After more than five decades in the business, Hassan Arabians is no longer breeding or showing Arabian horses.
Owner Marg Martin names her age and health as the reasons for shutting down the operation.
Martin says she also does not have the help with the business she used to. “The winter with the horses is getting really challenging.”
For the lifelong horse enthusiast, shutting down Hassan Arabians was an incredibly difficult decision. “When the last horse was boarded both my daughter and I were in tears,” said Martin.
“It still feels empty around here, not to hear one of my Arabians,” she added.
Martin started Hassan Arabians in the 1960s with a part Arab. “Our first shows were mostly the Rimbey Light Horse Shows.”
Over the years she also showed her horses in the Canadian and American national Arabian horse shows. Martin took her animals to regional shows in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, as well as travelling to Washington and SouthDakota.
Martin also has multiple international experiences, journeying to Qatar and Oman to represent Canada at the World ArabianHorse Organization. The convention hosts a collection of breeders from various countries who in turn hold tours. “Over 50-some countries come to it.”
“It’s really a learning experience,” she added.
But it was long before Martin was travelling the world that she first gained an interest in Arabian horses. “As a young girl in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s I read an article in the Western Horseman Magazine.”
Martin says the topic was a woman in California named Shelia Varian who raised and showed Arabian horses. “She was just sort of my person I looked up to.”
Martin grew up around horses and her grandfather raised Belgians but it was this article that got her thinking she wanted to get into Arabians.
“They seem to want to please you. I think it’s bred into them to be connected to humans,” said Martin. The traits she loves about the horses are their beauty and attraction to humans.
To gather her major show stock, Martin imported five mares from Wisconsin then hauled them back to Wisconsin andColorado to be bred. “And from that stock came my major show string.”
Over the years Martin has had many shining moments with her horses but there are a few that stick out.
Martin’s first purebred was a mare named Fannie. “She was shown by a little five-year-old neighbour girl in Bentley.”
When the judge came over to see the pair Martin recalls the mare put her head protectively on the girl before stretching it toward the judge. “It was kind of a sweet moment.”
At the Canadian Arabian Nationals Martin was watching for her buckskin Arabian high in the stands. It was when she spotted the horse the magic happened. “I silently said Bucky and she turned to look up at the stands.”
In its history, many people who got into Arabian horses started at Hassan Arabians. Martin says the man bought her last horse also purchased a mare from her in the 1970s. “He thought the mare he bought was the best horse he ever had.”