Arabian horseman, Breeder, Industry Leader,
Entrepreneur, Breed Ambassador and so much more…
Jeff Sloan is an Arabian horseman, breeder, industry leader, successful entrepreneur, breed ambassador and so much more. This is the story of his pursuit of excellence with the Arabian horse…
On a beautiful, crisp spring day in May 1982, life was about to change for the Sloan family. No one could have expected or predicted it. For it was on this day that Jeff Sloan, in his passion to own an Arabian horse, had orchestrated a “showing” of a handsome young colt he had found and was determined to acquire. The audience of two would become the first of a long and celebrated list of partners who, together with Jeff, would ultimately own some of the greatest Arabian horses in the world.
The Sloan Family: Richard, Julie, Bernie, Jeff and Deena with Sandal Shahin in 1983
Jeff recalls that momentous day and the showing of the colt, “I had never been to a showing of an Arabian horse. I had never been to Scottsdale or any other major show. I had not experienced a Lasma sale, or in any way been involved with a presentation of an Arabian horse. Acting on pure instinct, I arranged for my new would-be partners to be seated on hay bales strategically placed just outside the double barn doors of the simple backyard barn where the colt was boarded. Inside, I was anxiously holding the lead, ready to kick off my carefully planned presentation. Right on cue, at my direction, the young groom assisting me swung open the doors. In a flash, out burst the colt—tail up, head up, all four feet off the ground—with me in tow, holding onto the lead for dear life!” Shortly thereafter, Jeff and his partners became the proud owners of the colt Sandal Shahin. Moreover, in doing so, Jeff had successfully ignited the interest of brand new enthusiasts and forged his first successful partnership.
Jeff’s first partners were his mother and father, Deena and Bernie Sloan. Deena recalls, “We had no idea that Jeff was involved with horses. We thought he was pursuing his college studies in Ann Arbor, Michigan. While our natural reaction was shock and disbelief, everything was overshadowed by the sheer beauty of that gorgeous colt. And then, amazingly, the next thing we knew, we found ourselves in the Arabian horse business with Jeff.”
Jeff’s journey with Arabian horses had begun just six short months prior to the acquisition of Shahin. His passion for Arabians was born from a deep and powerful drive from within. He had not come from parents who were horse people, he did not grow up around horses, and yet, there was something within him, which Jeff admits is rare, “I feel a deep and profound connection with Arabian horses, like I’m somehow connected to their history, and in my own way…a part of it.”
While Jeff did show some interest in horses as a young boy, even attending horseback riding camp for a couple of summers. The catalytic event occurred one evening late 1981, while a student at the University of Michigan, Jeff watched, “The Black Stallion” movie and for the first time, experienced the magic of the Arabian horse. He was moved by the awe-inspiring beauty and spirit of the horse and the special connection that the boy, Alex Ramsey, and the horse shared. Jeff woke up the next morning and instead of going to class, he went to a nearby riding stable where they gave horseback riding lessons. Jeff recalls, “I approached the instructor and abruptly announced, ‘I want a horse like the one in The Black Stallion movie.’ The instructor told me it was an Arabian horse, and that was it! My interest in horses became a bonfire of passion for Arabians.”
Just six months after seeing the movie, Jeff was the proud owner of a white Arabian stallion named Nejfix, registered as 64122, a son of Serane J and out of Raazna. By Jeff’s standards today, “Nej” as he called the stallion, would hardly qualify as a world-class Arabian. Yet Nej was Jeff’s first Arabian, and at the time, he thought he was the most beautiful horse he had ever seen; Jeff was enraptured.
While in the throes of his love affair with Nej, Jeff admits he spent very little time in class through the rest of that semester. “Even when I did go to class, I read horse magazines instead of listening to the professor’s lecture. Being the son of a physician and a college educated mother, both of whom valued education as a top priority, I was certainly feeling anxious about my new-found obsession and the distraction it caused,” Jeff recalls. “I read voraciously; every Arabian horse magazine, every book I could get my hands on. I started attending local shows on my own. I met local Michigan breeders and trainers, whose guidance and direction I consumed. I quickly learned two things: 1.) Nej wasn’t as “beautiful” as I thought he was, and 2.) I needed to find a horse that was. My quest led me to Sandal Shahin, a son of Shaikh Al Badi, and I knew I had to find a way to make him mine. I also had to explain to my parents what I had been doing and why. Then, upon learning the colt’s purchase price, I knew I needed a financial partner. So, I created a plan to show Shahin to my parents on that Spring day in May of 1982. It all turned out better than I could have imagined.”
The Early Years
With the acquisition of Sandal Shahin, things really began to accelerate quickly. The Sloan family’s commitment to their new Arabian horse endeavor included the purchase of a farm in Michigan horse country, near the small town of Metamora. They branded their new operation Talaria Farms.
Like all connoisseurs-in-the-making, Jeff began to train his “eye” and to discern the differences between a good Arabian horse and one that is great. Early horse acquisitions by the Sloans included Ramses Mahal, a straight Egyptian son of Ramses Fayek, the broodmares Ramses Sadaka and Amurath Chamonix from Plum Grove Arabians, as well as the beautiful young daughter of El Shaklan named Cambriaa.
After those early horse acquisitions, the Sloans met and hired a young experienced horse professional named Cindi Murch, a person whose passion for Arabians was a perfect complement to Jeff’s. He explains, “Hiring Cindi as the manager for our program was a watershed moment for us. She brought knowledge, experience, and access to important industry contacts. Cindi had an intense and demanding work ethic, and we each continually pushed the other to succeed.” Jeff and Cindi had a true hands-on approach at the farm, doing everything from cleaning stalls, painting fences and foaling out the broodmares, to grooming and conditioning the horses and showing them too. In the process, Jeff became a capable horseman and gained a deeper understanding and a stronger connection to the horses.
