As the sunshine filters through the morning mist, the gentle whinny of an Arabian horse can be heard. The peacock calls from its vantage point in the trees as dawn breaks over Redwood Lodge Arabians. A place full of the true romance of the Arabian horse, this beautiful farm set just south of the Loire Valley in France is somewhere where dreams come true. And the beautiful Arabian horses that live there are testament to that.
Redwood Lodge Arabians is a place of magic and of mystery. Indeed, the only way to truly see the remarkable horses in their breeding programme – and this is a programme that has consistently produced World Champions – is to visit this tranquil part of France. And it is well worth the visit.
My most recent trip to Redwood Lodge was not my first time, but every time I visit, it is as though I am seeing the place and the horses through fresh eyes. I revel in that feeling, as I fall in love with the Redwood Lodge horses time and again. And the beauty of this programme is that there is always someone new to fall in love with, as well as familiar faces to be reunited with once more.
Behind this amazing vision, is its creator Sue Patrick supported by her husband Trevor and their son Steve, who manages the farm with his partner Kirsty. Their son, Casey, completes three generations of Redwood Lodge humans whose lives have been devoted to their own ideal of the Arabian horse. This is an ideal that can be found in major breeding programmes the world over.
As we all know, to build a great breeding programme takes many years, and Redwood Lodge is no exception. Founded in Australia in 1982, in sunny Queensland, Redwood Lodge remains one of the most successful farms to come from the continent. A lifelong affinity with Spanish and Egyptian lines led Sue to the United States where she saw the impressive three-year-old colt Om El Abadan by Carmargue (White Lighting x Velvet Shadow) out of Bint Estopa (El Shaklan x Estopa). Knowing that he would compliment the existing mares, particularly the wonderful pure Spanish matriarch Malikah Estopa by AN Malik (Galero x Ispahan) out of the mare of the century, Estopa (Tabal x Uyaima), Sue and Trevor imported Om El Abadan to Australia. From this combination, the resulting World Champion Colt Espano Estopa was born.
Knowing that they had something special, the Patrick family decided to take Om El Abadan to Europe in 1997 where he took the title of Reserve World Champion at both the Salon du Cheval, Paris, and the All Nations’ Cup, Aachen. The following year, Sue and her family returned to Europe once more, this time with the now three-year old colt Espano Estopa. There, he went one better than his sire, taking the Junior Male title outright at both the All Nations’ Cup and the World Championships. Redwood Lodge Arabians had bred their first World Champion.
Espano Estopa. Credit J May
The decision was made for Espano Estopa to remain in Europe, and thus Redwood Lodge Arabians began its relocation across the world. The farm was based in Belgium first before finally settling in France towards the end of 2006. The 16th century Chateau de la Bernardiere has been the perfect home for the farm, with its turrets shrouded in morning mist adding to the romance of the idyllic scene of white mares grazing in the paddocks that surround the property.
The Redwood look
Sue has always maintained that, despite being from Australia and originally based there, she has bred a European style of horse. Indeed, the ‘Redwood Lodge look’ is unmistakable – that of a beautiful, charismatic Arabian horse with huge, soulful eyes, where beauty and conformation combine in one perfect package. For approaching 40 years, the consistency of this breeding programme, combined with the improvement from one generation to the next, has rewarded the vision and dedication to the Arabian breed that the family held over the years, along with their strong belief in the Spanish/Egyptian Golden cross. This look comes from the prepotency that has been built up within each generation. The daughters and granddaughters who now represent the foundation mares have a pedigree that has been cemented through a very specific vision.
For many years, it was the mares that represented Redwood Lodge Arabians in the show-ring, mainly the daughters of Espano Estopa, who had been crossed with the foundation mares at the farm. Cambriaa (by El Shaklan), Om El Amira Estopa (by Sanadik El Shaklan) and Bint Mohena (by El Shaklan) all produced wonderful daughters to continue the line, but it was the full sisters from Cambriaa that truly stood out: the beautiful 2000 Junior Female Reserve World Champion RL Romantik, and the multiple-champion RL Antiguaa. These mares became the cornerstone of Redwood Lodge and helped cement the look that they have become so well known for.
