Shael Dream Desert: A Much-Loved Arabian Sire


By Lee Dougherty

As featured in the Spring 2024 issue of Arabian Horse World

 “If eyes were made for seeing,

 Then beauty is its own excuse for being.”

 Ralph Waldo Emerson

2001 – 2024

Shael Dream Desert: a special name for a special horse. “Shael,” in Hebrew, means “to inquire.” This stallion’s unique Arabian pedigree, very typey conformation, and, eventually, his outstanding champion prompted top breeders from around the world to inquire more about him. Dream interpreter Grace Thorpe writes, “Dreaming about crossing an empty desert foretells that hope and abundance will be ahead.” “To inquire after hope and abundance” is a fitting name for this much-loved Arabian stallion.

Shael Dream Desert as a yearling.

Why is this desert dream truly “heartmade”? 


This exceptional colt was foaled at a boutique Arabian horse facility in Citta di Castello in central Italy on May 26, 2001. The Bigotti sisters, Barbara and Beatrice, bred Shael Dream Desert after over thirty years of passion for the Arabian horse. Their knowledge produced several other fine Arabians, including a beautiful full sister to Shael Dream Desert, AJ Evian. He was the result of breeding an exotic Straight Egyptian stallion to a beautiful Egyptian-bred mare, and so is considered an Egyptian-Related Arabian; this term refers to a purebred Arabian whose sire or both grandsires are Straight Egyptian Arabians.

Shael Dream Desert’s sire, Ansata Shaamis, was Straight Egyptian, as was his maternal grandsire, Hadidi. Shael’s maternal grandmother, Afrodite, was actually Russian Arabian, but there is still a strong Egyptian influence via Russia’s outstanding Egyptian Arabian import, Aswan. Shael Dream Desert was descended on both sides from the renowned Egyptian sire, Nazeer, and he went on to sire a staggering 296 foals across Italy, Brazil, the United States, and Saudi Arabia. Noted for their utmost Arabian quality and type, his progeny have attracted a solid international following. His sons and daughters have been, and are found, in the show rings of some of the most famous Arabian farms in the world. His daughter FT Shaella, born in 2007, won many awards and birthed champion offspring. Even her eggs have set world-record prices, with one netting nearly $900,000 at a Qatar auction in 2022.


 It’s obvious that coat color enhances the beauty of an Arabian horse. That certainly holds true for Shael Dream Desert. From the bay-colored look he had as a newborn foal, through the catchy reddish mane and tail he acquired as a yearling, to the stunning pearl-gray coat that helped him to stand out as an adult stallion, Shael Dream Desert’s coat color complemented the noble lines of his fine head and body. He passed this trait to many of his offspring, like FT Shaella, who is almost the image of her famous father.

Shael Dream Desert

In 1967, Richard “Dick” Freeland started work as a humble Pizza Hut employee in Des Moines, Iowa. Over years of hard work, he rose through the corporate ranks to become the successful owner of many Pizza Hut restaurants across Indiana and Ohio; he even traveled to Europe to advise franchise owners in Poland. He also loved Arabian horses. At his Fort Wayne estate, with its famous castle-like house, Mr. Freeland established Freeland Farms and started an Arabian breeding program. When it came time to find the perfect stallion, Mr. Freeland enlisted the help of expert Arabian breeder Jeff Sloan. Mr. Sloan set out on a comprehensive search that led him to Shael Dream Desert, who was then in Brazil. After traveling to Brazil and seeing Shael’s impressive foals, Mr. Sloan felt this stallion would produce the type of progeny the equine world was looking for. Mr. Sloan worked with equine trainer Rodolfo Guzzo and recommended that Mr. Freeland purchase Shael Dream Desert. The deal was done, and in 2008, Shael came to Freeland Farms. In a 2015 interview, Mr. Sloan expressed his pleasure at being able to help such a passionate breeder as Mr. Freeland acquire this great stallion.

In 2012, my wife, Kaye, and I made an appointment with Pam Jump, manager of Freeland Farms, to tour the farm. We did not see the $35 million “House that Pizza Built,” with its sixteen bedrooms, fireplaces, and 26 bathrooms. We met the crew, saw Mr. Freeland’s superb Arabian broodmares, and encountered “the man himself,” Shael Dream Desert, and his precious offspring. For some time before our visit, I had been assisting in promoting Shael on Facebook, so I was familiar with his pedigree and phenotype. Photographs and video, however, did not nearly do him justice. Having Shael Dream Desert in front of me made me want to bow down, as though in the presence of majesty. He was magnificent, so beautiful, so gentle. He literally took my breath away.

Shael Dream Desert

You might call Shael Dream Desert’s breeding record a “dependable consistency.” Among his many offspring are typey Arabians with storybook beauty and grace. He also passed down his gentle, equable temperament, producing true dream horses. 


Through careful breeding, even some of his grandchildren, like the award-winning stallion AJ Elaf (AJ Mardan x AJ Estrella), inherited Shael’s beautiful pearl-gray coat. His granddaughter LuLu Marajj, another magnificent gray, is a three-time national champion. She has produced lovely, typey foals, including two beautiful gray fillies, OFW Luxxury and OFW Cupid, who were turning heads in the show ring as a two-year-old and a yearling, respectively.

Dick Freeland passed away in 2013. In 2018, the 25-acre property in Roanoke, Indiana, that had once housed 200 horses and employed 40 people was put up for auction. It sold for $675,000 to the Platt family, who raise champion show pigs. The property is currently the home of Blackstone Ranch, a luxury horse ranch and boarding facility.


Shael Dream Desert, too, is gone. The great stallion passed away in late January 2024 and was mourned by many in the equine world. He was only 23, but his beauty, gentleness, and “dependable consistency” live on in the champion mares and stallions he sired. In the champions, they, in turn, continue to produce. This dream stallion, born of desert Egyptian bloodlines, enticed many to follow their dreams of breeding champion horses. By engaging with Shael Dream Desert, they found that his promise was no mirage but fulfilled their every hope of abundance and greatness.

Shael Dream Desert was the third generation of horses bred by Bigotti Family. This story of passion began in 1990 with the acquisition of only one beautiful pure russian mare, Papele (bred by Tersk Stud), a superb and showy grey female. When Shael was born, it was immediately clear that he was an outstanding foal with a lot of type. At two, he left for Brazil and the rest is a history of success: FT Shaella, Bruma Bahamas, Felicia RLC, Shannan El Madan, Shaezz el Madan, Van Katalina, Imperium VCM and more. For small breeders like me and my sister, Barbara, the beauty and the success of Shael Dream Desert and his progeny was, is and will always be a great satisfaction and reason of pride.

Shael's breeder, Beatrice Bigotti