About Us

As happens so often with those who fall in love with the Arabian horse, Murray and Shirley Popplewell of Rae-Dawn Arabians happened raedawn-IMG_7668upon the breed by accident. Their passion for Arabians began the moment they purchased two horses from a nearby breeder in their community of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, and it has grown far beyond what they could have ever imagined in those early years. Captivated by the mesmerizing effect this desert breed can have on a person, they continued to acquire more Arabian horses, and Rae-Dawn was born.

The Popplewells quickly realized that they were in this for life and eventually established their own farm in Saskatoon, which they named after their two daughters—combining their middle names, Rae and Dawn. Though their daughters were not actively involved in the horses, Murray and Shirley felt it appropriate to signify their new love for Arabians by honoring their abiding love for their daughters.

In 2008, the Rae-Dawn program made perhaps its most significant step in the few years the program had been in existence. While at the Arabian Breeders World Cup in Las Vegas, the Popplewells noticed a two-year-old fiery bay colt getting ready to enter the show arena. Though they were not intending to purchase a stallion for their breeding program, he somehow sparked a fire within Murray Popplewell, and they had to have him. The striking bay became the ownership of Murray & Shirley by the end of the show.

That bay colt was Bey Ambition, sired by Brazilian bred Regal Actor JP and out of Bey Shahs Lady, perhaps one of Bey Shah’s most coveted daughters. “Bey”, as he’s affectionately known around the farm, won the Two-Year-Old Junior Colt class when they first saw him in Las Vegas and has gone on to capture several National titles, including 2008 Canadian Reserve National Champion Two-Year-Old Colt, 2009 Canadian Reserve National Champion Futurity Colt, 2009 U.S. National Champion Futurity Colt, 2011 Canadian National Champion Stallion, and 2011 U.S. Reserve National Champion 4-and-5-year-old Stallion. Bey Ambition continues to be the cornerstone of Rae-Dawn Arabians and his contribution to siring excellent Arabian horses hasn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, it could be argued that Bey Ambition is one of very few stallions in our breed today siring both Halter and Performance horses  who are winning championships at the highest levels in our breed.  His sons and daughters are not only winning in the show rings, but they are now producing a dynasty themselves. Bey Ambition himself has been topping the charts of halter and performance winners and also was just recently awarded the 2016 Arabian Professional & Amateur Horseman’s Association’s Halter Sire of The Year – an accomplishment the Popplewells and everyone at Rae-Dawn are very proud of. 

The farm has evolved exponentially in quality since purchasing Bey Ambition. Early in 2009, the Popplewells decided to add a satellite location in the United States. While the farm in Canada is the ideal environment to raise and breed strong, beautiful babies – it was Scottsdale where the Popplewells felt that the show horses and the farm’s marketing program could be housed. They searched for properties in Ocala, Florida; Santa Ynez, California; Scottsdale, Arizona; and even searching out farms in Kentucky – but after many trips to and from Scottsdale, the magic and the hustle & bustle of Scottsdale was enough to capture the Popplewells and Rae-Dawn Scottsdale was born. The farm is located within ten minutes from the WestWorld Show Grounds (home of the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show) and is centered right in the middle of the valley of the sun, the pulse of Arabian horse community which attracts Arabian horse enthusiasts the world over. Eight years later along with numerous improvements, additions, and enhancements – the Rae-Dawn farm in Scottsdale has become as one of the most beautiful Arabian horse farms in the world – and the Popplewells wouldn’t have it any other way – the care and well being of the horses is the first and foremost priority.

Scottsdale 2017_347In the early beginnings, the Popplewells made several important purchases, including embryo rights to the prolific Padrons Psyche daughter, NW Siena Psyche (herself out of the Bey Shah+ daughter NV Shanteuse). The first embryo from her was crossed with World Champion QR Marc (a son of *Marwan Al Shaqab), producing RD Marciena, a mare who— after a Las Vegas Gold Championship title, two U.S. National Championships and a period of time spent in Brazil—is now part of the Royal Arabians breeding program in the United States. Another Siena Psyche embryo was paired with Bey Ambition, in his first breeding season, producing RD Siena Serenade. Siena Serenade debuted her show ring career winning the Region 17 Champion Mare title as a two year old in 2012, and the following year she appeared at Canadian Nationals to claim Reserve National Championship honours in the Futurity Fillies division. RD Habanero was another product of the Bey Ambition x NW Siena Psyche mating – and part of the first Bey Ambition foal crop. Habanero, a full sibling to Siena Serenade, has proven himself as a top notch Western Pleasure horse in his three short years of competition. The elegant bay stallion was U.S. Reserve National Champion Western Pleasure Junior Horse in 2013 and defended that title the following year, reigning over a field of 39, just after he had gone National Champion Western Pleasure Junior Horse at Canadian Nationals. Throughout his career, RD Habanero has garnered numerous Scottsdale and Regional Championships. In 2015, he picked up his first U.S. National Championship in the AAOTR Maturity with Rod Powell in Tulsa, and he again retained his reserve title in the Junior Horse division. The 2016 show season heralded new accolades for RD Habanero in the Western Pleasure Open division; Canadian National Champion Western Pleasure as well as a prestigious and well earned Top Ten finishing at the U.S. Nationals, both times ridden by owner/trainer LaRae Fletcher Powell.