RL Artique. Credit Stuart Vesty
Indeed, when Espano Estopa tragically passed away suddenly in 2006, taking the heart of the stud with him, the family’s focus moved on to his grandson, RL Artique, out of RL Romantik and by Al Adeed Al Shaqab (Ansata Halim Shah x Sundar Alisayyah), a stallion Sue wanted to breed to from the very first moment that she saw him as a yearling in Qatar. Artique has gone on to be a sire of note and his finest son, the incredible double Supreme French National Champion Sharaam el Chique, was purchased by the world-renowned Halsdon Stud in the UK earlier this year. His sire, Artique, was also leased by Halsdon for the breeding season. It is an honour for the Patrick family that their stallions will have the opportunity to breed some of the finest collection of Arabian mares in the world. For them, this underlines the significance not only of the stallions, but of the Redwood Lodge breeding programme as a whole.
Sharaam el Chique. Credit Glenn Jacobs
In 2016, the decision was made by the Patrick family to introduce a new stallion. Always looking for the next stepping stone, the incredible Abha Omani was discovered. Indeed, it took a lot of searching before the family finally agreed on an ideal stallion to add to their programme. Not since Om El Abadan had a stallion been purchased to become an integral part of the breeding plan, and so this was a decision made carefully.
Abha Omani is sired by the legendary pure Spanish stallion El Perfecto (Vallehermoso x Example) out CM Faylla Shaklan (El Shaklan x Hal Faylla NA). It was as though fate had played a hand in finding this special stallion as not only is Omani what they were looking for phenotypically, but also genotypically as well.
This is a stallion full of charisma, with such an impressive aura to him, something almost unexpected when you first see him and it takes your breath away. His enormous black eyes are captivating, but what strikes me most is how much bone structure he has, something rarely seen in the modern Arabian horse today. He really has that depth and carriage that so many of us are still excited by. You can immediately see the benefits that this stallion will bring to an established breeding programme such as that of Redwood Lodge.
Abha Omani already has progeny on the ground at the farm, and the Patricks are notoriously hard on colts, with a strict gelding policy, so when I am told about a special colt by Abha Omani, one that the whole family are excited by and one they hope will grow up to be their next breeding stallion, my attention is caught. The horse in question is RL San Salvador, a very smart yearling, rich in genotype and very much a Redwood horse. He is out of RL Saffron (WH Justice x RL Antiguaa).
RL San Salvador
Foaled in 2004, Saffron has very much secured her position as the new matriarch of the farm. A very influential and beautiful fleabitten grey mare, Saffron has produced eleven foals for the Patrick family, with San Salvador being the youngest. These foals include another exceptional male. Born in 2012, this young stallion is somewhat of a hidden jewel at the Redwood Lodge, yet he is starting to make quite a name for himself as the farm’s junior breeding stallion. This is RL Ecuador, by the straight Egyptian stallion ZT Fa’aiq (Anaza el Farid x ZT Jamdusah), a stallion who, as a yearling back in 1998, stood Reserve Champion to Espano Estopa. Ecuador is a very balanced and expressive stallion; you can clearly see the resemblance to his sire, but it is clear that he has that added influence from this strong female line, ultimately resulting in a modern version of his sire.
From the mares Redwood Lodge Romantik and Redwood Lodge Antiguaa came the foundations that have been so carefully built upon – and it is these stepping stones that have led to horses such as RL San Salvador being born. From Romantik came the farm’s senior sire, RL Artique, and from Antiguaa came the farm’s senior mare RL Saffron. This has been something of a magical cross for the family, resulting in three amazing mares who have made an impact. Foaled in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively are RL Safaanah, RL Saffiqua, and RL Safiraa. Saffiqua was sold to Aljassimya Farm before joining the broodmare herd at Al Saqran Stud in the United Arab Emirates, but Safaanah and Safiraa remain at the farm.
