriff!).  Two of the horses—minis—went to Idaho, via my niece Laura.  One went to another neighbor.  I kept the fourth, a young, nearly black Arabian stallion (soon to be a gelding, a process he accepted with equanimity, making the vet clinic staff fall in love with him). I did not know his history…and Bud was vague on how he had acquired him.  But he looked like every picture I’d ever seen of the fine Polish Arab strain. (P.S., I’ve since had his DNA done, confirming his Arabian roots. I’ll never know his pedigree, but he doesn’t seem to care.) 

    As I led him home that October day, I pondered what name would fit.  Here he was.  Barely touched.  Thin and stunted.  Calling to his friends but otherwise behaving like a gentleman.  As we walked the mile to his new home, I remembered one of my favorite series of children’s books, “The Chronicles of Narnia”.  Those who know those books may remember the London cabby horse, “Strawberry”, who is magically transported to Narnia and given wings and a new name by the Lion Aslan.  “Fledge” it is, I thought, and he seemed to agree.

     Since then, my life with Fledge has been one of the greatest challenges and joys of my life.  Because of him, I’ve re-learned everything I thought I knew about horse training. I’ve immersed myself in “Natural Horsemanship” methods, attending clinics and reading dozens of books and watching hours of DVDs.  I’ve met such fine nationally known clinicians and authors as Mark Rashid, Josh Lyons, Brandi Lyons, and Buck Brannaman.  Local trainers Ann Kirk and Angela Tanner have helped me and Fledge develop the kind of relationship I’ve only ever had with one other horse, my teenage mare, Nahaj—a blood-red sorrel 3/4 Arab filly who could read my mind.  

     The road with Fledge has not been without its bumps.  His baseline personality is “I’ll do anything to please you.”  But, he was, I suspect, treated roughly before I got him. And as we all know, horses never forget!  In the beginning, every time I touched him, he startled with fear.  He still flinches at a first touch—even after all these years—but once he understands your hand is kind and soft, he relaxes.  Nevertheless, those fear memories have led to some spectacular spooks and bolts and I’ve come off him nearly a dozen times.  And, as Roy Rogers is said to have observed: “At my age, I no longer bounce, I splat!”   This has been true for me, so I’ve learned to take it slow and give him lots of chances to relax.  

    The pay-off to all this work is the splendid partner I now have.  We’ve been on countless lovely trail rides, the best being when I take him “home” to Sandpoint and ride the forest trails of my childhood with my sister Kirsten and brother Jim (on his elegant mule, Raquel), and other assorted family and friends.  We’ve camped.  In Idaho and Oregon.  We’ve been to clinics and met some wonderful friends.  We once rode up a trail so steep and rocky (The Big Eddie trail to Star Peak near in the Cabinet Range), I had to lead him back down.  He calmly and slowly picked his way over sharp rocks, keeping me safe.  Family grandchildren, including my own grandson Killian, have ridden him in the round pen. We’ve fulfilled one of my bucket list items, entering the walk/trot class at the “Spots of Fun” horse show in Sandpoint.  We even got a ribbon!

    This boy is as magic as his name.  He has changed my world in countless ways.  Every morning as he whinnies for his breakfast, I thank the Lord for bringing him into my life!  As the friends of the Fledge in the book say, “Further in and higher up!” 

 feature by Denise Cummings

A Gentle Soul

A lot of times when you think of Arabians, a picture of a snorty, hot stallion with his flagging tail and dishy face emerges.  Their beauty and soul, spirit and personality abound and it draws you in.  But when the lights go down and the horse trailers head home its their gentleness, their wanting to be with their humans that is the real magnetism.

All of the Arabians I have owned and or trained over the years were around a lot of kids.  They love kids.  One special horse, El Muscatel, a beautiful grey stallion gave kids the chance of a lifetime.  A chance to lead an Arabian stallion into the show ring.  A chance to ride their first horse.  El Muscatel was owned by Jim and Barbara Hicks.  The Hicks' grand kids all played with Muscatel and had pictures taken with him.  My kids did the same, and took it one step further.  They got to show him, or he got to show them. Either way they made memories together that I'm pretty sure these kids will never forget.  

