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Stallion Meets Stars at The Young Black Stallion Film Debut

WG Priority One (Pharoah Marekh x Ruala Fay Haliya) is a country horse that lives outdoors at Stone Image Arabians in Canajoharie, New York. But on December 7, 2003, he turned into a city horse, walking calmly beside his owner Joan Stone down the crowded streets of Broadway to a premiere showing of The Young Black Stallion at Lowes Theatre in New York City. Under the marquee outside the theatre, he hobnobbed with film producer Fred Roos, Roos' long-time friend and collaborator Francis Ford Coppola, director Simon Wincer and star Biana Tamini.

A prequel to the 1979 original classic, The Black Stallion, the film features dozens of Arabian horses, including the star, Thee Cyclone (Thee Desperado x The Minuet). The film opened in select IMAX theatres nationwide last December 25 after Walt Disney Pictures, in co-promotion with the Arabian Horse Association, represented the movie at the AHA Community booth at the U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian National Championship Show on October 16-25, 2003.

Since the film's Christmas debut, Arabian horses have appeared at debut performances across the country, but Priority One was the first black Arabian stallion to make a personal appearance on behalf of the film. Stone was thawing out a Thanksgiving turkey when Disney representative Jonathan Rollo called to offer her a trip to New York City to attend the film's premiere with her black Arabian stallion. "I was in shock," says Stone.

Despite the short notice and a major snowstorm the night before, Stone and her husband Cliff were on the road by 6 a.m.

Because it was bitterly cold on the ride down, the Stones blanketed Priority. "We prefer to have him at home so he doesn't go to shows. He lives in his pasture instead of a stall, so it was the first time he wore a blanket," says Stone. More than five hours later they unloaded the stallion at the Claremont Riding Academy on 89th Street, two blocks from Central Park, where he rested until his theatre debut.

"The academy is several stories high with a riding arena on the second floor and the stables on top so Priority had to walk up ramps," says Stone. "At first he hesitated but then he walked right up."

A few hours later the Stones loaded him back in the trailer, parked on Broadway, and unloaded him half a block from the theatre. "People were right on his tail, but he took in all in stride," says Stone.

The 8-year-old straight Egyptian stallion stood under the marquee on a cordoned off area where cast members took turns getting their pictures taken with him. "He's the understudy," Stone joked when people asked if he was the "real Black Stallion."

Priority would have been just as happy to enter the theatre where the cast party was being held. "He has an 'in-your-tent personality,' ” says Stone. "I know that if I opened the door to my house he would walk right in." However New York City health regulations forbade allowing him inside. So Priority hung outside with the stars for almost two hours.

"It was a great opportunity to show the public how wonderful the Arabian horse is," says Stone. "I remember that Simon Wincer, the director, was very impressed with his temperament and commented on how quiet and well behaved he acted."

That sweet temperament was one of the main reasons Stone and her husband purchased him as a foal. "Little kids can go right in his pasture where he lives with two mares and their babies and feed him treats. In fact on our website (, we have a pictures of two girls lying next to him watching him eat grass," says Stone.

His gentle nature was put to the test when Stone took him to the Eastern States Equine Affaire in West Springfield, Massachusetts in 2000. This was the first time he had been exposed to crowds of people. The all-breed expo needed a representative from the Arabian breed and Stone wanted Priority to be in Fantasia, the demonstration part that takes place in the coliseum. So when Stone was asked if her horse drove, she said yes.

"We bought a cart and harness and 30 days later we drove him in the Fantasia," says Stone. "He did great with just Cliff and me training him. Arabians are quick learners."

The other test came when Stone was showing him off to a group of people at the demo booth in the breed building. "I felt him tug on the lead, and when I looked over I was horrified to see a little girl had wrapped her arms and legs around his front legs. But then I realized that all he wanted to do was let her kiss him, so I cued him to duck down. She immediately wrapped her arms around his face and he didn't lift his head until she unwrapped her arms."

Priority's gentle nature fit right in with the Stone's breeding philosophy. For more than 20 years they have been "promoting the Arabian as a loving family horse who also happens to be breathtakingly beautiful, and can perform most anything asked," says Stone.

Priority's ability to handle the hustle and bustle of Broadway and photograph sessions with Hollywood stars isn't all that unusual--it something that has been bred into him for centuries. "The Arabian is so intelligent and people loving that once they know what you want, they will do anything for you," says Stone.

AHA is a 40,000 member equine association that registers and maintains a database of more then one million Arabian, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horses. It administers more than $4 million in annual prize money, produces national events, maintains official event records, recognizes more than 400 Arabian horse shows and distance rides and provides activities and programs that promote breeding and ownership. For information about Arabian, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horses, call 303-696-4500, e-mail or visit


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