In 1982, Jeff attended his first major shows—the Ohio Buckeye and the Egyptian Event. At the Event, Jeff met Judith Forbis and other industry leaders. He attended many lectures and seminars at the Event and took a keen interest in learning about the history and significance of pedigrees for breeding. To this day, Jeff maintains this interest in bloodlines as a strong focus of his personal Arabian horse experience and now owns one of the most complete private libraries of books on the subject.
Jeff learned early that to win at the highest levels, in addition to having a great horse, one needed a skilled professional to condition, train, and show the horse. And so, right from the start, Jeff forged relationships with master horsemen the likes of Rick Moser, David Boggs and Michael Byatt, who successfully showed Jeff’s young stallions, Shahin and Mahal. A string of early show ring successes by Shahin began with a win at the Michigan Futurity. Further victories came for Shahin: Ohio Buckeye Champion Three-Year-Old Colt, Region 13 Champion Stallion and the 1983 Egyptian Event Champion Three-Year-Old Egyptian-Related Colt. Mahal was equally successful, also winning Region 13 Champion as a three-year-old and the highly competitive 1984 Egyptian Event Three-Year-Old Straight Egyptian Colt Championship, with approximately 60 entries. These initial achievements clearly proved Jeff’s natural ability to select a winning horse and encouraged the Sloans to continue to accelerate their program.
In the fall of 1982, Jeff attended his first U.S. Nationals in Louisville, Ky., where he watched David Boggs show the great stallion Padron. David’s skill and commanding presence, as well as his intense desire to succeed, impressed Jeff. He recalls, “One of my first great memories in Arabian horses was when David asked me and my family to join him at the out-gate following Padron’s U.S. National Stallion class. I vividly recall David and Padron in the ring together during the class, and then having the privilege to be part of the celebration with David and his team following the victory. This will be indelibly etched forever in my memory. Seeing David and Padron’s victory opened my eyes to the thrill of winning significant awards in competition and fueled my own desire to win at the highest levels.”
In 1983, Jeff attended his first Scottsdale Show, as well as the Lasma and Karho sales. The magnitude of the horse marketing programs he saw stunned him. “Being introduced to the sales and marketing activities in Scottsdale,” Jeff says, “really opened my eyes to business possibilities. I learned a lot by watching what worked and what didn’t, and there is no question that many of the progressive programs I offer to introduce new people to the breed were forged by my early experiences in Scottsdale.” By this time, Jeff was gaining a well-rounded and comprehensive ability to successfully run an Arabian horse business, ranging from horse care, conditioning and showing at competitions, to managing the business operations of a barn, marketing and promotion, all while adding to his deep knowledge of the history and pedigrees of the horses.
In 1983, Jeff entered the international scene of Arabian horses for the first time. Upon learning of a stallion that had just been crowned the Israeli National Champion, Jeff became intrigued with the idea of importing the horse to the U.S. The stallion, Shatir AHS, was heavily Crabbet-bred, and Jeff believed he offered many desirable characteristics, both phenotypically and genotypically, to Arabian horse breeders in America. Jeff and Cindi traveled to Israel to evaluate the stallion. Shortly thereafter, they successfully negotiated the lease of the horse and imported him to America where he became a U.S. National Top Ten Stallion, as well as a sought after breeding stallion.
Most significantly, during these early years, Jeff would garner one of his most important achievements— a World Championship title at the 1988 Salon du Cheval in Paris for a client whose singular goal was to win that award. Jeff’s client, Peter Ministrelli, was a successful Michigan businessman. When they met, Peter told Jeff he wanted a superstar show horse, one that could win at the highest level—Paris. Charged with the exciting challenge of finding a horse that could achieve that lofty goal, Jeff began the search, looking at hundreds of horses. His pursuit took him to a small breeder’s farm where Jeff saw a young filly that captured his attention. She was far from being in show condition, but he could see her potential. He phoned Peter to tell him he had found the one they were searching for and to wire the purchase funds immediately. Peter followed Jeff’s recommendation and purchased the filly. Jeff recalls, “The filly, Nisrs Gala, just had it—she had the conformational quality and the type required to be competitive in international competition, but more than that, she had something extra special that made me feel—deep inside—she was the one. I was really excited. I knew I had found something special for Peter and I was confident that she had what it took to realize Peter’s goal of winning in Paris.”
Following the acquisition of Nisrs Gala, Jeff phoned David Boggs and audaciously suggested that he show the filly in Paris. David was dubious, but compelled by Jeff’s exuberant enthusiasm. He got on a plane and flew to Michigan to see the filly at Talaria. To David’s surprise … and delight … the filly was indeed “all that”, and he agreed to present her at the World Championships. In December of 1988, Nisrs Gala, Peter, Jeff and David were on their way to Paris. It was the thrill of a lifetime. Jeff recalls how embarking on the adventure became a defining moment for him. “I literally had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I had a star client, with whom I had developed partnership as well as a deep friendship. We had a common goal to win in Paris, a filly we really believed in, and a handler who could get it done. I could sense that something special was about to happen for us.” And it did.
