Open Day 2018

Open House at EMAJ Arabians and Arabian Horse Training

The first weekend of May saw hundreds of people descend on Adetswil, a picturesque town set in the Swiss mountains and home to EMAJ Arabians and Arabian Horse Training. Owned and founded by Ernst and Maja Schläpfer, the farm is currently best known for their beautiful mare Grace J - shown so harmoniously by their daughter, Christina. This was the family’s first open house, and it marked the launch of Christina’s new training centre as well as celebrating their breeding programme.

The weather could not have been better for the Schläpfer family as, on Saturday 5 May, they opened their doors to the public for the first time. Located just over 30 minutes from Zurich, EMAJ Arabians is found in the scenic, forest-covered Swiss mountains. Driving past fields of cows, with bells gently ringing from their necks, you are reminded of Heidi, especially with the incredible landscape around you, the blue sky providing a sharp contrast to the lush, green pasture land all around. Nestled amid this, blending into the forest landscape, is EMAJ Arabians and Arabian Horse Training. Sympathetically built to reflect its surroundings, the Schläpfer’s family home, barns and arena look as though they had been there forever. The reality, however, was that the arena and new barn has only recently been finished, all as part of the next stage of the Schläpfer programme - that of Christina’s dream of being an Arabian horse trainer.

It was in Aachen two years ago that people truly began to notice Christina. Grace J was then a two-year old filly, and Christina showed her in a way that was so free and elegant; both horse and handler looked to be having the time of their lives, and it showed. With a long, loose lead, Christina allowed Grace to show herself, and this was reflected in the scores as she placed second in a very strong filly class. However, the whole family has a long and rich history with the Arabian horse, and their open day allowed them to tell their own story - and in their own words, as found in the programme for the day:

It seems a bit ironic that the history of a stud farm began with two geldings. However, our magnificent two first horses, Mogambo and Sabaal, initiated our deep love for these wonderful animals.

It has been almost 23 years since Ernst and Maja Schläpfer were looking for a suitable riding horse. At a horse show in Wels, Austria, the couple first encountered Arabian horses and instantly fell in love with this graceful, elegant and affectionate breed. Shortly after, they bought their first Arabians - Mogambo and Sabaal. These amiable geldings are distinguished by their excellent characters, staunchness and friendliness; they became trusty companions and teachers for Ernst and Maja, as well as their children Andrea, Ernst and Christina.

Two years later, two beautiful purebred Arabian mares joined the Schläpfer family: Kalifah El Gaug, a black pearl from the farm of Pepi Selva, and Muhadschirina, a straight Egyptian bred beauty from the State Stud, Marbach, in Germany. Soon, the desire to breed a foal from one of those mares arose. Thus, in 2001, the birth of the farm’s first foal marked the beginning of the family’s important, ever-growing passion for the Arabian horse. As the breeding plans evolved, Ernst Snr faced the challenge of designing the ultimate horse stable, with 14 boxes.

While at university studying architecture, Christina worked at Mary Lang’s show training stables, and she became fascinated by the training and the work with Arabian horses. Christina soon realised that she wanted to become a professional equestrian, continue her mother’s work, and expand it by horse training. With this in mind, Ernst Snr started planning a further wing with training facilities.

A father who designed and planned the stables, and even made pieces of equipment himself in the company’s own metal workshop, and a mother and daughter who knew and fulfilled the requirements of the horses and the employees. In a wonderful joint effort, the family created an equestrian complex that leaves nothing to desire!

We sincerely welcome you to our Open Day. Thank you for coming from near and far, and we are pleased that you would like to spend and celebrate this big day with us.

And so it was that everything came together at 2pm and people began to flow through the gates to the Schläpfer family home. A brass band was playing, and there was a real sense of fun and occasion. Maja greeted the guests, and there were easily 700 people there in total. No attention to detail was spared, and nothing was too much trouble for the family. While many of the guests were local family and friends, there were also people from the world of the Arabian horse, including Christine Jamar, breeder of Grace J. Christina herself looked confident and calm, and the family mingled with guests as they arrived.