Some Arabians are good ranch horses, trail horses, show horses. But to be a many times over Champion Stallion in halter and a winner of almost every Most Classic

Arabian class he entered then come out of the show ring, settle down and be able to be handed off to an owner or a kid speaks volumes of gentleness and soul and that was El Muscatel.

 feature by Kirsten Thompson

feature by Laurie Tibbs

Once in a Lifetime Horse(s)

I always hear the phrase, “that’s your once-in-a-lifetime horse.”  I love this idea that there is a special horse out there for everyone, but when I think about it, I cannot name that horse.  Not because I haven’t had one, but because I have had six or seven of them. I have been reading all of these wonderful stories that people have written about their special horses, and have been trying to figure out which horse I would write about. It is like when someone would ask me which student was my favorite. They all have unique qualities that make each of them special in their own ways.   I have been blessed with outstanding western, showhack, country English, hunters, dressage and western dressage horses. I was lucky to be in a great 4-H club when I was young, and was introduced to many different styles of riding, so I was able to change my riding to fit their specialties.  Many of these horses have passed on, and taken a piece of my heart with them.  Some of them were outstanding show horses, some were great trail horses, and some were special lesson horses.  Rather than write about each of them, I decided to share our web page which features each of our horses.  

Please visit here.  

Use the dropdown menu for “current horses” and “previous horses” to read about some of our special friends.

feature by Laura McConnell

Horse Crazy Girl

My first Arabian horse found me when I was just 12 years old. I already had a pony, a very cute, very ornery pony named Flame. My sister and I had picked Strawberries all summer, saving our money to buy a pony, and I was sadly outgrowing him. We had also recently moved to the Spokane area and as fate would have it, moved very close to Marilyn Martin. Her Arabians were the most beautiful horses I had ever seen.

I was hooked. My babysitting money was quickly spent on a 1 ½ year old Half Arabian/Appaloosa colt, untrained, not gelded and barely halter broke. I broke him and trained him myself, showed him in 4-H and then sold him to buy my first Purebred, a very typey and sweet chestnut gelding named War Allah, bred by Marilyn’s parents.

After High School and against my parent’s wishes, my best friend Denise Russell (Cummings) and I worked as apprentices to Doug Dahmen, the Halter trainer at Valhalla Arabians. I then got a “real” job managing an Arabian farm called Most Classic Arabians. (Sorry, Mom!) If you were around the Spokane shows back then, you probably remember me on the ground, sanding hooves or late at night still at the wash rack.

Although the training and showing Halter horses would eventually give way to raising kids and working full time, I always managed to keep a horse or two. The first Purebred Arabian I bred myself was a beautiful bay mare, foaled May 3, 1987 by HV Fire Beau out of an El Hilal bred mare. I was pregnant myself at the time and anxiously awaiting both babies, when I actually went into labor! Reluctantly, I went to the Hospital. I had to have my friends, Dennis and Gayle Henjum, check on my mare. They called to tell me I had a beautiful bay filly and all was well. Later that same day, I had my daughter, Stacy, another beautiful girl! The bay filly was appropriately named Twice Blessed.

Twice Blessed was the epitome of an Arabian Mare. With her elegant neck, typey face, beautiful curved ears and enormous black eyes, she was everything I had hoped for. She kindly accepted every thing I did, from showing her at Halter to breaking her to ride and showing her. She gave me my first blue ribbon in a Western Pleasure class at a local B show. B.T., as she is affectionately called, also learned to ford rivers and climb trails that goats would hesitate to tackle. She became my mountain horse, going on week long pack trips and other trail adventures with my husband, Luther. After many years away from the show ring, she even took my young daughter Stacy to an open show sponsored by the Quarter Horse Club and brought blue ribbons home for her!

B.T. had four foals, two Purebred and two Half Arabians. Her purebred filly by TC Jabaskk ++ is an Aristocrat mare, the Purebred gelding is a winning 4-H horse and her oldest Half Arabian gelding is a trail mount for his owner Diana Morales. I have her youngest, and her last, another buckskin gelding.