Jeff remembers that day in Paris, “It was a dream come true to compete with the elite of the breed at the World Championships. The first time I saw Nisrs Gala out in that pasture in Tennessee, I felt her potential so strongly. In my mind, I saw her winning. When she actually did win, it was an incredible moment that I will never forget. I was so thrilled for Peter, and of course, I was happy and proud that we had achieved our goal. Most significantly, I remember the intense joy I felt of being able to provide such a unique experience to someone else. Peter Ministrelli was a man who had it all—business success, financial success, and all of the prestige that goes along with it. What can one give a person who has it all? When Peter won that class in Paris, I watched him leap euphorically, raising his fist in victory. I saw him literally cry tears of joy as they played the U.S. national anthem in recognition. I was awestruck by the power of the experience. It was at that moment, that I realized the impact of what I could provide. I knew right then, that I wanted to share this unique experience with others.”
With all of their early success, things were ramping up rapidly for the Sloans’ horse business. What began as a passion for Jeff, and a sideline business for his parents, quickly became an all-consuming activity. The demands of the business were starting to keep Jeff’s father, Bernie, from his medical practice, and Jeff from completing his college education. At its peak in 1988, Talaria Farms had over 60 horses, an annual foal crop of around 20, horses showing all over the country, and a staff of 12.
With their program having reached its pinnacle of success, the Sloans were presented with a bittersweet dilemma; they received a very attractive purchase offer on their farm in Metamora. After much debate and discussion, the family agreed to accept the offer. While this was particularly hard for Jeff, he knew it was the right decision, and he knew that one day soon, he would return to his life’s dream and his passion for Arabian horses.
Following the sale of the farm, Jeff returned to the University of Michigan to complete his degree. After graduating, Jeff pursued the commercialization of an invention he created, the “Battery Buddy,” a device which prevents dead batteries on automobiles and for which he received multiple U.S. Patents. He also created a business that remains a major focus of his life to this day, “StartupNation,” an online resource, which guides entrepreneurs through the process of starting a new business. Jeff and his brother, Rich, became partners in the business. The Sloan brothers’ StartupNation empire grew to include a nationally syndicated radio show (a show Jeff still hosts today), a business book published by Doubleday, numerous appearances as guest experts on CNN, Fox, MSNBC and CNBC, as well as keynoting major conferences such as Ebay Live, and hosting the Small Business Administration of America’s annual conference. Through all the hard work to complete his education and to build his new business, Jeff always kept an eye on the activities within the Arabian horse breed.
Jeff Sloan’s Dynamic Return To Arabians
One snowy December evening in 2004, Jeff was at home reading a current version of an Arabian horse magazine. He was pouring through its pages when something caught his eye and made him sit up to look closer. He saw photos of a young filly in Poland that had just emerged on the scene. Her image was unlike anything he had ever seen before; he was stunned. He knew immediately that he wanted to pursue this filly. Just like that, Jeff Sloan was back in the horse business, his ambition pushing him to set his sights on even loftier goals. One such goal was the pursuit of the beautiful filly from Poland that so enamored him that December evening—an individual who many believe is the most uniquely beautiful Arabian mare in the world today—the breathtaking Pianissima.
Jeff put down the magazine and quickly emailed his old friends Michael Byatt, David Boggs, and Kim Jarvis to ask them if they believed it would be possible to acquire Pianissima. Each responded with appropriate and conventional wisdom, saying simply that it was … unlikely. Nevertheless, Jeff remained undaunted and focused on pursuing the mare of his dreams and thus began his quest to bring Pianissima to America.
A few months later, Jeff attended the 2005 Scottsdale Show with the objective of reconnecting with people who might be able to assist him with his pursuit of Pianissima. While at that show, he visited with Greg Gallún, and through Greg, he met George Zbyszewski. Jeff had followed Greg and George’s successes in Poland in acquiring top horses for their clients from the Pride of Poland sale. He believed Greg and George might be just the people to help him on his quest. “After our first meeting,” Jeff said, “George and Greg graciously offered to host me and my family on an introductory visit to the heralded stud farms of Poland.”
Early in 2005, Jeff Sloan leveraged his knowledge, experience and success from his early years, combined that with the expertise he had gained from his current business ventures, and formed Aria International. Jeff’s vision for the new business was based on the following tenets: to acquire only the best of the best Arabian horses, to focus on introducing these elite Arabians to new enthusiasts, to make their experience with Arabians uniquely rewarding for them, to establish a breeding program to preserve breed characteristics and to contribute to the breed’s future with his leadership. It was an ambitious undertaking, which Jeff began in earnest.
In May of 2005, Jeff, his parents, his brother Rich, Greg Gallún and George Zbyszewski arrived in Poland. The group toured the historic stud farms, which Jeff had dreamed about visiting for years. Dr. Marek Trela, the Director of Janów Podlaski, and Jerzy Bialobok, the Director of Michalów State Stud, warmly welcomed the guests. The pilgrimage to the Polish studs was another landmark for Jeff and his family—it was a momentous visit. On a personal level, the Sloans remain forever indebted to Greg and George for giving them the experience of a lifetime. On a business level, the Sloans, with Greg, George, and Jeff’s new Arabian horse partners, made history. They achieved what others had said was unlikely and even impossible. They successfully secured a two-year lease for one of Poland’s most prized treasures, the Polish National Champion, World Champion, and All Nations Cup Champion Mare, Pianissima. Jeff’s bold vision was fulfilled.