Making their way down to the new arena, guests were able to peek inside the barns - sealed off until the official opening after the main presentation - and then take their places for the parade of horses. The arena itself is huge - light and airy, it has a sense of bringing the outside in, and people were standing 10-deep in places as they gathered to watch the horses.

After Christina had welcomed their guests in two different languages, the first horses were shown - and they represented the very beginning of EMAJ Arabians, being the geldings Mogambo Ibn Munim (Munim Ibn Saddam x Scarlet by Nabil) and Sabaal Ibn El Sayed (El Sayed x Eastern Charm by Eastern Magic). To the music Circle of Life, these two geldings were led in by children - underlining the incredible bond that humans have with the Arabian horse, creating an enchanting fairy tale. Both geldings walked in together, and then went different ways around the arena, thus enabling everyone to have a look at them at the same time. Mogambo, bred by Mr Rothen, came our way first, whom Christina described as “a straightforward, honest character with a willingness to perform.” They did cross-country together when Christina was nine years of age and when she was 13, they competed in a 160km trail ride. Sabaal, meanwhile, came to the Schläpfer family when he was two years of age and later, Christina learned to ride him in a classical style and they competed a lot together. Now respectively 28 and 27 years of age, these two grand men are living out their old age at the stud, and they truly are the heart of the farm. Both were incredibly regal, and they took their role of being led by children very seriously. As Christina says, “it is easy to fall in love with the Arabian horse if this is your start.” I honestly have to say that this was one of the most moving ways to open an Arabian horse presentation that I have ever seen - just beautiful!

The rest of the presentation was split into four, three family groups and one mare group. The first of these family groups was that of the family of the 13-year old bay mare Al Shareefah, who was sired by the late CH El Brillo (El Shaklan x AZH Basknaborra) and out of Scarlett (Essteem x Scala El Jamaal). “This is a very influential family at the farm,” explains Christina. “The pedigree of Al Shareefah also means a lot to us as these are lines that we admire very much. This family are all well-proportioned, with real presence, a strong gait, and large, round eyes.”

First in was the beautiful seven-year old bay mare Shamaliah, sired by Stival (Gazal Al Shaqab x Paloma de Jamaal). A multiple champion, including Junior Female Champion at the International B Show at Kauber Platte and Best Horse Bred in Switzerland in 2014, Shamaliah is a lovely mare with incredibly free movement. She is very reminiscent of her maternal great-grandsire Essteem (Fame VF x Espressa), with her haughty look. In spite of so many people in ‘her space’, Shamaliah was very relaxed and she showed off beautifully.

Sayyidah Bint Al Shareefah was next, a three-year old bay daughter of Al Shareefah and sired by World Champion Marajj (Marwan Al Shaqab x RGA Kouress). A Silver Champion at the Manerbio Show in Italy as a yearling, Sayyidah has a lovely, compact body and superb movement. Somewhat overawed by all the people, she still showed beautifully and underlined her dam’s importance as a broodmare of note at the farm.

A grey daughter of Al Shareefah followed, the two-year old Sitara Bint Hariry sired by Hariry Al Shaqab (Marwan Al Shaqab x White Silkk). This is her dam’s last foal - who gave the family five progeny in all including the 2010 daughter Siraj Al Lail (by Lorenz El Yllan) and the 2012 stallion Shakeel, a full brother to Shamaliah - and she is just charming. Also a huge mover, she has that haughty look and she is a lovely example of some of the very best offspring of Hariry Al Shaqab. Incredibly tall for her age, Sitara will make her European showing debut this summer and with her elegant looks, lovely eye and terrific attitude, she is sure to do well.

