Member Spotlight: Sahara Scottsdale

Integral to The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale’s mission is telling the stories behind the small businesses Scouted in each Volume. The story begins in print and continues online, after all. As you peruse Volume 2, we are thrilled to continue our story-telling mission with Member Spotlights.

On lush acres northeast of Scottsdale resides a living art that offers Scottsdale a global reputation. Both a connection to Scottsdale’s rich history and that of an internationally treasured species, Sahara Scottsdale cultivates an ambitious bid for the future: the perfect Arabian horse.

Yet, Sahara Scottsdale’s singular aim is impossible to mistake for a mere Darwinian-esque experiment. Passion fuels every aspect of their work as a privately-owned Arabian breeding, training, and marketing center. As does over 150 years of collective experience and expertise.

Established in 2015, Sahara Scottsdale quickly became a leader in the historic, highly-competitive industry of Arabian horses. And as they prepare to show at the world’s largest competition, The Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, we sat down for a chat about the intricacies of the industry and, more importantly, the majesty of the Arabian horse.

TSG Phoenix & Scottsdale: For the uninitiated, can you speak to the history of the Arabian horse in Scottsdale?
Ally Nelson: When it comes to Arabian horses, Scottsdale has a rich history. While locals will be familiar with names like McCormick, Gainey and Chauncey? –all well-known residential communities – they might be unaware that the names hearken to the area’s largest Arabian horse farms of the 1940s. Gainey Ranch, McCormick Ranch, and even the famous Biltmore Hotel are built on what was once home to Arabian horses.

TSG Phoenix & Scottsdale: Tell us more…
Ally Nelson: It all began when Anne and Fowler McCormick purchased land in the early 1900s to raise Arabians. Many followed their example, and Scottsdale quickly became a mecca for the Arabian horse. And, in 1955, Scottsdale hosted the first Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show.

TSG Phoenix & Scottsdale: What does the Arabian horse industry look like in Scottsdale today?
Ally Nelson: The Arabian horse community is as strong as ever. In fact, Cactus Road and Arabian Park Drive are often referred to as the Rodeo Drives of Arabian horse farms. Both are home to some of the most famous farms in the world, including Royal Arabians, Midwest Station II, Orrion Farms, PCF Arabians, and of course, Sahara Scottsdale. And the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, which first took place in 1955, is now the largest, most well-attended Arabian horse show worldwide!

TSG Phoenix & Scottsdale: You hinted at the importance of Scottsdale to the Arabian horse industry on a global scale. Can you speak to the international influence of Sahara Scottsdale?
Ally Nelson: Walk through the barn at Sahara Scottsdale and you will meet horses hailing from Brazil, Poland, Spain, South Africa, Israel, Dubai, and beyond. Each boasts highly individualized, highly-desirable traits that our breeding program hopes to cultivate in service of its overarching goal: to breed the perfect Arabian horse.

TSG Phoenix & Scottsdale: That’s an ambitious endeavor. What exactly does that entail?
Ally Nelson: When studying and purchasing horses, our goal is twofold: to identify competitive show horses that are also compatible with our breeding program. We travel to all corners of the world – from the World Championships in Paris to South America, the Middle East to North America – to procure the highest quality of exotic Arabian horses. Each spring, we welcome foals. The foals grow up in the lush pastures of our breeding farm, Sahara West, living a beautiful life. Once of age, they enter our training farm to be trained, sold, shown, or retained for the future generations of our breeding program.

TSG Phoenix & Scottsdale: That seems like a highly selective process, and rightfully so. Sahara Scottsdale doesn’t just raise horses, Sahara Scottsdale raises Arabians. But there’s so many breeds… why Arabians? What makes them so unique?
Ally Nelson: Our owners and staff have over 150 years of collective experience with Arabians and other horse breeds. And all of us are unanimous in our opinion that the Arabian horse is the most rewarding breed to work with and produce. Arabians bond closely – more so than other breeds – with their handlers. And their history is just incredible. Did you know that all equine breeds trace back to the Arabian?

TSG Phoenix & Scottsdale: That’s fascinating! But, it’s just one of the fascinating aspects of your industry. Let’s talk about another: showing, which we understand plays an important role. Can you touch on the competition side of Sahara Scottsdale?
Ally Nelson: While our primary focus is breeding the next generation of Arabians, showing is very enjoyable and exciting for us. We compete throughout the year. Our biggest show – and the biggest in the world – is  The Scottsdale Arabian Show, which draws 2,000 – 2500 horses each year. Other important shows for us include the U.S. Nationals, Arabian National Breeder Finals, Regional Championships, and the Arabian Breeders World Cup.

TSG Phoenix & Scottsdale: You speak of Arabians with such reverence. How does the breed influence the lives of those who work with them at Sahara Scottsdale?
Ally Nelson: We view these horses as living art. Arabians are the Michelangelos and Van Goghs of the equestrian world. But, beyond their beauty, we love them as a part of our family. Arabians have this unique ability to bond with humans. It’s an honor to work with such special creatures. And it’s because of this magical connection that our every decision – personal or professional – revolves around the well-being and success of our Arabians.

TSG Phoenix & Scottsdale: It sounds like Arabians must be experienced in person to be fully appreciated.  Is Sahara Scottsdale open to the public?
Ally Nelson: Absolutely! Sahara Scottsdale welcomes everyone. We delight in sharing the magic of these beautiful creatures. Arabians horses move our souls, and we’re sure they’ll move yours, too.

If you are interested please contact Sahara Scottsdale on Instagram @Sahara_Scottsdale, email info@saharascottsdale or call (480)980-9826.

Sahara Scottsdale is world-renowned for producing the highest-quality champion Arabian horses. To learn more, you can visit their website here and follow them on social media here to stay up to date on events and happenings! Don’t forget to tell them Scout sent you!