In addition, Jeff and his partners secured a lease for the beautiful mare Emandoria, from Michalów, and a lease for the stallion Piaff from Janów Podlaski. Shortly after the transaction of the lease for Piaff, he earned the title of Polish National Champion Stallion. The partnership wasn’t done. They also purchased the beautiful Elandra, and four additional lots in the 2005 Pride of Poland sale. Pianissima and Emandoria went on to be crowned U.S. National Champion Junior Mares, and Elandra was crowned U.S. National Reserve Champion Senior Mare; all three were conditioned, trained, and shown by Greg Gallún.
One of the most significant acquisitions Jeff Sloan made in the early years of his return included the great El Nabila B, who went on to become 2010 U.S. National Champion Stallion. Jeff saw El Nabila B at North Arabians during the 2006 Scottsdale season. After providing the purchase capital to acquire the stallion, Jeff formed a group of partners who would own him, including Michael Weinstein. Jeff recalled the formation of the partnership; “I have followed the success of Michael’s family and their great breeding program since the early 1980’s. I was thrilled to have forged a partnership with Michael in the ownership and management of El Nabila B. Michael still manages the horse today for himself and a group of new partners who own him, and I think he’s done an amazing job with the horse. While I managed El Nabila, my interest in the horse became a personal one for me, not just because of his quality as a breeding stallion, but also because of his disposition. El Nabila B is a true gentleman, and I loved him. So much so, that my wife and I journeyed to the famed Balbolna Stud in Hungary to see where he was born.”
In 2006, Jeff won his first major championships at the Scottsdale show and the U.S. Nationals, in Louisville, Kentucky. In Scottsdale, Jeff and Michael Byatt reunited to campaign the colt Baanderos, a spectacular grey son of the legendary parents Marwan Al Shaqab and HB Bessolea. The Sloans had acquired Baanderos through Michael Byatt when he was just a weanling. Michael and the Sloan family have a long history as friends and business partners in a variety of successful show horses and breeding stock. At Scottsdale that year, Michael and Jeff brought home two of the biggest wins of the show. Michael showed Baanderos to Champion Senior Yearling Colt and Jeff won Scottsdale Signature Stallion Champion Yearling Colt with him.
Later in 2006, Jeff won his first U.S. National Championship titles, three of them to be exact. Pianissima won the title of U.S. National Champion Junior Mare, shown by Greg Gallún. LD Pistal won the title of U.S. National Champion Senior Stallion, and NBW Angel’s Kiss, won the title of U.S. National Champion Futurity Filly – both were sired by Magnum Psyche, and both were shown by David Boggs.
In 2007, another horse of great magnitude became a part of Jeff’s life; one of the most dynamic and striking colts the breed has ever witnessed—the incomparable Aria Impresario. “I was in New York on business with my brother in January of 2007,” Jeff recalls, “and I received a phone call from Michael Byatt, who told me about a colt of extreme quality that he had just seen. Michael said we should acquire him immediately. I could sense the urgency in his voice and his confidence in the colt.” Although Jeff has a rule that he never makes a purchase without personally evaluating and validating the purchase, especially one of this significance, this was a rare situation in which there was a need to act very quickly or risk losing the opportunity to another buyer.
“A quick but detailed dialogue ensued. I asked key questions about the colt,” Jeff says. “I will never forget the final question I posed during our discussion and the answer I received. ‘How does this colt compare to the competition he will likely face in Scottsdale?’ I asked, and Michael’s answer was simply, ‘It is irrelevant. This colt is so good that it’s simply irrelevant.’” With that, the Sloan family purchased the colt, over the phone, and he was on his way to Scottsdale. Just a few weeks later, Aria Impresario earned three of the most prestigious titles of the show: Unanimous Senior Yearling Colt, Unanimous Junior Champion Colt, and Scottsdale Supreme Champion Halter Horse. It was the first of two such titles he would win, making Aria Impresario the only horse in Arabian history to achieve two Scottsdale Supreme Halter Horse Championships.
Following Aria Impresario’s win in Scottsdale, he went on to win the title of 2007 U.S. National Champion Yearling Colt. Michael wasn’t competing that year at the Nationals, so he selected Andy Sellman to show Impresario. The young colt was loaded into a van for the cross-country trip to Andy’s training center in Wisconsin. However, Impresario did not make his journey alone. Jeff, out of concern for his prized horse’s well being, was his stall partner. Jeff rode the entire two-day trip in the back of the trailer—never leaving Impresario’s side—all the way from Houston, Texas to Hudson, Wisconsin.
Jeff remembers the trip vividly, “Andy and I had really never met before, and I can say with certainty, that he probably had yet to meet an Arabian horse owner for the first time the way he first met me. In the early morning hours of a chilly fall day in 2007, the trailer carrying Impresario—and me—arrived at Andy’s training facility. Upon opening the door, Andy saw the beautiful Impresario and his disheveled owner peering out at him. Tired, but relieved with the safe delivery of my colt, I extended my hand to Andy and told him, ‘Here we are; let’s go win a National Championship.’ And win he did—unanimously!”
The success of Impresario in his yearling year was just the beginning of the relationship between Jeff and this special horse. To this day, Impresario remains an important horse in the Aria program. As a sire, he is consistently at the top, or near the top, of stallions that have sired National and Scottsdale winners. “When one accounts for the number of get sired in total, Impresario is the top producing sire of National and Scottsdale winners,” says Jeff. “Impresario sires horses with overall elegance and amazing show attitudes that seem to light up when they’re in the ring. His foals consistently possess beautiful laid back shoulders, elegant neck and throatlatch structure, high straight tail carriage, as well as dynamic movement and carriage. Breeders are beginning to realize the importance of focusing on these traits and recognize Impresario as a go-to source for them in their breeding programs.”