The Al Shareefah family group continued with two daughters of Shamaliah - the bay Shasmin, foaled in 2016, and the grey Shaheerah, foaled in 2017. Shasmin is sired by QR Marc (Marwan Al Shaqab x Swete Dreams), and she is a young filly with a look that I love. As well as being good movers, this is a family group with good limbs - no surprise, considering Christina’s riding background - and I can’t help but wonder if Shasmin will be shown. Shaheerah was another beauty and she showed her free and natural movement as well as she could, given how overawed she was by the sheer number of people in ‘her’ arena. Her sire is the Platinum World Champion Stallion Eternity Ibn Navarroné-D (Ansata Sinan x Navarroné-P), and it will be interesting to see her develop.

The Schläpfer family has a great affinity with the bloodlines of Ali Jamaal (Ruminaja Ali x Heritage Memory) - indeed, it was horses of these lines that they first saw at that show in Wels all those years ago - and the next family was a great representative of this line. The small but beautiful group of Norah El Perseus was presented, starting with the mare herself. Foaled in 2006, and bred by Ferdinand Huemer, Norah El Perseus is a double Ali Jamaal mare being sired by Perseus El Jamaal (Ali Jamaal x Perfectshan SRA) and out of Niharra El Jamaal (Ali Jamaal x Naharra). She has produced five foals for EMAJ Arabians and we were treated to two of them on the day.

Norah El Perseus herself is a truly beautiful mare. Full of snort and blow, she showed off in style, proudly trotting around the arena as though she owned it. By her side was her 2018 filly foal, Nyagarah Bint Psytadel (by Psytadel by Padrons Psyche out of Bint Bey Shah), a lovely young filly full of character. Nawari El Noor completed this group, a three-year old daughter of Norah El Perseus by Emerald J (QR Marc x Emandoria). In 2015, Nawari El Noor was named as the Best Foal Bred in Switzerland, and she has matured gracefully. A very clean filly, she has great lift up through her shoulders to her neck, and she is a huge mover. Christina showed each horse in-hand throughout the afternoon, before turning them loose. She never takes her eyes off the horses, and she knows them and their characters so well. When she wants the horse to come to her, Christina holds her hand out and they stop and come to her - on their own terms rather than Christina rushing them. Each horse shown is so happy and relaxed, and Christina takes her time with them, which is so important. And it is also worth noting that the horses are not greased up with oil; rather, they are shown naturally, which is such a breath of fresh air these days. The representatives of the Norah El Perseus group are lovely, as is the mare herself, and she also had three other offspring here - the 2012 Najaam El Perseus (by Al Lahab), the 2013 Naajizah (by Om El Shahmaan) and the 2016 Nabucco El Perseus (by QR Marc). A beautiful collection indeed!

We then see the mother and daughter group of Sabaah Il Khayr. Foaled in 2006, Sabaah Il Khayr is sired by Javier El Jamaal (Ali Jamaal x Juliet El Ludjin) and is out of Scarlett - dam of Al Shareefah, whose family we saw earlier. There is something about Sabaah Il Khayr - she has that quality that moves me to tears, and with her huge eye, you just know that she is looking straight into your soul. Western trained, Sabaah Il Khayr is a truly lovely mare and she captivated me. Her three-year old daughter, Scaramelle (by Emerald J) is next, a lovely and compact mare. Again, this is a small group but of incredible quality. All the horses that the Schläpfer family have purchased have a look, and there is a clear type of Arabian horse that they like - and it shows. With each breeding decision, this consistency is built upon to achieve the vision that Christina and her family have in mind.

The final group is for the mares of EMAJ Arabians, starting with the straight Egyptian Muhajara Bint Al Hadiyah, sired by the Laheeb (Imperial Imdal x AK Latifa) son Al Hadiyah AA (ex The Vision HB by Thee Desperado out of Belle Staar) and out of the Marbach State Stud mare, Muhadschirina (Nesham x Maslama), who was one of the first mares purchased by the Schläpfer family. They bred the lovely Muhajara, who was named the Best Foal Bred in Switzerland in 2010 and has since become one of Christina’s favourite riding horse at the farm. A very different style to the family’s other horses, Muhajara has a lot of stretch and she oozes quality.

