Tobi Taylor's Journal


News > Saturday, December-10-2016

Positive Review of Orzel: Scottsdale's Legendary Arabian Stallion

The September 2016 issue of ASU Magazine reviewed Orzel in its Shelf Awareness section, concluding that:

"In this biography and genealogy of Orzel, the champion chestnut stallion of Polish bloodlines, Taylor explores regional preferences (originally in Europe) for selective breeding that continue to influence Arabian horse characteristics. She discusses the challenges of maintaining breeding programs and protecting horse in Europe during World War II, and she investigates the small but growing international community of breeders and Arabian horse lovers at that time. The book traces Ed Tweed's entry into this community and the subsequent influence of the Tweed family in the establishment of Arabian horses in Arizona, the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show and the breeding, training, racing and showing of these horses in Arizona and the United States. Most importantly, this book communicates the unique bond between horses and people that continues across times and places and that is valued especially by owners, riders and trainers of Arabian horses. The work will be appreciated by readers who value the complexities and interactions of world and local history, a bond with an equine partner, or the aesthetics of the Arabian horse breed."

News > Friday, December-09-2016

Publication of the new book, Orzel: Scottsdale's Legendary Arabian Stallion

After the completion of The Polish and Russian Arabians of Ed Tweed’s Brusally Ranch in 2013, I was encouraged by fellow writer Kimberly Gatto to consider pitching a book idea to The History Press in Charleston, South Carolina. Given the success of Kimberly’s book on the Olympic jumper Sandsablaze, I thought the publisher might be interested in the story of Ed Tweed’s champion stallion Orzel, the Polish Arabian racing superstar who was called the “Arabian Secretariat” and went on to become a legendary sire. I’d never forgotten my introduction to the magnificent Orzel in 1979, and I felt sure that readers would find his story compelling.

Within weeks of submitting a proposal, I signed a book contract in late 2014, and completed the manuscript in August of the following year. The book -- titled Orzel: Scottsdale's Legendary Arabian Stallion -- appeared in late January 2016, just in time to be available at the annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, where Orzel had been named champion stallion in 1970. Fortuitously, the author of the book’s foreword, Stephanie Ruff Corum, had already planned to attend the show to promote Arabian horse racing, so she was able to spend an enjoyable afternoon at the Markel booth with Orzel’s rider, Shelley Groom Trevor, and me, as we visited with passersby, signed books, and of course talked horses. 

Especially surreal to me was the night I spoke at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona. As I climbed the stairs to the podium, I flashed back to the many readings I’d been to, as an ‘80s-era Arizona State college student, at the original location of Changing Hands on Mill Avenue. I recalled sitting raptly as Edward Abbey read from what would be his last novel, The Fool’s Progress, being awed by the poetry of Czeslaw Milosz, and reveling in the presence of John Irving, whose charismatic masculinity was more memorable, to me at least, than whatever book he read from. It never occurred to me at the time that I could, or would, read my work anywhere, much less at Changing Hands. Back then, and for decades thereafter, I avoided speaking in public. What I learned this year, from giving presentations about Orzel, and Arabian horses more generally, is that when you’ve lived with your subject as long as I have, and you feel as passionately about it as I do, sharing what you know with a group can be enjoyable. In fact, as I neared the end of the presentation, I realized that, thirty-odd years later, it was now my turn to be the writer connecting with readers, and a new generation of writers, as I shared what has become my life’s work with them at Changing Hands.

Orzel: Scottsdale's Arabian Stallion is available online via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

News > Tuesday, October-01-2013


 Brusally Panatela, who competed to fourth level at Arizona Dressage Association and Arabian shows in the 1990s and early 2000s, died on September 6 at the age of 28, at Coronado Ranch Sporthorses in Tucson, Arizona. Over the years, she touched the lives of many Arizona dressage enthusiasts, from her breeder, Shelley Trevor, to one of her last riders, General Jonathan R. Burton, two-time Olympian and judge.

Half Arabian and half Trakehner, Panatela was a warmblood cross long before they became fashionable. In the mid-1970s, Panatela’s breeder, Shelley Groom Trevor, began taking lessons from dressage master Charles de Kunffy on Panatela’s sire, Brusally Orzetyn, an Arabian. From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, Shelley and Orzetyn competed successfully up to Prix St. Georges at a time when there were very few FEI horses of any breed in the state of Arizona. Panatela’s dam, *Korona, was one of the first Trakehners in Arizona. She was imported from France in the early 1980s by Misdee Chauncey, stepdaughter of Arabian breeder Tom Chauncey, and later acquired by Shelley Trevor.

