Tony and his family run the busy Steiner Arabians International in Collinsville, Texas. There, several stallions stand at stud, and the training emphasis is on halter, but always with a performance future in mind. Talking with Tony’s clients yields high praise for his attention to the emotional well-being of the horses in his care.
Please tell us when and why you founded your training stable, and what sets Steiner Arabians International apart from the competition?
I started training and showing horses in 1985. I think what sets us apart is our plan and outlook for the horses we are entrusted with. We have always approached our halter training with the goal and hope that they will have a performance career, and life after halter, so we have a very sensible but effective program that keeps our horses’ minds and bodies physically able to do more. We also have a systematic program that gives the horses a solid base and understanding of work and training, and expands as they gain confidence through training and experience.
Tell us about your facility. How many acres? Stalls? How many employees? Who are the key people that keep Steiner Arabians running smoothly?
Our facility has 35 stalls with a newly completed mare motel for foaling. The facility is owned by Tom and Sarah Murray and they have a team of four employees who keep the horses fed and cared for. My daughter Katie, wife Cindy and I do the training and work with horses, so we are very personalized with our care. Sarah Murray is also an important of our team with office work, scheduling and care.
Your son and daughter are working alongside you. In what ways has this enriched your relationships with them, and where do you see them going with horses in the future?
Currently my daughter Katie is a huge part of SAI. She does an excellent job with the halter horses and has developed a great riding program. She has her own style and does a great job getting the young horses started. She is also doing a lot of showing in multiple riding divisions…western, hunter, sport horse, ranch riding, and western dressage. She likes to see the horses succeed in whatever they are geared to do. She really is my right hand with her efforts and ability to work with and train the horses. Another passion for Katie is breeding, and she has started that through breeding her Half-Arabian mare and by standing her stallion Klarion DF (Kashmir DF x Daca La America).
What’s the “magic number” of horses in training, and why?
We are right at that magic number of horses with 35 stalls. It is a combination of training horses for halter and performance, managing stallions at stud, and young horses starting the learning process. This number allows us to do our job effectively and successfully for our customers.
In addition to operating your own training and breeding program, you manage horses for others. Tell us about some of the clients whose horses reside at Steiner Arabians. You are currently standing a number of fine Egyptian Arabian stallions – please share with us what they each bring to the table as breeding horses and show horses.
We have been blessed to bring in what I think is one of the best straight Egyptian stallion lineups in the country and maybe the world. The beautiful black stallion Atum (Silver SK x Aleah Al Moutribah), owned by Robin Lee and Debby Lister, is ready to prove to the world his strengths as a sire and show horse. We have just added the stallions of Carol Rice… Zilal Al Halwah CR (Farid Nile Moon x Fairy Phire) and Zaki Ibn Farid CR (Anaza El Farid x Bint Aliah Halima). Both have unique pedigrees and great quality. The beautiful Bacchus AP (LF Al Saher x Bassira), owned by Rich and Christen Benat, is an Egyptian Event Silver Champion who is proving to be a great young sire.
We also stand Ibn Raad (Scapa x LPS Thunderstruck) for Michelle Pinell, who we showed to U.S. National Top Ten Senior Stallion in 2021. He is the first straight Egyptian stallion in many years to earn this honor. The incredible Tahleel Al Gamal (Ansata Nile Echo x Goharah), owned by Chris Kassay, looks better than ever and is a rare Ansata Nile Echo son. We also have some beautiful straight Egyptian mares owned by Bob and Donna Lucian and Linda Mcreight, who we show, and assist in managing breeding plans.
We have our group of stallions that people know from the show ring and breeding world, including the iconic National Champion Skoroneek IA (*Ecaho x BA Famous Lace), owned by Eric and Michelle Loftis, National Reserve Champion Trident CBA (DA Valentino x *Legacys Rose HVP), owned by Tom and Sarah Murray of Kraskoy Arabians, and U.S. National Top Ten Senior Stallion Klarion DF (Kashmir DF X Daca La America), owned by Katie Steiner. We also have two very special young stallions in Crackerjack Mac V (Major Mac V x Crystal Jewel V), owned by Phyllis Lindamood, who will be our junior stallion for Nationals in 2022, and the special Exxalt son SB Assault (x SB Reflection), owned by Sandra Belden.
I am so honored and excited about all these horses that we are able to show, stand and represent.
What are your thoughts about the strength of the Arabian horse market today?