Her last gift to me was to babysit a weanling filly I brought home from Orrion Farms, OFW Carolyn, teaching her how to be a Princess, which she did very well. B.T ruled the roost at our farm and left us on November 30, 2011. We will miss her always. I am thankful that my former neighbor Marilyn Martin, let a horse crazy girl pet an Arabian Stallion, feed a treat or two and ask a million questions. I can’t even imagine what my life would have been like without the horses she introduced me to!

     feature by Monty Collison

Laurie Tibbs and Monty Collison winning champion and reserve champion in a Saddle Seat Equitation Class. 

My Dream Horse


(*Barich De Washoe X Beau Fancy)

My Beginning With Arabian Horses

   At a very young age, probably seven or eight, I had this mysterious attraction to horses. I have no idea where it came from as we lived in town and I had never been around horses. I wanted a horse very badly and every time I saw one for sale I wanted it. Throughout my life I rarely got a spanking. However, one that I clearly remember was when I saw a pony for sale and I wanted it really bad. Like a little child, I was crying and having a fit, and threw myself face down on the bed which was convenient for a good paddling. That didn’t deter my want for a horse. I just controlled it better. I was fortunate to have a cousin my age that lived on a farm with horses, cows, chickens, and even a turkey. I would spend part of the summer at his house in Waitsburg and then he would come spend part of the summer at my house in Sandpoint. The summer I was nine I was at his house riding when I went off and broke my arm. This didn’t hinder my desire for a horse and later that summer my uncle gave me the horse I had gone off from. I clearly remember my uncle bringing her to Sandpoint in the back of a pickup truck with stock racks on the sides. We jumped her out onto the lawn at our house in town, and tethered her to the telephone pole until I could take her to my girlfriend’s where we boarded her for $30 a month. We eventually moved to a place where I could have her at my own house. Being afraid to ride, we put the tailgate down on my mom’s station wagon and I sat on that as we slowly drove down all the back roads and ponied her to her new home.     

   When I was twelve I wanted to learn more about horses and how to ride. Looking in the Sandpoint Daily Bee, I saw the Schweitzer Valley Dwellers 4-H Club was having a meeting, Thursday night, room 4 Sandpoint High School. This was the room of Marianne Love who would later be my sophomore English teacher. She tells the story that she came into the hallway that night to unlock her classroom door to find a very young eager boy standing at the door who introduced himself and stated, “I’m here to learn about horses and want to be in your 4-H club”! Marianne was the daughter of the 4-H leader, Virginia Tibbs, and the older sister to Barbara and Laurie Tibbs who were Junior Leaders at that time. They would essentially become the leaders of the club and the two who gave me the incredible foundation to becoming a great horseman. Our 4-H meetings were every Saturday at the fairgrounds. Kids would ride from all around Sandpoint to gather there and get riding instructions. When we all left after the meeting, the Tibbs' Arabians would be prancing and cantering in place eager to get home.  I was fascinated with these horses with the high headsets and tail carriage and all that animation. On the route home the Tibbs would continue down Boyer Road to their place and I would turn the corner to go my direction. I would try my hardest to get my grade stock type horse to prance and canter like theirs!  It wasn’t happening so, I saved my money and was on the look for an Arabian. I worked at a vet clinic where there was a flier for an Arabian stallion standing at stud and his get for sale. I scheduled a visit! Laurie went with me and my dad because I wanted Laurie’s approval. There was a Half-Arab two-year-old filly that I picked out. I remember she was $500 and I only had $450. My dad told me that if I really wanted her, he would give me the other $50. Sold!!! 

   A couple more years down the road, I was still in 4-H and doing well at the shows. I came up with this plan that I wanted a stallion to breed and convinced my parents that this is a way I could pay my way through college. So, I went back to the place where I got my Half-Arabian and there was a two year old colt that I fell in love with. I didn’t have that much money and neither did my parents, so I convinced my grandparents to loan me the money for him. SOLD!!! By time I graduated from high school I had seven horses. Selling some of them and a few breedings did pay for the one year I went to college. The summer after that I apprenticed with the most impressive trainer in our area, Mike Disrud. I learned a ton from Mike mostly by watching and trying to copy. I was fortunate enough to get to ride a very fancy English horse at Region V and the Pacific Slopes that summer. Bruce Clark and Gerry Alexander from BruMarBa Arabians watched me at those shows. Later that summer they would track me down and offer me the position of performance trainer at their farm in California. I really had no other qualifications except for being a pretty rider that worked extra hard and was fearless of anything to do with horses.  I started work there November 1, 1983, which would be my introduction into a whole other level of Arabian horses.

