"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
Online Edition
Sunday, December 11th, 2016
Volume ∞ Issue ∞

No horsing around, Conway’s love Arabians

Mon, Mar 18th, 2013
Posted in Chatfield Features

By Barb Jeffers

At Conway Arabians of Chatfield, Minn., it is all about the horses. The work, the travel, the lack of sleep, the joy…. It is all about the horses, Arabian horses to be exact.

Peter and Lori Conway own Conway Arabians, and according to the business website, www.conwayarabians.com, the mission of Conway Arabians is “to breed, raise, and train, the finest Arabians and Half-Arabians in the world” which is what the owners and staff at Conway Arabians work toward each day. Peter’s daughter, Anna Zaffke, a highly regarded equestrian herself, is the farm manager and oversees those daily activities.

Lori Conway loved horses as a little girl, and owned her first horse in 1969. She started showing at a young age and through 4-H, started judging horses as well. She excelled at judging to the extent that by the age of 17 she was awarded a National Champion in judging at the 4-H and Arabian horse competitions and has continued to elite status in her field. Lori has received many accolades for her work, not only in judging but also as a horse trainer, instructor and showing horses to many National Championships.

Lori still rides and gives some lessons, but her life is more diversified now. The primary focus is judging horse shows in the U.S. and abroad, breeding their mares, handling the stallions for collection, foaling between 6-14 foals a year, managing horse shows and marketing the CA horses. She is involved in many club activities such as President of the MN Arabian Horse Association (MAHA) and Treasurer of the Arabian Professional & Amateur Horse Association (APAHA), which keep her very busy.

Peter enjoys his time in the barn watching the horses work and playing with the youngsters. Although he is busy as CEO of Halcon Corporation (www.halconcorp.com) in Stewartville, Minn., he is able to find time to volunteer his time as well. He is President of the Arabian English Pleasure Association (AEPA), where he was instrumental in having over $150,000 in prize money awarded to two classes at the US Nationals; a first for the Arabian breed. In addition to that, he is Vice President of the MN Arabian Horse Breeders (MAHB). He is in charge of the stallion service auction which has totaled well over $300,000 year after year.

When entering the office of Conway Arabians, the trophies, awards, and ribbons speak for themselves about the level of breeding and training at the business.

In 2012, Conway Arabians, Peter and Lori were listed as the APAHA Breeder of the Year, Distinguished Service and Horsewoman of the Year respectively. Conway Arabians was also recognized as the leading AEPA breeder for 2012. In past years, Lori has been awarded the Arabian Horse Times Readers Choice Judge of the Year and the APAHA Horsewoman of the Year. In February, Tom Theisen won the 2012 APAHA Hunter/Show Hack Trainer of the Year, a very tough category to win. The nominations and voting for these awards is by their peers and fellow Arabian horse owners, so to be nominated is an honor and to win is very exciting!

Four years ago, trainer Tom Theisen joined Conway Arabians, which brought additional talent to the staff. Lori states “Tom is a very unique and talented Horseman. He is versatile, in that he is capable of training, riding and showing a horse in all disciplines, which is a rarity with any breed of horse. It does not matter if it is Reining, Halter, English, Hunter or Western; he is at the top of his game as a trainer and respected among his peers as being an “all around” trainer in the Arabian breed. For me and for our farm he has brought a balance and a sense of security. I do not worry about how the horses are being treated or cared for, because he loves the horses as much as we do. He is thoughtful, meticulous and dedicated to succeeding in everything he does, so he takes his time and does it right. I have known Tom for many years, long before he came to work for us, and he is the most consistent, levelheaded person I know. The clients love him and so do we.”

Tom states that he got his start in training horses when he was sixteen years old. His family had horses being boarded and Tom was at the stable one day when someone asked if he could ride their horse for exercise. It didn’t take long for Tom to realize he could be getting paid to do what he loved on a full-time basis. Tom says that he has “trained for several of the top trainers in our industry” and he finds working at Conway Arabians unique. Tom proudly states “we breed, raise, train, and show our own horses” which is telling of the investment of time and resources the staff puts into each horse. Tom further explains “we create the horses we show, we don’t use someone else’s” which makes the whole experience more personal.