RL Safaanah, who is very much like her paternal grandsire Al Adeed Al Shaqab, Now eleven years old, Safaanah is very typical of that ‘Redwood look’ I mentioned earlier. She captivates me every time I see her, with her kind and soulful eye, beautiful type and correctness. RL Safiraa, now nine years of age, is a wonderful mare, and has long been a favourite of mine, with her terrific front, long, swan-like neck and gentle elegance.
The oldest mare line at the farm, and one not mentioned yet, is that of Redwood Lodge Samarah, foaled in 1996. She is by Om El Abadan and out of Sanroblee Marmara (Cool Hand Luke x Marah), one of the original mares Sue and Trevor bred in Australia. The farm retained only one daughter of Om El Abadan in their relocation to Europe and now only one daughter of Samarah resides at the farm to continue this important line. This daughter is the ethereal white mare RL Samsara sired by RL Artique. Samsara has produced two full sisters by RL Ecuador – RL Tia Maria and RL Margaritaa, both of which show great promise for the farm’s future. These beauties represent five generations of Redwood Lodge breeding, and it is interesting how different in look these sisters are – considering that they are so infused with Redwood blood and, significantly, they have all three of the major dam lines and sire lines within their pedigrees. They are both beautiful fillies, free-moving and elegant, and they exude Arabian type. Tia is already fleabitten at four years of age and is very Egyptian in type, while Margaritaa is a stunning white diamond that just oozes show attitude. It is clear to see they both have so much to offer.
RL Tia Maria and RL Margaritaa
With RL Ecuador already proving himself as a sire, Abha Omani adding that extra something, and horses such as RL Margaritaa, RL Tia Maria, and RL San Salvador being born, it is fair to say that the future is looking very bright. The Patricks may never stop looking ahead, but as a visitor, it is clear that they have built something incredibly special indeed.
I always love returning to Redwood Lodge. The romance of the place is inescapable – and by that, I don’t just mean the beauty of the place. More, it is the horses, Sue’s vision that began all those years ago in Australia, a vision that has flourished and grown into an international operation.
There is a sense of history, of gravitas, at every horse you look at. With such a rich history such as theirs, a pedigree carefully nurtured and preserved towards the Patricks idea. Each generation marks an improvement on what has gone before – and while no breeder ever wants to go backwards, it is only with the understanding of the horses in the pedigree that you can truly move forwards. This is a valuable programme in terms of the infusion of specific bloodlines combined with careful and knowledgeable breeding that has resulted in that ‘Redwood look’ – one that has to be seen in person to be fully appreciated.
RL Tia Maria
All this depth, knowledge and history just add to the incredible romance of Redwood Lodge. This is somewhere to visit, to wait awhile, pause, and take in all that is around you – before you return to your own barn a wiser person. This is a place where, if you only let it, your dreams can come true.
Redwood Lodge is like a small kingdom, full of beautiful Arabian horses, and run by a dedicated family. Steve and Kirsty’s son, Casey, loves the horses and he already has a good eye for what he likes – a very good eye, as it happens! And, what truly sets them apart from other breeders is that they have both sire and dam lines running through the farm – something that is very rare to see these days. These are true breeders. And that just adds to the romance of it all.
Yes, the word ‘romance’ can be overused, but in the case of Redwood Lodge Arabians, it truly does apply. Steve admits that he often walks the property at the end of a long day and reflects on what the family has created over the years. He adds that is has been his life’s work to get to where he is today and it hasn’t been without its struggles and hardship, but has only made the family stronger. It is evident to see that the passion and determination is still there and the Patricks remain as committed to their dream as ever.
All photography unless stated Gregor Aymar.
Cover photo: Mother and daughter RL Safiraa (left) and RL Saffron
First printed in The Arabian Breeders’ Magazine Volume IV Issue I. All rights reserved.
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