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The Hearst Hunters
By Kat Walden 1992.
Reprinted from the ASHAI Newsletter Winter 1992 issue.
Enhanced for this website with permission from the author.

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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.

Click to view larger image of Amazon of Pico (76169 bytes)The 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 raise foals.

Click to view larger image of Polaris Pico (48886 bytes)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.Click to view larger image of Polaris Pico and Mrs. Hearst (100093 bytes)

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 Scottsdale in Click to view larger image of Hosanna Pico (78201 bytes) 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 for them.

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 Click to view larger image of Juno Pico (65620 bytes) 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.

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We thank Kat Walden for her leadership and support of the CMK Arabian Sport Horse through the years and for sharing this article from the Winter 1992 newsletter of The Arabian Sport Horse Association Inc. (ASHAI). The ASHAI Newsletter was a quarterly publication of the Arabian Sport Horse Association, Inc. (1986-2003) and copies are archived at the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library, the Arabian Horse Owners Foundation, and the Arabian Horse Trust.

Suzi Morris
28952 Via Hacienda
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675-5546
Phone: 949-248-1260

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Copyright 2003-2011. Website designed and maintained by Suzi Morris and all rights reserved. This page created April 17, 2004. Updated  with new information and Current as of June 20, 2011.