Darlene Steven Stables Inc. was established in 1985 as a riding instruction academy and training stables in the Louisville, Kentucky area. Darlene Steven has been teaching since she was in high school where she grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, near Medina, Ohio. She has been riding and showing horses since the age of 10 first in children’s hunter classes in later saddleseat both on Arabian and Saddlebred horses.
Darlene is a graduate of Otterbein College, near Columbus, Ohio with a BA in Communications and a minor in Equine Science. Right after college she was hired as the Farm Manager of Six Acorn Farm, located just outside the famed Lasma Arabian horse community L’Esprit, in Oldham Co. near Lagrange, Ky.
There she managed the farm for Dr. Lazlo Makk Sr. a Hungarian Doctor who owned the 300-acre farm and raised Crabbet/Domestic Arabian Horses. Sonceray, the last syndicated stallion of Jimmy Dean, the one time stud manager of Selby Stud (and the famous *Raffles), stood at the farm. Darlene worked extensively with Mr. Dean breeding the syndicate mares that were visiting for the breeding season.
Upon Mr. Dean’s departure Darlene stayed the next season to handle, break and train Dr. Makk’s young horses to ride and longline. It was at this time that Darlene was first introduced to the Shagya Arabian horse by Dr. Makk who mentioned that he had visited Hungary with Mr. Dean and considered importing horses from Babolna. It was Mr. Dean who encouraged Dr. Makk to invest in purebreds and not shagyas. He also mentioned that his friend Tamas Kish would be sending his shagya mare, 100 Ibn Galal to Kentucky to be boarded at this farm. She never arrived because Tamas later that year died of a sudden heart attack. During the end of the next year she left to become the foaling manager/night watchman at Strutz Kentucky Park, located in L'Esprit for one year. While employed there she started teaching students and train horses outside of work trying to establish her own stable.
She later worked part-time, temporarily for Dravo Foley, Thoroughbred Race trainer, Henry Brown, Arabian Trainer, John Biggins, and Rob Wilson both Saddlebred trainers as needed while she continued to grow her own business.
Early in her career she partnered up with Andy Spalding, an established horseman in the area. Mr. Spalding was an exceptional horseman, who taught her about the training of young stock as he helped her show class A Arabian Show horses. It was during these years in Prospect, at Stoneplace Stables that Darlene was acquainted with the Hungarian Shagya Arabian. She read that there would be a Shagya Society established to register these horses in the USA. With the help of Henry Brown, who was friends with Shilo Arabians, where 100 Ibn Galal had been boarded (before Shilo was disbanded). Darlene was able to track down the mare from Hungary, purchase her, and bringing her to live the rest of her life in Kentucky.
Through out the 80’s Darlene showed the big Shagya chestnut mare nicknamed “Konoa,” who’s father was Ibn Galal ox, the purebred imported to Babolna, Hungary in the 70's. Because of this factor Darlene was able to register the mare as a half Arabian with then the IAHA. Darlene was the first person in the USA to show a Shagya horse in Halter, English Pleasure and Pleasure Driving at rated Arabian Shows and the Silverama Regional Championships. She and her students have been the constant competitors using Shagya Arabians in open show in Dressage, Sporthorse Halter, Driving and Hunter Pleasure over the years.
While her stable flourished with students and training horses through out the 80’s Darlene also established the Schooling Show Association, an organization of 8 instructors, who sponsored six closed schooling shows during the winter months for their students. She remained the Show Secretary/Manager until 1999, when Sandy Stewart took her place and the shows morphed into a series of open shows and today is recognized as the San-n-Tone Winter Series over 25 years old and still going. Darlene also managed and produced the Lasma School Show Series and the Oldham Co Fair Arabian Academy Shows for many years.
In 1990, Darlene Steven formed a partnership with Jim Brown, who owned Paramont Arabians a longtime pure Polish breeder- importer in Prospect, Kentucky and Abington, Virginia. Mr. Brown had wished to put in place a Riding Club for his newly formed housing subdivision located on his farm and needed someone to direct the program. The two sat down and developed a program that would be progressive for both parties. Mr. Brown had never allowed and outside trainer or public program on his private farm, so this was new territory for him and his longtime staff. Darlene would bring in her clientele to quickly put in place a Riding Club program based around Arabian horses. Over the next 9 and a half years as the director of the Paramont Riding Club the program flourished and Darlene’s lesson program tripled, so that she needed to hire two part time instructors.
