The WAHO Conference was held in early November by kind invitation of the Arabian Horse Society of Australia. The venue was the Surfers Paradise Marriott Hotel on the beautiful Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia. Delegates were present from 32 Registering Authority Members, there were also observers representing a total of 39 countries.
As always, the booklet made from the tape recordings of the WAHO Conference proceedings will be distributed to all WAHO Members within the next couple of months. Rather than go into the conference business in this newsletter, which will be in the booklet, we’ll just concentrate on the social side for this report to try to bring a you a real flavour of the event.
The conference kicked off with a cocktail party on the Sunday evening. It was a first time in Australia for many visitors and it was like a big family reunion. Any newcomers were warmly welcomed to the fold, it was a great atmosphere in which to renew old friendships and make new ones.
The Governor of Queensland, His Excellency Major General Peter Arnison AO welcomed us to the conference itself on Monday morning and declared the WAHO General Assembly officially open. In his excellent speech he talked about the part played by the horse in history, especially the part it has played in transportation and warfare. He mentioned that the first Arabian stallion had come to Australia in 1804 and said how important the Arabian has had been in the creation of all other light horse breeds, adding that the following day’s famous Melbourne Cup Race would of course be won by a horse descending from one of the three foundation Arabians that went into creating the modern Thoroughbred.
On the Monday evening we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Seaworld, prior to which visitors wandered round the aquarium. Did you know they even have penguins in Australia? After the meal, we were treated to a very entertaining display and competition of water ski jumping. The piece de resistance was a phenomenal firework display over the water with an illuminated WAHO emblem coming up at the end.
On the Tuesday morning we were very lucky to have the renowned Australian veterinary surgeon, Dr. Angus McKinnon, as our guest speaker. He is one of the world’s leading experts working at the forefront of new techniques in equine reproduction. His talk, which mainly concentrated on embryo transfer, was illustrated with great slides. There followed an interesting question and answer session.
Lunch that day was on a river cruise boat with a chance to watch the famous Melbourne Cup race on TV and win some money on a sweepstakes for those on the boat. After an exciting race six people came up with the winner and shared the jackpot. We disembarked at Sanctuary Cove, an interesting harbor shopping area, but the weather was uncooperative, so we were soon ready for yet another fabulous meal at a seafood restaurant. The local specialty is something called a ‘ Moreton Bay Bug’ – it sounds horrible but is in fact a kind of flat crayfish and very delicious!
As is traditional at the WAHO conference, there was no business on the Wednesday which is generally set aside for special activities organised by the host country. This year was no exception. Delegates and Observers spent the morning at an Australiana wildlife park, where they had the chance to cuddle koalas, pet kangaroos and watch demonstrations of boomerang throwing (yes, they do come back!), and stock herding of both sheep and cattle. The resident stockmen were also good comedians and had us all in fits of laughter. Into the sheep shearing shed was the next venture, where three visitors had a go at shearing, causing more mirth.
Lunch was accompanied by a bushwackers band. Several of us got up and danced to the strains of Waltzing Matilda-good spontaneous fun and very Autralian! Where else but at a WAHO Conference would you have such an unusual morning in such good company?
After lunch we had an hour’s coach trip to the Brisbane show ground. This was the highlight of the whole trip for many of us, as the Australian Arabian Horse Society presented a parade of multi-champions in halter and performance, many with Australian National Championship titles to their credit. It was interesting to see that some of the purebreds included bloodlines from the Jay & Dorothy Stream’s own breeding programme, such as the 1998 Junior World Champion Colt Espano Estopa (1995 by Om El Abadan out of Malikah Estopa by AN Malik) and the 1985 grey American stallion WN Dasjmir (by GG Samir out of Arawisja by Derwisz).
A particular surprise was the presence of the Australian endurance team, who had won the 2000 World Endurance Championships, all riding purebred Arabians. For a couple of hours we all sat entranced as champion after champion made their entrance. We were also shown a wide variety of Arabian derivatives, from beautiful ponies to a very impressive Grand Prix dressage horse. It was fascinating to see the versatility as well as the beauty of the Australian Arabians and their derivatives.The exhibitors all had a great reception from the crowd, as you can imagine.
We were shown a little of everything, with bloodlines ranging from ‘old Australian’ to recent imports. The working stock horse was great fun to watch although he didn’t have any cows with him on the day! He was a 9 year old chestnut purebred stallion, Ramadan Arabian Hafiid, whose dam line traces to Dahna, a mare imported to Australia in 1891, so his female line is 10th generation Australian. Horses were also shown under saddle, ridden by children as well as adults; in harness; showing off their talents at dressage and in native costume; and of course the halter champions were there too, many of them are well known not just in Australia but also around the world.
This is a country where they really do use their horses – one particular crowd pleaser was the 1985 grey Arabian stallion, Mt. Carmel Nicholas, of almost entirely Crabbet bloodlines, who was shown in harness but has also had an illustrious carrer in ridden classes. The riders, drivers and handlers were all very talented, getting the best out of their horses. The halter horses were full of exuberance, which they were allowed to express. One mare, Jaytee Giselle (1987 chestnut by Arjai Summit out of Arabian Park Ruling Queen by Ansata El Hakim), bred by Terry & Julie Canacott, was going to be shown at liberty – however she had other ideas, making a speedy exit from the arena to go and stand quietly next to Terry! She was persuaded to return, still loose, by following her ridden full sister back into the arena. It’s worth mentioning that both these mares have achieved Australian National Champion titles both in halter and under saddle. One well-known stallion (Desperado, 1992 bay by WN Dasjmir out of Bremervale Aquarius by Bremervale Destiny) later took advantage of a broken bridle to go in search of some tasty grass – luckily he was speedily caught before he realised he was free to go!
It was a great privilege to see from the catalogue that all the horses shown to us were notable champions in their own right, many had travelled great distances to take part (Australia really is a big country!) and we owe a big debt of gratitude to everyone who took part. We’re only sorry there isn’t room to name everyone, horses and owners, in this newsletter. There was then a chance to take a closer look at all the horses in their stables, and later several of the exhibitors then joined the WAHO group for a cocktail party in the pavilion.
It was also announced that Poland had asked to host the 2004 conference which should be a wonderful venue. The other exciting news, warmly welcomed by everyone, was that Turkey’s invitation to host the next WAHO Conference in 2002 had been accepted. The joint hosts will be the Ministry of Agriculture and the Jockey Club of Turkey.
The conference ended with each Delegate thanking the host country Australia for a wonderful event. Jay said the fellowship and love of the Arabian Horse brings everyone together, which was very clearly demonstrated that evening at the Gala dinner dance-it was the ‘world dancing together’. During dinner we were treated to a very entertaining floor show by a traditional Aboriginal dance group. This inspired everyone to hit the dance floor after dinner, it was the most fantastic evening with all the various international visitors dancing together. The live band was terrific, playing a great variety of music to which even us ‘oldies’ could relate. A thirtieth anniversary cake with candles and the WAHO horse on it was brought on, it seemed like one surprise after another. The Aussies did us proud!!
Words cannot describe the atmosphere at these conferences. No one tries to sell or promote their own horses as it is the promotion of the Arabian Horse world wide that is the interest and focus. It has to be attended to fully appreciate it. WAHO is very strong and growing, we all feel that anyone who misses out on the experience of these conferences is missing out on the best part of being a WAHO member. We can’t wait until the next conference in Turkey, where east meets west, a country so full of history just waiting to be uncovered. We all look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Istanbul in 2002. (With thanks to Liz Salmon for her report)