Return to Arabians
Michael would establish a partnership with people he met while working in the mental health business, two of whom remain partners today in both Psynergy Programs, Inc, and Psynergy Enterprise Developments, LLC – Arturo Uribe, who Michael met early in 2006, and then Jean Edwards, who joined in 2007. “I actually met Jean back in the mid-1980s,” says Michael. “She has since become a lifetime friend. Back then, she was breeding horses and was very much involved with the breed. Jean would help us in the Aries days when we would entertain clients. She lived in Alameda, California, and when I moved west, we reconnected. It was when in the early days of setting up Psynergy Programs that Jean came in as a partner.
“Similarly, I met Arturo when working with Mustafa. He worked in Santa Clara County as a social worker, and we became friends. It was natural that we would ask him to join Psynergy Programs. We made a decision early on, to also to become partners in the horses as well as there was a common interest and that led to the birth of Psynergy Enterprise Developments.
“In 2006, I went to Scottsdale, and this was the time my passion with the Arabian horse was truly reignited. While I was there, a friend told me that a stallion had arrived from Murillo Kamar’s in Brazil and leased by North Arabians. The stallion was a grandson of Balaton – a great-grandson of Menes – and his name was El Nabila B (Kubinec x 218 Elf Layla Walayla B), which means the noble one.
El Nabila B. Credit April Visel
“I went along, and El Nabila B was both a beautiful horse and had a beautiful pedigree. The last thing I needed to do was buy a stallion – but I did! Together with such esteemed breeders, including Princess Laeticia d’Arenberg, Howie Kale, Jeff Sloan, and Frank Hennessey, I joined an illustrious and dynamic group of international breeders and became one of the El Nabila B Partners. Four years later, Psynergy purchased him outright, with Mike’s partner, Geoff Teeter. That October, at the age of fourteen, El Nabila B became the oldest stallion to win the title of US National Champion Stallion.
“In El Nabila B, I saw the heir to the Menes dynasty. He is one of the best representatives of the – now rare – Bairactar sire line through Amurath Sahib that made him appealing not only to me, but to Poland, who bred mares sired by El Nabila B between 2007 and 2009. This also allows him to add hybrid vigour when bred to a variety of different mares, especially those with Saklawi I sire lines, such as daughters of Padron, Magnum Psyche, Gazal al Shaqab, Marwan al Shaqab, and Al Lahab.
“El Nabila B is the horse of a lifetime, and he forms the cornerstone for the current Psynergy breeding programme. His offspring win in the show-ring and also produce well in the breeding barn. His progeny need time to mature, and they get better as they get older. Not everyone in this industry has patience or thinks about creating a programme rather than just breeding the next horse. Examples of his daughters in our breeding programme include Diya Forx (ex Pocahontas K by Borsalino K), US National Reserve Champion in 2012, and our beautiful Symphony of Love (ex HED Caramba by Magnum Psyche), 2010 Scottsdale Champion Filly/Mare JTH. Both are amazing producers in their own right.”
Diya Forx. Credit Darryl
Now 27 years young, El Nabila B resides at Om El Arab in Santa Ynez, California, where he is close enough that the partners can get to see him regularly. “We don’t have our own farm,” explains Michael. “We don’t like to move around a lot and prefer, instead, to develop relationships with people. That is very important for all of us. We work with people with whom we have a shared mutual respect. Hence, we keep our horses with trusted people who we know really care for our horses. Janina Merz at Om El Arab is one, and as well as El Nabila B, we also have several of our mares there. They are close enough, a five or six hour drive away, that we can go and see them regularly. Then there is good friend and trainer Sandro Pinha in Scottsdale who absolutely loves El Nabila B. It is nice to have that relationship – it has been 13 or 14 years now. For all of us, it is important to do business with people we like, and we all have a special relationship. In fact, Janina, Sandro, and I went to Beijing for the first International Arabian Horse Show in China, which was a memorable experience! To have that shared passion together is a special thing. Sandro and his business partner, Gil Valdez, are personal friends to all of us. You cannot always do that in business, but with Arabian horses, friendships often follow – it is not a normal business!
Symphony of Love. Credit Victor Ricigliano
“Finally, we have horses with lifelong friend Connie O’Brien in Nevada. She has worked with some of the most well-known Arabian horses in the breed and has trained and shown horses in halter and under saddle. She has many of our horses there, including many of our young horses growing up as well as our geldings. For us, all the horses that we breed are family, and we are responsible for them. Finding the right home for them is the most important thing.
“Our breeding focuses on three key things. The first thing is the bloodlines; we always aim to breed superior individuals to the previous generations, while also preserving the best that a particular bloodline offers. Second, we want to preserve true Arabian type, that is the physical and temperamental factors that make the Arabian horse so special. And finally, we work hard to share our passion and therefore appreciation of the true function of the Arabian horse beyond the show-ring. So, when in 2006 El Nabila B came into my life, a direct descendent of Menes, it was very much the right thing for me to step back into breeding, alongside Arturo and Jean.”
Michael, Sandro, Arturo, Atticus ENB (El Nabila B x Om el Benedine), Jean and Gil. Credit Javan
Jean adds: “I met Mike when he brought Menes to the US, so we have been friends for over thirty years through the Arabian horse. I got out of horses in the mid-nineties, but Mike and I continued to be friends. I got back into horses when we opened our main business Psynergy Programs, Inc., which specialises in helping individuals experiencing mental distress celebrate hope, promote personal growth, build social networks, and help individuals realise their full potential.
“When Mike took me to see El Nabila B, I fell in love. Because we spent so much time together over the years doing horse related activities, buying into the El Nabila B Partnership and having horses together was just a natural progression – it’s just a part of the whole essence of what we’re all about.”
El Nabila B. Credit Darryl
As part of Psynergy Programs, Jean suggested they create an equine therapy programme to help their mentally ill and distressed clients reintegrate into society. “You often see horses used for people who have physical disabilities, but you rarely see it used on those who are mentally ill or distressed,” explains Jean. “I did a lot of research, and we did what we needed to do and got certified. After only a few sessions, we saw major breakthroughs with our clients. It’s an opportunity to pass on the passion of the Arabian horse to these individuals who were deprived of so much joy because of their disability and illness. Even if it’s nothing more than petting a horse, they love it and think it’s the greatest thing.”
This feature is the cover story for The Arabian Breeders’ Magazine Volume VII Special Edition – buy your copy here.