In 2012, the Roizner family from Uruguay joined Jeff in ownership of Aria Impresario. It wasn’t long before they too, experienced the excitement of this great stallion in the show ring when he claimed the highest honor of all at the Scottsdale Arabian horse show. Jeff explains the significance of the victory, “Aria Impresario, led by David Boggs at the 2012 Scottsdale Show, delivered one of the highlights of my personal Arabian horse experiences when he won his second Supreme Championship; a feat never achieved by any other Arabian in history. It was a very important and validating win for me. I’m generally a pretty composed person, but when Impresario’s name was called out as the Supreme Champion Halter Horse, I remember bursting into the ring to join David and Impresario in celebration. My feet literally never touched the ground!”
The very next year, at the 2013 Scottsdale show, it was the Polish National Champion Stallion, Pogrom, leased by Jeff Sloan and David Boggs from Janów Podlaski Stud in Poland, that won the title of Supreme Champion Halter Horse. Over the course of 2013, Pogrom earned the country’s top honors including Unanimous Scottsdale Champion Four-Year-Old Stallion, Unanimous Grand Champion Senior Stallion and Scottsdale Supreme Champion Halter Horse. Pogrom quickly followed those wins with another prestigious title, Arabian Breeders World Cup Gold Champion Senior Stallion. The ultimate victory came in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Pogrom was named 2013 United States National Champion Four-Year-Old Stallion and Unanimous United States National Champion Senior Stallion. Jeff was particularly proud to be a part of this campaign because it represented another connection to and achievement with, Dr. Marek Trela and the Polish breeding program he admires so much.
The stallions Aria Impresario and Pogrom had won three Scottsdale Supreme Halter Championships. Next came LD Pistal, a horse whose campaign Jeff managed to U.S. National Champion Senior Stallion honors in 2006. LD Pistal was purchased by the Roizners, and in 2011, he also won the Scottsdale Supreme Halter Championship title; thus further establishing the unique success of the Aria International program at the highest levels of competition.
Aria And Jeff Today
Another significant moment in the trajectory of the Aria program came when Jeff’s brother, Rich, introduced him to a successful businessman, turned gentleman rancher in Idaho, named Neil Braverman. Neil owns one of the most beautiful ranches in the country named Black Rock Ranch on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Under previous ownership, it was a Quarter Horse ranch. When Neil acquired it, he wanted a new program and his search for that led him to Jeff. “I met with Neil at his home in Naples, Florida in January of 2013, and we took to one other immediately,” Jeff shares. Of course, when Neil asked Jeff what he could do to make his beautiful ranch in Idaho into a viable horse business, Jeff recommended that he consider converting it to one focused on Arabian horses. Neil accepted Jeff’s recommendation and they forged a formal partnership.
The partnership of Neil Braverman and Jeff Sloan has powerfully demonstrated once again, that when people get together to achieve a common goal and pursue it with purpose, vision and determination, great things can happen. And happen they have. In just two short years, Neil and Jeff’s partnership acquired an elite group of horses, which achieved several major Scottsdale, Breeders World Cup and U.S. National Championship wins, including three U.S. National Championships with Honey’s Delight RB, Conquest BR, and BH Beijings Velvet.
One of the more notable horses which Neil, Jeff and Rich acquired, syndicate managed and successfully marketed to Dubai Stud in a ground-breaking transaction, was FA El Rasheem. Jeff remembers, “At my first meeting with Neil, I recommended that he pursue an Arabian horse program. In addition, I told him he could be successful if he focused on acquiring only the best Arabian horse bloodstock. The cornerstone of the program needed to be a stallion, or young colt, that could ultimately stand at Black Rock Ranch and be a lightning rod to attract the attention of breeders and buyers from around the world.” And so, a worldwide search to find that horse quietly began. “I left no stone unturned,” recalls Jeff. “I called everyone I knew that might be able to lead me to that special horse. I knew Neil was important, not only to me, but also to the breed. I believed that Neil was a person who could make a big impact on our industry. With his business acumen, contacts, and resources, I knew that he could be a great partner and a great member of the Arabian horse community. In the search for the colt we needed, I received countless leads. I poured through pedigrees, photos and videos of horses sent to me. I personally flew to evaluate several horses that were close, but in my opinion, just not quite good enough.
“Then, one evening in late January, I received a call from Steve Heathcott. He told me he had a colt coming in for training at his barn in Scottsdale. By Steve’s description of the colt, I thought it could be ‘the one.’ In the middle of that night, at around 2:30 a.m., Steve called back. The colt had arrived; he was a bay son of FA El Shawan and Steve told me that he felt I should come see him – ‘NOW.’ I questioned Steve in every way possible to get to the finer details he saw in the colt, and after an exhaustive dialogue, which went deep into the night, I felt I should see him immediately. Early the next morning, I was on a plane bound for Scottsdale to meet my brother and to evaluate the colt. Steve was right; this was the one. Rich and I phoned Neil, and told him we had found the colt and recommended that we acquire him immediately. Neil agreed to purchase half interest, and Rich and I committed to the other half. We had our colt.”
“My partnership with Neil Braverman goes way beyond business at this point” shares Jeff, “we’ve grown close personally; Neil is a man I respect and admire very much. I know the best is yet to come for the two of us in business and in life.”