Another insightful embryo purchase that the Popplewells made was from the famed HL Infactuation+ who was bred to Bey Ambition. This cross produced the very beautiful RD Alotta Ambition – a stunning grey mare who, as a yearling, was the 2011 Scottsdale Signature Stallion Reserve Champion Auction Filly AOTH. RD Alotta Ambition has gone on to produce exceptionally well. One of her daughters, Naradaa, sired by *Hariry Al Shaqab, was recently sold to a breeder in Brazil, while another daughter Mirage MTC, sired by Baha AA, was consigned and sold at the highly celebrated Marquise Invitational Auction held at the 2017 Scottsdale Show.

In 2012, the Popplewells bred Bey Ambition to their homebred RD Marciena (QR Marc x NW Siena Psyche). The cross produced one of his most impressive offspring to date: RD Marciea Bey. A mare of tremendous quality, Marciea Bey ’s show career has been nothing short of exceptional with major wins at Scottsdale, Regionals, the National Breeder Finals, and most recently, 2016 Canadian and United States Reserve National Champion Futurity Filly with Rae-Dawn’s resident trainer Mr. Bruno Guiraldelli. 

Bey Ambition continues to be an incredible sire for Rae-Dawn and has become a prominent name around the world; his abilities as a sire are reflecting success not only in the show arena as high caliber halter & performance horses, but in the breeding shed as well; RD Safira (a daughter of famed RD Challs Angel, was sold and exported to the Al Zobair Stud of the United Arab Emirates and in foal to El Tino), RD Barcello (2016 U.S. National Champion Yearling Gelding), RD Endless Ambition (2016 Arabian National Breeder Finals Champion Gelding SSS), RD Dynamo (Multi-National Champion Stallion and now an accomplished Regional Hunter Pleasure winner) and RD Azeem (U.S. National finalist in the Hunter Pleasure division and recently purchased by the Tangle Ridge Farm).

In addition to producing top performers, Bey Ambition has helped the Popplewells establish a strong base of foundation mares. The broodmare band represents the bloodlines of Bey Jullyen, Versace, Utrillo NY+++/, Bey Shah+, Falcon BHF, and DA Valentino. Rae-Dawn often crosses with outside stallions to introduce new blood to their program. If you study the pedigrees, you will find the likes of *Marwan Al Shaqab, Millennium LOA+, Magnum Psyche, Shanghai EA, Baywatch V ++, *Ecaho, Afire Bey V, and *Jullyen El Jamaal. This diversification is all with the intention of producing a complete Arabian horse, something the Popplewells are very devoted to. “We breed Arabian horses,” says Murray. “We don’t breed a halter horse or a performance horse. A correct and beautiful Arabian horse must be both, and we don’t sacrifice this philosophy.”

The Popplewells deliver on that promise. The program has been in existence for a little over two decades, and yet the “RD” prefix has become synonymous with RD horses receiving top honors at the regional and national levels year after year.  “It’s been our hope from the very beginning that each horse must have a purpose, and sacrificing a specific trait that jeopardizes the long-term career of the horse just isn’t of value to us as breeders,” continues Murray. Bey Ambition has been a critical part of fulfilling that vision. When the Popplewells first started breeding, they selected stallions that would give motion and structure. A solid build was their starting point, and they intended to add prettiness and refinement to later generations. “Bey Ambition didn’t hurt us with the movement,” laughs Murray. “He really likes to move, and that helps.”

After much success in the halter ring and the breeding shed, Bey Ambition confirmed that he encompasses the Rae-Dawn ideal, and demonstrated his beauty and athleticism for spectators at the 2017 Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show with trainer J.T. Keller. The Popplewells and everyone at Rae-Dawn were very glad to welcome Bey Ambition back home to Scottsdale for the show after being in training with J.T. Keller of Grandview, Texas since late May. Under J.T.’s guidance, Bey Ambition captured a second place finish in the very competitive Western Pleasure division for novice horses at the 2017 Scottsdale Show.  

“We are incredibly excited for “Bey” to start this next chapter in his career as a Western horse, especially after all he has accomplished in the show ring as a halter horse. It was a thrill for us to bring him back to the show arena and showcase what we already knew and what has been proven—his athletic ability,” says Murray. “He has proven himself in breeding exceptional halter horses who have gone on to win some of the most coveted titles in the performance divisions as well.”

In addition to being exactly what the Popplewells hope to produce, Bey Ambition consistently passes on his athleticism and beauty to his offspring. A great all-around horse is the ambition of many breeders, but Bey Ambition brings the dream to life for everyone at Rae-Dawn Arabians.

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Our Team

Owner & Operator

Phone: 306.241.1199

mpopp@rdarabians.com
Owner & Breeding Manager

Phone: 306.241.0648

spop@rdarabians.com
Head Trainer & Manager

Phone: 480.686.2922

bruno.guiraldelli@hotmail.com

Wall of Fame