Because no holiday I ever go on is complete without an enquiry into whether there are any Arabian studs in the area, I did take a sneaky peek to see what South Africa had to offer. However, this holiday was a little different because it was my honeymoon! Dare I suggest a stud visit to my new husband while in South Africa? Of course! Especially when it is one as special as Elkasun Arabians.
My new husband David and I were in luck and were privileged enough to be invited by Elkasun to a small, informal presentation of their show stock while we were staying in the Stellenbosch area of South Africa, known for its many vineyards. Needless to say, the weather was favourable, a lovely bright sunny day with temperatures of around 24˚C – warm for us Brits but it’s their winter, and most of the locals were wrapped up warmly! Some of horses presented were in their winter woollies, while others were clipped having been out competing. They all looked superb and in fabulous condition. If that was our winter, I’d be pretty pleased.
The itself stud is set in beautiful manicured gardens, with paddocks enclosed by pretty post and rail fencing, and grand stables with chandeliers lighting up the large airy boxes. Each horse was able to interact with their neighbour and had windows to look out onto the stunning scenery of the Hottentots-Holland Mountain Range and Simonsberg Nature Reserve. It was a breath-taking setting.
The presentation area was a lovely large round arena with the mountains as a backdrop, which made for stunning photographs. David was in his element snapping photos of the horses and taking videos of them when they were let loose in the arena to show off. And show off they did, each one was beautiful, correctly conformed and moved fantastically.
Owned by Willie Brown, with his wife Lisa, Elkasun pride themselves on breeding for purpose. Their horses must be correct, a ‘complete horse’ in every respect from ear to hoof. They also ride most of their stallions, who are kept under saddle during their time at Elkasun, and they often back some of the younger mares before they are covered. Elkasun believe it is important for their development to become obedient and mannerly under saddle. I like their thinking and agree that it’s important to breed not just for a pretty face, and to allow horses to be horses. I will never forget being at the World Arabian Championships in Paris in 2016 and seeing Giacomo Capacci riding EKS Alihandro (Marwan al Shaqab x OFW Psylhouette by Padrons Psyche) into the ring, bareback and in his show halter as quiet as a mouse, after he’d previously stormed the ring and showed himself off to the max to win the Gold Champion Stallion award. I couldn’t believe how chilled out the stallion was, and it showed what a true gentleman this iconic horse is. He was, of course, bred here at Elkasun Arbaians and he epitomises the EKS mantra all over, and is testament to their breeding programme. Alihandro now lives in Italy with Giacomo and is owned by Saudi-based Athbah Stud. The horses I saw were equally as impressive, and I’m sure I spotted some stars of the future during the youngstock presentation.
Standing at stud at Elkasun is their chief sire Ibn Farid (RFI Farid x Asawir by Marajj), an impressive bay who had sired all of the youngstock presented.
The first horse of the presentation was EKS Lathina (WN Star of Antigua x Kar Hadi by El Perfecto) a fleabitten grey Spanish-bred mare with beautiful big eyes and a floaty trot. Her daughters were shown next, both in foal to Ibn Farid, and it was easy to see the family similarities in their incredible movement and showy attitude.
First up was dapple grey five-year old EKS Amira (by EKS Alihandro), who was full of snort and blow. Second was four-year old EKS Naderina (by Nader el Jamal by Ansata Sinan out of Savannah CC), who was almost a carbon copy of her sister.
The next family group shown was headed up by Poetica B (Besson Carol x Palitrina by Menes), Elkasun’s 11-year old foundation mare. This stunning grey white mare was the picture of elegance. Her chestnut daughter five-year old EKS Alejandra (by EKS Alihandro) was in next and the influence of her sire was clear to see; what incredible movement and presence she had. Alejandra has just been started under saddle but is now in foal to Ibn Farid so is taking life easy. Her daughter, chestnut yearling filly EKS Splendida (by Ibn Farid) followed on. She had that incredible elevated trot with her tail curled right over her back and a beautiful swan-like neck.
The 13-year old mare Phaeddra (Marwan el Shaqab x Patrina by Parys el Jamaal) was next in and we really knew she was there as she was very vocal! This lovely fleabitten grey mare was unclipped in her winter woollies but still looked spectacular, floating around the arena calling to everyone listening. Her two-year old daughter EKS Parisa (by Fadi al Shaqab by Besson Carol out of Abha Myra) followed on and was equally as vocal; it must run in the family! This lovely grey is to be bred to Egyptian stallion Shams al Din AA (Shams Sharav AA x Raliya by Laheeb), who is kindly on lease to the Brown’s from Ariela Arabians. He will be arriving at Elkasun from Israel later this year. The chestnut yearling filly EKS Fai’za (by Ibn Farid), another daughter of Phaeddra, came next and clearly enjoyed the attention as she stormed around the arena.
The next mare was the seven-year old dapple grey KZ Jewel of Malakat (WH Justice x KZ Malakat al Lail by KZ Alone), who is also in foal to Ibn Farid. It is clear to see her sire’s influence as her head and neck were sublime. She also had a fabulous topline and beautiful movement, as you would expect from her breeding. We all got a surprise when her yearling daughter EKS Faridah (by Ibn Farid) came into the arena, as she was a very speedy baby racing around like crazy! My heart was in my mouth at times during her full speed gallops, sliding stops and spins. She settled down quickly and showed us her fabulous trot and flagged tail.
The light dapple-grey mare EKS Bint Helwah (Laheeb x Helwah AA by Al Ayad) was next and she was another stunner! She is due her second foal by Ibn Farid in four weeks who will be the full sibling to her yearling colt, the steel-grey EKS Farajj who really caught our eye. This young colt was a true showman with a big personality, fabulous movement and stunning good looks.
It is hard to believe so many amazing horses can be in one place; they just kept on coming!
The bay yearling colt EKS Farouk (Ibn Farid x SR Aphrodite by EKS Alihandro) came out next and I was pleased to see it was the same colt David and I had spotted on our arrival, popping his head out if his window and giving us kisses when we went to speak to him. His eyes were huge, dark back pools you could get lost in; I just loved him. He was a massive show off too, and I think he knew he had admirers!
The bay yearling filly EKS Flamenca (Ibn Farid x La Dauphine by FS Bengali) was presented next; I couldn’t get over how tall and graceful she was. What stunning movement and delicate feminine features she had.
We were also treated to seeing some newborn foals, one of which was the day-old colt by Ibn Farid and out of EKS Phateena (WN Star of Antigua x Phaeddra), who I am sure was born epecially for our visit! He is a maternal brother to EKS Mansou and was very brave and came out onto the lawn to see us with his mum, who was happy for us to admire him.
The delicate two-week old filly by Ibn Farid and out of EKS Secret obsession (Abha Quebec x MSA Veroniqa by Versace) was equally happy to come out onto the lawn, but she was a little shier than her fellow baby, hiding under her mum’s tail and then peeking out to investigate her visitors.
Ibn Farid himself was presented last, and this beautiful bright bay was a sight to behold! His produce all had his individual stamp, with good limbs, correct toplines, lovely necks and beautiful heads. Farid was gentle and inquisitive; after initially showing off for us, he came over to introduce himself and made sure everyone knew it was his farm that we were in. He was very proud and ensured that all of the mares looking on from their stables were given a show. He trotted beautifully, barely breaking into canter as he soaked up the attention. I even got to have a quiet chat with him, one on one, at the end and can testify that he is a true gentleman.
I cannot thank Elkasun Arabians enough for allowing us to see their wonderful horses. I will be sure to cheer them on when I next see them on the show circuit, and will look out for some of those stars I spotted taking championships in the future.