The Arabians who conquered Scottsdale

These sleek desert horses have become big business in the American Southwest

By Bill Williams, January 2018 (an edition was picked up by

Arabians have conquered Scottsdale, AZ with love and affection – not the warring Bedouin tribes from the Arabian Peninsula thousands of years ago, but rather the 1,000-pound, four-hoof Arabians. They yearn to be stroked and scratched, and the signature neck – missing one vertebra – loves to have a human arm around it. If you blow in their nostrils they will follow you anywhere.

“Arabian horses create a bond with their owners and caretakers that is unlike any other breed,” Gary McDonald told me after touring his Arabian farm in Scottsdale. “They are the most intelligent of the breeds and the intelligence makes them interactive, playful and easy to be trained.”

In 1954, Ed Tweed and 20 other breeders formed the Arabian Horse Association of Arizona, with Ed as its first president, but America’s interest in the horses goes further back in history than that. General U.S. Grant went to Turkey to get stallions from the Sultan. A partner acquired mares and it was off on the breeding race. The 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago featured an Arabian exhibit that kick started the Arabian Registry of America.

There are more Arabian horses registered in North America than any other region of the world, and the epicenter of horse breeding is in the “West’s most Western town” – Scottsdale. The horse association exhibited Arabians in the arena of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in 1954 in Phoenix – an area of town that lured royalty such as Philip and Helen Wrigley, of the chewing gum family.

“McCormick Ranch, Gainey Ranch, Chauncey Ranch, and the Wrigleys, are common names in the Scottsdale Area, and most new residents do not recognize that these are tightly associated with the history of the Arabian horse,” said Gary McDonald, who – along with his wife Jennifer – owns McDonald Arabians of Scottsdale. “This town, possibly would not have existed, as it is today, without these roots.”

McCormick was a profitable inventor and his wife was an heir to the Rockefeller fortune. Daniel Gainey moved to Scottsdale from Minnesota after becoming the mogul of class ring making. Tom Chauncey was a Phoenix jeweler, turned broadcaster, turned rancher. Tweed’s first Arabian Ranch is now Scottsdale County Club, but has been flourishing in Show Low, AZ for decades.

“Due to the nice weather year round, Arizona has been known to horsemen as a perfect place to train horses 365 days a year,” Mikayla Boge, of the Arabian Horse Association (AHA) told me. It’s big business. The Colorado-based AHA is the official Arabian horse breed association and registry for the U.S. and Canada, with more than 26,000 members and more than one million registered horses.

The 63rd Annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show will be held February 15–24th and should draw tens of thousands of horse lovers to see 2,400 horses. Hundreds of Arabian horse lovers and owners flocked to the annual December horse farm tours as a preview. Ten Scottsdale area farms held open houses, and drew Arabian lovers from all over such as Peter and Trina Kurzhals from Southern California’s Steller Arabians farm, Ruel Gober from Dreamco Arabians of Louisiana, and modest one-horse families who can only afford a few acres.

A multi-champion winner, who has sired other champions, can be worth $1 million, and is likely never for sale. You can buy a mare’s embryo for about $15,000 if you have a surrogate female ready to go, and for a little more you can have some great stallion sperm. A breeding partnership can be had for a little over $30,000 for those who want to hedge their bets that a champion is on its way from a stallion-mare combo.

The United States is averaging about 3,500 new registrations each year, and exporting about 600 per year. “We have the highest exportation rate of any region,” said McDonald. There were 102 purebred Arabians and 28 half-Arabian horses foaled in 2017 in the state of Arizona, according to Boge.

Arabians have black skin and black eyes. The lore of the all-black haired stallion is just that, folklore. An all-black haired Arabian is extremely rare. You can get a handsome, loving, riding colt for about $3,000. They are prized for their versatility, brains and athleticism. The Arabian has been called the family horse. Whether you need a safe, quiet horse for the kids to ride or an athletic mount for chasing cattle, the Arabian horse will do just fine.

They are also known for their sweet personality, in-bred by their ancient Bedouin owners who let them sleep in tents with them, according to Boge.

Breeders always compare, so it is common to hear “not quite as fast as a thoroughbred,” or “stronger and more endurance than other breeds,” or “not as fast, but can go much longer distances.”

“Thinner skinned and larger ribcage and lungs than other breeds make them great for endurance because of the air intake, and quicker cooling down periods,” said McDonald.

