Published Monday, November 19, 2012
By Martha A. Woodham
The Newnan-Coweta Magazine
Like a lot of horse people who have settled in this part of Georgia, the owners of Jen-Nor Arabians, Jennifer and Norris Mackey, discovered Coweta County in 2005 when they were looking for a place to build a horse farm.
Moving to be closer to Jennifer’s parents in Palmetto, the Mackeys knew they wanted more land than they had in California. There, the couple shared a half-acre lot in a San Diego equestrian community with two elderly horses. They spent time riding on the trails in the national park next to their home but longed for more space. They were amazed at how much more land they could buy in Georgia, but it took a while to find just the right spot.
“We drove around for a year to find a place,” says Norris, a computer information consultant who is studying business at the University of West Georgia. Jennifer works for Dendreon, a biotechnology company in Union City.
Going into the horse business was a natural path for the couple, whose first date was attending a rodeo. When they met, Norris had been on a horse but was not as experienced as Jennifer. Their courtship included horses—going to rodeos and taking trail rides across the California countryside.
“She taught me how to two-step and how to ride,” Norris says.
Primarily a self-taught equestrian, Jennifer came by her love for horses naturally. Her father, Jim Wood, rode when he was a young man working at a riding academy in Buffalo, N.Y. As a child, the closest to a horse that Jennifer got was her unicorn collection. But she followed her dreams when she was in her twenties and began taking riding lessons.
After Jennifer and Norris were engaged, they bought an Arab named Tawny for Jennifer.
“But of course, the horse couldn’t be lonely, so we had to get another to keep him company,” says Jennifer. Kimmy the Quarter Horse, a gift from Jennifer’s riding instructor, was Norris’s ride.
Those first two much-loved horses have gone on to horse heaven, and today the family-owned Jen-Nor Arabians is established on five acres in the western part of Coweta County, near the new Chattahoochee Bend State Park. The couple and Jennifer’s parents, Judy and Jim Wood of Palmetto, are partners in Jen-Nor Arabians, which focuses on breeding, showing and selling Egyptian Arabians.
“We got into the Egyptian Arabians as an investment, a business opportunity,” says Norris, but now the couples have invested their hearts. “There is something about them that we just love.”
“They are living art, living history,” says Jennifer.
The three mares that are the foundation of Jen-Nor Arabians look like delicate glass horses, but these elegant creatures are as enduring as the deserts that spawned their ancestors. Captivated by the beauty and hardiness of the Egyptian Arabian, the Mackeys and the Woods raise a line of purebreds that descended from horses owned by Egypt’s ruling class in the early 1800s. Breed characteristics include a dished face with soulful eyes; a gracefully arched neck; delicate yet strong legs; and a silken mane and tail.
Horses like these are shown English and Western style in shows limited to purebred and half-bred Arabians. Arabians, who have incredible stamina, are also the horse of choice for endurance racing, where the horse-and-rider teams cover 50 to 100 miles of trails over rugged terrain.
Creating their Coweta County farm—building the barn and clearing the land for pastures—has also been a labor of love. The couples visited dozens of farms in Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina to get ideas about features and designs for their farm. Jim Wood, with Norris and Jennifer’s help, turned a metal structure on the property into a horse barn with spacious stalls and specialized facilities for breeding and foaling. Friends and family turned out to help construct a round pen, celebrating afterwards with a cookout.
Although the farm is complete, the Mackeys still haven’t had much time to relax on their screened porch overlooking their pastures. Norris is developing a line of horse grooming products, called EquiLux, and Jennifer is preparing their first foal, Ghazalahh Halluj JNA or “Holly,” as the 3-year-old filly is called, for the next stage in her training, being ridden. And then there are the decisions to be made about selecting the right stallions to breed to their other mares, IM Arabia and Kanani Lio.
The couple, who have developed relationships with trainers and breeders, also offer consulting services for people who are interested in owning Arabs. But they intend to keep their operations small and selective, breeding to perpetuate the best bloodlines. As they say on their web site, www.jennorarabians.com , “Our focus is to carefully produce top-quality foals, perpetuating pure, classic Arabian type along with a kind, willing temperament.”
To view more stories from the November-December issue of Newnan-Coweta Magazine, please visit http://newnancowetamag.com .