With the death of Charter ASHAI member Austine Hearst last summer, an era
in Arabian sport horse history came to a close. Austine and her husband,
William Randolph Hearst Jr., were the owners of a stud of purebred
Arabian horses founded by W.R. Hearst Sr. in the 1930's. The senior Mr.
Hearst sought out the best athletic stock he could buy in America, and
also imported a number of horses directly from the Middle East. Horses
bred at San Simeon Stables at Pico Creek, California, have won
consistently in a wide variety of performance disciplines. Austine
Hearst, however, was the driving force behind a dozen-years' succession
of Arabian sport horses.
first of these was Amazon of
Pico (Amara Baha x Zamiga by *Zamal), a
1971, 15.3 hh gray mare out of a
winning working cow horse. Trained and ridden by Nicki McGinnis, who
guided all the Hearst hunters through their show careers, Amazon of Pico
was champion jumper seven time in Class A shows. She capped her career
with a U.S. National Top Ten Jumper title in 1979 before retiring to
The second, Polaris Pico
(Bay Maruf x Polar Pico by Rahmoun), a 1975, 15.1+ hh bay
gelding, was perhaps the epitome of Mrs. Hearst's goals. His wins
included Region II Champion Hunter, first in Hunter over Fences at
Scottsdale in 1981 and 1981 Canadian National Reserve Champion Hunter
over Fences, which comprised one impressive season at All-Arabian shows.
But it was after he retired from the show ring that Polaris really
started working. Mrs. Hearst, for many years a Joint Master of the
Golden's Bridge Hounds in New York state, took Polaris East to be her
personal field hunter.
Although other members of the Golden's
Bridge Hounds were initially skeptical about Polaris, the only Arabian
in the Hunt, he proved to be an ideal Master's
mount. He never bucked,
even on the briskest morning, and always showed calm good sense in every
situation, including having dozens of foxhounds swirling around and
under his feet without kicking or shying. He was also a strong, careful
jumper who kept Mrs. Hearst safe and fast enough to stay in the thick of
the action. She was very proud of the fact that he was the fourth
generation of his family that she had ridden.
Back in California,
Hosanna Pico (Haat Shaat x Bons Anna by Asil Altair), a 1981, 15.2+ hh bay mare, took over in the show ring. At
1985, she was first in Open Jumpers and second in Working
Hunter. In 1986, she was the Region I Champion Hunter over Fences. She
finished her show career with multiple U.S. and Canadian National Top
Tens in Hunter over Fences and or Hunter Pleasure and earned the IAHA
Legion of Honor. Having proven herself a capable athlete, Hosanna also
earned a place in the San Simeon broodmare band and is still producing
The '79, 15.3 hh chestnut mare, Juno
Pico (Haat Shaat x Pico Comet by Amara Baha), carried on
the winning tradition. She earned many regional honors in Regular
Working Hunter and Hunter over Fences through 1988. Since then, she too
has joined the broodmare band and has produced Glitters Pico by Royal
Gold, who placed Top Five in Region I Hunter Pleasure in 1991. And so
ends the era.
I believe that several of the Hearst horses also
won at open shows, but I have not yet been able to obtain details of
those wins. And although the Hearst hunters' accomplishments seem
impressive in Arabian circles, the only horse that all breed
publications find noteworthy is Polaris, because hunter-jumper
classes at All-Arabian shows are considered low-quality by the rest of
the horse world.
The point, once again, is that no matter how much a purebred or partbred
Arabian achieves in All-Arabian shows, other horsemen will never be impressed
unless those achievements are matched in open, all-breed shows. We have to show them that Arabians are as
competent today as any other horse or pony breed if we want Arabians
to be taken seriously as working horses.