Horses & Real Estate • Twisted Rose Farm
Welcome to Twisted Rose Farm, a world-class equestrian facility nestled in the surrounding hills of the Texas Hill Country just minutes outside Kerrville, Texas. This diamond of a property is listed by, well, me and my parents, and brokered by my family’s firm, Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty.
Growing up in a real estate household, I officially joined the industry in November of 2017, passing both standardized exams after using my early twenties to find my intended work path. I bounced between entry level jobs knowing in the back of my mind I would soon have to “get my life together” and seek a career that could afford my expensive habit: horses. Real estate is my career, and I do this to establish relationships with my clients, whether on the selling or buying side. It’s a fulfilling journey, especially when once-in-a-lifetime listings come into your grasp.
For those that follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen my two posts on Twisted Rose Farm. Those photos and videos hardly do this property justice… It’s breathtaking in person, and ultimately deserves its own blog entry.
I’ve touched on the general talking points that Twisted Rose Farm features, such as the 30-stall main barn finished out for equine royalty on a manicured 234.82 acres. Adjacent to the stable, you’ll find two covered arenas, an outdoor arena with amphitheater style seating built into the rock hillside, a 16 stall “mare barn” with adjoining turnouts, and two 6-stall stud barns with attached runs. Two homes reside nearby the equestrian amenities: a 1,200+/- square foot charming cottage that offers a unique retreat for guests and a 2,900 +/- square foot main house that provides a beautiful view overlooking the pastures, sure to enhance every cup of morning coffee.
These highlights are truly just a mere tip of the iceberg in comparison to the history Twisted Rose Farm possesses. Today, I’m diving deep into its connection with former onsite foundation Arabian stallions, and the emotional antiquity to American actor, Patrick Swayze.
So, come along with me, my friends!
Alongside the artistic rod-iron doors upon the entrance into the main barn, you’ll find two pieces of stained glass that introduce the collection of significant Arabians that called Twisted Rose Farm, formerly Thistlewood Farm, home.
If you’re facing the entrance from the outside…
On the left, we see Adliah; a grey Arabian mare foaled on February 2nd, 1972. While information on this broodmare is extremely sparse, we do know that her sire was Morafic, which we talk more about a few paragraphs below. Her dam was Soona out of Fattan. Unfortunately, there is no photo to follow.
On the right, we see Soufian; a chestnut stallion foaled on March 2nd, 1968 out of Alaa El Din and by dam, Moniet El Nefous. Soufian was bred by the Egyptian Agriculture Organization in Egypt and imported to the United States by Doug and Margaret Marshall, owners of the late Gleannloch Farms. No further information could be found in regards to Soufian, other than he passed in 1994.
Located directly above the centerfold equestrian accommodations, one will follow a staircase leading into a grand foyer. Your eye is automatically drawn to another colorful artistry depicting three more foundation Arabian stallions that once stood at stud on the farm.
From left to right, we will begin with Gamal Al Arab, foaled on February 17th, 1975 out of the Egyptian line, Ibn Hafiza x Gamilaa. Bred by Gleannloch Farms in Spring, Texas, Gamal Al Arab sired twenty-six registered purebred Arabian foals within his lifetime. While I couldn’t find an extensive analysis of his notable accolades, Gamal Al Arab was crowned the 1979 United States Reserve National Champion in Native Costume, along with earning 5-time English Show Hack Champion, 5-time Country English Pleasure Champion and 3-time Native Costume Champion titles. There is said to be even more winnings to his name… what an impressive career!
Moving onto the middle work of the mural, we find Ibn Morafic, foaled on April 23rd, 1968, son of the legendary stallion, Morafic, and by dam, Kahramana. Doug and Margaret Marshall also bred Ibn Morafic. Following in his sire’s expansive resume, Morafic was one of four Gleannloch Farms bred Supreme Merit achievers. His champion recognitions include the 1976 United States National Champion Futurity Stallion, the 1978 United States Top 10 in English Pleasure, and the 1978 Canadian National Top 10 Stallion. It is noted that Morafic’s confirmation took after his dam in body, yet carried “shorter legs” than his sire. However, Doug selected Ibn Morafic to be Morafic’s successor. When Gleannloch Farms closed its doors, Ibn Morafic was sold to Thistlewood Farms until his passing in 1997.
Last but certainly not least, meet Rofann, foaled April 19th, 1979, sired by Soufian and out of Bint Romanaa ++. Rofann was a National Top 10 Futurity Stallion and English Pleasure ribbon winner. He was also connected to Gleannloch Farms breeding. Rofann sired over 75 foals throughout the span of his life, and eventually passed away on July 20th, 2000. Information limited, Rofann’s rich coat concludes the three stallions featured in the artwork.
Just a few steps away from the vibrant mural, an entrance to the grand ballroom draws you inside. The first time I set foot into this marvelous spectacle, I couldn’t help but gawk at the dance floor located front and center. Vintage movie posters of Patrick Swayze adorned the nearby wall, and suddenly, all I could hear were the lyrics to “Now I’ve…. Had…. The time of my life….”
Not really, but close.
Patrick Swayze, a Houston native, starred in a handful of feature films, but is likely most famed for his role in Dirty Dancing. His passion for horses began as a young boy, growing up in the rodeo world and learning the ways of calf roping.
