There is a light that shines brightly in the eyes of Sylvio Barbosa Neto, owner of Rancho Arabco in Brazil, when he speaks about his Arabian horses. That light is a reflection of his vision of his ideal Arabian horse, a vision that came to him as a young boy and that has grown more clear with every year...
Arabian horses have been a part of Sylvio’s life for a very long time. As a child, his family kept horses at their farm and Sylvio enjoyed riding his favorite Arabian stallion through the mountains. Unfortunately, the stallion suffered a snake bite and passed away. Sylvio’s father vowed to buy him another horse and went to São Paulo where he visited some breeders and returned with a stallion and two mares. It was 1982, and with those horses, his father’s breeding program, Haras Allah Dinn, was established.
Through his father, Sylvio met the famous Brazilian breeder Polé Levy, owner of Haras Capim Fino, one of the top champion-producing breeding farms in Brazil and through Polé, Sylvio met his trainer, Zeze Rodrigues, a very successful halter and performance trainer. Sylvio became obsessed with showing his family’s Arabian horses in performance and won numerous National Championships in western pleasure. Sylvio became one of the founders and President of the Brazilian Association of Arabian Performance Horses (ANCAF). When his father passed away, Sylvio established his own breeding program, Rancho Arabco, which he expanded in 2012 to include halter horses.
Rancho Arabco has two Arabian horse operations, which Sylvio described, “At the mare farm, there are good stables and excellent pastures for the embryo donor mares and recipient mares. After the foals are weaned, I choose which will go to the training center to prepare for competition. Our horses are conditioned at our training center by Diego Silva and I love training my horses there every weekend. We also work with several other trainers – Sandro Pinha, Dejair Sousa, Dagmar Gordiano, Zezé Rodrigues, and Arthur Nascimento. They visit us periodically and present our horses at the shows. This works well for us and we appreciate the efforts of these very knowledgeable and experienced horsemen.”
Within a very short time, Sylvio has achieved incredible success. In 2019, Ranch Arabco was named the Best Breeder of the Brazilian Nationals with these outstanding horses… INTENSE ARABCO (El Tino x Shavanna El Madan) Brazilian National Gold Champion Colt, SHAKHYRA ARABCO (El Shakhyr x Tamina PCF) Brazilian National Gold Champion Junior Mare, MARCELHAH ARABCO (El Tino x RFI Bettina Almaktub) Brazilian National Gold Champion Junior Junior Filly, and METEOR ARABCO (El Tino x Stinna W) Brazilian National Silver Champion Junior Stallion. Since that time, Meteor Arabco was sold to Saudi Arabia where he was Silver Champion in 2019 Makkah International Show, Saudi Arabia. In addition, the Rancho Arabco bred colt Dominus Arabco was US National Reserve Champion Junior Stallion.
Sylvio says that his ideal Arabian horses combine the qualities he loves: movement, refinement, balance, and well-shaped necks, which Sylvio has achieved and so much more! However, it is clear that riding and performance remain the foundation of his ideal Arabian horse… “I love training and riding my horses and these physical features enable the horse to do its work more easily. I believe a good riding horse needs to have balance, movement and a good neck to be sensitive to commands. Although I am currently focused on breeding halter horses, I believe that they need to have these same qualities.
Every breeder has their own formula and ideas to achieve their ideal horse. Sylvio says he is using Versace and Marwan Al Shaqab bloodlines and that he is now including some European bloodlines to add more refinement to his foals. Sylvio names the stallions DA Valentino, QR Marc, and Marwan Al Shaqab as horses that come the closest to his ideal. Sylvio used another very important stallion to achieve his success - El Tino (DA Valentino x Imprimista CF, Bey Imprimis x Fantasy Bey) who he owned in a partnership.
I started my halter breeding program with horses I believed had the potential to transmit the characteristics I was looking for. I bought some fillies in Brazil and also from the USA and they brought me good results. El Tino crossed very well with my mares I selected for him as well as the mares that me and my partners on him purchased especially to breed to him.
I took a huge risk of investing in a stallion – El Tino – which at that time was not proven to be a great reproducer. However, the results were very good, and I am sure will continue to be in the future. El Tino was sold, but I will continue to use him for my program.”
The art and science of breeding are always advancing and Sylvio shared his appreciation for mentors, friends, and family who influenced and helped him along the way. “My father’s advice to me was to always do the best you can because success must be worked for in order to be achieved. I have also closely followed the examples and words of wisdom shared by great breeders like Lenita Perroy, Polé Levy, and Sam Peacemaker. Lenita and Polé are my teachers and Sam Peacemaker breeds horses that I really love.”
Sylvio offers this advice about breeding, “In my opinion, there is no better resource than observation and intuition. It is very important to go to shows, observe the horses and their pedigrees to learn which crosses produced the most successful results in the show ring or that appeal to you. I think the experience that has taught me the most is training my horses and living with them every day.”
When asked, what makes you and your breeding program special or unique? Sylvio replied, “I think the love I have for the Arab horse, which started when I was a very young boy, is part of me, part of my heart and soul. Living with these horses in my daily life and sharing them with my son, João Pedro, brings me a lot of joy. They are as much a part of our life as our family and friends, which is why we treat them like family.
“Looking ahead, my most important goal for my breeding program is to produce high-quality horses that can attract other breeders from around the world. I am happy that in the little time I have bred Arabian horses, Rancho Arabco has achieved titles that sincerely I did not expect. The objective is to keep breeding horses with that high level of quality.
“My lifetime goal, my personal goal, is to learn every day, more horsemanship techniques - the best techniques possible - in order to breed, manage, and train my horses using without injuring them. I want to create a relationship of love and respect with each horse I breed and own.
“One of the many things I love about Arabian horses is that through them, we make so many friends and have so many special times together. Although there are not a lot of Brazilian breeders, we have tremendous passion – we LOVE our horses – and the quality and style of our horses set us apart. I want to share my horses with people everywhere who have the same passion for them and so I invite everyone to visit Brazil and Ranch Arabco.”