Sale Horse Presentation
August 2, 2003
courtesy of the Arabian Horse Times
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
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
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
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."
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.
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
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."
Greg Knowles and Keith Krichke
[back to Open House 2008]