 feature by Marianne Love

 feature by Addisyn Wengerd

feature by Jane Bohn

feature by Haileyann Johnson

     feature supplied by Barbara Tibbs written by David Gunter (feature correspondent for the Bonner County Daily Bee)

Tibbs Arabians takes trophy at national show

Dusty walks off with overall high score

         It’s a darn shame that television westerns are not long in vogue.  If they were, Roy Rogers would have traded in Trigger, the Lone Ranger would have left Silver lonely and Hopalong Cassidy would have hopped right off of Topper – all to sit proudly on a handsome steed that goes by the name of Dusty. 

         Dusty and his owner, Barbara Tibbs, recently returned from the U.S. National Arabian Horse Show in Tulsa with a boatload of ribbons and honorific hardware to show for the trip.  At the end of the event, Dusty emerged as the high point scorer, far outdistancing the closest competitor and fulfilling a dream his owner has held dear for the past couple of decades.  

         Leading up to the show, sisters Barbara and Laurie Tibbs were just settling into the idea of retirement, having wrapped up long careers as teachers in the Lake Pend Oreille School District.  Both retired at the end of last school year and, at least in Barbara’s case, wondered what the following first day of school would feel like without a classroom waiting for them. 

         “The day I turned in my letter of intent to retire, I was a little worried – what’s going to happen in the fall?” she recalled. 

         Thank goodness for bucket lists, because she quickly came up with a plan to fill in the void. 

         “I told Laurie, ‘We’re gong to Tulsa in the fall,’” she said. 

         Tulsa – home of the highly esteemed horse show that Laurie had competed in three times before, but Barbara had only dreamed of.

         “I told myself I was going to do it before I turned 40,” she said.  “That didn’t work out, so I kept moving it up.”

         She knew Dusty had a shot at placing despite the fact that some of the best horses in the nation also would be strutting their stuff for the judges.  But walking away a champ?” Even that lofty achievement wasn’t out of the question – not with Dusty as the horse to beat.

         “He has this attitude,” said Barbara, comparing him to her previous multiple-award-winning horse Telly.  “Dusty has that same, laid back personality.  I mean, he lies down to take his afternoon naps. Horses don’t do that.”

         Laid-back or no, the horse was in his element when the Western Trail portion of the competition got underway.  He made his way the bridges, gates, poles, side steps and back-throughs that make up the obstacle course as if he was born to the task.  And when the two days of judging was in the books, Dusty had racked up a total of 437 points – fully 11 points higher than the next –closest challenger in a field of 15 horses. 

         “He really did smoke the competition,” said Laurie. “e was way above and beyond anything there.”

         The judging, the sisters noted, was based on a scoring system where each entry starts out with 70 points and then gains or loses points based on how well they do in the arena.  Along with the compulsory stages of the course itself, each horse can amass “style points” for how good it looks in the process.  Let’s just say that Dusty owned it on both counts.

          “He was steady all the way through.” Barbara said, “I knew I could depend on him.”

         So confident was she in her mount and so smooth was his performance, that time flew by and she found herself at the end of the course, standing in front of the judges and questions whether Dusty had made all the moves required of him.

         “I panicked,” she said.  “I thought, ‘That was too fast – I must have left something out.’”

         The fear melted away when she saw the looks on the judges’ faces. 

         “It was a neat feeling, because, as we jogged out of the arena, all five judges told me, ‘Nice ride.’”

         The sisters have been training and riding horses since they were youngsters and seem to have a knack for both preparing them and picking them out in the first place.  In the case of Dusty – whose registered name is Ravenwood DunIn Style – it was the horse that chose the owner.  

         “He picked me out when he was two months old,” she said.  Dusty wouldn’t leave me alone.  He followed me all over the pen.  On the way home, I asked Laurie, ‘Well, what did you think of the baby?’”

         Within a couple weeks, Barbara was back in the pen – accompanied this time by sister Marianne Love – and Dusty was just as enamored as he was on the first visit.  Marianne too, found another young horse at her heels that day. 