          Shelley started Panatela under saddle, then showed her at Training and First Level. It was during this time that I first rode Panatela, whom Shelley used as a lesson horse from the age of four, owing to her calm disposition. In 1992, Shelley decided to sell Panatela, and offered her to me. However, as a recently married young woman, I wasn’t in a position to buy her. Later that year, Panatela was purchased by an amateur rider, Carla Ferrara. While in Carla’s ownership, Panatela was trained by Julie Sodowsky, Beverly Rogers, Jeannette Schaefer (now Redmond), and Ceinwen Muma. For many years, Carla greatly enjoyed riding and showing Panatela, and I made a point of keeping tabs on their appearances at various shows, and even visiting a training session Panatela had with Bev Rogers in the mid-1990s.

          In spring 2001, I heard that Panatela was for sale, and in April of that year, I purchased her from Carla and hauled her from Kendall Brookhart’s barn to my (then) home in Cave Creek. After so long apart, it felt like a homecoming. A few weeks later, Panatela and I attended her sire Orzetyn’s thirtieth birthday party, where he and his offspring got to sample the carrot cake. Over the next three years, while in training with Valerie Crail, Panatela was an excellent FEI schoolmaster for me. (Panatela was not shown above Fourth Level because we never found a curb/snaffle combination that she approved of.)  A few moments from those years stand out, like the time that Valerie and I were on a post-lesson trail ride in a grassy park near her barn, when the sprinklers came on without warning—and Panatela reacted by giving me an amazing, impulsion-fueled passage as we wended our way out of the park! Another memorable moment was watching Valerie ride Panatela in a lovely Third Level test judged by Bev Rogers, one of Panatela’s former trainers, who rewarded them with a very good score that won the class.

                In 2004, when she was 19, I “semi-retired” Panatela and took her to my new home in Tucson, where she joined my two other daughters of Brusally Orzetyn. For a few more years, she was ridden weekly by a friend, dressage rider Linda Mayro, who enjoyed doing lateral work, flying changes, and other “fun stuff” on her. But it was not until 2009, when she was twenty-four, that Panatela carried her most famous rider, General Jonathan Burton (go here), when the two of them had a combined age of 114.

                After that, Panatela gave occasional rides to visitors, and spent the rest of her time in the company of her niece, Contessa Orzel, known as Tess, another chestnut warmblood cross, and the only other horse with whom she’d deign to be turned out. Shelley Trevor painted a portrait of aunt and niece, called “Love,” that appeared last year in Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine. Like Panatela, Tess is a quiet but opinionated red-headed mare.  She, too, was easy to start under saddle, and there are times when I ride her that she feels and acts just like her aunt, which is a source of comfort and, sometimes, amusement, in the wake of Panatela’s death. Twenty-four years ago, when I first met Panatela, I had no idea she’d take me on such a journey, teach me so much, and introduce me to so many inspiring people. Thank you, Panatela, and godspeed.

News > Saturday, June-15-2013

Article on Brusally Sporthorses in Arabian Sport Horse Magazine

Recently, I was asked by Peggy Ingles, editor of Arabian Sport Horse Magazine, to contribute an article about the influence of Ed Tweed's breeding program on modern Arabian sport horses. I was delighted to do so, because the Brusally breeding program produced horses for sport decades before an Arabian Nationals show devoted to sport horses came into existence. For example, Brusally Orzetyn (*Orzel x *Gontyna) was named 1980 U.S. National Champion Third Level in dressage. This was at time when dressage classes were not offered at the national level in Arabian competition. (His title was awarded based on his test scores at local shows.) Many Brusally horses have excelled at the National level in dressage and jumping, and there are even a few Brusally-bred eventers out there. The article, featuring color photos of a number of these athletic equines, is in the magazine's June/July 2013 issue, and you can access it here:

News > Saturday, June-15-2013

Brusally Book Now on

I'm happy to announce that The Polish and Russian Arabians of Ed Tweed's Brusally Ranch is now available on One satisfied Amazon customer, Arabian horse breeding consultant Arlene Magid, gave it five stars and wrote,

I got my copy of The Polish and Russian Arabians of Ed Tweed's Brusally Ranch on Saturday and have spent all of my free time in the past couple of days studying it. The Tweed imports have had a profound impact on Arabian breeding in America, with many of their descendants excelling on the racetrack, the endurance trail, and in the show ring (particularly in sport horse disciplines). Author Tobi Taylor has done a masterful job of presenting these horses. After an introduction explaining the history of the Tweed horses, each import has his or her own chapter, which includes pedigree research on that horse as well as detailed information on offspring and more distant descendants with notable achievements. The historic photos are a true delight, many have never been published previously, and I learned a great deal from the book, which will now be a key part of my reference library. The book also contains appendices which include a list of all Brusally influenced National winners from 1964 to 1983 (one of my few issues with the book is that this should have been closer in date to current times),and progeny lists for all the imports with information on the significant achievements of their progeny. The book is also very well written and does not read like a dry tome of "he begat so and so, who sired this and that", so it makes good reading as well as good reference material.