In the late 80’s Darlene became acquainted and was later mentored by Hans and Leni Gurtzler-Walter, Swiss Shagya breeders who moved from Europe to the USA with imported Shagya and Arabian stock. There the Walter’s leased *Ghazon, an older imported Shagya Stallion, to Darlene where he would spend the rest of his years. She was able to purchase the imported mares *Ghasara and Bint Ghasala, both bred by the Walters and start her Shagya foundation stock.
Included in this time Darlene was introduced to Dr. Leslie Kozsely, a Hungarian Driving Master, who was know for founding the American 4-in-Hand Driving school. Dr. Kozsely loved 100 Ibn Galal as she reminded him of a mare he one owned during WW II. He was a generous man who gave the pair driving lessons when he judged in Kentucky. A little known fact is Dr. Kozsely was the first man to import 4-in-Hand teams of Shagya Arabian horses from Hungary into the USA during the 1970’s. Totally he imported 11 horses 3 mares and the rest geldings, In one of these importations a stallion named Shagya XLII – 1 was included and imported by Dr. John Vass, a Hungarian Dentist, It is through this connection that Darlene was able to breed her mares to "Shuggie" as Dr. Vass fondly called him. The old Hungarian Shagya-bloodline Stallion, producing two mares by *Ghasara and Bint Ghasala named Zinger and Zima.
In 1999, recently married, bought a farm located near Simpsonville, Kentucky about 20 miles from Prospect and Paramont Arabians. She eventually relocated into her new facility on 55 acres, with an indoor arena and 25 stalls, moving her longtime customers and lessons. With acquiring this property Darlene was better able to fulfill her lifetime dream of having a medium sized, shagya Arabian breeding program.
Now single today, Darlene lives on the farm, and in 2002, Ghandi(*Ghazon and *Ghasara), completed the 100 Day Warmblood Stallion Testing (Leistungspruefungen)Ghandi has been shown in halter, driving and riding. At the testing Ghandi was inspected in free jumping, conformation, stadium jumping, dressage and cross country finishing the course with a one mile gallop before completion and his vital signs tested. He has been the ASAV Year-End Stallion Halter Champion and has produced a number of nice Anglo-Shagya offspring.
Through out the 90 and 2000’s Darlene repeatedly visited the Shagya and Arabian State Studs in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Romania, and Bulgaria. She has spent time with numerous old private Shagya breeders in Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Repubic and Austria learning how the Shagya bloodline families fit together. She has also visited the Warmblood State Studs of Bavaria, Hanover, Oldenburg, Holstein, Sachen, Brandenburg, Marbach looking at the breeding programs where they have added Shagyas to mix their bloodlines. She has learner judged in Salzburg, Austria (96), Moos, Germany (01), Brandenburg, Germany (01) and Kapasvar, Hungary (02) working toward her Shagya Judge’s European License. She judged the Austrian Shagya Breed Licensing in ’96. She carries her Shagya License card from the ASAV.
Darlene managed the 2004 ASAV Inspection and was a founding member and first President of the American Shagya Arabian Verband, est. 2003. She is currently the breeding Chairman and ASAV Treasure. Darlene was the first person to import frozen shagya semen into the USA from Bahadur, a Swiss shagya stallion.
Currently standing since 2008, is *Dante’ an imported Shagya Arabian Stallion from the Countess Arco Zinneburg Stud, in Moss, Germany. Ghandi is also at stud at the farm where Darlene has been breeding offspring of these two stallions. She has tried to use only the best and rarest shagya bloodline imported in the USA.
Darlene has spent the last years breeding, breaking, and training her young shagya stock. She has long time students that have learned to train their own horse from Darlene’s tutelage and whose students have attended the US Arabian Sport Horse Nationals as of late. She has been a 4H leader for over 25 years and was recognized in ’10 for her longtime commitments and accomplishments. She has coached National 4H and Arabian Youth Horse judging teams, who have been 3rd over all at the AHA Nations, Champions at 4H Ky State Competitions, Champions at the Equine Affair Judging Competition in Columbus, Ohio and top ribbons at World Championship Saddlebred Youth Judging Contest. She locally judges many Arabian and Open Horse Shows and her students are never out of the ribbons at any show she attends.