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El Capitan Ranch
A Half Century Of History, A Promise For Today

El Capitan Ranch is a unique blending of history. The land itself is rich in provenance: Located in Santa Barbara, Calif., on the Pacific Coast just over the mountains from the Santa Ynez Valley, it was originally part of a 1769 land grant from King Charles III of Spain. Its mission now is rooted in the past as well. Owned by Mindy Peters, it is home to a modern interpretation of the Arabian breeding program founded by Mindy’s grandparents, Ed and Florence Brinkert, 50 years ago. Now, like a horse with a proven pedigree, El Capitan calls the sky the limit for what can be accomplished.

The Past

“My Grandfather Ed Brinkert of Hartley, Iowa, was a self-made and self-educated man who bred his first mare to an Arabian stallion in 1957. Two years later, he made two selections at Gainey Arabians in Owatonna, Minn., the mare Scheraff and stallion Galah. Both would play strong roles in his program.

The Indraff daughter Scheraff was already the dam of the popular stallion Gazon, and would produce two Ferzon daughters for Brinkert that were among his foundation broodmares. Galah was by Nitez and out of Bride Rose, the progenitor of the famous Gainey ‘Rose’ family of Gali Rose, Gay Rose, Gay Rouge, Gamaar, and 1969 U.S. National Champion Stallion Galizon.
Eventually the Brinkert operation, which was named MaRoSh for daughters Margo, Roxie and Shelley, would number 50 to 60 horses, and for many years would center on the Ferzon/Azraff cross. Later Ed patronized GG Jabask at Bru-Bet Arabians, largely because he admired superstar *Bask, but was not inclined to ship mares to Arizona. In the 1980s, his eagle eye for horses had picked up on the young Bey Shah; those foals were in the early vanguard of national titlists that alerted other breeders to the stallion’s potential. Through the years there were other sires, from some of Ansata’s headliners to the rising young star Fame VF, who would leave their mark on the program. But no matter what the names or bloodlines, and no matter what styles were popular at the time, one maxim was always observed: Brinkert focused on type, beauty and depth of pedigree.

“I remember my grandpa saying, ‘Arabians should always be beautiful, because pretty ones cost just as much as the ugly ones,’” Mindy smiles. That was one reason that Ferzon figured so prominently in the Brinkert lines. “I remember him calling Arabians the ‘drinkers of the wind’—they have the flared nostrils, big eyes, etc. He was always explaining to me the important characteristics of the Arabian horse and quoted almost directly out of the studbook. He was very methodical about the crosses he chose; he was always very conscious of type. 
Some of his well-known horses were MaRoSh Shenandoah, a Legion of Merit winner by Ferzon; the stallion MaRoSh Sundance, by Hansens Gaelka (purchased from Brinkert’s friend Wendell Hansen) and out of MaRoSh Galala, by Ferzon; Top Ten Futurity Mare Bey Obsession, by Bey Shah and out of Gaazahr, a champion-producing mare by Gazon. Also useful in his program were the *Serafix daughter Sara De Washoe, many times a champion, and the Top Ten Futurity Stallion Coppersin, by Seyn Raffon and out of a *Serafix daughter. Bey Shahzon, bred by Ed Brinkert and still used in the MaRoSh program now run by Shelley Brinkert Hjelm, is by Bey Shah and out of Gaazahr. In classic Brinkert style, Gaazahr is linebred to Ferzon through her sire and again through her dam, a daughter of the U.S. National Top Ten Ferzon son, Bu-Zahr.

In addition to her grandfather’s tutelage, Mindy enjoyed her aunt, Shelley Brinkert Hjelm, as a mentor. “Mindy showed at a lot of 4-H and fun shows as a kid,” Hjelm recalls, “and she went with me to Arabian shows. At the smaller ones, she was often ring man; we had so much fun. We showed, we trail rode out West and camped in the mountains with the horses. She lived and breathed it.” 

“My aunt became like a surrogate mom to me and taught me all about horses,” Mindy nods. It is Hjelm who has maintained the original MaRoSh Arabians since Ed Brinkert’s death in 1997, and who has provided background and advice to Mindy in the development of the El Capitan breeding venture. “She is like a computer with pedigrees and show records. It is incredible! I used to follow her around the barns, help with the vets and help condition the horses. I used to walk to my grandfather’s house every day after school, and my grandma would cook for me and I would go out in the barn. I could get lost out there for hours, brushing, grooming and exercising the horses, as well as always studying the Arabian trade publications.”

Eventually those experiences grew into a more global approach. Upon moving to California after college, Mindy apprenticed with Sheila Varian. With friends and a first husband in the Arabian business, she saw the Arabians of Brazil, attended the Salon du Cheval and traveled the United States, further educating her eye for a horse. Her purchase of El Capitan Ranch opens the door not only to establishing her own version of her grandfather’s program, but also to advance Arabians in the eyes of the equine world in general.

The Present

My daughter Kendyl is going to be the fourth generation," Mindy smiles. "She is absolutely horse-mad. She rides and shows hunter/jumpers, she loves Arabians, and she loves every one of the babies."