         “We ended up buying both of them,” said Barbara.

feature by Lesa Winterrowd  

presentation by Maryann Boseth

presented by Jodi Johnson

feature by Sophia Huffman

feature by Sally Grant (article Sally wrote for Horse and Rider magazine in April of 2009)

Taking It In Stride

Emma, deaf from birth, needed to ride. Who better to teacher her than Beauty, a little girl's dream horse.

“You really shouldn’t run.”

My daughter delivers this verdict in a concerned voice, then elaborates.  “Just watching you makes me hurt.  You move like a foundered pony.”

“A navicular horse,” pipes up my other daughter, “with a hoof abscess.”

I sigh. What they say is true. A year ago I fell off a horse and shattered my right leg.  After two surgeries, three rods, and 16 screws, plus 10 months of help from Jean, my devoted physical therapist, I can walk all over the farm – but only walk, not run.  At least not gracefully.

Still, I’m happy to be able to return to my favorite job, teaching people how to ride.  Little children are my specialty.  This is made possible by Beauty, our 26-year-old pony/Arabian-cross mare.  Crabby with adults, she regards children as foals in need of her care.  When the youngsters arrive for a lesson.  Beauty stops what she’s doing and comes to the gate.  She waits patiently while one lucky young student gets her halter and scampers into her paddock. Then she drops her head while little fingers struggle with the buckles. 

 Beauty is equally patient while she’s groomed, saddled, and bridled.  Girls especially enjoy her, as the gray has faded from her coat, leaving her a gleaming silver-white, with a long, thick mane and tail.

 Imagine a pearly white pony, saddled with a rose blanket, topped with a student clad in pink cowboy boots and matching helmet, and you can see why riding Beauty is a little girl’s dream. 

Beauty’s strong point is intelligent disobedience. She can sort out the uneven reins, the uncertain balance, the flailing legs, the more-weight-in-one-stirrup-than-the –other, and still always do the right thing.  Soon the child can ride independently, walking and jogging in the arena.  After learning to weave around cones and traverse ground poles, the student is ready for nearly anything – even trotting.  Short-backed Beauty jogs like a show horse, with a smooth and even cadence. 

This makes her the natural choice for my newest student.6-year-old Emma.  Deaf from birth, Emma spent the first year of her life in total silence.  Since obtaining a cochlear implant (a special hearing aid wired directly into her brain), she can now hear and speak, which seems a miracle.  

Emma’s ability to hear is a fragile thing, however.  I must speak plainly and carefully into her right ear.  She can hear me well if there are no background noises, such as an airplane flying overhead or shod hooves crunching in the gravel.

Her grand mother brings her for a riding lesson every week because the doctors told her horseback riding would improve Emma’s balance.  After a month of practice, she can stand up in the stirrups on a moving horse and spread her arms wide.  A happy smile accompanies this accomplishment, but Emma isn’t meant only to walk on a horse.  She wants to trot.

 Before my accident, I would run beside the trotting lesson horse, controlling its speed and holding on to the child’s leg if necessary.  Emma, with her tentative balance, surely would benefit from this technique. Despite my two daughters’ advice, I’ll have to give running a try, even though it’ll be a terrible gait.  My left leg will have to overreach to compensate for my right.  One huge step with my good leg, one tiny step with the other. 

 Emma’s grandmother and little sister sit in the shade of my house and watch the lesson.  I hope they’re far enough away not to notice my ungainly running.  Emma clucks to Beauty and, after a few false starts, we are off jogging in a clockwise circle so that Emma can hear on her right side.  As good luck would have it, this means the smallest possible circle for my gimpy leg.  

Emma rewards me for my sacrifice with a huge smile.  The wind blows in her face and, at this moment, she going faster on Beauty, at a steady jog, than she has ever run on her own feet.  When I’m satisfied she can manage on her own, I mount another horse and we ride side by side. 

To the casual passer-by, we look perfect:  a small girl and a tall woman trotting together on gray horses. For the moment, we are neither deaf nor crippled, just two riders in the dusty arena, enjoying a warm, sunny morning. 

It is enough.  


Emma is now a student at Gallaudet University.  She still loves horses. 

Our dear Beauty passed away shortly after this article was published.

 presented by Sigrid Thompson Brannan