03 September, 2015

A Goodbye Snapshot

“Promise me you'll never forget me because if I thought you would, I'd never leave.” ― A.A Milne
His mind was everywhere this morning. His thoughts were like the waves of the ocean, frightening and intimidating, as only the wildly beautiful, yet powerful surf could be. The year had been chaotic, bringing many changes, none of which were especially welcomed. Cancer, seemingly out of nowhere, had become his biggest nemesis and he was starting to feel weaker, his resolve for fighting this giant and "his personal Goliath", shaken. He wasn't sure what the next 3 or 4 months would bring and whether he would even live long enough, to see springtime. “Yes” he thought, “what a shitty year it has been.” He was tired and felt like shouting "uncle!" at the top of his lungs. Financially, the year had also been a train wreck and while his mind had been in a good place this past summer, his health responding  to several positive and upbeat changes, the financial part of it never really came together as expected.  The new home he found, two towns over,  appeared to be ideally suited to his changing level of energy and strength. It was perfect...and manageable. Three and a quarter acres, cross-fenced into 5 paddocks with a charming 4 stall barn. A cozy 3 bedroom New England-style cape cod, with a screened- in porch overlooking one of the paddocks, made it even more wonderful. He had made an offer on the place, $285,000, contingent on the sale of his place for $850,000. His farm was beautiful and reflected the many years of blood, sweat and tears he had personally invested. He knew that the price on his farm was ambitious but he was counting on the desirability of his property.  He couldn’t go anywhere in town without someone stopping him, to tell him how much they loved his farm. And, with the surplus of money after the purchase of the new place, he could pay off some of the medical bills that had been dogging him and have enough money left over to live comfortably and focus on his recovery. But the deal on his 45 acre farm fell through and after all was said and done, it really hurt to lose the deposit he had made. That was his hay money for this coming winter. Since then, things had just spiraled out of his control. It was cold now and he could see his breath, frosty and white. Fall was like a harbinger of colder and drearier things to come. From where he stood on the hill, he could see the glare of the silver tractor trailer, as the sun reflected off its shiny body. The truck had turned off the highway and within 15 minutes would be pulling up his driveway. Time to get Ferise. He couldn't believe that it had come to this. He had tried, really tried to avoid this outcome but keeping the horses became an impossibility, no matter how hard he tried. So, one by one, he had said goodbye to his treasured mares and now, he had to say goodbye to Ferise. This was going to kill him. Ferise had been with him for 15 years. He had bought him as a weanling from a friend who had bred him, with a very specific purpose in mind - to be her herd stallion. She never got to see him mature into the magnificent stallion she believed he would be. He had been her masterpiece and every foal he had sired, a memorial to her insight and wisdom. On the day she died, he had promised her that Ferise would only know one home, his home, for the rest of his life and she, had consummated her agreement with one last smile. That promise, over time had now become a legacy. No doubt about Ferise's importance and yet, something had to be said about what Ferise did for him. No matter how upside down his world had become,  Ferise was the constant, the steadfast friend who without saying anything, could somehow dull all the sharp and painful edges of life. What would he do now with Ferise gone? He walked over to his paddock, halter in hand. His hands were trembling. He had prayed for a miracle, the hardest that he had ever prayed, since his friend had died. But where was God? The silence had been grueling, now, as it was back then. Ferise saw him and wheeled around and cantered to the gate, nickering softly at the sight of his friend. He placed the halter over his head, clipped the lead and started to walk towards the barn. He wanted to brush the dust off his body and switch to a warmer sheet, maybe the fleece lined stable blanket would be great. His eyes studied every curve of his horse, in the hope that they would forever be etched in his memory, as vividly as he saw them now. Oh! How he loved this horse! Ferise kept turning his head to look at him, to study the face that he knew so well. Something was different this morning and he had sensed the heaviness in the man's heart. He lightly pawed the ground, to ease the growing anxiety that was building in him. "Easy now boy, nothing to worry about." he heard himself say. The lie he just told  his horse overwhelmed him. He reached out to stroke his neck, to comfort him but more than anything, he didn't want to forget the way his body felt under the touch of his hand. Ferise’s coat was especially fine and silky to the touch, proof of his desert heritage. It was killing him. He didn't want to say goodbye. He wanted to keep all his horses and yet, this one...it was really going to hurt. As he buckled the straps  of the blanket across Ferise's chest, he heard the rumble of the truck's motor as the truck came to a stop in the driveway. He took a deep breath, as if to cleanse his body of the deep emotion he was feeling and wheeled around to greet the driver, as he walked to the back of the truck to lower the ramp of the trailer. "Good morning, cold enough for ya?" The driver said and asked, "is that the horse I'm picking up this morning?" He shook his head to indicate yes, not fully trusting that he could utter words clearly, without giving away how he felt inside. No one had helped him prepare for this part of the journey and even though it may be “just a horse” to another, the pain he felt was every bit as painful as the pain he felt when his friend and Ferise's breeder had died. As the driver walked towards him, to take the horse, he waved him away. "If you don't mind, I want to take him up into the trailer myself and say goodbye." he explained. He hadn't finished speaking those words, when Ferise turned around and grabbed the arm of his coat and wouldn't let go. He wasn't biting him, he was just holding onto him with his mouth, as if to say, "please, don't leave me. I don't want to go." Tears welled  up in the man's eyes. The power of this moment was more than he had bargained for. How would he face tomorrow with Ferise somewhere else, knowing that he had turned his horse's life upside down? They only had each other and in the next few seconds, both of them would lose everything they have.