The heavily Russian-influenced MZ-Djlshada (QR Marc x MZ-Djamira) followed. A huge-moving bay, MZ Djlshada came to EMAJ Arabians as a yearling, and she made an incredible entrance to Abba’s Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! as she powered through the gateway and into the arena. A multiple champion mare, Djlshada has produced two foals for the stud, the 2016 filly Dayeemah Sweet Bint Gazal (by Gazal Al Shaqab) and the 2017 colt, Don Juan (by Fadi Al Shaqab). QR Marc has crossed well with Djlshada’s Russian damline and the result is a very dynamic mare. At just seven years of age, there is no doubt that she will play a key part in the family’s breeding programme in years to come.

There was only one horse that the presentation could end on, and that was the wonderful Grace J. Sired by Emerald J, Grace is out of Gomera J (Ekstern x Georgia) and now at four years of age, she just gets better and better. Grace is a full sister to multiple international champion Gallardo J and she, too, is a multiple champion in her own right. The bond between Christina and Grace is so clear to see, and they are a joy to watch as they show together. With her clear quality, huge eye, terrific movement and Arabian attitude, Grace J will doubtlessly be a key mare in the farm’s future. With so many great horses in her pedigree, it will be interesting to see how the Schläpfer’s breed her, and then to see her progeny in turn. Grace is a pure show horse, and a pleasure to watch, and she was the perfect individual horse to end on.

The presentation concluded with the grand finale, as all the horses came in together with a red rose. Christina stood at the entrance to the arena, Grace next to her, watching everyone show off to the very appreciative audience. “Thank you to all the hard-working team for today,” smiled Christina. “But they not only support us on days like today, but for 365 days a year as well. I think today has been beyond our dreams - thank you all so much.”

With Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast cleverly playing, the new barn was officially opened. Christina is now fully prepared and able to take client horses and show them across Europe. The facilities that they have there are faultless, and every care is taken with every step of the horses’ regime. From her location, Christina has easy access to many of the major shows across Europe, and with her incredible dedication to and passion for the Arabian breed, she certainly deserves to do well.

The day ended with guests enjoying a wonderful barbeque and buffet in the stunning round pen, complete with an incredible chandelier made out of horseshoes, and then it was time to make our way back out into the glorious Swiss afternoon and head back to the hotel.

There is nothing that I love more than visiting breeding farms around the world, and to see one based on such quality and from such a small dream is always special. From Maja and Ernst first encountering the Arabian horse, almost by taking a wrong turn at the vast Wels Show, to Christina beginning to realise her own dreams now, shows dedication, belief and perseverance. As I always say, anything is possible, and Christina is proof of this. Her natural talents and quiet way with the Arabian horse have been noticed by others, and she is now training horses for Al Ahwal Arabians in Egypt. There is so much more to come - and to see her handle each horse so sensitively, and for them to respond to her with respect and confidence, was pure joy.

“For the future of our breeding programme, we plan to keep it the size that it is now,” smiles Christina. “The most important thing for us is a correct, pretty and gentle horse that you can handle easily and use for breeding, riding or showing or just for loving ... Each horse should be a horse that you can live with, and that is one of the main reasons why every mare we have here is backed - even if she then becomes a broodmare and is never ridden again. When we educate them in riding, we see their characters and that is so very important.” Certainly, walking the barns, the characters of each horse is clear to see; intelligent, gentle, alert, inquisitive, and happy. This is a breeding programme that is following its own philosophy and following it well.

In all, EMAJ Arabians, and Christina’s new training centre, is proof, as if it were ever needed, that if you believe hard enough in your dreams, then great things will follow. From the breeding programme to your own future, Christina, we all wish you much success, and we look forward to sharing the journey over years to come.