“The Arabian horse is definitely known for their endurance, and this is one of the reasons they were used for traveling great distances and to fight wars,” Boge added. “In endurance competitions, such as The Tevis, a 100-mile endurance race held yearly near Lake Tahoe, most of the top finishers are Arabian horses.”

And these horses know they are special. “Some of them gain confidence from their handlers and learn that they are special,” said McDonald. “But the truly special ones, know it already and carry a large sense of pride that comes from within, and the desire to announce their presence, and eagerness to perform.”

“The horses definitely feed off of the crowd at shows and off their handlers. Whenever they win, they seem to prance around the ring with the attitude of a champion,” added Boge.

The Scottsdale horse farms are already making plans for next December’s tours.

2017 New Years Eve – Farm Tour Public Presentation

I’ve learned that Arabian horses have a subtle, mysterious power to draw you in!  This year’s event was a first for many families, and to be able to see, touch, and interact with the Arabian horses is special.  Announcer, Rory O’Neill,  invited many participants to come on stage, learn, touch and handle an Arabian Horse for the first time. The McDonald Arabians crew understand and know how to put on a show!  Jennifer and Gary are both humble, passionate professionals. Gary does an amazing job of wearing many hats. He’s a showman, a successful business person, and obviously a great horse breeder and trainer.  Many people have found their first horse at these parties.  Dave & Arlene Curtis, John and Carol Worcester, and many others are now part of the Arabian Horse Community and loving every minute of it!

  • If you’ve never been, call McDonald Arabians and schedule your visit today!

Region Three & Silver Sire Futurity

July 13th, 2015 –

The week was filled with unparalleled success.  Championship Garlands seemed to be adding to the decorations of the McDonald Arabians Stables.  Bella Luna MRF came away with duel titles.  2015 Silver Sire Futurity Champion Yearling Filly.  2015 Region Three Reserve Champion Yearling Filly.  MC Jaspoure finished the week Unanimously named as the Champion (pictured below).

MC Jaspoure Championship-_MG_0259      Bella Luna MRF Championship Ad

As one studies the presentations of the McDonald Arabians trained horses, it is obvious to see that the homework is all done.  These horses pose with precision, confidence, and the ability to shine.

MC Jasmara and Ross McDonaldMC Ari Bella & Kenny McDonald

Great memories, Great fun, Great success. We welcome you to enjoy your passions and your addictions with McDonald Arabians

Everest IA Region 3 collage - McDonald Arabians

Kenny McDonald at Silver Sire

McDonald Arabians Breeding Seminar


April 4th, 2015 –

Fellow Breeders as well as new Enthusiasts to the Arabian Horses gathered around on the beautiful afternoon of April 4th to hear Ross & Marjeanne McDonald share their stories of 50+ years of breeding Arabian Champions.  The McDonald Family and McDonald Arabians have been honored with the title of 2014 #1 Breeder of the Year of Futurity Winners!  Gary Shared his philosophies of how to combine passion with research.  How to avoid following a fade, and participate with God in creating “Living Art”.

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The Arabian Horse evolved over centuries under the guiding hand of the Beduion Tribes for strength, beauty, and survival. Now as the modern Arabian Horse breeders we can strive for those same qualities with perfection.


Hands on interaction with the Stallions, Mares, and Foals at McDonald Arabians, made it a day to never be forgotten.


Special Thank you to Susan Jensen, Grandma Sue,  & Jennifer McDonald for the bountiful display of food fit for a festival.

And special Thank you to Victor Ricigliano of Marketing Mafia, for photographing the afternoon.


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Welcome 2015! – McDonald Arabians New Years Party

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Jan 02, 2015

As we welcome in the New Year, 2015 is blossoming with all the potential beauty.  Huge crowds, with smiling faces, gather around the stage to enjoy the beautiful Arabian horses as well as enjoying the voice of entertainer, Monte Moore.

  2015NY Monte

The McDonald Children, growing up before our eyes, present the horses with dignity and enthusiasm.

2015NY Bella Luna ZZ6A4842

With perfect weather; friends; and the Arabian Horses… how can 2015 be anything less than perfect?   life is good at McDonald Arabians.

    –2015NY Gary & Jenny ZZ6A5025  2015NY Empress

We wish you all a tremendous year full of prosperity, happiness, and love.