Perhaps most significantly for the breed, Neil and Jeff have introduced the Arabian horse to over 20 new enthusiasts who have joined them in partnership. Neil introduced Jeff to Chris Young, a successful real estate businessman. Chris has become quite active in the horse ventures, and was there to enjoy Greg Gallún show Conquest BR to the titles of 2014 Scottsdale Junior Champion Colt, Breeders World Cup Gold Champion Yearling Colt and U.S. National Champion Yearling Colt. Chris was also ringside to watch David Boggs show BH Beijings Velvet to the title of 2014 U.S. National Champion Futurity Filly for the partners. Other horses that Neil and Jeff are excited about include the lovely filly Sephora PCF, who will be shown by Andy Sellman, and Al Jazzab, a handsome straight Egyptian colt of great promise.
Together, Neil and Jeff have already won four major U.S. National titles in just two years and several major Scottsdale titles as well. They have a major breeding program underway at Neil’s ranch in Idaho and expect some very exciting foals. Their partnership will be the sole source of FA El Rasheem’s semen going forward. They will continue to develop their young stallions and likely will acquire others. Jeff sums it up by saying; “The future is bright for us, and all of the partners we’ve invited into this business. Neil Braverman is a great addition to the Arabian horse community. I’m proud to be his partner and I am excited about our future together.”
While Jeff has already assembled an amazing group of horses for himself and his partners, he always remains on the lookout for special acquisition opportunities. Recent additions include 2010 U.S. National Reserve Champion Stallion Art Dekko, who Jeff describes as one of the most beautifully exotic Arabian stallions in the world, and the promising colt, Truest, an exquisite bay son of Trussardi.
In 2014, the great mare RH Triana joined the ranks of world-class mares Jeff Sloan has been proud to own. Jeff forged a new and exciting partnership for Triana with Tony Shooshani and newcomers, Norm Pappas and Jamie Jacob. These gentlemen now have the honor of owning one of the greatest Arabian mares of our generation.
Of course, owning great horses of such caliber in Jeff’s program can be bittersweet because along with their success, comes buyers from around the world who are interested in acquiring the superstars for their own programs. This was the case with FA El Rasheem, a horse which the Sloans and Neil Braverman had every intention of keeping as a cornerstone breeding stallion. However, even the great ones sometimes have a price and Dubai Stud made the partners an offer—a record-breaking price in the industry—that was just too good to refuse. This was also the case with Baanderos, LD Pistal, HED Caramba and others. One such beauty that Jeff would have loved to keep in the program was the lovely filly, Star of Al Zobair, which Jeff, Greg, and Neil acquired from world famous Brazilian breeders Vila Dos Pinheiros and imported to the United States. Just a few months after her to America, they received an offer for the filly, which was again, too good to turn down, and she was sold to her new owner, Al Zobair Stud in Sharjah, UAE.
One might naturally wonder why Jeff emphasizes show ring success. He explains, “Showing our horses is important for several reasons. First, it is a way to validate the phenotypical quality of the horses we’ve selected and intend to include in our breeding program. Second, success in the show ring does translate to success in the marketplace. Third, it’s a great thrill for new enthusiasts to go to a major show and experience all that goes with that; the anticipation, the nervous moments and the thrill of competition. Given the success I’ve had in the show ring, I know firsthand the great joy that winning creates. Today, however, my focus is to give that experience to the partners we have brought into the business.”
An Artist’s eye
It is obvious that Jeff has an eye for selecting uniquely special Arabian horses and the expertise to manage them. However, Jeff is very quick to acknowledge his close and long-standing relationships with the agents and trainers who have led him to many great opportunities and he credits them accordingly. For example, it was Joao Rodrigues who informed Jeff about Aria Quintessa, a daughter of Trussardi and out of a Baske Afire daughter, that he felt Jeff should consider. Jeff flew to Scottsdale to see her and acquired her shortly thereafter. She debuted at the 2015 Scottsdale show. It was Terry Holmes who phoned Jeff one evening to tell him about a weanling colt that Jeff might want to consider. Again, Jeff flew to evaluate the colt. Upon acquiring the colt with partner Neil Braverman, they named him Conquest BR and he has become a big part of Neil and Jeff’s future breeding plans. When Jeff saw photos online of a very special mare in Brazil named Honey’s Delight RB, he became intrigued. It was Rodolfo Guzzo who assisted Jeff in the acquisition of this great Brazilian beauty; she soon became a U.S. National Champion Mare.
“I am truly grateful to these colleagues, and others, whom I’ve had the privilege to work with to acquire some really special horses. People like Bob Boggs, a great friend and horsemen. We’ve worked together on some exceptional horses.” Jeff says. However, Sloan is also quick to state that most of the horses he considers do not end in a purchase. “I realize the immense responsibility that comes with these purchase decisions, not only to our program but to the breed at large. For new enthusiasts in particular, it is critical for their first experience to be a good one. I have to be very disciplined and very exacting in my ultimate selections. Saying ‘no,’ is one of the most important abilities I have mastered. I say no many more times than I say yes when considering a horse. It has to be that way, in spite of the natural human desire to want to say yes.”
When it comes to Jeff’s consideration of a horse, he points out, “Horses at the top win and lose by fractions of points. The subtle details make all the difference. I have trained my eye to look for the subtle details that separate a great horse from a good horse. I know the conformational qualities and the elements of type that are required to win at the highest level of competition today. I also know that for a horse to achieve success at the top, it must possess something extra special that comes from within—a brightness, even an arrogance—and a personality that allows them to adapt to the demands of training and showing, and to be able to do it happily. I take all of this into consideration when I evaluate a horse. Frankly, in my opinion, these intangible qualities make the ultimate difference. In rare cases, when I can’t personally evaluate a horse prior to purchase, I’m fortunate to be able to rely on trusted relationships. I also rely on my knowledge of pedigrees, my ability to review photos and video of the horse, as well as a process of pressing the agent or trainer who’s made the recommendation to draw out the details I need to make a decision.”
