During my time working the front desk at the AHA National show, it was my pleasure to meet many, many interesting people. And it was my very great privilege to meet a very special horsewoman by the name of Karolyn Kime. The first year I met her a simple request for a show program led to her fascinating story of her career with her Arabian stallion Rajag.
And while his is a remarkable story, it’s Karolyn herself that prompted me share her story. She’s the type of woman that didn’t let “nay-sayers” get in her way and all while remaining a totally classy lady. She didn’t make much of a fuss about things, just got on with things and got it done.
The best example of this is the story of Rajag’s racing career which predates his National wins in Costume and subsequent appearances carrying flags at the Arabian National shows.
Their first outing at a track was in 1961 at a race that was held as part of the Oklahoma Arabian Horse Show in Enid. As any good trainer would, Karolyn—who had been Rajag’s only handler and trainer since he was a yearling—competed exactly the same way she trained. Bareback. According to Karolyn there was definitely some ribbing from the other competitors, but no one was laughing when Rajag and Karolyn literally ran away from the field to win by fifty lengths. In 1962 Rajag suffered what many thought would be a career ending injury, but the under Karolyn’s care he was soon on the mend and in the coming years they raced informally against many horses and was undefeated.
It's in 1966 that Karolyn and Rajag returned to “official” Arabian racing at the 1966 International Arabian Horse Association races in Springfield, Il. However, by this date, IAHA had established some rules about the race and would not allow Karolyn to compete bareback and so for the first time Rajag would race actually wearing a saddle. Karolyn had a saddle with her because while the premium book didn’t specify a saddle for the race, the rules for this race required that the horse ALSO compete in a performance class at the show! Karolyn and Rajag were going to compete in the Park class at that show, so cut back saddle it was—for both the show ring and the racetrack!
This race featured a “walk up” start meaning no starting gate as we’re accustomed to seeing. As Karolyn understood it, the entrants would all walk up to the start line and wait to be started. But that’s not what it meant. What actually happens is that everyone walks up to the starting line and then takes off. Karolyn’s misunderstanding but them at a huge disadvantage as easily shown in the photo above.
But this pair turned what could have been a disastrous race into a victory, coming from behind on the outside for a spectacular win in a race against some of the major players in the Arabian industry at that time—Douglas and Margaret Marshall’s Gleannloch Farms from Texas and Tish and William Hewitt’s Friendship Farms from Illinois. The Gleannloch entry was the grey stallion *El Thabi that they had imported in 1963 and Friendship Farm fielded two entries—Farmas and Skowreym, both also stallions. The fifth horse in the field was a chestnut stallion named Shoshoni owned by Margot Huekle from Florida.
Karolyn and Rajag continued to have a spectacular show career, competing in Halter, Park and Native Costume, but it was costume where this pair made their mark in the show ring. By 1969, Rajag was US National Champion in Native Costume and was invited to make several appearances including presenting the flag at the US Nationals for two years and leading the horses to the post at the National races held in Oklahoma City.