They have walked the earth for thousands of years, treasured by legendary leaders across the globe. Genghis Khan is storied to have ridden them as he led the Mongol Empire. Alexander the Great traveled with them through Macedonia, Egypt, and the great land of Persia. Even George Washington is said to have forged through the American Revolution on the backs of these great animals. We are talking about the magnificent and breathtaking Arabian horse, an animal that is alive and well today in our own backyard.
Irrepressible in Spirit, Unparalleled in Beauty
By Katy Mena
Full PDF here.
Thanks to their large lung capacities and tireless endurance, the horses were bred for long journeys through the desert and even the battlefield during wartime. They were favorites of the Bedouin tribes of the Arabian Peninsula, and in the seventh century A.D., the prophet Muhammad took a strong liking to the animals. He believed that the horses were a gift from Allah, and anyone who cared for them and bred them would be rewarded in the afterlife.
In the 18th century, Turkish ruler Muhammad Ali of Egypt fell in love with the horses and collected roughly 1,100 Arabians. He built his horses breathtaking stables and passed his breeding operations on to his grandson, Abbas Pasha.
Early in the 19th century, the privileged classes of Europe began showing a keen interest in these desert horses.
Having developed such a glowing reputation in the Middle East and Europe, Arabians eventually made their way to America. In the 1930s, American breeder Henry B. Babson imported seven horses from Egypt and established a breeding operation in Illinois. Tennessee saw the introduction of the purebred Arabian in the 1930s, when Travelers Rest, then one of the largest Arabian stud farms in existence, was established by General Jacob M. Dickinson. Dickinson is famed for cataloging the horses’ characteristics for horse lovers to reference for generations to come.
Thanks to the passion and efforts of all those who treasure the purity of the Egyptian Arabian’s bloodline, the animals that exist in Georgia and Tennessee today are direct descendants of the Arabians that existed at the time of Jesus Christ. Whether they have traveled by way of Europe or directly to the shores of the United States from the Middle East, the horses’ pedigree traces directly back to ancient Arabia. Here in Chattanooga, four notable farms have committed themselves to preserving this ancient tradition.
Gary and Wanda Kenworthy | Paradise Arabians
A 25th wedding anniversary sparked Gary and Wanda Kenworthy’s affection for Arabian horses.
Wanda had given her husband a crossbred horse to celebrate the anniversary of their nuptials. As Gary researched his new gift, he began to discover his love for all kinds of horses. “At the barn where I boarded my new horse, there were two Arabians,” says Gary, who now owns Paradise Arabians in LaFayette, Ga., with his wife. “It quickly became clear that there was something very different about them, and I found myself developing a desire to own a world-class Arabian.”
It was a fated trip to Phoenix, Ariz., that would inspire the Kenworthys to open their own breeding operation of Egyptian Arabian horses. While visiting a facility in the Southwest, the couple attended the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show. The rest, according to Gary, was history. “I began to consume everything I could find on Egyptian Arabian horses,” he said. “I was obsessed. I just knew I had to do this.”
The Kenworthys instinctively followed their dream and opened Paradise Arabians. Located in the countryside between Chattanooga and Atlanta, the farm is at once remote and convenient, calming and green with its 26 pastures and miles of riding trails.
At Paradise, the Kenworthys breed and sell Egyptian Arabian horses descended from the Bedouin tribes of the Arabian Desert. The farm is now home to over 100 of these select horses. “They represent the purest blood that remains in the world. We focus on breeding within that gene pool to preserve the purity for generations to come,” Gary says.
Arabians bred and trained by the Kenworthys are now owned by kings, world-renowned international breeders, and sport horse enthusiasts, among others. Passionate about helping newcomers too, the couple also offers boarding and training services for new Arabian owners. “We make it a priority to offer the services necessary to achieve success,” Gary says. “When owners are successful, they usually want to breed more of the exquisite animal and perpetuate the bloodline.”
Dr. Jay and Anne-Marie Jolley | Coyaba Farms
Coyaba Farms owners Jay Jolley, M.D., and his wife Anne-Marie take great joy in their inventory of Arabian horses. Together, the couple professionally trains, markets, and shows the horses to an array of clients.
Coyaba Farms was born of the Jolleys’ shared love for the Arabian horse as well as their interest in launching a challenging business venture in the gorgeous landscape of Chattanooga.
