About Us

Pronunciation: ih-pif-uh-nee
Function: noun

1. an illuminating discovery
2. revealing scene or moment

In 1976, The United States Arabian National Championships came to Louisville, Kentucky for the first time. Duane's family had Arabian horses and felt that Nationals, being so close, presented an opportunity that should be enjoyed by the entire family.

That show in Freedom Hall became a defining moment for Duane, his epiphany "I looked at those horses, better horses than I had ever seen in my life, and I was awe struck. That was when I knew that I wanted to become a true horseman.”

Duane came home, took a serious look at the family's horses, gave them all baths and developed a plan for training. Two years later, Duane, at age 18 won the Region 14 Open English Pleasure Championship on a horse his parents owned and he had trained. The significance of the accomplishment was magnified, when his brother Joe, won the Region 14 Open Western Pleasure Championship. Winning over professionals was not necessarily the goal, but it made Duane realize that this talent could and would be his life's work.

While Duane attended college, his involvement with horses continued to evolve. As his parents obtained more horses, Gene LaCroix became a trusted advisor to the family, providing guidance on the art of evaluating horses to purchase and key points on determining the discipline for each horse. Selecting the correct discipline for each horse is critical to creating an environment where both horse and rider can feel a sense of accomplishment.

EVA’s breeding program was started in 1977 by Duane’s parents, with a goal of producing horses that are very athletic, and contain both the unique beauty and Type of the Arabian breed. Very close attention is also given to producing horses with a harmonious disposition, which when combined with trainability is vital for success. Our program has proven to be a study and collection of some of the most treasured Arabian bloodlines in the world, including *Bask, El Ghazi, Afire Bey V and Huckleberry Bey++, among others.

A large percentage of EVA bred horses have achieved numerous wins, at both regional and national levels, in many different divisions. However, whether you are interested in purchasing a future champion or searching for a family horse, you will find a selection for your consideration at Esser Valley.

In addition to maintaining his breeding and training programs full time, Duane is very active in many areas of the equestrian industry. He is currently serving, or has served, as Region 14 Vice Director, as a member of the USEF Hearing Committee, the Executive Board of National Show Horse Registry, and chairs the Judges and Stewards Steering Committee of the AHA. Also, Duane preserves his association with grass roots organizations by serving as president of KARABS, the Kentucky Arabian Rider and Breeders Society.

Duane is also proud to serve as a judge, at both Regional/National level shows as well in the international arena. He enjoys judging, and takes the responsibility very seriously. "I was fortunate enough to adjudicate in South Africa and the experience was unforgettable. I’ve also judged Canadian Nationals; it was thrilling to stand in center ring at such a prestigious show."