As MaRoSh Arabians is now in its seventh generation with Shelley Brinkert Hjelm, the Brinkert bloodlines are reflected in a fourth generation through Kendyl Peters. Thus, the program begun 50 years ago by Ed Brinkert will find another incarnation at El Capitan Ranch.

"My real love is the breeding," says Mindy Peters. "It's part of who I am from my grandfather. It's part of what I hold on to from him.

The Future

“As a young child, I walked through my grandfather’s pastures, thinking that those horses really typified what an Arabian horse should be,” Mindy remembers. “So, starting my own breeding program—and that’s what I’m doing here—I hope to incorporate some of my grandpa’s bloodlines.”

 At first, she collected mares from the lines most used by her grandparents; A F Kandi, by Aladdinn Gold and out of Endless Love, is double Gamaar.

“She’s just breathtaking, beautiful, beautiful face, giant eyes, dishy face, little tiny muzzle,” Mindy says. There is a Bey Shah daughter with Spanish blood on her dam side, and another Bey Shah mare coming from Brazil. GF Lyra, by WN Ultimate Star, is out of an El Azraff daughter, repeating the Azraff influence often found in MaRoSh mares. But she also assembled other horses with the kind of well-considered qualities her grandfather valued. Hucks Escapade, bred by Varian Arabians, is by Huckleberry Bey and out of a *Bask daughter.

“She’s a big, trotty, strong, powerful mare, but she’s also beautiful. That’s where I won’t compromise; I love having a horse that is athletic and can move—it’s absolutely paramount—but they have to be pretty.”

Also featured strongly in the broodmare band are three Om El Arab mares, two of them by Sanadik El Shaklan. Mindy cites her admiration for the Varian and Om El Arab programs.

“There have been breeders that have come before me, my grandfather included, that have spent many years developing the breed,” she says, “and it takes years to get a really strong influence of a certain line. Once it’s so deep into the individual, I think the strong qualities they have are much easier to pass on and keep.”

The simple association of Arabians with people in other breeds and disciplines is designed to enhance respect for the horses she loves, Mindy says.

“What’s lovely about Arabians is they’re versatile,” she observes. “They can do anything. If someone is into jumping, they can do that. If they want to drive, they can do that. If they want to cut cattle, they can do that. If they want to trail ride, they can do that. It’s not like they’re limited to just one aspect of riding.”

 

El Capitan

To say that Mindy is busy at the moment is an understatement. But they are focused, and their goals are clear. In addition to building a breeding program, they are intent on using El Capitan Ranch as an outreach for Arabians to horse lovers everywhere. The 3,000-acre property accommodates several trainers and is already home to an array of shows in different disciplines, as well as a Pony Club. Also, it reaches from the sea far up into the Santa Ynez Mountains, offering riding trails with breathtaking views. In the plans are a vineyard and olive grove. While a private sector will be used by the Peters family, much of the ranch will be open for training operations, shows, clinics and other activities.

“That was already going on to a degree when we bought the property,” says Mindy, “and we have just started to enhance it. We also do team building with corporations—our staff does team building exercises where they split up into the groups, and one group will learn how to ride, groom and care for a horse. The other group will learn how to set up a camp. Then we put the groups together and they have to go out on a three-day ride—things like that. We’ll be using the Arabians for that.

“Another thing we want to do is bring in Pat Parelli and do a big event with him where he’ll use only Arabians, just to promote the breed. We’ll invite people from the Santa Barbara area, but we’ll also advertise in national equestrian publications that anybody can come. It will promote Arabians because we’ll use only Arabians, and then we’ll open the barns afterwards so that people can come and see the horses.”

The simple association of Arabians with people in other breeds and disciplines is designed to enhance respect for the horses she loves, Mindy says. “What’s lovely about Arabians is they’re versatile,” she observes. “They can do anything. If someone is into jumping, they can do that. If they want to drive, they can do that. If they want to cut cattle, they can do that. If they want to trail ride, they can do that. It’s not like they’re limited to just one aspect of riding.”

Evolution

Just as Mindy Peters looks back on her own childhood with horses—and forward to what she will be able to enjoy and give back to the breed—she watches her own children live with horses. Jordan exhibits a rare talent with Arabians, even as he indulges a masculine love for cars and other teenage obsessions. Skye and Caleigh will help with web design for the retail catalog for El Capitan Ranch, and Kendyl, like her mother, lives and breathes going to the barn.

“My daughter is going to be the fourth generation,” Mindy smiles. “She is absolutely horse-mad. She rides and shows hunter/jumpers, she loves Arabians, and she loves every one of the babies.”
As MaRoSh Arabians is now in its seventh generation with Shelley Brinkert Hjelm, the Brinkert bloodlines are reflected in a fourth generation through Kendyl Peters. Thus, the program begun 50 years ago by Ed Brinkert will find another incarnation at El Capitan Ranch.

“My real love is the breeding,” says Mindy Peters. “It’s part of who I am from my grandfather. It’s part of what I hold on to from him.”