Boosting a rare breed

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By Walt Reichert

When visitors from all over the country - and the world - visit Buck Creek Stables March 14-16, they will be participating in an effort to save the headquarters of one of the rarest breeds of horses in the United States.

Tamas Rombauer, past director of the Hungarian State Stud at Babolna, will speak to Shagya Arabian horse breeders who are coming here from as far as California and Oregon, Chile and Australia to participate in educational seminars and clinics about their rare breed. There are fewer than 2,000 Shagya Arabians in the world and not more than 200 in the United States.

Buck Creek Stables owner and Shagya breeder Darlene Steven said the government of Hungary is considering closing the Babolna breeding facility, which was founded by the Empress Maria Theresa in the 1700s. Most of the Shagya Arabian horses in the world are found in Hungary and Germany, Steven said.

Rombauer's visit to Buck Creek Stables is part of his effort to rally opposition from around the world to the closing of the state stud in Hungary. Buck Creek Stables earned a grant through the Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) to pay for Rombauer's visit.

Steven said the Shagya is an offshoot of the Arabian breed. Maria Theresa used them as driving animals.

"It's bigger, taller, stouter and thicker boned," Steven said of the difference between Shagyas and ordinary Arabians.

Buck Creek Stables, in Finchville, is home to seven Shagyas with five foals on the way this spring. Steven has had Shagyas for 25 years.

The clinics and seminars March 14-16 will not only boost efforts to save Babolna, they will offer information to the 35-40 breeders from all over the country who are expected to attend. The event also marks the fifth anniversary of the breed organization American Shagya Arabian Verband, Inc. Visitors from Chile, Australia and Germany are also attending. Steven expects 200 to 300 people at the event. Besides KEEP support, the event has garnered substantial local support, Steven said.

Rombauer will speak at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Clinics will begin on Friday at 6 p.m. Saturday clinics begin at 9 a.m. and last all day. Sunday clinics run from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Besides Rombauer, other speakers and activities at the event include:

Barbra Rea, AQHA breeder -- will have a hands-on clinic on how to braid Friday at 6 p.m.

Adrienne Hancock-Leong - clinic on the fundamentals of riding Friday at 7 p.m.

Elke Fahrenkrog, DVM, from Chile - clinic on leg therapies and learning to wrap Saturday at 10 a.m.

Shula Greatwater, blacksmith - blacksmith basics and the foundered horse Saturday at 2 p.m.

Carolyn Tucker, California Shagya breeder - riding the Tevis and stallion testing Saturday at 7 p.m.

Nicole Dutzi, of Germany - show and training sporthorses in hand Sunday at 9 a.m.

All events are open to the public. Children under the age of 18 are free. Adults are asked for a donation.

For more information, call 834-0139 or 419-7638.