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Nancy Eklund, An Arabian Horse Breeder

Posted: Friday, May 21, 2004

By: Nancy Oster (Expired article)

Santa Ynez, CA -

The pictures on the wall in Nancy Eklund’s office at Morgan Stanley reflect her passion for the "snort and fire" spirit of the Arabian horse. "Arabians have an elegant refined beauty and a lot of soul. The stallion there," she says, pointing toward a stunning photo on the wall, "I bred and foaled myself."

She sold him after six years of personally training and showing him at national-level competitions. "Like people," she says, "you become more attached to some horses than others and it can be a wrench to let them go."

Nancy currently keeps approximately 20 horses at Fair Oak, her farm in the Santa Ynez Valley. Approximately half of them are owned by outside clients; the remainder form the core of her breeding program. "Our program has changed a lot over the last 15 years; I’m really throwing a lot of effort and investment into the quality of our bloodlines. We focus on breeding beautiful horses which will appeal to an international audience." She is hoping to win a National Championship with one of her home-bred horses in the near future.

Nancy has been raising Arabians since she was 14. "My Dad put me on a horse when I was three years old, during a vacation up here at the Alisal Ranch. I was mesmerized." Magazines and well-worn copies of The Black Stallion and Marguerite Henry’s horse books fueled her passion for horses, Arabians in particular. In 1977, her dream came true when her family purchased a pair of Arabian fillies and began building a farm in the Santa Ynez Valley.

The Santa Ynez Valley is frequently referred to as the "Valley of the Arabian Horse." "There are probably more Arabian horses per square mile here, than any other place in the world," Nancy remarks. The valley has been a center of Arabian horse breeding for at least 50 years. It is the home of some of the most renowned Arabian breeders in the world as well as a growing contingent of small-scale breeders. Foreign as well as domestic visitors come to the valley to buy horses. Horses from Nancy’s program are represented all over the United States as well as Europe and Australia. In recent years, she has seen an increase in interest from Middle Eastern buyers as well. “Twenty years ago, we were a nation of importers when it came to Arabian horses. Today, we are exporters.”

And in this process, she has met some fascinating people. "The love of the Arabian horse provides an instant common ground that transcends cultural and political differences," says Nancy, who has attended the World Arabian Horse Organization [WAHO] Conferences in the United Arab Emirates and Morocco as a member-observer. Approximately 600 delegates and observers from 60 countries meet in a different country every 2 years. Each participant is given a headset to listen to the speakers and presentations. Each speaker’s words are translated into the language of the listener’s choice—a United Nations of the Arabian horse world. "When you can sit down at a table with somebody from Syria, Iran, Qatar, Israel or anyplace else in the world, you find that people are pretty much the same the world over. And, we are all passionate about our horses."

Reverence for the Arabian horse is an integral part of Middle Eastern culture. In previous centuries, horses were raised in their master’s tents and the Koran specified how a man should treat his horse. Time spent in birthplace of the Arabian horse, among people who share her genuine love for the breed, is certainly an experience that far exceeds the dreams Nancy had as a 14 year old.

As Nancy anticipates the fourth generation of descendants from her rare Straight Egyptian foundation mare, her excitement is contagious. "Arabians are the oldest, purest breed in the world," she says. "They are the foundation of all the modern-day light horse breeds." The satisfaction she shares over the role she has played in helping to preserve the ancient bloodline of these valued and beloved horses is indeed easy to understand and well-deserved. For more information on Arabians, Nancy and her horses, visit her website

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