The marketplace for Arabian horses continues to be very active and exciting. Sales of broodmares and breedings have been very strong of late, and we have sold some newborn 2022 foals, which is exciting for the future. And of course top halter and young performance horses continue to have opportunities in the market. I’m namedropping but Greg Knowles told me once that we have the greatest product on earth to market in the Arabian horse – we just have to continue selling that for the people who want to enjoy them.
Who was the most memorable Arabian horse you ever saw, and why?
I have had many amazing horses that have been memorable to me for different reasons, but a couple stand out. Arn-Ett Perlane being named junior champion at Scottsdale with Bobby Boggs as a two year old, because of the stir he created. He was so typey, and was bred by friends of ours. Also, showing Skoroneek IA to U.S. National Champion. As I stood in front of him I marveled at his incredible ears, white coat and tail carriage. I was so proud of his deserving win.
Your favorite show to compete in? Your favorite show to attend?
I love to show at Scottsdale. I think it’s all the young horses and seeing the new stars emerge. Being the first show of the year it creates an excitement that is hard to beat. Of course U.S. Nationals will always be a pinnacle for handlers and breeders because it is our standard for titles. I have to say that after showing at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, I believe that this show will be an event for Egyptian breeders and owners to enjoy and be excited about in the years to come.
How would you define an ideal “show” for a halter horse in your program? How would you describe the fundamentals of your training methods? Anything you would like to change in terms of the way Arabians are expected to show?
My halter training methods have never been fear based. It is a process of education – teaching the horse to do something solidly, effortlessly and with joy. For me, a great show is a horse that trots in happy, proud of itself and having fun. I like a comfortable walk that is on a loose lead with nice carriage. I like a stand up that is solid, correct and easy to judge. We believe that this process is learned and achieved through consistent training, and giving horses positive experiences. This allows them to grow in confidence and proficiency.
What are your guiding principles of business in training, showing, and marketing for your clients? Any recent revelations?
Love the horse and try to do right by them. If we love and respect our horses, the training will go well and others will see that in you and your horses. Try to get it right. Have the horse prepared properly so that they do their job correctly. Try to get the horse you are selling with the right owner so they can enjoy and appreciate them. Do the right thing for your customer by treating them fairly.
Who was the most memorable Arabian horse you ever saw, and why?
So many memorable horses in my life…seeing Padrons Psyche at his first show in Sauke Centre, Minnesota, with his owner/ breeder Rhea Miller showing him and every trainer scrambling to get him purchased because we saw greatness.
Seeing Alada Baskin at Greg Stoffel’s barn in Minnesota at about seven months old and knowing that he would be a famous show horse and sire. Those experiences showed me that you can see, at such a young age, future greatness.
Tell us about a couple of your favorite Arabians over the years, and how they have enriched your life. Who are the superstars of your current show string?
Of course Skoroneek IA, as he made me as a trainer with the success he earned. He is so special to me. The gelding Phantom Bey Xpres (Express Male x Phantaseyn) will always be special and still graces our pasture at age 33. He allowed me to meet my wife, Cindy, as her family put him in training with me as a yearling. He also earned a National Reserve Championship in country pleasure driving with a dear friend who was dealing with cancer. An amazing horse for many reasons.
I believe we have a few superstars waiting to emerge. I absolutely love Crackerjack Mac V as an individual and his personality is endearing to be around and work with. We are excited to show this year and get started under saddle.
Atum fascinates me with his potential as a show horse and sire. We have a gelding named Mystic Legend PF (Soltire TO x Mystic Love WR) that is ready for his National run this year. We have a straight Egyptian filly named Tayen (Asami Ruuh x Sullah Al Sahm) that I believe will have an impact as a show horse and broodmare.
What are some of the wins that have made you most proud?
I have so many memorable wins as a trainer – LC Simply Radiant (*Khadraj NA x Bey Radiance) winning Youth National Champion Mare with Jordan Simons, my daughter Katie Steiner winning Youth National Reserve Champion with her Half-Arabian mare, A Major Hottie AA (DS Major Afire x Famed Ellegance), after we had rescued her, the previously mentioned Phantom Bey Xpres with Dennis Todd, and Tom Murray showing Trident CBA to Scottsdale Champion Stallion AOTH.
While I have always enjoyed and appreciated my own successes, I’ve always felt that my greatest accomplishments are when others enjoy success with the training I’ve done, or shared with them.
