The British National Stallion Association Performance Test.

The first Arab Horse Society registered Pure Bred Arab mare has been successful in the National Stallion Association Performance Test in Great Britain. Kamillah, a 7 year old Straight Egyptian mare by Imperial Kamilll out of Kateefah by Kerim Shah, bred and owned by Judy Phillips succeeded in style last August. Judy said that the test had been a personal aim for some time and a long time in the planning and as a great supporter of the ridden Arab she had been out to prove the worth of athletic mares.

Imperial Kamilll, sire of Kamillah
Photo By Sweet Photography
Imperial Kamilll, sire of Kamillah

'A great friend, Ann Potts, of Southwind Arabians in Yorkshire, England, very generously loaned Kateefah to me eight years ago', explained Judy, 'I had sent a mare to one of Donald and Suzanne Duke's Egyptian stallions previously and Imperial Kamilll (US), by Imperial Al Kamar out of Imperial Mistilll by Jamil, seemed an ideal choice this time. He was an athletic horse with great presence and good action and Ann was so impressed with Kamillah as a foal she sent the mare straight back to him so there is a full sister, Manayah, who has done very well in the show ring being a champion at Myerscough, in northern England, as a yearling and is now in foal for 2012 to the Malthouse Stud's Muhaned Al Rayyan, by Ashhal Al Rayyan out of Al Wajba Al Rayyan by Safir and bred in Qatar. We both own mares with lovely temperaments, attractive features, good proportions and straight action.

Manayah, full sister to Kamillah
Photo By Alan Griffiths
Manayah, full sister to Kamillah

Dame Josephine Anderson, the owner of Malthouse Arabians in Devon, England, agreed that as a grand daughter of Kerim Shah, Kamillah could be shown from the Malthouse Stud and she was successful in hand including a first at the Bicton Show and at the Royal Cornwall Show in the hands of Darron and Lisa Carter. Back home the mare was long reined by Judy and lunged as a three year old. Backed at four by Ed Hobbs, BHSAI, (all 6'5" of him)! of the South Barrow Equestrian Centre in Somerset, Kamillah then went to Stephanie Zebedee in Dorset as a five year old, to carry on her schooling and for some Novice Ridden showing classes, being in the ribbons on each occasion. Through the winters Judy was able to ride in the countryside around Stourhead, a wonderful estate owned by the National Trust, in Wiltshire, work through water and improve the mare's fitness in the hilly woods around King Alfred's Tower. 'It was all part of the plan for her education and to make sure her brain was ‘in gear’’ explained Judy of these slow training methods. ‘She is young and at my age I needed a confidence-giving ride. We have been ‘nannied’ all the way by Jan Clark, a wonderful mentor, full of very sensible advice and her Advanced Endurance Arab, Eldoret by Premier out of El-Era by Ernal, he's all Polish and bred by Katrina Murray, the WAHO Executive Secretary’!

Kateefah, dam of Kamillah, with Malthouse Arabians Stud Manager Lisa Carter
Photo By Alan Griffiths
Kateefah, dam of Kamillah, with Malthouse Arabians Stud Manager Lisa Carter

As a six year old Kamillah was sent to British Eventing trainer Lucinda Sims, near Andover in Hampshire, on the recommendation of former Arab Horse Society Council Chairman Finn Guinness, the breeder of the great part bred Arab Olympic Eventing GB Team horse, Tamarillo. Said Judy, ‘Cindy stands a part Bred Arab stallion, Harroway Mr Harlequin, and has backed other Arabs as well, so it seemed an excellent choice. She understands the Arab’s intelligence and good attitude to work. I was very impressed when I saw Kamillah jump cross country fences for the first time; she was fluent, very confident and maintained good rhythm. She finished the summer having competed in dressage and in combined training ridden by Hartpury College equine studies student, Rosie Warner, but she was neither mature nor strong enough for the test last year. With a slow maturing breed like the Arab there is no point in rushing things and you only get one chance at the NaStA Test’.

Kamillah, cross country with Rosie Warner riding
Photo By Judy Phillips
Kamillah, cross country with Rosie Warner riding

The hill work, water and hacking out were repeated through last winter and Kamillah returned to Cindy Sims in the spring of 2011. Cindy continued with the flatwork and cross country training and Pat Burgess visited the Harroway Stud most weeks to take jumping clinics. A former coach to the GB Eventing Team Pat still coaches Lucinda Green and her young horses. She is a great believer in grid work as being an ideal tool to develop athletic ability and give confidence to horse and rider and Judy says she had the chance of some lessons with Pat as well! ‘The mare was ‘point and shoot’ at one point and Pat has succeeded in slowing her down so that her approach is in a constant rhythm and a round is jumped at a consistent pace’. Ridden this year by another Hartpury Student and experienced young event rider, Rosanna Fiddes, Kamillah gained in confidence with some competition and some extra training at a local cross country centre.