Jeff points out that the execution of a horse’s campaign can make or break the trajectory of a great horse’s success, both in the show ring and in the marketplace. Following the purchase of a horse, Jeff lays out the strategy starting with the ultimate goals and objectives for that individual horse and its owners. While Jeff points out that in the end, this is more art than science, every effort is made to craft a great plan and to execute it with focus and diligence. From the promotion to the selection of the team behind the horse, every detail is thought through. For example, Jeff explains, “I always give great consideration to matching the right handler with the horse. Every horse has strong points and weak points. Whether it’s the standup, or movement, or a million other factors, the horse’s best qualities must be highlighted in the ring. The key to success is to select the handler who is best able to showcase the horse’s most dynamic qualities.”
In addition to the right handler, there are many others on the team who contribute to the promotional campaign. Jeff is privileged to work with the most talented photographers and videographers, without whom, he openly admits, he couldn’t get the job done. Of particular importance to the program is Karen Torres, who oversees and manages all of the minute details on Jeff’s behalf. Truly knowing and understanding horses, recognizing people’s strengths, and caring deeply about his partners’ goals, allows Jeff to orchestrate and execute the best possible plan. This is Jeff’s trifecta for success: great horses, great handlers and great owners. The result has been phenomenal success in show rings throughout the U.S., South America, Europe, the Middle East and Australia for horses Jeff owns, or has marketed.
Given Jeff’s track record of success, he is frequently asked if he will assist others in their pursuit of great horses, and he is happy to do so. For example, Dick Freeland of Freeland Farm, a dynamic businessman who had amassed great success as a pre-eminent owner of Pizza Hut franchises throughout the country, asked Jeff to find a special stallion for his program. Once again, Jeff set out on an exhaustive search, which led him to the beautiful Shael Dream Desert in Brazil. Jeff loved the foals Shael had sired in Brazil and believed the stallion would produce the type of foals that the world market was seeking. Working closely with Rodolfo Guzzo, Jeff made the recommendation to Dick to acquire this horse. Shael Dream Desert was imported to America and has fulfilled the promise of making significant contributions as a sire. This acquisition meant a lot to Jeff on a personal level, “Dick Freeland was passionate about his horse program, and I am so glad I was able to help him acquire this great stallion.”
While Jeff has demonstrated an ability to pick the right horse and manage the complexities of campaigning that horse, he is quick to point out that you don’t win every time. “In the end,” explains Jeff, “showing is a fickle endeavor. Fortunately, for me, the enjoyment of the Arabian horse extends way beyond winning and losing in the show ring. I love the romance of learning about the history and the pedigrees, I value the amazing people that I’ve met and with whom I’ve made lifelong friendships. I appreciate the peace of being on a farm and simply enjoy being in the moment with the horses. I am always excited by the promise of a new foal being born and what the future for that foal may hold. My life has been enriched in countless ways by the exotic travel and unique experiences that the Arabian horse provides to me, my family and my partners.”
“Living this lifestyle with my family is one thing,” Jeff says. “The excitement of discovery, the thrill of competing and the close connection with a beautiful, noble creature has been amazing. But providing that experience to someone else and seeing their expressions of incredible joy is a feeling unlike any other I’ve ever known.”
That’s why partnerships are an important part of the Aria program. Jeff explains that not all newcomers want to be in a partnership. Certainly, Jeff is happy to have people own horses of their own instead of, or in addition to, partnership participation. “What I do like about the partnership format,” explains Jeff, “is that it allows people to dip their toe in the water and buy into part of a great horse, rather than 100% of a lesser quality horse. Partnerships also allow people to leverage the dollars they want to spend across a number of horses, rather than in just one. Most of all, a partnership creates a feeling of camaraderie. It provides a comfortable point of entry which allows people to ease into the experience, and then, should they desire to do so, graduate to ownership of their own horse or horses. It’s an extremely effective way to introduce new people to Arabian horse ownership.
“Partnerships are not just for new people. From time to time, I’ve selectively formed partnerships with friends and colleagues already in the business, and I’ve had great experiences. Bob and Dixie North and I, formed a partnership for the Brazilian-bred filly Miss El Power, who went on to become the Brazilian National Champion Junior Filly and later, was successfully sold. The dynamic young breeder, Montana Henke, and I, forged a partnership for the up-and-coming young stallion Montana Firenze, recently sold to the great Rohara program. I also partnered with Mike Wade and Joel Desmarteau to promote a colt named Rough Justice, and he was successfully marketed to Saudi Arabia.” Jeff also was a partner with good friends Dan and Suzanne Acevedo in ownership of several horses. Jeff describes each of these experiences as extremely rewarding in every sense.
“I recently introduced newcomers, Sante Bologna and Joanne Gunabalan, to Arabian horses. Neil Braverman and I partnered with Sante on a young filly that finished second at Scottsdale this past year and then went on to be successfully sold. Joanne and I partnered on a young filly we acquired from the great Mulawa program in Australia, a striking daughter of Aria Impresario named Impressa MI. Shortly after that acquisition, Impressa MI won her class in Scottsdale, and while winning was great for me, it was an over-the-moon experience for Joanne. The text message I received from her following the filly’s win says it all, “Thank you partner. This is the most exciting time of my life thus far!!!”
The Aria Breeding Program Today
In addition to Jeff’s focus on showing, he has also quietly amassed a significant group of breeding horses, and anticipates that he and his partners will have approximately 31 foals in 2015, some from their own stallions and other select stallions as well.
