JP Bilbrey – From Hershey Chocolate to Arabian Horses


By Jeff Wallace

It’s always great to welcome a new Arabian breeder to our community, especially one committed to going the distance! It looks fated that JP Bilbrey of Doubling Gap Ranch would become entranced by Arabian horses.  He and his wife Teresa live 30 minutes from where their son Grant and daughter-in-law Carri, who operate the ranch, live with their three children at Doubling Gap Ranch in Newville, Pennsylvania.

JP’s wife, Teresa, in Egypt.
JP met Teresa at Kansas State University. She and their entire family accompanied him on the many travels with his job at Proctor & Gamble. He worked in over fifty countries, including a four-and-a-half-year stint in Saudi Arabia, plus four years in Egypt, where Teresa and the children joined him. JP and the family loved Egypt, especially its warm and wonderful people. He recounts his time in Egypt as the best experience with his family living abroad.

It is impossible to be a horse fan living in Egypt not to become acquainted with Egyptian Arabian horses. While the family was riding in the desert on Arabians, they discovered the Egyptian Agricultural Organization (EAO). They eventually built a small apartment in Cairo near the Pyramids of Giza, where they lived above the stables that housed seven stallions and two mares that they could ride out into the desert, which was magical.

In the late 90’s, the Bilbreys settled in Pennsylvania for JP’s job as CEO of Hershey Chocolate.  He and Grant went looking to reintroduce some Quarter Horses into their lives.  As they searched, JP was concerned that the specialization in the QH breeders meant fewer all-around ranch horses to be found. Upon researching, JP And Grant selected 14 Quarter Horses aiming to focus on the ‘old fashioned’ ranch working qualities. They found a 325-acre working cattle ranch in the mountains outside Newville and started their program.

The Bilbreys researched more than just bloodlines. In traditional vaquero style, they raised their horses in a herd environment and trained their horses to be naturally calm and patient horses. They felt this would bring them the best young horses to enjoy the working life with a close connection to their riders. This thought process translated seamlessly into their Arabian breeding dreams.

Doubling Gap Ranch is also an event site that hosts horse, cattle, and dog events. It supports the Junior Livestock Association and runs events like the World’s Toughest Cow Dog.
Amer Sorreya was purchased and rehabilitated by the Bilbrey family after surviving a barn fire in Delaware.
In 2014, Grant heard of a terrible barn fire in Delaware where one Arabian mare had survived with burns over 60-70% of her body. JP and Grant bought the mare, Straight Egyptian Amer Sorreya (The Legend x AA Baarissah), in foal to Botswana, with plans to rehabilitate and provide her with the multiple skin graft operations she needed.

When Amer Sorreya had healed, she was bred to the stallion who died in the same fire by frozen semen, the black stallion Justynn (Alixir x Bint Bint Justina). The resulting foal was a black filly named Amer Sucar. Guided by Mike Wilson of Wilson Bloodstock and Training, she was named champion at the Straight Egyptian shows in the USA, as well as Scottsdale, Region XII and the East Coast Championships.
At her most recent show, one of the Arabian world’s most experienced women in Straight Egyptians, Eileen Verdieck, watched the championship where Amer Sucar won. She heard the associates of the mare say “Yalla” to each other.  “Yalla” means “hurry, let’s go” in Arabic.  Curious, she checked that they were speaking Arabic and congratulated them in the same style “Mabrouk” as they came out of the show ring.

This was the start of friendship between the Bilbreys and Eileen. Eileen was the former manager of Imperial Egyptian Stud in Maryland, a farm that bred Egyptians as beautiful and athletic horses. Coincidentally, the dam’s side of Amer Sucar’s pedigree was full of stars from Imperial Egyptian Stud.
Like JP, Eileen worked for years in the Middle East with her outreach project, Hoofbeatz. Eileen also introduced her new program to JP that uses stored frozen semen of long-deceased influential straight Egyptian stallions to reintroduce some of the special qualities of a previous generation of less linebred horses to provide an outcross and diversity to the gene pool.

Eileen assisted in breeding foals by deceased stallions such as Ansata Halim Shah, PVA Kariim, Imperial Madheen, and Ansata Sinan in cooperation with clients from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. This interested JP and Grant as it was what he was trying to achieve in the Quarter Horse world, and asked Eileen if he could acquire some of the resulting fillies. One of the Saudi breeders, Rakan Al Tobashi, agreed to part with a few of them.
In 2021, the Bilbreys became the owners of three young mares, Wasima Alfala (Ansata Halim Shah x SH Safina by PVA Kariim), Thafra Alfala (PVA Kariim x Xandria HES by Ama Fa-Serr), and Watfa Alfala (PVA Kariim x Ansata Valentina by Ansata Qasim). Watfa Alfala has been shown to Reserve Champion Mare at the Scottsdale and Region XII’s Egyptian classes.

Two stallions by Ansata Halim Shah and PVA Kariim have also joined Doubling Gap Ranch. They have frozen embryos in hopes for Imperial Madheen, and the first Prince Fa Moniet foals to be born in the future.  Meanwhile, Amer Sucar has produced her first filly by the Egyptian stallion Naseem Al Rashediah, who looks like she has the quality and type to follow her dam’s winning ways.

With a past that touches on the Egyptian Arabian in its homeland, it seems that Doubling Gap Ranch and the Bilbrey family will be a talented addition to America’s Straight Egyptian breeders.