News > Friday, March-15-2013

New Book on Brusally Ranch Commemorates Fifty Years of Brusally Polish and Russian Horses

Fifty years ago, in the spring of 1963, Ed Tweed imported fourteen Arabians from Poland, at that time the largest group flown to be flown to the U.S. by a single owner. A few weeks later, he followed that up by importing three Russian Arabians long before their bloodlines became fashionable in America. He eventually aquired a total of twenty-seven imported Arabians for his Brusally Ranch breeding program.

On March 15, 2013, Mare's Nest Books, a division of Screenfold Press, published The Polish and Russian Arabians of Ed Tweed's Brusally Ranch, by Tobi Lopez Taylor.  This 8.5 x 11 perfect-bound book features more than 280 black and white vintage photographs, as well as pedigrees, race and show records, and sire/produce records for each of Tweed's imported horses:

*Abhazja                    *Lawenda
*Algorina                    *Manna
*Almeriaa                   *Miroluba
*Basta                       *Napaika
*Bulawa                     *Nawojka
*Centaur                    *Orzel++
*Cerera                      *Palmira
*Chlosta                     *Park
*Czester++                 *Rifata
*Daszenka                  *Salinaa
*Faraon++                  *Warna
*Genua                      *Wislica
*Gontyna                   *Zbrucz

In a foreword for the book, Sally Tweed Groom wrote, "My father Ed Tweed loved his horses, and he would have loved this book, both for its careful research and for the beautiful writing."

The cost of the book is $45.00, which includes shipping. To order, contact Screenfold Press at

News > Monday, July-23-2012

Tadcaster Spots?!

My horse Immaginn, who was born in 2007, came into this world sporting a curious marking on his light-bay coat: a large, dark spot just behind his withers. Known as a Bend Or spot, it is named after perhaps the most famous bearer of this type of marking. Immaginn is a son of the Thoroughbred stallion Innkeeper, by Secretariat, and a descendant of the venerable Bend Or sire line  -- or is he?

Although Bend Or was ostensibly the winner of the 1880 Epsom Derby, his owners were accused by the owner of a rival horse of actually running his lookalike paternal half-brother, Tadcaster, in his place.

Today, Bend Or appears in the pedigrees of the vast majority of Thoroughbreds, often multiple times.  Recently, some British researchers examined DNA in what has been assumed to be Bend Or's skeleton.  As Byron Rogers writes in "True Nicks":

"[A] team led by Dr. Mim Bower at Cambridge University extracted mitochondrial DNA from the skeleton of Bend Or to discover whether he came from the No. 1 family to which Rouge Rose belonged, or the No. 2 family of Clemence. The team published their findings April 11 in an early view of the peer-reviewed journal Archaeometry.

If mtDNA from the skeleton claimed to be that of Bend Or matched the mitochondrial lineage of his dam Rouge Rose (family #1, of which the study had 21 representatives), then it is indeed that of Bend Or. Conversely, if the DNA matched the mitochondrial lineage of Clemence (family #2,18 representatives), the dam of Tadcaster, then the skeleton instead belongs to the lineage presently attributed to Tadcaster. Additionally, they obtained mtDNA from 10 additional historic Thoroughbreds in order to test, with statistical robustness, whether historic Thoroughbreds could be accurately placed within their maternal pedigrees using mtDNA, and compared these data with sequences obtained from 296 living Thoroughbred horses.

"Well, it turns out that it might be time to change some pedigrees. It now appears that the skeleton of Bend Or belongs to the No. 2 family and, therefore, "Bend Or" is most likely to be the colt by Doncaster out of Clemence."

That is, Tadcaster. Time to start calling them Tadcaster spots?

News > Tuesday, August-02-2011

"Ford and Chevy" is in The Blue Guitar

My short story, "Ford and Chevy," is in the Summer 2011 issue of The Blue Guitar.

News > Tuesday, March-22-2011

"Norwegian Wood" to be published in Menopause Press

I just got word yesterday that one of my short stories will appear in the March issue of Menopause Press. And  no, "Norwegian Wood" is not some kind of Fab Four fan fiction; in this case, it's referring to furniture! UPDATE: Here's the link to the story:

News > Tuesday, November-30-2010

General Burton Rides Again!

