by Jeffrey Wintersteen
When I was younger, I used to make the annual trip to Scottsdale with my parents. Those memories are still vivid in my mind, perched next to Wendell in the warm winter sun, waiting for the next soon-to-be superstar to enter the ring. While Paris and Tulsa in the fall are about crowning the year’s accomplishments, Scottsdale has always been about the future; it is the hopes, dreams, and anticipation of what is next for the breed. It is our first look at nervous yearling (and some not-quite-yearling) fillies and colts to maybe get a hint at who the next big sire will be. Small breeders, like my parents, attend barn parties and open houses, holding paper plates of catered food and presentation lists, trying to finalize which stallion to breed to this spring. But it’s not just the next generation of horses that Scottsdale puts on display.
I was reminded of this fact while enjoying the first warm morning of the week and watching the Scottsdale Signature Yearling Fillies. As is often the case in those large classes, my attention wandered as I dug into my breakfast burrito, but I did notice a nice presentation of a grey filly by a young girl in her early teens. I smiled when she was called forward as champion, learning it was Ted Carson’s daughter Michaiah and knowing it must be an Exxalt foal on the end of the lead. Michaiah had my full attention when she was named champion in the next large class of Signature Yearling Colts. I learned a little later that she had the Scottsdale Signature Champion Three-Year-Old Filly as well.
It was the week after Scottsdale by the time I caught up with Michaiah at Butler Farms in North Carolina, the training and breeding center run by her parents, Ted and Brandi Carson. Just 13 years old, but charming and polite beyond her years, she said, “Yes sir,” matter-of-factly when I asked if she had been showing long. “I have been showing horses pretty much forever. We used to live in the apartment over the barn, so I have been around horses pretty much since the day they brought me home.”
The seventh grader conceded, however, that this was one of her biggest wins. “That yearling colt that I won with, I also named him,” said Michaiah of Psyaxxton (Exxalt x MC Psynammon). “That was kinda cool because I won unanimously with him.” She was quick to point out that last year she competed with her gelding Vulcan TCA (SF Veraz x Aphrodite TCA by ML Mostly Padron) in hunter pleasure and won pretty big with him as well.
When I mentioned a Facebook comment she made shortly after Scottsdale thanking her trio of champs for cooperating with her, because, as she tells it, both they, and she, can be stubborn, Michaiah laughed. “I will say, I guess we all have these moments — they were tough, but we got through them, and the show was a success.”
Ted couldn’t contain his pride. What father could? “I think what was interesting for me about seeing her show was the love she had for the horses. Her manner was soft, and the horse still performed at a high level. I think it was a pleasure to see for a lot of people. Not only did she have some nice horses to show, and they were typey and moved well, but the presentation was what we expect, or should expect, for the future. She exemplified where the halter arena should be heading.”
So are Arabians going to stick with Michaiah, or will we lose her to other pursuits as she grows older? “I would love to be a trainer and a breeder. And my other option would be to become a vet. I love animals,” stated Michaiah, as if we needed a reminder after watching her show. But there must be a chink in this girl’s armor, I thought, maybe school? “Well yes, Scottsdale is difficult with school,” she explains, “but we get through it. I know a couple of buddies that I hook up with, and they tell me what I need to do.” When I asked about her grades, she replied, “Yes, sir, I have straight As.” Scottsdale, once again, gave us a glimpse of the future, and if Michaiah Carson is indicative of our upcoming horsemen and women, the future for the Arabian industry is very bright.