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2014 National Breeder Final Championships


October 6, 2014   –

The  2014 Arabian National Breeder Finals Championships were a tremendous success.  The weanling Championships are so unique, and this is the only Nationally Level show which allows weanlings to compete.  In the extremely competitive weanling colt class, we were fortunate that we had a new arrival.  Fresh off the truck from Washington, is the young colt, PIETRO PS, was not really prepared for a competition.  Named after the late, Peter Stewart (a tribute made by his wife, since Pietro was born on Peter’s birthday), PIETRO was being body clipped just the day before, and being taught how to lead and trot next to his human handler.  None of that inexperience mattered when it came time to enter the arena  Tail over his back, and showing perfect balance through his movement, energy, and incredibly vertical neck.  He earned the crowd support as well as the judges to be crowned GOLD CHAMPION.  In the weanling fillies class, Gary was honored to represent Moss Rose Farm’s finest, M R BELLA LUNA.  Bella Luna is the daughter of Stonewall Farms bred stallion, Jagger SWF, and is out of Empress of Marwan.  In a tough crowd of 20+ fillies, Bella earned the coveted title of BRONZE CHAMPION.


Accolades continued throughout the week, with many Gold, Silver and Bronze Championships earned by McDonald Arabians horses.  Trained by McDonald Arabians; Shown by McDonald Arabians; Marketed by McDonald Arabians; Bred by McDonald Arabians; as a spectator glances through the highlight listings from the show, the thumbprint of McDonald Arabians is apparent on many of the horses.  Such an honor –  Thank you to all of our loyal supporters.



Kenny's International Internship

Kenny International Championship

For the Summer of 2014, Kenny (at age 16) was invited with the opportunity to train with Miles Buckley of the Miles Buckley Training Center (United Kingdom).  He enjoyed 8 wonderful weeks; attended 6 different shows throughout England and Northern Europe, and finished with his competition at the 2014 British National Championships.   The best way to share in his experience, is to share texts home.

June 10th –  Just Landed. When we got back to the house, we schooled a few horses and then ended up going golfing.  Miles says that a normal work day will be from 7:30 am – 8:00 pm, so there is lots of work to be done. haha….. and Yes, I am taller than everyone here.

June 14th – Just got to the hotel in the Netherlands, and WOW it is so nice (Netherlands Arabian Show).  I found you (Dad) and MC Angelica in one of the magazines here. : ) Haha, you look so young.

June 21st – No, I am not really home sick.  Because it feels like home with all of the horses and all the travel for the horse shows.

July 4th –  Me and Miles are gonna take Adoniis back into the show ring!!! Can we please me and miles will show him?  (I will take him in the Amateur, and Miles will do the Open).  How old is he now? Would he be in the aged stallions? Glenn Schoukens loved Pia (an Adoniis daughter) when Miles showed her, and is a good friend with Miles.  We can win some new championships with him!!  What do you think about that?

July 7th – Love and Miss you.  I’ll start taking more pictures of everything at shows.  Most of the days are spent at the barn, but I knew that would happen before I got here. Only a couple more weeks until the Nationals. I have a couple good ones to show there, hhopefullyI can have some good results.

July 13th – I had two bronze championships today.  One horse that I showed  was for Chris Lowe, and the other horse was one that was in training with Miles.

July 17th – Here is the picture with my first Bronze Champion in Europe.  Looking at the picture, I look so tall!!! lol.  Kinda like my Daddy : )

July 17th – Today is two weeks before I come back home and I would change that two more weeks to two more months.  I love it.  I could never do an office job…. I’d choose being a horse trainer and getting to work with lots of cool unique horses and getting to travel all over the world 100x over.  I could be a horse trainer forever!

July 22nd – Heading off to the British Nationals today, and won’t have a signal to be able to text… It is my last show here and I have a couple horses to show… Hopefully, we will get some good results.  wish me luck!!! Aha.

July 27th – Hey – back from Nationals now!!! Jeff, my yearling colt was originally lined up first, but then dropped to 4th (out of 20+).  Then I was Top Five with a mare, and then someone asked me to show their mare in the Championship. I had a fabulous time!!!  So proud of my yearling colt!!  See you soon.

