Breeding Spanish and CMK Arabian horses has become an important aspect of life at Bitterroot Ranch.
Mel grew up with horses on a farm at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro. A neighbor, who had been the agricultural officer in Yemen, had a beautiful Arabian mare given by the local tribesman as a wedding present to his wife and brought to their ranch in Tanzania. This was the type of horse that Mel always wished for and in 1983 on another continent the dream became reality as her Arabian horse breeding program in Wyoming began.
The first breeding stock was acquired from a Wyoming neighbor who also had a horse farm in Texas. They were primarily Egyptian (Gleannloch) crossed on domestic mares. We then moved onto Polish lines since our neighbor acquired the racing sire *Sambor and later sold us TC Mr Lucky, a pure Polish *Naborr son.
One of Mel’s favorite riding horses for many years was an Abu Farwa grandson, who led us towards the Crabbet horses. The focus of this breeding has always been to produce solid family horses with good minds. We purchased *Indian Sundown, bred by the Duchess of Rutland and imported from the UK, to cross on our mostly CMK mares. He was 15.2 and size was becoming important in enabling us to provide mounts for a wider range of guests.
We kept the CMK line going through the athletic SSA Mistics Shadow PC (RAS Amyr Dargee PC x FV Silver Mistic), whom we leased for 2 years and then moved on to FV Aul Mystique (Aur Mystique x Aur Amber Magic) purchased from Dr. David Ward of Fairview Arabian Stud in Canada and carrying proven performance lines. We have since added FV IL Divo (Ohadi Ben Rabba x FV Rosalane) to the herd.
In 2003, Bayard and Mel visited a riding center in Spain and were taken by our hosts to Diego Mendez’ La Aldara Stud. We were very impressed with the Spanish Arabians who were big, athletic and also had quiet temperaments. We purchased a few straight Spanish mares and also acquired the Spanish stallion Granizo (*Granizar x La Dulcinea).
Our Arabian mares are mostly CMK and straight Spanish. They can all be ridden and when not being bred are put to work on our ranch. Our emphasis is on good gaits, kind temperaments, and a willingness to do whatever is asked of them; they may be required to herd cows one day and jump the cross-country course the next. The foals and young stock are outside all the time, running in large pastures, which puts a good foundation on them. We own a total of around 90 Arabian horses, and raise about 6 foals a year.