After a paying a visit to Gleannloch Farms at age 8, Swayze tumbled head over heels for the Arabian breed. I mean, how could he not? Apparently, the first stallion he laid eyes upon was Morafic. In fact, it’s quoted that Swayze states Morafic “was the reason I fell in love with horses.” What a significant moment in a person’s life.
Historic footage of Morafic. "Morafic sired 30 U.S. and Canadian National winners. He was the grandsire of 50 National winners and the great grandsire of 29 National winners and the great-great-grandsire of 11 National winners according to data compiled in 1986! The influence of his sire line is still dominant around the globe to this day." - Gleannloch Farms
Swayze married Lisa Niemi in 1975, a fellow horse-loving lady (smart move, P), and in 1986, the couple purchased their first Arabian. Their adoration for the Arabian developed into their own Egyptian breeding program with properties located in California and New Mexico, their farm entitled Rancho Bizzaro.
Thistlewood Farm became a hub for the Arabian horse, with impressive stallion after impressive stallion in their string of producers. Case and point, the handsome fellows I just described above. Swayze frequented Thistlewood Farms on the regular, so much so that the private dance floor was installed for his personal practice use. Immediately, you feel pangs of nostalgia, and perhaps a dash of “fan-girl” when you realize you’re standing on glorified sacred turf.
It’s no secret just how much Swayzed fostered, ate, slept, and breathed his devotion for Arabians. He was a pioneer within this world, honored by thousands who shared the same sentiments. In 1991, Swayze purchased stallion Tammen from famous trainer, Tom McNair, and while this was far from his first Arabian, he claims Tammen was his ultimate favorite. In more modern terminology, Tammen was Swayze’s “heart horse.”
Within the first year of Tammen’s ownership under Swayze, the stallion was honored with several halter championships throughout the country. Just to name a few, he secured earnings such as the 1992 Scottsdale Supreme Champion Stallion ATH, the 1991 United States Egyptian Event Champion Amateur Stallions, along with 4 Regular Top 5 titles. Tammen sired a jaw dropping 175 foals, a handful going onto win prominent awards, before passing in 1999. Tammen boarded on and off at Thistlewood Farm. I wish I could find the video of Swayze riding through the banks of the 13+/- acre lake located behind the barn, but alas, to no avail.
In January of 2008, Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and eventually lost his battle with the disease. He passed on September 14th, 2009, survived by his wife and family at his bedside.
Lance Walters, president of The Arabian Horse Association at the time, quotes, “We at the Arabian Horse Association and our some 35,000 members mourn the loss of a great American icon, Patrick Swayze. He was an ardent lover of the Arabian horse and his passion for the breed would always spill over into the audience when he showed his beautiful horses—particularly with young people. His close friends called him ‘Buddy’ and that sentiment seemed to define his character, as I always found him to be a man of significant humility and grace. The Arabian horse has lost a dear friend and our prayers go out to his wife Lisa and family, and everyone who loved him. His significant contributions to the Arabian horse will not be forgotten.”
Fun fact: did you know that Swayze rode in the Qatar desert marathon in 1995? This particular marathon is a 26-mile speed race! He might’ve been among the last to cross the finish line, but his horsemanship is praised for the kind treatment to his horse, Wasel. Apparently, Wasel suffered saddle fit issues during the race, which prompted Swayze to remove the tack and finish bareback.
Sure enough, the press grabs hold of that. They don’t print the fact that 54 horses started this race and only 19 finished. At the end, my horse and I had a real bond. We became friends. And I got to do my dream – I got to ride an Arabian horse in the deserts from whence they come. I am a romantic fool to a fault. – Patrick Swayze
Out of all my research over the past few days, the one major token I took away about Swayze was his unadulterated love for this particular equestrian realm. According to Arab Horse Online, the Swayze’s were incredibly unassuming at competitions and “wanted to be accepted as fellow horsemen and Arabian enthusiasts.” Patrick could often be found sporting an old t-shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots as he swept the isle way to his show stalls. Whenever Patrick competed with Tammen, it wasn’t about the ribbons, but the connection between himself and his equine counterpart, something everyone should strive to emulate.
Moving back to the immediate history of Twisted Rose Farm, I came across this newspaper clipping from The Kerrville Times circa 1994-1995? Visited by sheikhs and dignitaries from the Middle East, the farm was listed in the top 5 United States Arabian horse facilities in the 1994 June/July edition of The Arabian Horse Times. You’ll notice that Tom McNair was head trainer at Thistlewood beginning in March 1994, and his resume is probably the most expansive and decorated list I’ve ever seen. Before moving to Thistlewood Farm, Tom and his wife, Rhita, trained and instilled excellence within their string at Gleannloch Farms. Small world, right?
You know, it’s one thing to see the outside of a property and form opinions based on its highlights or attributes, but you begin to see the property in a different light when you’re able to divulge its rich background. Twisted Rose Farm carries a heritage that only comes around once in a blue moon. It’s so much more than just an estate; it’s a unique opportunity to own equestrian history. So many legends have walked through the barns, the arenas, and the pastures. So many legends have stood in the stalls, frolicked in the fields, and waited patiently in the cross-ties. A special property indeed, I'll close this entry with the spectacular video put together by Creative Studios.
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