Located on 40 rolling acres, their farm is the ideal setting to realize their dream of being surrounded by the animals that are so close to their hearts.
“The Arabians are an outstandingly beautiful breed, and their personalities only add to their beauty,” says Jay. “I have found them to be inquisitive, curious, and surprisingly gentle, especially with children.”
The Jolleys’ Marquis stallion JLS Aayns Al Reejis is co-owned by business partner Josh Heath. Coyaba’s breeding operation ensued when “Reejis” won Unanimous Junior Champion Colt at the 2012 Scottsdale International Arabian Breeders Show. It’s not all about the breeding operation, however. Many of the horses are trained under saddle for competition and long-distance riding. The majority of Coyaba Farms’ horses have competed and won shows in Nevada, Arizona, and Kentucky.
“There are so many qualities to love about these horses and so much history behind them,” says Jay. “Learning about each Arabian is always a unique experience for anyone, whether you’re finding out about their breeding, their riding potential, or even their ability to love. They are truly fascinating creatures.”
Dr. Matthew and Wendy Roberts | Maiden Chase Arabians
Maiden Chase Arabians in McDonald, Tenn., is the perfect spot for any Arabian horse lover interested in buying or just admiring the Arabian breed as the horses train for competition.
Owned by Matthew Roberts, D.O., and his wife, Wendy, the farm was founded 12 years ago after the couple purchased their first Arabian at the Annual March of Dimes Gourmet Gala. “We decided to bid because he was just beautiful,” says Wendy, who already owned walking horses with her husband when they took on the Arabian. “He was so refined and elegant with so much presence.”
To say the purchase of that first Arabian has grown exponentially over the years would be an understatement. The Roberts now own 21 Arabians at Maiden Chase. When they first began researching the history of the Arabian, the Roberts were fascinated by the long preservation of the breed. According to Wendy, their Arabians can be traced back to the time of Muhammad.
The Roberts are also quite taken with the personality of their horses and how seamlessly they have become part of their family. In fact, Wendy has fun comparing her Arabians to her three children, Macey, Devin, and Chase (thus, MAi-DEn-CHASE). For the Roberts, Arabian breeding has truly become a family affair.
What’s more is that the entire Roberts clan has been thrilled to watch their animals take home a number of prestigious awards from events including the Breeders World Cup, The Pyramid Society’s Egyptian Event, and The Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race.
“Being with these amazing horses has been such a great experience for our entire family,” says Wendy. “It’s great to have a business together that is truly ours, and to be able to share it with these outstanding animals is spectacular. It’s something that our family can treasure for generations to come.”
Dr. Daniel and Carol Heithold | Misty Valley Arabians
Misty Valley Arabians in Chickamauga, Ga., is a true testament to the hold that Arabians have on the hearts of one doctor and his wife in the Chattanooga area.
Owned by Daniel Heithold, M.D., and his wife, Carol, Misty Valley was established in 2003 to accommodate Tennessee Walking Horses. Just a few years later, straight Egyptian Arabians began to overtake the operation.
“The absolute beauty had me hooked. What’s not to like about living art?” says Dr. Heithold. “The refined head, arched necks, large flared nostrils, and high tail carriage are cherished characteristic traits that ensured their survival in the Arabian Desert. And these attributes make the Arabian a perfect horse for pleasure or competition.”
Misty Valley Arabians was formally established in 2006, when the Heitholds purchased their first Egyptian filly, Thee Desert Rose— “Rosebud” to her friends.
After entering several competitions, Rosebud earned a reputation of being a champion horse before she retired. Now her offspring are continuing in her footsteps, getting ribbons on local, regional, and national stages.
The Arabians have earned their honors under the dutiful tutelage of the Heitholds with assistance from breeding manager Mitch Crawford. Crawford breeds, births, and cares daily for the stallions and mares acquired from every corner of the world.
The Heitholds’ efforts were most recently recognized with a 2012 Breeding Excellence Award at The Pyramid Society’s Egyptian Event. And more noteworthy accomplishments are on the horizon, as the Heitholds and Crawford look forward to acquiring, breeding, and entering Arabians in competitions.
In addition, the Heitholds find great joy in sharing their stock with others who may want to purchase the horses they have for sale, whether the buyers are here at home or even in the Middle East.
“Breeding and showing the Egyptian Arabian has expanded our world,” says Dr. Heithold. “It has afforded us the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals of all ethnic backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. This breed can transcend those differences like no other.”