Arabian Horses Claim Spotlight in Kentucky

When 15-year-old Chelsea Dowdy entered one of Kentucky’s many county fairs in 2009 with El Diamante, she could feel their usual synergy. With all the fun she had, it was an easy decision to enter another. And another. By season’s end, they had not only claimed top honors and a collection of garlands and ribbons—they had amassed a respectable college fund totaling $10,799.31. That hefty chunk of change came courtesy of the Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund (KBIF), earmarked for a relatively new group, the Kentucky Arabian and Half-Arabian Breeders Alliance (KAHABA).

“I would like to thank the Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund for showing me how much fun the Kentucky shows really are,” said Dowdy. “I would also like to thank everyone who makes this program possible for making this a very excellent experience that I will be doing for many more years. I would recommend to anybody that is breeding in Kentucky or has an Arabian bred in Kentucky to join this great program.”

KAHABA was conceived in 2008 by veteran breeder and trainer Martha Murdock, who saw the inherent value in increasing awareness of the versatile Arabian in the Bluegrass state, an area that already prides itself on its rich equine history, with a heavy racing slant. The group is made up of Arabian and Half-Arabian owners, exhibitors and breeders who share a passion for putting their breed front-and-center. With Murdock at the helm as president, they successfully lobbied for funds available through the Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund, which allows owners to receive monetary rewards for the breeding and showing of Arabian horses bred in Kentucky.

By 2009, they had secured a three-year commitment for state funding, slated to carry them through the 2011 competition season. The group is also vetted by the Arabian Horse Association, with its seal of approval as a local club.

“This Incentive Fund is all about promoting another place to succeed with an Arabian or Half-Arabian horse, thereby creating a new market that has certainly never existed in Kentucky—or anywhere else in the country for that matter,” Murdock said. “The Kentucky Fairs and Horse Show Association events provide the perfect stage for people to enjoy their Arabians, promote them to the public, and be rewarded in a tangible way, putting money back into their pockets and ensuring the future success of the breed in this state.”

Points can be earned at Kentucky Fairs and Horse Show Association events and USEF- and AHA-licensed Class A breed shows within the state, as well as Kentucky-bred classes, which can be held by competitions across the country, after having their applications approved by KAHABA.

“We offered one point to every horse shown per show regardless of where or if they placed,” said Murdock.

The end result—entries from the Arabian Horse community had doubled in 2009 from previous years, yielding significant prize earnings for the top placers.

In addition to Chelsea Dowdy’s $10,000 plus win, Gary Wickliff came in as the leading money earner for breeders, after showing three of his Arabians. His earnings totaled over $12,500.

“Our involvement in the Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund could just be the beginning of a revival for the Arabian breed in a state that prides itself on its equine-centered culture,” Murdock said.

For more information, or to get involved with the Kentucky Arabian and Half-Arabian Breeders Alliance, visit or e-mail