SAI Stallion Owners
In considering the well-being of my stallions, I sought a trainer who takes the time to know and understand their personalities. Tony has done that. Also, my stallions get turn-out time, which is important to their emotional well-being. As you know, stallions can lead a lonely life, and be handled roughly just because they’re stallions. Not true with Tony and Katie! And they’re in the process of building their breeding/collection facility. Another asset is Sarah, the owner of the facility. She is so nice, and easy to work with.
I have watched Tony in the showring for a few years, and have also watched Katie emerge as a contender. Tony’s horses never showed fear when he showed them. That is important to me.
As a stallion owner, I want my trainer to have a relationship with my horses, and for them to be present. I want them to build trust with my horse, and that happens by spending time with them. You can tell a lot about a facility by how happy the horses are. We call it “harmony in the barn.
We first met Tony in 2016 when my aunt had a horse in training with him. My husband and I had decided it was time to take the next step in our program. At the time we did not own Trident, and had sent two of our Half-Arabian Champagne fillies to him to show. Trident CBA (DA Valentino x *Legacys Rose HVP) was in his barn and I was captivated by him from the start. It was obvious then that Tony and Trident had a bond. We had the privilege of adding Trident to our family in 2018.
The first thing I noticed when I met Tony was how much the horses enjoyed being with him which is also what I think makes SAI stand out from the competition. He is involved in every aspect of their care, from grooming, bathing, clipping, feeding, stall cleaning, training and showing. The horses know him and trust him. He always puts the needs of the horses first, and I see these same attributes in his daughter, Katie.
In the beginning our goal was to show Trident to his potential. He was a bit of a hidden gem, and didn’t begin his show career until Tony started showing him as a six year old. We spent three years building his show career and had great success. Our next step was to prove he is a great sire. Tony has been instrumental in selecting amazing mares for breeding and we are starting to see these offspring in the showring and winning at high levels.
Debby Lister and I chose Tony because he is well known for his kindness to the stallions and is always accommodating to the owners. Another plus is he is centrally located and goes to shows from the East Coast Championships to Scottsdale.
Tony has many beautiful stallions at his facility, and many are straight Egyptians. Debby and I feel that Tony’s is the best place for Atum because of his emphasis on the Egyptians.
We both have been enjoying getting to know Tony. He has done a great job taking care of, and showing Atum, and he will be with Tony for a while.
Our goals for Atum are to go to the U.S. Nationals this year, and then start his performance career next year.
As a stallion owner contemplating where to place our stallion, total trust is a must, not only in terms of horse knowledge, but in proper care for him. For us it is the “Trust” factor between the trainer and our horses.
Being from far away Canada, it is a total trust situation for us. Tony’s abilities were recommended to us. We have watched him over the years compete with a natural grace and respect for the horses he handles and cares for. Tony is a natural and it is a pleasure to watch him compete.
His daughter Katie is following in his footsteps, which is a hard act to follow but she is proving she has the skills and natural abilities like her dad. SAI is a highly regarded training facility, and the team is not afraid to always learn the “NEW.”
Our goal with Tahleel is to be able to share his unique lineage with North American breeders, and share his wonderful traits with other farms. SAI has done a wonderful job with training, showing and farm visits, enhancing the knowledge of straight Egyptians for other Arabian farms and the general public.
Being from Canada we don’t get the opportunity to see our horses that are in the U.S. with Tony very often, but we have quickly learned how much SAI cares about our horses and enables us to share them with others. They have done an amazing job keeping them healthy, happy, fit and mostly they are very content. For us it is a Total Trust factor, which I have never doubted. Happy, healthy horses is our priority, and Tony and his staff have given this to us, totally. We cannot thank them all enough.
As a stallion owner, I look for a facility that will keep my horse safe and sound, both physically and mentally; a facility that is set up for physical and mental stimulation and also space for the horse to be calm and happy. I want the facility and the training business to be well established and successful; to be friendly and personal but with business practices that are well-defined, so I know what to expect from them and what they expect from me. I have been very pleased with how SAI has met these criteria.
In a trainer I look for passion and respect for horses — some trainers don’t even seem to LIKE horses, let alone love the species and the challenges of training and showing. I look for a trainer who loves his or her job, and who has talent, skill, and class on the end of a lead or in the saddle. I look for a seasoned trainer who is still thrilled to be in the industry. I look for appreciation for the horse I am bringing – the individual. And very important is a trainer who is willing and able to communicate honestly with me about the horse’s strengths, weaknesses, progress, and potential, and strategize with me about the horse’s career. I need a trainer with integrity. This describes Tony Steiner.