During the summer three certificates are completed to say that a horse entered in the NaStA Test is up to standard – with Novice level dressage, and 90cms show jumping and cross country. Just before the test Kamillah and Zani competed in an unaffiliated British Eventing 90cms One Day Event at West Wilts EC as a final preparation. Although quite the smallest horse seen all day Kamillah finished a creditable eighth in a class of 32 having attacked the cross country course with gusto.

Kamillah competing in British Eventing unaffiliated 90cms One Day Event
Photo By jnb photography
Kamillah competing in British Eventing unaffiliated 90cms One Day Event

The final testing is over two days at the Milton Keynes Eventing Centre. NaStA appoints three judges and the first day starts with the Novice dressage test where Kamillah, ridden by Cindy Sims, was not quite on her previous form, missing one canter transition and disliking the bright stripes of sunlight on the floor in places but she gained mainly sevens and sixes. She seemed to go well for the guest rider, Anthony Clarke, an event rider, who rode her on both reins and set her at a small jump which was raised several times and which she approached and jumped with confidence.

NaStA Test, Dressage, Rider Lucinda Sims
Photo By Jan Clark
NaStA Test, Dressage, Rider Lucinda Sims

Next she was judged for conformation and movement by three senior Arab Horse Society judges, Diana Whittome, whose late stallion, Imad, completed the NaStA test, ridden judge Lynne Lidbury and present Chair of Council Joanne Lowe. Diana Whittome said afterwards, ‘I was most impressed with Kamillah – living proof, if any were needed that Egyptian bloodlines can produce beautiful horses which can perform’. After which Kamillah returned to the indoor school for loose jumping. ‘A small grid is set up’, continued Judy, ‘which when all three jumps are in place is a bounce plus a one-stride. We started with the last jump before putting in the second and then the first. Amusingly, as she finished each ‘try’ Kamillah went straight to Zani at the end and was handed back to Cindy. That particular aspect had not been rehearsed or trained for. The jumps were raised until I think she probably jumped 120cms on the last attempt which she cleared with ease. It was really impressive to see how well she attacked the jumps and showed such a good bascule over them’

NaStA Test, Loose Jumping
Photo By Jan Clark
NaStA Test, Loose Jumping

Kamillah was measured with shoes at 14.2hh and the judges were free to view the horse in the stable to assess temperament and behaviour for which she received good marks.

The following morning Kamillah and Zani jumped a 90cms round of show jumps of about nine fences including a double and a tricky turn to the last. Kamillah jumped a well paced clear round apart from a slight hesitation at brightly coloured mushrooms on one of the fillers. Her shape over fences is excellent and she snaps up her front legs together in true show jumper style.

Just before the cross country there is a ‘paces’ section where riders are asked to walk 100m and back, trot 100m and back, changing the diagonal for the return and canter 100m and back changing the leading leg on the return before starting off on the cross country. This was about 2kms long with 15 or so jumping efforts including drops, hedges and a quarry jump, plus riding through water and a long gallop uphill to finish. Kamillah has now learnt to have so much confidence in herself and her rider that these jumps presented no problems and, followed by the judges in a 4x4, she and Zani were soon seen returning after jumping everything clear. They had been instructed to gallop up the hill to the finish and the last 100m was where the gallop stride was assessed. As Zani pulled up the vet took a heart rate, 130bpm, and Zani was told to stay in the saddle and walk round for 5 minutes. At the end the heart rate was again taken and it was already down to 60bpm, a remarkable recovery rate and a good measure of her fitness.

NaStA test, official vet taking heart rate after the cross country
Photo By Jan Clark
NaStA test, official vet taking heart rate after the cross country

Entrants are given a short time to wash the horse down and then asked to leave them in the stable for an hour before the final, very thorough, vetting. This is almost a five star vetting with heart rate, flexion tests, trotting up, circling etc all being tested. Kamillah was sound

Although the wait for the results was several days Kamillah was given 136.79 marks out of 200 and a NaStA Performance Test Grade 1. Kamillah is now the highest placed living Pure Bred Arab on the list (the stallion Galerito was a Grade 1 Elite but is deceased.) There are, of course, several Anglo and Part Bred Premium Performance stallions that have Grade 1 Elite standard. The Arab Horse Society judges awarded her a Grade A and she now has status as a Premium Performance mare.

Kamillah is now home and Judy is enjoying riding her again. She will keep her fit and perhaps do some dressage through the winter. Cindy would like her to do some more Eventing, Zani would like to take her back to Hartpury and Judy wonders whether she might be ‘allowed’ to do some Novice Endurance and keep her through the summer. ‘She will have a foal one day and I have an idea for a sire, but she has a career at the moment and it seems silly to prevent us seeing how far she can go. I just hope that our efforts will encourage more Arab horse owners to performance test their stallions and mares. Too many people think of the Arab as only a show horse and they can compete in many disciplines in open competition. Because of their size they may never make the higher echelons of eventing but they have this wonderful attitude to work and I have found that Kamillah really enjoys it all’.

Kamillah at home
Photo By Eric G Jones
Kamillah at home

© Copyright Hiliary Lisle.

For more information on the NaStA Performance Test please see nationalstallion.org.uk and for information on the Arab Horse Society Premium Performance scheme see ahs-premium.org.uk


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