Inspiration - Joel Kiesner Training
Our association with Joel Kiesner and Arabian horses began when I learned about his training barn from Mike and Darwin Anderson. The Andersons owned the beautiful facility in Friendsville, Tennessee that once housed Kiesner Training Center. I think it is fair to say that without our first trips to the Joel Kiesner Training Center, Smoky Mountain Park Arabians would not exist. It was Joel that put me on my first English Pleasure horse that was awfully close to the park horses of yesteryear – yes I’m that old – and park horses were always a passion of mine. Eventually, Joel, my husband Rod and I were involved together with four purebred Arabians – Afires Grandeur, Baskghazi, Tula Afire and U.S. National Champion English Pleasure Horse Escada SCA. Also notable, Baskghazi, our junior stallion, was ridden by Joel Kiesner and Josh Quintus to Top Ten Arabian English Pleasure Futurity Horse in Scottsdale 2008. Baskghazi shared this honor along with four son’s of his maternal brother IXL Nobel Express, remarkably most of which were prepared, handled and or ridden by Joel for owners Marty and Tim Shea of Maroon Fire Arabians.
It was serendipity that I met the Andersons and subsequently learned of Joel and the Kiesner Training Center. I was not looking for an Arabian horse and I had never heard of the Kiesners. I was getting back into horses though and had once-upon-a-time owned an Arabian park horse named Mac Keff. But at fifty-five I decided that the horse of my youth would be far too much for me. I thought a sedate non-descript hunter hack gelding of no particular breed would be just the ticket for this old gal. In pursuit of this goal I was taking riding lessons – hunt seat but was concerned about getting too much sun. I decided to try to find a stable with an indoor riding arena and asked my riding instructor if she knew of one. She did. She didn’t know the name of it and did not know where it was located but she had heard that somewhere in the area of Highway 321 there was such a place.
With such vague guidance it was months before I tried to find the farm that as it turned out was the Kiesner Training Center. Enough time went by for me to try another disipline, reining horses – the hunters turned out to be way too sedate for my personality. But eventually when my reining instructor was away at a horse show, I took a chance, hopped in my car and struck out through the countryside for parts unknown.
Given that the old Kiesner Training Center was way out in the boonies it is almost spooky how easily I found it. After driving down 321 and seeing nothing promising, I turned left off the main road. I made a series of turns winding my way along country roads through the rolling grasslands surrounding greater Knoxville, Tennessee. I was starting to feel lost and was wondering how I would ever find my way back to the main road when I rounded a curve. There on the right side of the road by a white gravel drive was a huge real estate sign. I glanced up the driveway and there it was - the most picture perfect facility for an Arabian horse farm I had ever seen. It sat like a dream come true on a rise and was even more attractive to me because as a young couple, my husband Rod and I longed for a horse farm on which to raise Arabian park horses, we hoped as good as Mac Keff. But, it was not to be - at least not in our youth.
Enthralled, I pulled into the entrance of the facility, called the real estate agent listed on the sign only to find the farm had been sold. Good thing. I owned no horses anyway. I thanked the agent for the information, ended the call and looked disappointedly at the empty barn.
Then I noticed a truck parked in front. I gathered myself, drove up the drive and got out of my car knowing who ever drove that truck would quickly appear at the front of the barn. He did. It was Darwin Anderson. I was astounded when this new acquaintance told me that up until recently the farm was used by Ashton and Joel Kiesner as an Arabian horse farm. Now, at that time I had no idea how famous Joel Kiesner is in the Arabian Horse World, so Darwin did his best in his casual way to impress me with Joel’s importance – especially in his specialty Arabian English Pleasure and Park Horses. He told me that people sent their Arabians to Joel Kiesner from all over the country and that he was as big in the industry as Gene LaCroix had been back in the 1970’s when I was a young teen showing my own Arabian park horse.
I must have displayed dismay that the Joel Kiesner stables had closed. Darwin smiled kind of amused and said don’t worry Joel reopened his training center at another farm in the Knoxville area. He encouraged me to get an Arabian, give Joel a call and to ride as an amateur with Joel as my trainer. I told him I would love to do just that but I am fifty-five and it just isn’t practical. To that Darwin countered that he was also an older horseman and yet he was recently named Amateur Owner Of The Year.
Seeing I was interested, Darwin told me of his and his wife Mikala Anderson’s role in the Kiesner Training Center. Not only were they the owners of the farm (who leased the facility to Joel) but also they were also Joel’s clients and showed with him as amateur owners. Under Joel’s watchful eye Darwin and Mike had been very successful showing as amateurs. They owned and showed Half-Arabian and purebred Arabian English Pleasure and Country Pleasure horses.