Interestingly my own business has no link to horses other than our Pegasus logo, but we share many issues with a horse training business — we offer services to address learning challenges for students of all ages. So parents entrust their child to our care with a great deal of hope that the experience will be positive and productive – similar to me holding my breath and handing my beloved colt Crackerjack Mac V to a training program. Our clients want their children to be safe and sound, treated with respect, appreciated as individuals; the goal of both instruction and training is for individuals to reach their potential – same for children or horses. I have been a Varian Arabians client for many years – still have horses there – so I have much experience with best practices for a horse business. Varian Arabians doesn’t have show services so when I needed to find a new facility for Crackerjack Mac V to be shown this year, Steiner Arabians International was a soft place to land.
My three daughters and I were very excited in 2021 as CMV started his show career; we were delighted with his trainer and care, so we were surprised when his trainer’s change of circumstances required us to look for a new training facility for him in late 2021. After Scottsdale 2021, Angela Alvarez of Varian Arabians forwarded me a message she had received complimenting our colt and asking about plans for the horse. It was just signed “Tony.” Angela recalled the note being from Tony Steiner, and helped me get a few opinions on him from the show community — those were unanimously positive, and most mentioned his rock solid integrity. So after stalking him a bit, and a few conversations directly with Tony, we agreed to have CMV go home from Scottsdale with SAI to get ready for more halter competition and to begin saddle training.
Tony admires our horse – so important for presenting a halter horse. He has dreamed of having a “V “ horse in his stable. He loves CMV’s power, ability to fire up and cool down, athleticism, structure, and kindness. CMV performs well because he really likes Tony. Tony presents the horse well because he understands him well. And Tony is tall and slim and can run fast – also important. We SAI clients have been blown away by the integrity, kind concern and solutions offered by the SAI team as costs have climbed quickly for everything this year. Their customer service is truly unusual.
Our goals for Crackerjack Mac V are what his heritage would decree — he needs to be a well-trained and competitive riding horse in addition to his time as a halter horse. Everyone knows Sheila Varian rode her horses, including stallions, letting them “tell her” what they want to be – hunter, English, western. Tony and I picture the challenges of sport horse or working western are what Crackerjack Mac V wants – he is a smart, handsome athlete. And when he is at home here in Arroyo Grande, he can have a job on our cattle ranch. The Steiner Team excels at seeing what a horse would enjoy for his job, keeping him enjoying himself as he learns to work, and presenting a beautiful, sunny, willing horse to the judges and audience.
We want our horse to be treated fairly, with care and respect. Because stallions are prone to getting into trouble and so inquisitive, they need to be in the care of a trainer who takes the time to understand their personality and tendencies so they will be safe and secure.
Patience is of utmost importance in training a stallion or mare. Given the chance to process the pressure and release concept, the stallion will respond favorably and be willing to do his best work. There is no need for excessive demands or intimidation if the trainer understands and takes the time to communicate expectations to the horse.
I have enjoyed and loved our Arabian horses for most of my lifetime through my family’s straight Egyptian program. A few years back we decided to have our homebred black straight Egyptian colt, Damis Sahir (RDO Faserrs Fury x SI Jadid Raja), trained. He was at a point where he needed a job, and people that would love, respect, keep him safe, and allow him to excel. That is what brought me to Tony and Katie Steiner through our mutual friend Lacie Courtney. After a phone call and personal visit to our farm we decided to send our special horse to Texas.
We are so thankful to have Tony, Katie, Cindy, and their team, along with barn owner, Sarah Murray, to take care of our horses. We know that they are safe, well cared for and enjoyed by everyone for the individuals they are. We enjoy the show ring but what gives us the most joy is watching our horses grow up, become comfortable with themselves and the jobs they are doing. The progression of their training and watching them grow is special to us, and these people give us joy in doing that with our horses for us.
Damis Sahir is now broke to ride, has done western dressage, ranch riding, sport horse in-hand and even won a liberty class. He would do just about anything for Katie.
We are excited for our three-year-year old SB Assault by Exxalt. He was acquired when Tony told me to visit a farm when I picked up a mare from breeding. “Just take a look; he is really big, pretty and a horse we think could be a part of our future.” Well those words turned to love at first sight and the purchase of a young colt that is very exciting! He also should have a great performance career; Katie is getting that work started and she is excited about him!
We look forward to all that is ahead and thankful for our friendship with the Steiner family.