Expect nothing less than wonderful horses and superb hospitality upon your arrival at Morning Sun. Once on the property you will take Bey Eclypse Drive, past several curious occupants in their paddocks up to the house and barn. The unique facility was designed and built by Mike; the lower level has a 60 x 120 foot arena and a 12 stall barn, while the upper level contains the entertainment / trophy room and the Steenhart home. For anyone as fully involved in all aspects of caring for, conditioning and training their horses as Mike and Sheena are, it’s the perfect set-up for them.
Though they only breed on a small scale (3-6 horses per year), Mike and Sheena aim for grand results. Their breeding program has produced a number of individuals who have notable accomplishments in both halter and performance. The majority of Morning Sun horses excelling in competition, however, are doing so with their amateur owners. Something Mike and Sheena, while not surprised about, are pleased with. They place disposition and trainability very high on their list of characteristics for which to breed.
Developing a breeding program that has produced many successful horses is an achievement for any breeder, but Mike and Sheena are most proud of the fact that they have accomplished so much while still remaining small breeders. Their recipe is simple – quality versus quantity. They acquire the best mares they can and breed to a stallion that will be the best compliment. No horse is perfect, Sheena admits, so it’s important to be honest with yourself about their faults. Really know the characteristics of each horse’s pedigree and know what to breed in order to correct faults and what not to breed. When choosing a stud, the Steenharts take a good look at a number of his babies, not just at the stallion alone.
“A stallion should be able to produce better than himself” - Mike Steenhart
Something they had seen their stud, Bey Eclypse, do for them time and again. National Championships are also wonderful criteria for making stallion choices, but Mike cautions that he doesn’t necessarily discard the Reserve and the other top ten. “It could have easily gone another way on a different day” he explains.
But the stallion is only part of the equation. To Mike and Sheena, good dam lines are absolutely essential. They believe that the mare contributes at least 60% to their foals. As a result, Morning Sun’s band of mares only includes those individuals that meet specific standards. Characteristics such as correctness, disposition, athletic ability and abundant Arabian type are paramount. “I don’t need an extreme head look,” says Sheena “but nobody should ever have to ask us what breed I’m riding”. When considering mares, Mike and Sheena also note the importance of keeping up with the times by taking the old breeding lines and moving them into the future. They have seen a trend towards a finer, prettier look and a more balanced horse that can compete in both halter and performance. Morning Sun horses certainly meet that trend head on. The basis of their breeding stock has been internationally renowned, however very little breeding has been done to stallions or mares from outside Canada until recently.
The reining king of Morning Sun is senior stallion BEY ECLYPSE, a many time winner in halter and performance at the Regional level and one of the leading sires of champions in both halter and performance in Canada. The Morning Sun breeding program has been built around the superlative type, size, substance, structure and inherent athleticism.
The next step for Morning Sun was introducing junior stallion, TA ORIENT, purchased from Toskhara Arabians of Texas in 2005. A halter champion, TA ORIENT contributed the excellence of his Pure Polish heritage to the next generation.
Over the years, Morning Sun has been home to such notable champion stallions as the masculine grey XXX BRAVADO, and AARALADD, a striking grey from the first *ALADDINN foal crop.
Two mares hold elite status as Morning Sun foundation mares: *Antezza and Darlyn Venus. Originally imported from Holland, *Antezza was purchased from Larry Kincaide of Lakeview Arabians in Edmonton, the source of many of the original Morning Sun breeding stock. She has since become the most treasured mare in the Morning Sun program, proving herself to be a star-making cross with Bey Eclypse. All five of her foals by Bey Eclypse are champions - including National and Regional winners MS Angelina Bey, MS Sincerely Bey and MS Anteygo Bey. An accomplishment which has earned her aristocrat dam status in the breed. Four of her daughters have already been added to the breeding program, extending the champion influence into the second generation at the farm.
Darlyn Venus produced three champion show horses as well as three champion producing daughters. The best of these is Morning Sun's own MS Aarladda. A halter winner herself as Junior Filly who has since earned aristocrat status with five champion foals all sired by Bey Eclypse. The best of these include Regional Sport Horse Champions MS My Darlyn and MS Chandos Bey, along with Provincial Dressage Champion & High Point Performance Horse MS Crimson Bey.
We have added a few more Mares including: JKF Serra, a double Cognac bred, US National Top Ten Park Horse bred by Fairchild Arabians; AD Jasmine, a Pure Polish Regional Top Ten winner bred by Allan Dale Arabians; Angel Eyes VF, an elegant daughter of Alada baskin bred by Ventura Farms; Priority One, an elegant, predominantly Russian mare bred by Bill Lee; and HL Serenity, a *Bask, *Serafix bred beauty from the McLaughlin program. Serenity came with credentials as an aristocrat dam of four champions, winners with National & Regional honours in Halter as well as Country English, Hunter & Western Pleasure. Her production record has since been extended to six champion foals under the care of the Steenharts', with Regional halter winners MS Bey Sentinal and MS Simply Special, both sired by Bey Eclypse.
A good number of Morning Sun horses get their start in the Halter ring and it is often Mike and Sheena themselves who do the conditioning and most of the training and showing. It’s not uncommon to see Mike competing in Regional and National-level halter classes and both he Western Canadian Breeders 2002 and Sheena compete with their own horses in the Hunter Pleasure division. In 2002 at the Western Canadian Breeders Championships, Mike rode Bey Eclypse to a Top Six in Open Hunter Pleasure & received a Reserve Champion in ATR, while Sheena and MS Angelina Bey earned the Championship in both divisions. Mike and Sheena continue to take clinics at every opportunity to improve their knowledge and allow them to compete more successfully in the show ring. As rewarding as it is for the Steenharts to show their own horses, it is even more exciting for them when one of their horses is successful for their new owners.
Not content to follow in the footsteps of others, however, Mike and Sheena have marched to the beat of their own drum to build their breeding program into what it is today. “Success comes from hard work! Being persistent, patient and having extreme dedication,” says Sheena. “We spend winter evenings studying pedigrees and we take every opportunity to study the programs of older established breeders, learning from their successes”. Both Mike and Sheena know that constantly educating themselves and being realistic about their own horses has been an essential part of successfully producing the type of Arabians for which they have been striving.