On my next visit to what used to be the Kiesner Training Center I was pleased to meet Mike Anderson, Darwin’s wife. She told me about an exciting new stallion that Joel was training, Afires Heir. She pulled up the Kiesner Training web site and showed me pictures and a video of Afires Heir in motion. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Afires Heir was bright bay and moved just like Mac Keff, the Arabian park horse I owned as a young woman. During that conversation with Mike I also learned the owners of Afires Heir would never be interested in selling the young stallion – still I had to see the horse that reminded me so much of the love of my youth - my Arabian park horse.
Sensing that I wanted to see Afires Heir for myself Mike said she was sure Joel was at the U.S. National Arabian Horse Show but that he would be back in a couple of weeks. I called Joel the day after he came back from the show and he invited me to his new horse farm. While there I saw Afires Heir work in the lines and was delighted with his movement. It was so familiar and exciting. While working Afires Heir, Joel told me of his success at the U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Horse Show. I was impressed to learn that Joel’s horses had won no less than eight national championships that year including the Open Arabian Park Horse Championship on IXL Noble Express. We also discussed whether or not I would be interested in owning an Arabian English Pleasure of Park Horse. I was.
Joel showed me quite a lineup of sale horses that day. It seemed to me that everything was a park horse! At last he offered to let me ride one of the sale horses. I was a bit nervous at first after all it had been over thirty years since I had ridden a Park or English Pleasure horse. Joel reassured me that riding a horse is a lot like riding a bicycle – you never forget. He was right. When I stepped aboard it was like coming home again after being away a long, long time. And to top it off, the horse was bay, bridled straight up, and trotted with her hocks underneath her just like Mac Keff. Best of all, I was in the saddle again and in love with the Arabian park horse. I was hooked.
At the writing of this history of Smoky Mountain Park Arabians, our farm is less that two years old and we are pleased to have bought a number of horses with Joel Kiesner’s involvement. We purchased some from Shea Stables, some from Irwin Shimmel, some from Vicki Humphrey and some from other sources. Each of the English Pleasure and Park horses we bought have similar pedigrees and/or attributes of the horses Joel showed me that first day at Kiesner Training Center - horses that Joel had shown to such glory that year at the U.S. Nationals.
To date we purchased or bred 25 horses with similar breeding to the trotting horses of Joel Kiesner. For instance, Baskghazi and IXL Noble Express are out of the famous broodmare RY Fire Ghazi. Baskghazi is by Baske Afire and IXL Noble Express is by MHR Nobility. In addition, Baskghazi is bight bay with just the right amount of chrome and he has an astoundingly long and upright neck--all of which is reminiscent of his relative Afires Heir. In addition, Afires Heir and Nabasken Afire, on whom Joel won the Arabian English Pleasure Championship, are half brothers to our horses PS Afire Chief+ and Tula Afire, all four being sired by Afire Bey V. We also have two beautiful, large and trotty fillies by A Temptation, sire of Chaparral DGL, on whom Joel Kiesner won the Arabian English Pleasure Junior Horse Championship. Both fillies are out of a full sister to our Afire Bey V son PS Afire Chief+.
The first Arabian horse I bought through Joel Kiesner was Afires Grandeur who was an Afire Bey V son bred by Marty Shea. Joel was going up to Shea Stables the week after we met and so Rod and I traveled ahead of Joel so we could pick out a horse we hoped Joel would like. Afires Grandeur was our choice and we were happy Joel approved. Grand, as we called him, was a large high trotting two-year old colt that looked a lot like Afire Bey V. Tula Afire an Afire Bey V daughter out of a Cognac daughter was the second horse also bought from Marty Shea. Afterwards she was shipped to Joel’s as my amateur horse however Tula quickly outclassed me and is now in training with Tish Kondas. Tula Afire will be shown in open Junior English Pleasure and open park classes in 2008. The third Arabian horse that Joel was involved in with us was Escada SCA. We actually tried to buy Escada after having seen her the first trip to the Kiesner Training Center. Her owner, Carrie Brown of Stone Creek Arabians, did not want to sell Escada and so Carrie was able to ride Escada to her U.S. National English Pleasure Championship in 2007. Escada had been in training with Joel for only a year. Lastly, Joel prepared our stallion Baskghazi before his Top Ten in the English Pleasure Futurity in Scottsdale for 2008.
We are so happy to own these and other wonderful Arabian horses and it was Joel Kiesner that helped us get started. He put me on my first Arabian horse in over thirty years. Four of the purebred Arabians I purchased, Joel was involved. Rod and I appreciate Joel Kiesner’s exceptional talents as an Arabian English Pleasure and Park horse trainer and his role in helping us get a re-start in the Arabian horse business.