AFIRE BEY V
26 July 1985 - 25 November 2015Owned by: Maroon Fire Arabians, Dave & Gail Linger
Afire Bey V is the #1 Leading Sire of Halter and Performance and Performance for the 16th consecutive year at the US Nationals and for the 11th consecutive year at the Canadian Nationals.
Put in context, Afire Bey V's statistics paint a picture of what you might get if you combined the force of Lasma at its best, back in the old days, with the thorough depth and presence of today's Varian Arabians ... which, of course, is what Afire Bey's pedigree represents: Huckleberry Bey++ on the topside, with *Bask++ on the distaff. And not just any version of *Bask++, but the dynamic mare Autumn Fire, who during her lifetime was the leading producer of national winners.
Ironically, despite his pedigree and outstanding physical attributes - a commanding 15.1 hands, he offers a refined head, a long, arched neck set on high, lofty tail carriage, and long, straight legs, among other attributes - he was not an instant success in the show ring.
That elusive Lady Luck
"For a horse to be a national champion, no matter how good or how talented he is, Lady Luck has to shine down on him," Tim Shea says with a wry smile. "And for Afire Bey in the show ring, she never did. The breaks didn't go his way."
Tim and Marty Shea took Afire Bey V in training for breeder Sheila Varian when the colt was a late 3-year-old. The following summer, they won the Junior English Pleasure Championship at Region XIII, an indication of his potential. But a minor injury soon afterward sidelined him, and in retrospect, Tim says Afire Bey V was never quite the same after that - although his performance career, which lasted until he was 7, was not inconsequential. Among his titles were the English Pleasure Championship at the Buckeye and a U.S. National Top Ten in Park.
But in the meantime, clients Dave and Gail Liniger had seen Afire Bey V and were charting another course for him.
"It took about five seconds of looking at him and I absolutely loved him," recalls Liniger. "I'd looked at 75 to 100 stallions over a period of several months. I was looking for a foundation stallion who could do what I wanted to do, and I was very taken with him. When I went up to him, he was very gentle; I felt very comfortable standing side by side, without a halter on him. Here's this stud who had been all puffed up and snorting and carrying on and the next minute I'm standing there with my arms around him, and I thought, 'this is way cool.'"
Liniger had done his homework; one of his primary fascinations in the Arabian breed was pedigree research, and he knew the value of Afire Bey V's ancestors. Within 10 minutes, he and Gail had made an offer on the stallion, who was 4 at the time.
Once Afire Bey V had embarked on a serious breeding career, Lady Luck came out of hiding. And she's been doing encores ever since.
The anatomy of a superstar
Nearly anyone who's followed Afire Bey's career notes that the stallion always has enjoyed a consistent advertising and marketing campaign. As a successful real estate executive (he's the co-founder and chairman of Re/Max International), Dave Liniger knew when to spend money. But he set up their Arabian venture as a business, and he also is very familiar with cutting losses; he candidly admits that if Afire Bey V hadn't shown that he was worth it very quickly, it all would have stopped. But the issue never arose.
"You could have taken a lot of other stallions and done the same promotion," Tim Shea observes, "and you would have gotten a lot of mares. But the bottom line is, they have to produce quality foals."
"There are very few superstar breeding stallions in the industry," Shea reflects. But by the turn of the millennium, Afire Bey V had proven that he was one.
The record is one thing. But what is it in practice? What's most important?
"The thing about Afire Bey V is that so many of his foals make it," Tim says. "The chances of being disappointed with a foal of his are just so small."
"It's the continuity and consistency," Marty elaborates. "Afire Bey has had continuity in his management, and he's been consistent in what he breeds."
"With the first foal, we knew we had something special," Tim recalls. "They had an extreme Huckleberry Bey/*Bask look about them. Their heads and necks were gorgeous, and you could see right away the kind of carriage and motion they would have. There are a lot of sires who sire beautiful babies, but along the trail from zero to three, something happens. Afire Bey's are beautiful when they're young and they're beautiful when they grow up."
In fact, he is an answer for an industry. "For so many years, Lasma tried to find the best way to breed *Bask daughters," Tim says. "History is proving that the best cross was Huckleberry Bey."
Translating talent to training
What is in the pedigree that is so vital? All that performance ability, of course, with a generous dose of beauty (Afire's sire line of Bay-Abi++, Bay El Bey++ and Huckleberry Bey++, along with his dam's sire *Bask++, were all halter and performance national champions or reserve) - and, crucially, a pleasing blend of temperaments.
"Sometimes the *Bask++ horses could be a little hot," Marty remembers, "but I think Huckleberry Bey++ tempered that."
The resulting foals like to work and take direction well, a factor Tim and Marty Shea find important in the stallion's success, and one reason they can be secure in claiming that so many foals progress to useful and often highly-publicized careers.
"As a group, Lady Luck shines down on them," Tim says. "They all train well. They don't break down in training - you don't have to overwork them. They finish, they get to the horse show, they haul good, they eat and sleep well while they're there, and you don't have to school them hard at the show. They go in the ring, they get their prizes, and they go home healthy, ready to go to another horse show. I can't think of any that wouldn't make some kind of a performance horse."
"Everybody's getting along with them," Marty concurs. "That's one of the reasons for our success, that horses are coming from every part of the country." She reaches back into Afire Bey V's bloodlines for an explanation. "It's very much a *Bask++ and Huckleberry Bey++ trait - a trait of spirit, almost emotional. Huckleberry Bey was very much that way; he was such a light-hearted horse, happy about things. Sheila didn't have to ride him hard."
And not only have Afire Bey Vs make performance candidates, but many have found success in the halter ranks as well.
"He is one of the few performance sires who can do that. His sire did as well," Tim Shea says. While halter may not have been an initial objective in planning Afire Bey's breeding career, the Sheas and the Linigers are pleased with what apparently has been a simple case of the quality of his bloodlines showing through.
"He enhances the mare," Tim says. "Usually he lengthens the leg, lengthens and heightens the neck, and puts on a high tail carriage. The heads are always as good or better than the mares', and he puts on very nice markings."