Kenny at the British Nationals

Kenny in Europe (2)

Canadian National Championship Show

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Gary & MC Real Enchantment

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Kenny & Point Man NJH

August 16, 2014   –

The  Canadian National Show was a tremendous success.  It was a family road trip for Gary, Jennifer, & Kenny McDonald.  Kenny, making his first international trip as the official truck driver.  All arrived safely. : )

The McDonald Arabians filly, MC REAL ENCHANTMENT, was  named UNANIMOUS NATIONAL CHAMPION JUNIOR MARE.  Not only was this filly bred by McDonald Arabians; trained by McDonald Arabians; shown by McDonald Arabians; and marketed overseas by McDonald Arabians; but both his Father and Mother were hand selected by Gary McDonald and purchased by his clients.

Zafiraah Taj Mahal was National Top Ten in the Colt division; and Kenny McDonald participated in two National Open Classes, and was Top Ten with Scottsdale Champion, Point Man NJH (owned by Arianna Andre) and the Adoniis son, MC Askarii (who was successfully marketed just days before his class).

For Jennifer, This year felt different. “I am enjoying the social and all of the new friends. The other farms and trainers have become family. To see them all year long and support each other through success and loss really builds a strong foundation for friendship. I enjoyed watching all the classes. It was excited to take joy in celebrating when someone won their class and they begin to cry. What hard work and dedication they put in to their horses and ridding.”



2014 Egyptian Event – Naibara Collection

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Alidaara at Naibara Collection party

June 10, 2014   –

The first annual NAIBARA COLLECTION – EGYPTIAN EVENT took place at the U.S. Arabian Egyptian Event Show in Lexington, Kentucky.  It was a fabulous Event.  8 spectacular horses were featured.  As the Headliner, U.S. Reserve National Champion & 2013 Silver Champion Egyptian Event Stallion REA EL KAREEM+ (pictured above), stole the hearts of many he paraded through the crowds, with his high arching neck, mesmerizing eyes, and regal demeanor.   Victor Ricgliano talked about the different horses as Gary, with his daughter Madyson, presented each one to the audience.  They provided up close and more personal look at each horse.

There were two beautiful daughters of the late *Mishaal HP that were part of the scene.  One of them sold instantly during the Saturday presentation, as many breeders understood that this is a bloodline that will make major influences in their breeding programs.  Congratulations to all who participated in the sales events, as well as enjoying the beautiful presentations.  Because of you, the Naibara Collection is already making plans for the next Egyptian Events, and registrations for participation are already being accepted.

Thank you to all for you efforts and talents in this production – Jennifer McDonald (Social coordinator); Victor Ricgliano (Manager and Emcee); Lori Ricgliano (Photography, Advertising); Gary McDonald (Equine Management, Presentations); & Madyson McDonald (Handler).

Naibara Poster


Scottsdale Show – A Newcomers Perspective

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February 23, 2014   –  Dear Mr. McDonald,

I’ll try to make this as brief as possible.  I mainly just wanted to say thank you.  On Saturday, Feb. 22, I had was at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show.  I have been going to that show as well as a few others as often as possible.  On this specific day, I was in the group of people that were watching you as you presented some of your horses in front of the barn.  As you talked about the different horses and presented each one to the audience, you or someone else would walk the horse around and provide and up close and more personal look at the horse.  At one specific time you were walking around a mare and you just happened to stop in front of me for an all to brief moment and I had the chance to be up close and personal with the horse.  It was a moment that I shall hold on to for some time to come.

As a younger adult horses were a major part of my life.  I was lucky enough to always have a horse available to me as either a family horse or a friends horse.  HOURS of riding, grooming, care, were spent with a horse.  The last of family horses has long past.  We turned out the last horse Dad had years ago, to live out his days on the range.  That was pretty much the last of the time that I was with a horse without a fence or stable between myself and the horse.  I go to the Arabian Horse Show specifically to be as close as possible to the horses.  I so miss the smell of the horse, the leather, the feed, and the sounds.   The memories of those early mornings of feeding and hearing the horses eating and snorting are always with me.

In those few brief moments that you stood beside me, and the horse nuzzled up against me, I was totally in heaven again.  Perhaps that all sounds rather silly if nothing less than dramatic, but I wanted to thank you for those moments.  Sometimes I realize that a smile or a hello to a stranger is something that can bring a bit of happiness to both of us.  We often do things that seem meaningless or just a part of everyday life to us, but is perhaps so important to someone else.  It truly is the smallest things in life that are so much more meaningful.

Anyway, my point is this.  You gave me something that I have missed for such a long time.  As meaningless or as every day, as it may have seemed to you, it meant the world to me.  Again, THANK YOU.