Lori states “Conway Arabians is proud to have Mary Hurley, Tyler Goldsmith, and Lori Janet as long time employees.” Mary is the Assistant Trainer, who works daily under Tom’s guidance. She is responsible for all the young horses handling on the ground and beginning all the under saddle training. She is a gifted rider and a patient trainer. Mary’s family is well known in this area for their mules and 4-H involvement. Tyler’s family raises Belgian horses and is a talented, responsible young man that is great with the horses and knowledgeable about farm machinery. Lori Janet is our “no job is too big” person. If she cannot get it done, she knows someone in the area that can!” The other part time employees are important too, and clearly, this is a team effort to keep Conway Arabians as one of the premier Arabian horse farms in the country.

Mary Hurley states that her favorite part of being Assistant Trainer is “seeing the progression from when the horses come in the barn to a month later and then down the road a year when Tom takes them to Nationals.” Mary said that “last year we took two three-year olds to futurity” with one of them becoming a National Champion and the other in the top ten in the nation” and added that “it’s nice to see horses we started get top in the nation.” Mary feels that Conway Arabians is special because “we let them learn as they mature, we don’t push the horses” explaining “you can’t force them into doing something” they are not built to do or ready to do.

Lori Janet has been employed with Conway Arabians since 2006 and says that the best part of her job is “being with the animals” and likes that “every day is different, it’s not repetitive.” Lori Janet enjoys the breeding process and the babies being born stating that “we usually have eight babies a year and this year we are breeding for a lot more” so Conway Arabians will have many babies arriving next year. Lori commented that “everyone here works good as a team” which is vital in order to reach the level of success that Conway Arabians has attained.

For the Conway’s and the staff at Conway Arabians the care of the horses is essential. Every step is taken to ensure the horse’s health and well-being is top of the line. They could not do it without the team effort of Chatfield Veterinary Clinic and Stillwater Vet Clinic, their farrier Don Rudeen of Rudy’s Farrier Service, the Purina feed supplier Rochester Feed & Country Store and many other local businesses that help them out routinely. They feel fortunate that they are able to raise and put up their own hay every year, which has many benefits for the horses as well as the bottom line of the business.

During foaling season, Lori and Peter spend many sleepless nights in their home watching the pregnant mares on closed circuit television. It is important to them that they are there for every birth and “knock on wood”….so far, so good. According to Lori, there is very little time to react when a foal is born. “What people do not realize is that although “Mother Nature” and “Survival of the Fittest” might be some peoples foaling strategy, ours is just the opposite.” From the time hard labor starts and a foal is actually out of the mare, it is only a few minutes.

Unfortunately, that is how long it takes something to go wrong, so you do not want to be late! Lori says “It is heartbreaking to lose a foal for any reason, but to lose one because you slept through the event would be devastating. If we are there, we can fix most problems and deliver a healthy foal as well as assist the mare if need be. It does not matter how many times you see a foal being born, it is a magical and emotional event.” Lori adds “the lack of sleep is worth it for both Peter and I. Foaling season is our favorite time here at the farm. Our first babies will begin in April and continue thru July.” The plan for 2013 is to breed 15 mares for next year. So, if you are interested in beautiful, talented young Arabian and Half-Arabian horses, let them know.

Aside from foaling time, Lori travels extensively judging horse shows and hauling horses to shows or delivering ones that they have sold. She appreciates that the Arabian horse has afforded her the opportunity to travel all over the world, while doing something she loves. However, all the Conway family agrees that their favorite place is their home on Lost Creek in Chatfield.

The awards and recognition that Conway Arabians has achieved will surely continue in the future with the love, hard work and dedication put forth by the owners and staff, but at the end of the day it is all about the horses.

The next horse show is in Winona, MN on March 22-24. You are invited to come cheer on Conway Arabians and see some wonderful Arabian and Half-Arabian horses.

Conway Arabians is located at 18080 Cty 2 in Chatfield, MN. Visitors are always welcome between the hours of 8-5, Tuesday-Saturday and Sunday-Monday by appointment only.

For more information, call Conway Arabians at (507) 867-0060 or 867-2981.

Additional information, complete with beautiful photos can be found at www.conwayarabians.com. Email any questions to lori@conwayarabians.com.

No Comments Yet. Be the first to comment!

Your comment submission is also an acknowledgement that this information may be reprinted in other formats such as the newspaper.