The day after Thanksgiving, last year, I was riding my little mare Rosie in the arena at the front of the property when our local Olympian, General Jonathan R. Burton, came pedaling over his bicycle, along with his daughter Judy and son-in-law Don (read more about the General here). Rosie marched over to the fence so that her friend the General could rub her face, and we all compared notes on our respective Thanksgiving dinners. Then Judy looked down at Rosie and up at me, and said, "Dad hasn't ridden for years, but he wants to ride a horse."


I had visions of lightning-quick Rosie becoming famous for doing a double-axle and breaking the General's 90-year-old hip -- or worse. There would be headlines about it in the Chronicle of the Horse, the USCTA News, and Dressage Today. Rosie and I would have to change our names and move to an undisclosed location to avoid angry mobs. I shook my head. "I don't think this is the horse for you," I told him. "But my chestnut mare is a retired FEI horse, and I think she'll suit you just fine."


"Great," said Judy. "How's tomorrow morning sound, about 10 a.m.?"


"I'll have her all saddled up," I answered.


I spent the rest of the day cleaning tack and tidying up the General's mount, Brusally Panatela. Retired from showing since 2005, she was a 24-year-old Arabian/Trakehner mare, bred, raised, and started under saddle by my friend and mentor Shelley Groom Trevor. Panatela's sire, Brusally Orzetyn, had been one of a handful of horses in the 1980s in Arizona competing at Prix St. Georges. Her dam, Korona, a Polish Trakehner, was one of the first imported warmbloods in the state. Panatela herself competed successfully to Fourth Level, and could many of the FEI movements -- but in order to compete at that level, she needed to wear a double bridle, and she'd never met a curb/snaffle combination that suited her. That was irrelevant for the General's ride; she would go well enough for him in a snaffle, though she was a little creaky these days. I gave her a dose of Bute to make the upcoming ride easier on her.


The next morning, I fed horses, mucked stalls, and counted the minutes until I could tack up Panatela. As I worked, I remembered the first time I sat on her, in 1989, when she was four years old. I recalled when she was sold to her longtime owner Carla Ferrara, and how delighted I was to buy Panatela from Carla in 2000. Panatela had been ridden by four FEI riders, and now she was going to be ridden by an Olympian. I hoped she'd go well for the General, that he'd enjoy himself and be safe.


A little before the appointed time, the General and his daughter arrived. Camera in hand, my husband Alan came out to join in the fun. The General was attired in vintage riding gear, including a hard hat that I felt sure wouldn't pass the ASTM safety standards, and distressed brown leather boots that fastened on the sides, like half-chaps, and resembled some expensive footwear that Ralph Lauren had offered a few seasons before. And he was smiling more than I'd ever seen him -- this despite not even having mounted Panatela.


I led Panatela up to the mounting block, telling her under my breath how important it was to "be a good girl today, and don't get anybody hurt."  Alan stood on Panatela's off side, pressing down on the stirrup, and Judy helped her father get aboard. It took him a minute to get organized, and then we all stepped back to watch.


Panatela has some arthritis in her hocks, and at the walk, her left hind leg takes a shorter step than her right. I was curious to see how many strides it would take the General to get her striding close to evenly behind. Answer: two strides -- and then, not only were her strides evenly matched, they became longer. As the minutes went by, the 90-year-old rider and his 24-year-old mount were showing us the training scale in action: rhythm, suppleness, connection, impulsion, straightness, and collection.


Alan and I looked at each other, across the span of the arena; over the years, we've gone to some pretty high-level dressage shows, including the World Cup. He's not an aficionado or a zealot, like his wife, but I could tell that he knew he was seeing something out of the ordinary. The General's position and technique were straight out of a textbook, and his suppleness surprised me. Like the horsemen at the Spanish Riding School, he looked like he was doing nothing -- and yet, paradoxically, his body was doing innumerable subtle, minute corrections with each stride that Panatela took. Soon he asked her for some slow sitting trot. When that was going well, he used his dressage whip just slightly to transition to a more stately, cadenced trot, known as a passage.  Because passage is relatively difficult, especially for an older horse with hock issues, he halted her after a few minutes, and patted her neck. Then he said to his daughter, "Okay, I'm done. And I didn't fall off!" We helped him dismount, he fed Panatela a piece of carrot, and then I led her back to the barn.


General Burton had simply asked to ride a horse again, but in so doing, he gave those of us who were present -- including, if not especially, Panatela -- an enormous gift: an expression of artistry, kindness, and joy. Often, when I am in my barn cleaning stalls, I'll see him, now age 91, riding his bike down the street. When he gets to our driveway, he slows down to see if there are horses in the arena (there usually are.) Then he rides over to the fence, and they soon come up to greet him, this man who loves all horses.