Universally acknowledged as a leader and innovator within the Australian industry, the Farrell family’s Mulawa Arabian Stud is one of the most respected, enduring and accomplished breeding, training, show and performance programs in the country. Now embarking on five decades of involvement with and dedication to the Arabian horse, the Farrells can proudly celebrate eight successive generations of vision, achievement and results.
The story of Mulawa is one of passion and vision, of purpose and ambition, of authenticity and integrity — a story that began with a young man’s desire to own an Arabian horse. That young man was Greg Farrell Jr., whose dream was realized in Cassanova, a small, unassuming, grey Arabian stallion. Cassanova became a part of the family in the early 1970s while Greg was still in his early teens. Little did anyone realize at the time what a pivotal role he would play in the Farrell family’s life. With the support of his parents, Greg Sr. and Dolores, older sisters Julia and Deborah, twin brother John, and younger sister Jane — Greg and Cassanova evolved from an eager trail riding team into aspiring local endurance competitors.
“Now, more than 45 years later, Mulawa Arabians remains a huge part of my life and is still very much a family enterprise,” says Greg Jr., managing director of the family’s Federal Group, the world’s second oldest hotel group. “It started with a backyard stallion and a Half-Arabian mare, and a dream about making a difference. Add to that the vision and drive of my father and immediate family members, particularly Jane. That passion continues through my own family: my wife Julie, son Greg, and daughter Kate.”
Quality of life, for horses and humans, might just as well be the Mulawa mantra. It is evident in the fabric of daily routine at every level of the program. Greg and Julie are the heart and soul of Mulawa. “I first met Julie when I sold her a horse, which she resold for more money! I knew then she was special!” says Greg. Julie was born in the UK and moved with her family to New South Wales at the age of 12, bringing with her a lifelong passion for horses. Joining them in charting the ongoing success of the program as full partner is Jane, a beacon of positive energy and the cheerleader for all things Mulawa.
In the course of five decades, Mulawa has evolved from family farm to formidable force within the Australian Arabian industry, breaking records, setting standards, providing leadership and defining a foundation of excellence that has bettered the industry from top to bottom. Championships have been garnered at every major show across the continent as Mulawa-bred horses dominate in hand and under saddle. Aside from all the showring glory the Mulawa horses have attained, the Farrells are in agreement about the greatest rewards of their involvement with the breed.
“The Arabian breed has enhanced our family life. As we are very 'hands-on' in all that we do, it is something that we can all enjoy and be part of together,” says Julie. “I love watching my husband show a horse that he has trained since a weanling, and that we all have believed in, become a major champion. Or to watch Kate riding an Arabian we have bred to a prestigious award, knowing only too well how much dedication, commitment and hard work is behind it. I love the chance to get to know the horses on an individual basis. Their health and well being is paramount to me and I know they reward us with their loyalty and work ethic. Our horses retire to ‘Belle Vue’ were they live out their lives with the best of care: special feeds and pasture. I love to reminisce with the great old broodmares or show horses while at Belle Vue.”
“The sharing of goals, effort and desire as a family is enriching,” says Jane. “Our father’s willingness and confidence in backing the judgment of a then teenage Greg was wonderful to witness as they worked together building the farm. Now to watch Julie and Greg help Kate in her endeavors is great to watch, and GJ enjoying farm pursuits makes for great family time. We always enjoy our wins because horses, despite their apparent strength, are fragile animals – we never take anything for granted."
“Financial reward is never a reason for being involved with the Arabian, at least not for us, and it’s not how we judge the success of an individual,” Jane continues. “More than once the biggest competition for our own ‘gun’ horse at the time is a horse that we have bred and sold, and that’s great to see. Whether it’s watching colts we have bred and sold being crowned Australian Champion or watching a young girl go home with her first Arabian gelding and watching that wonderful bond form, that’s special.”
“Finest moments? There are so many — from seeing a newly-born foal for the first time that embodies the qualities we sought from the mating, to working with a scruffy weanling and helping it turn into a confident young swan,” says Greg. “The feeling of pleasure and relief when showing a horse we have so much faith in achieve a major title or watching from the side lines when the horses are shown by Cameron Bonney and Mariusz Lipa, or watching Kate grow into a beautiful confident young lady and an extremely accomplished and competitive rider.”
Taking the long view, for the Mulawa Arabian and the breed, Greg shares his fondest wish. “My hope for the future of the Arabian breed is that it maintains its position as a family horse that can be enjoyed on a bushland trail, an amateur show or on a more professional basis,” he says. “The vast majority of enthusiasts will only ever own one or two horses and many would rather put a meal in front of their horses than themselves in hard times. The breed attracts dreamers, creative types and passionate people. We want the horses we sell to be good citizens, to bring their new owners countless hours of enjoyment and to be a reference point for helping them achieve their objectives. It is remarkable how many people we have sold multiple horses to over decades, and in this way, we hope that we have succeeded in our efforts to encourage, educate, and help people to achieve their objectives however large or small.”
“The future of the Arabian is as a family horse, one who may be ridden or shown by various members of family and belong to a loving and supportive home,” Julie believes. “We have sold many horses over the years and occasionally it does not work out and we will acquire the horse back rather than see it wasted or neglected. Life works in strange ways as some of the most important horses on the farm are the descendents of horses we sold and later reclaimed. I believe that Arabian horses should be enjoyed and cherished for the beautiful creatures that they are and I know I speak for the whole family when I say that we feel fortunate to have the Arabian as part of our lives.”
Faithfully stewarding the Arabian breed now for nearly five decades with passion, integrity and dedication, the Farrell Family and Mulawa Arabian Stud have charted an ambitious, progressive and ever-evolving path towards success – for themselves, for the worldwide industry and for the breed and the horses they love. We can look forward to the next chapter of this inspiring saga with great anticipation and shared rewards for all.
The Mulawa Arabian Stud story was featured in the August 2009 issue of the Arabian Horse World and again in a brochure distributed at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show in 2014 . Click on the images or the text below to read the features in full and download the PDFs.
|Mulawa Arabian Stud
AHW Cover Story
|Mulawa Arabian Stud