Jeff is particularly excited about the resources that brought to the program by Neil and his team at Black Rock Ranch. The ranch program is very capably managed by Andy Osmundson, whose skill and degree of professionalism Jeff greatly admires. Andy and his team have a full service program at Black Rock, including a full reproduction center that is second to none.
When it comes to the breeding program, Jeff is very serious about the privilege and the responsibility that he has assumed. With an eye toward the future, Jeff is very conscientious about making the selections of breeding stock and the breeding decisions for that stock. Jeff’s breeding philosophy is based on his desire to breed a complete horse, rather than focusing on a single trait or a subset of traits and characteristics. Jeff explains, “To me, a well laid back shoulder is just as important as a beautiful face. While a strong adherence to Arabian type is at the top of my list, a true balance between the pursuit of extreme type and sound conformation must be achieved. I believe in this, not just as a philosophy, but as a fundamental duty I have as a breeder.”
The list of horses Jeff has selected from breeders around the world to be part of the Aria breeding program includes some of the most highly decorated champions in the show ring and some of the most beautiful and desirable show and breeding mares in the world. Among them are BHF Dark Angel, dam of U.S. and Canadian National Champion NBW Angels Kiss; Canadian National Champion HED Caramba, U.S. National Reserve Champion San Jose Javiera, National Champion Mare Gaishea, Falcons Marbella, daughters of Bey Shahs Lady, and others.
Contributions to the Breed at Large
Jeff has always felt the desire to protect and to contribute to the Arabian breed, even beyond the building of the Aria program. Jeff and his brother, Rich, were instrumental in spearheading the development of the Breeders World Cup Show in Las Vegas, and Jeff still serves as Chairman of the Arabian Horse Breeders Alliance, the organization which he cofounded and which hosts the World Cup show. “I’m proud to have done my part to make the show the success that it is today, but it took a team to make it a reality. Each year, the Board of Directors and the Show Committee, along with many volunteers, make this show happen. It is a privilege to work with such a dedicated and passionate group of people.”
Jeff also assisted Scott Bailey, who Jeff describes as one of the most dedicated and hardest working ambassadors of the Arabian horse breed, with the development of the New Year’s Eve Farm Tours in Scottsdale. Jeff’s current focus is to bring back some of the grandeur, class, and sophistication associated with the Arabian horse lifestyle. He shares some of his thoughts; “We exist in a highly competitive world with many attractive alternatives competing to capture the recreational dollars of those who have them to spend. Therefore, the option of participating in Arabian horses must be a highly appealing one, and the actual experience must live up to the expectation. I’m dedicated to doing everything I can to achieve this goal.
“In particular, I have a strong interest now in focusing on improving and enhancing the grass roots shows. I grew up in the 80’s going to local shows, which had strong participation and offered a lot of family fun and camaraderie. Today that seems to have been lost at the Class A and Regional show level. Of course, there are exceptions and some are doing well. However, we need to broaden the base of successful local shows. These shows are where the future participants, buyers, breeders, leaders and contributors will likely get their first exposure to Arabians, and the importance of supporting and enhancing the breed at this level can’t be overstated. I believe Arabian horses are the perfect family activity, and I look forward to doing my part to help re-energize that segment of our breed. Lastly, I have plans to accelerate my program to introduce the Arabian horse to new enthusiasts.”
The Sloan Family
Over the years, the Sloans have made their Arabian horse interest a family affair. Not only have they each participated in the business in various ways, together, they’ve visited breeding farms, traveled to shows and other major breed events. Jeff’s parents, Bernie and Deena Sloan, and his wife, Andrea, are proud of Jeff’s achievements, share his vision, and are supportive of his goals. Andrea comments, “Jeff is relentless. He never stops. I am always amazed by his drive and dedication. Most of all though, as I observe Jeff in the pursuit of his passion, what I admire most, is in the midst of all of the action, Jeff is always focused first on the well-being of his horses and the happiness of his clients.”
What’s next for Jeff Sloan and his partners? Surely, it will be something spectacular. They recently purchased one of the all-time great mares of the breed, the incredible RH Triana. As managing partner, Jeff has the responsibility of charting the course for Triana’s future, and David Boggs will have the honor of presenting her in future competition. Jeff cannot contain his enthusiasm. “Triana is a once-in-a-lifetime mare. She is an icon of Arabian beauty and it’s an honor for us to own her. As her guardians, we are committed to providing every opportunity to ensure that RH Triana becomes all she is destined to be.”
Most exciting to Jeff is that the ownership of Triana includes newcomers whose first experience in Arabians is this ownership of such a grand mare. Triana was shown under her new ownership for the first time in Las Vegas in April at the Breeders World Cup show. Jeff is equally excited about bringing the incredible National Champion Honey’s Delight back to the show ring as well. She’ll be shown this year with Greg Gallún at the lead, and with Neil and Jeff hosting a big group of new enthusiasts there to cheer her on! Jeff describes Honey as, “perhaps the most complete Arabian horse I’ve ever been around. She just has it all. Her conformation is exemplary, she’s big, bold and yet as beautiful as they come.”
For over 30 years, Jeff has shared his life with the Arabian horse. “I’ve lived my dream,” he says. “When I look back, I’m not really sure how or why all of this happened, but that’s the magic, that’s the power of the Arabian horse. When I look forward, I see unlimited potential and boundless adventure. I can’t wait to get up tomorrow and embrace the possibilities!”~ FINI~
By Beth Ellen Hunziker