2003 Open House   


3rd annual
Open House
and Sale Horse Presentation
Saturday, August 2, 2003

Article courtesy of the Arabian Horse Times
Welcome to Our World
by Mary Kirkman

  "See Our Out of This World Horses," the ad said. Come to East Aurora, New York, on August 2 for a top-class training clinic and an introduction to the Strawberry Banks Farm breeding, training and marketing program.

   It may have been advertising, but it wasn’t hype. The roster of professionals conducting the series of clinics was gold-plated, every name nationally known, which was exactly as owners Neil and Barbara Chur intended it. With more than 25 years’ experience in Arabians, they don’t fool around—not in their breeding and training program, and not in the event they throw every year to showcase it.

   "We hold the open house to give people the chance to improve their knowledge in the training arena and to promote the beautiful athletic horses that we’re so proud to be breeding," says Melanie Murch, who handles Strawberry Banks’ marketing and promotion. 
"I know that sounds trite, but in this case, it’s true."

   "And we hope they have a heck of a good time as well," Neil Chur adds with a chuckle.

   The day’s schedule was simple but comprehensive. First was an hour-long study of the art of western pleasure, conducted by Gordon Potts, of The Brass Ring. Then the following hour belonged to the renowned hunter trainer Wendy Potts, also of The Brass Ring, covering the finer points of the successful hunter pleasure horse. Next came a break for lunch, which was accompanied by a presentation of horses on the farm’s sales list. Strawberry Banks trainer Brian Murch, assisted by Kevin Price of Cedar Ridge, rode or stood up more than 20 show prospects, including offspring of stallions A Temptation and Hey Hallelujah, for the guests.

   The response from the crowd was immediate and commentator Greg Knowles, who announced all the events, knew how to go with it. If the Churs were responsible for the excellence of the horses, and Brian Murch and the guest trainers for the standout presentations, it was Knowles who encouraged the day’s light and lively tone.

   "He made our Sale Horse presentation so much fun," Melanie says with a laugh. "He almost had an auction going!"

   Then it was back to the educational clinics, as Keith Krichke of Krichke Training Center, and Knowles, of Arabian Expressions, demonstrated techniques for successful halter showing. Gordon Potts then returned to examine the essentials of English Pleasure, and finally, the educational aspect of the day ended with a question and answer session in which the full panel of professionals responded to inquiries from the guests. As the afternoon drew to a close, the barns were opened and everyone had an opportunity to view the horses and talk to the trainers. Up and down the aisles, residents of the stalls were pulled out and examined, discussed and evaluated.
By 5:30, it was time for cocktails and dinner. During the open barn, the arena "dining room" had been refurbished, as Barbara Chur and her crew dressed the tables with a festive glitter to match that on the horses in the evening presentations.

    The after-dinner show opened with the farm’s three national champions. A Temptation, an attractive grey stallion by Tempter and out of A Love Song, won his first national title in 2000, when he was named unanimous U.S. National Champion English Pleasure Junior Horse. After a reserve in 2001, A Temptation won the 2002 U.S. National Championship in English Pleasure, and this year added the U.S. Reserve National Championship in Pleasure Driving.

   The 10-year-old Hey Hallelujah (Huckleberry Bey x Hallelujah Bask), acquired by Strawberry Banks Farm in 2001 to cross on Tempter and A Temptation mares, is a seven-time national champion in performance. A U.S. and Canadian National Champion in English Pleasure and Pleasure Driving, as well as in Amateur Pleasure Driving, the grey stallion is also a U.S. and Canadian National Top Ten Stallion. Interestingly, when Hey Hallelujah won his 2001 U.S. National Championship in English Pleasure, his reserve was stablemate A Temptation.

   The third national champion to meet the crowd was the acclaimed Ericca, whose two unanimous U.S. National Championships in the mid-1990s heralded the promise of the Strawberry Banks breeding program. The combination of a performance title (1994 English Pleasure Junior Horse) and one in halter (1995 U.S. National Champion Mare) defined the farm’s goals.

   Also a treat was the introduction of Ericca’s dam Elegant Crystal (*Aladdinn x *Elkana), which further emphasized the importance of U.S. National Champion Mare *Elkana in the Strawberry Banks Farm breeding program.

   "It’s great to show all the lineage," Melanie Murch says. "We’re very proud of our stallions, but as all successful breeders know, the damlines are critical too. For us, the most significant female influence is *Elkana."

   As if the national champions weren’t enough, the evening show went on with the appearance of individuals even more rare these days—Strawberry Banks’ three *Bask daughters.

   "That’s one part of the open house that we like best," Melanie smiles. "New people in the industry hear about how great the *Bask daughters are, but where do they see them? There aren’t many left. We’re so pleased to be able to show three very good ones."

   The farm’s collection includes 24-year-old A Love Song (*Bask x Elkana), dam of A Temptation and the celebrated U.S. National Champion Park Horse Allience, and the 23-year-olds Dancing Love and TR Magique.

   Finally, the day closed with a presentation of foals by A Temptation and Hey Hallelujah. For those involved with the farm’s breeding program—or those considering investing in their bloodlines—this was the most important segment of the day, as each year reveals important information on the farm’s potential and success.

   "Even though A Temptation is eight, his oldest foals are only two," Melanie comments. "He was not bred early on because of his performance career. So we’re just finding out how well he produces, and the results are in. In 2003, A Temptation has produced a unanimous Regional Champion 2-year-old Sweepstakes Gelding, a Reserve Champion Sweepstakes Yearling Filly, and a Top Five 2-Year-Old Sweepstakes Gelding."

   This year also offered the first look at the influence of Hey Hallelujah, as his initial foals from Tempter mares arrived in the spring.

   "This is actually the first year that we have foals to show which represent this next step in our program," Melanie reports. The verdict? "It’s working. Very much so."

   She points out that while the breeding program is at the center of their operation, it is only part of what the farm has to offer. As the production of horses is fine-tuned, so are Strawberry Banks’ marketing services. Among the benefits for those with A Temptation and Hey Hallelujah foals is a special training promotion.

   "We’ve designed our program so that when people breed to one of our stallions, we’ll be able to help them with either training or selling," she explains. "The open house is one way we can do that."

   The annual open house, she reflects, personifies the attitude that Neil and Barbara Chur have toward their breeding program and the Arabian industry as a whole. "They do the best they can and then they do a little bit more," she says. "Their hospitality comes from the heart—and so does their commitment. Every year, they bring in some of the best trainers in the business and invite everyone to come here for a day to expand their knowledge. It’s free; it’s open to the public. Who does that anymore? For them, the idea is that if we all learn more about breeding and management and showing, the industry will be a better place for it. And down the road, that’ll be good business for Strawberry Banks."

   She pauses, and then adds, "If you know them, you can’t help but be inspired by their enthusiasm, their dedication, and the passion they have for the Arabian horse and the horses they breed."

Neil Chur

Gordon Potts

Greg Knowles and Keith Krichke

[back to Open House 2008]



Barbara Chur ~ Owner, Brian Murch ~ Trainer 
Michele Valone ~ Breeding Manager

1181 Quaker Road   East Aurora, NY  14052
  (716) 652.9346  fax (716) 652.4438

    email info@strawberrybanksfarm.com