It’s no surprise that the beautiful and versatile Arabian horse lends itself well to being an all-around partner, excelling in a number of disciplines. Sixteen-year-old Sophia Stoernell enjoys a range of activities with her Purebred Arabian gelding, Mirragio.
(Emma) Tell us about yourself?
(Sophia) My name is Sophia Stoernell. I am 16 years old and live in Nokesville, Va. I came to love Arabian horses as I grew up with them and really do not know what life would be like without them. My family and I have a small farm named Sunscat Hollow Arabians, and we maintain a family-centered approach in which we want our horses to all have some sort of a job, but most importantly they need to love what they do as much as we do. We love that our horses enjoy doing many things both in and out of the show ring. We have been able to enjoy dressage, sport horse in hand and under saddle, halter, hunter pleasure, western pleasure, western dressage, grooming and showmanship, trail in hand and under saddle, parades, working cows and team penning, as well as gymkhana events.
(Emma) Who are the special Arabian and Half-Arabian horses in your life and why?
(Sophia) I started my journey on Owl Creek Moniet (TSEA Traveler x TSEA Bint Deenara). She is a Straight Egyptian Arabian mare and is now 26 years old. I started out on lead line, but quickly graduated to doing all of the things I mentioned above with her. She never took a wrong move with me and gave me great confidence. She was my first 4-H project horse, and I achieved so many things with her. I loved showing her off at open shows, and people would be amazed to learn that she was “one of those crazy Arabians.” She helped show people that that myth was the farthest from the truth, and she was such a good ambassador for the breed.
She earned her retirement, and I got my second partner a Half-Arabian gelding named Pure Fame (Super Lucky Fame x RDR Summer Breeze) or “Cas” as I called him. He was exactly what I needed to push me out of my comfort zone, and he helped me gain even more confidence and make me a stronger horsewoman. I was able to take him from a main ring hunter to a very accomplished Dressage and Sport Horse. He really challenged me, but I became a better rider for it. Sadly, he unexpectedly passed away this year, and I will miss him very much.
This sudden change of events brought me to my current partner Miraggio (Mirage V++++// x Yankee Lady FHP) a 6-year-old Arabian gelding who came to our family as a weanling. I have had the pleasure of working and showing him in hand and in many disciplines. This versatile young boy was actually in his first parade as a yearling! He is a true family horse as my mom and dad have also shown him, and I am so excited to now get the opportunity to ride and show him under saddle. In addition to being a great parade horse, he has been shown in trail classes, halter, sport horse in hand, Western Dressage, hunter pleasure and grooming and showmanship. He loves going on trail rides and is a gentleman both in and out of the ring. He is my current 4-H project horse, and I am looking forward to showing him in rated and open local shows. He has accomplished so much already and has several regional and National titles. I am honored to be a part of his journey, and I cannot wait to try new things with him as we grow our partnership.
(Emma) What are your goals short term, and long term with the Arabian horse?
(Sophia) Miraggio is very close to achieving his Legion of Honor, and I hope to be able to help him achieve this special award this year. It will represent that he is a true family horse as we have all contributed and been a part of his journey. I look forward to learning what we are capable of together and would love to be able to show him at Sport Horse Nationals. In the meantime, I look forward to showing more people how amazing Arabians are as I take him to local shows and parades. He will also be showing at Virginia 4-H States this year with me in Dressage.
(Emma) What would you say to someone your age who is thinking of making an Arabian his or her next horse?
(Sophia) Arabian horses are the best family horses. They are so versatile and are willing partners. They are very smart and aim to please. They like to be challenged and try new things. They bring a feeling to you that is hard to explain, and they really speak to your heart. They are so much more than a partner, but are a true friend. They seem to know when they have precious cargo on board and take such excellent care of their youngest riders and also know how to challenge the more accomplished mount to help make them a better rider. Arabians have a special spirit, and it is easy to bond with them. Anyone considering making an Arabian her next family member could not go wrong.
(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?
(Tina Stoernell, Sophia’s Mom) Arabians are so rich with history, and I truly believe that it is because of how the Bedouins treated their Arabians as family members. It has become ingrained in them and makes them the best family horse. Aside from their obvious breathtaking beauty, they are highly intelligent and have an interdependence with their owners that is hard to describe. They are devoted, kind, yet have an inner strength that sets them apart from other breeds. The bond that is developed with the youth and the Arabian is something to behold, and it gives promise to all that is possible with this amazingly versatile breed. I have often seen many youth want to try something new or change disciplines and sometimes that means changing horses or even breeds. We have been so successful, and our horses have been very accepting of trying new challenges that they can meet all of our needs, and I cannot think of anything they cannot do. The sky is the limit with Arabian horses!
The Stoernell’s are just one of the many families that enjoy Arabian horses as their all-around family companion and riding horse. Congratulations Sophia on the diverse accomplishments you have enjoyed with your horses so far. We can’t wait to hear how you and Mirragio fare together in the future!