Breeding towards the future of our Arabian horse is, undoubtedly, an important part of our industry. Many of us breed for our next personal horse, for the next generation of show horses, or to create better individuals to carry forward the legacy of our breed. What is less common is a young person eager to step into the world of breeding. While the show ring offers timely gratification, breeding requires much more effort before any reward is ever seen; though long term it is equally, if not more, rewarding. Seventeen-year-old Alisha Ledford is an accomplished equestrian who is excited to begin her journey into breeding Arabian horses.
(Emma) Tell us about yourself?
(Alisha) My name is Alisha Ledford, and I am 17 years old. I am from a small town called Harrisonville, south of Kansas City, Mo.. Currently, I show, train, and work with Arabians daily. Most recently I have started breeding, by purchasing a mare already in foal.
I kind of “tripped” upon Arabians three years ago when I started working for a trainer who trained Quarter Horses, as well as Arabians. She had me start riding and showing a horse with her, and I was hooked. Before that though, you could not tell me there was any other breed better than the Quarter Horse.
(Emma) Who are the special Arabian and Half-Arabian horses in your life and why?
(Alisha) The horse that really stands out the most is El Shihab+++/ (Shihab). He was the first Arabian that I ever showed, and I have two Youth National titles on him, as well as four Regional titles. I learned so much working with him, and he was always there for me when I needed him. The second was the first Arabian I ever owned, and that was TAL El Scimitar. Scimitar crawled into my lap when he was three days old, and I just knew I had to have him. Sadly, I did not get that long with him, as he passed away in March of this year, but he will always hold a place in my heart.
Most recently there is my foundation mare, Da Vincis Johara (Harley). Honestly, I have never been a mare fan, but I LOVE this horse. Ever since she stepped off the trailer at my house, she has let me do whatever with her. I can’t wait to see her foal next spring.
(Emma) What are your goals short term, and long term with the Arabian horse?
(Alisha) My short-term goal would be to get Harley’s baby on the ground healthy. After that I would like to see her produce more foals and maybe get another broodmare, or if Harley throws a filly, keep it and expand the breeding. I would like to breed big, defined, solid and sweet Arabians; ones that have good trainable minds to ultimately show Halter and then later performance. Really I just want beautiful horses for people to fall in love with.
(Emma) What would you say to someone your age who is thinking of making an Arabian their next horse?
(Alisha) You have picked the right breed. Arabians are perfect. There is not a better horse out there for anyone. They can go any direction you want them to, whether that be Reining, English, Western, Dressage, Jumping, Racing, Trail and so much more. They can be hot, flashy, show-offs, or they can be laid back trail horses that kids can handle. You are making the right choice for sure. And the Arabian Horse Community will be there to help you every step of the way, just like they did for me. They are the best cheerleaders through the entire process. There will always be someone who has your back.
(Emma) Parent/Guardian, what has your experience of the Arabian horse as a Youth/Family horse been? Would you encourage other families to select the breed for their children/youths and why?
(Katie Ledford, Alisha’s mom) I probably have a biased opinion of Arabians as I grew up with an Arabian. Most people have the initial reaction that Arabians are crazy and wild, and I would argue just the opposite! I have personally seen lots of Arabians that have amazing personalities and are wonderfully diverse. Arabians are incredibly loyal and talented. They make for a great family horse because they are good at changing and adapting between family members. They can form a special bond with the family as a whole and with each member.
My daughter rides a stallion, and normally you wouldn’t expect the whole family to be around and involved with his care, but Shihab is wonderful with the younger kids! He puts his head down where they can reach and loves all the attention. When my daughter purchased an Arabian yearling (El Shihab’s baby, Scimitar), he too formed a unique bond with each member of our family.
If you want a horse that is beautiful, smart, and talented then there is no better horse than an Arabian!
Young enthusiasts like Alisha are the future of our Arabian horse. Through stewardship like this, with regard not only for the present, but also an awareness and a desire to help create the future, our breed will thrive. With the many challenges and triumphs that come with careful selection of a mare, researching stallions, and the process of breeding itself, Arabian horses have much to teach and offer our youth in this pursuit. Congratulations Alisha on beginning your program. We can’t wait to see your foal!