18 May, 2015


*Farazdac was born in Egypt, in February 1966, bred by the EAO. He is an Alaa el Din son out of Farasha (Sid Abouhom x Yosreia). *Farazdac was exported from Egypt in 1974 by Rick Heber together with Bill & Janet Lowe; the same team of people responsible for the importation of *Tuhotmos. *Farazdac sired a record number of horses, approximately 461 horses from 1974 to 1991. Of this total number, 417 horses were purebreds. It is interesting to note that *Farazdac started to sire Half-Arabians in 1980, with most of these horses born between the years of 1984 and 1987 (1985 and 1986 the banner years for Half-Arabian versions of *Farazdac). However, do you know that less than 25% of the 417 purebred horses were straight Egyptian (approximately 96 horses)? That’s only twice the number of the Half-Arabian horse count! Why was the reaction among SE breeders so poor for *Farazdac? I have always tried to understand the answer to this question and failed. Maybe because I have been looking for one definitive answer and really, there is no clear cut answer. *Farazdac was one of the most beautiful stallions to ever come out of Egypt. He was so striking, so different, from the horses of his day and no one captured his beauty like photographer Polly Knoll. Her pictures of *Farazdac to this day, remain some of my most favorite photos. You can't even imagine the impact these photos had on a kid who dreamed about horses all day long. In an interview with Desert Heritage Magazine, Polly Knoll said, “He is another horse that was very ethereal like Morafic. He had that same fine skin and clean sculpted bone structure. He was a bit taller than Morafic, with longer legs. He was an energetic horse but he was very nice in disposition and easy to work with. He was very kind. Also he could really move.” One of the qualities that breeders did not appreciate in *Farazdac was his narrowness or rather, a perceived lack of substance. Although*Farazdac was built like a racehorse, he had a long distance runner's conformation. He was elegant, in the same way that you would find an athlete elegant, especially when moving. There was a cat-like grace in every one of *Farazdac's strides. In silhouette, *Farazdac had a radiator-shaped body, long and lean, the kind of body that may have suggested endurance racing potential. I will never forget what Hansi Heck Melnyk said about the horse, “I wish you had seen Farazdac as I did in Cairo. He just came back from his ‘winning’ race, absolutely breathtaking gorgeous. Prancing, like if he had just walked around the block. He had a beautiful long and well befitting to his body neck, elegant, and clean. There was also something very regal about him." As beautiful and eye-catching as he was, *Farazdac’s head was longer and more narrow, with average-sized eyes, set higher in the head. In the age of horses like *Ansata Ibn Halima, with his large and lustrous eyes, set lower in the head, *Farazdac was completely opposite and breeders wanted more horses like *Ansata Ibn Halima. In the Hanan book, Dr. Nagel said that Alaa El Din was a good sire of broodmares but not of stallions. He believed that Alaa El Din never produced a son who was an equal or who emerged as an important sire in the EAO breeding program. Most breeders in this time period also felt like Dr. Nagel about the Alaa el Din sons. Even if a stallion were successful in the first generation, most breeders felt that any prepotency would diminish in the second or third generation. *Farazdac sired a wonderful son named Ikhnatoon in 1974, who remains his most influential son, impacting the EAO program significantly, which has in turn, influenced the breeding programs of private breeders in and out of Egypt. Ikhnatoon, in turn sired Adl (out of the Adaweya daughter, Enayah) who also became an important sire for the EAO breeding program. So, in terms of the Egyptian get tracing back to *Farazdac, Dr. Nagel’s statement is not only wrong; it is not fair to *Farazdac or even, Alaa el Din. In America, mention must be made of some of the wonderful daughters he sired, especially with the horses of the Maar-Ree family of horses, which appeared to combine well with *Farazdac (Robert & Jeanne Middleton, of Midcrest Farm, the home of Maar-Ree, also owned *Farazdac later in his life): Fasarra, foaled in 1980 out of the *Tuhotmos daughter, Massara, when bred to El Halimaar, produced the popular stallion, Richter MH. Rancho Bulakenyo also bred Mumtaz Ree, a *Farazdac daughter out of MFA Bint Maarree. Her daughter, Bint El Halimaar MH remains at Rancho Bulakenyo, while Mumtaz Ree returned to the country of her ancestors, to become part of the program at Yasmine & Ali's Shaarawi Arabians in Egypt. Bint Farazdac, when bred to The Egyptian Prince son (out of RDM Maar Halima) produced SH Say Anna. This mare produced two Ansata mares: Ansata Aniq (sired by Ansata Manasseh) and Ansata Anna Maria (sired by Ansata Hejazi). Donna Aldrich owned a pretty *Farazdac daughter, RG Desert Storm (out of the Pritzlaff mare, Desert Song RSI). In closing, I want to believe that even with the few number of SE offspring, *Farazdac remains a vibrant horse in our genepool, because his get and his grand get and his great grand get have been prolific and contrary to the popular belief that Alaa el Din sons were not prepotent. What do you think?

21 April, 2015

The Horse of Sheikhs

"His small ears were pricked, catching the strange sounds from the other animals. His fine head was held high. His every sense was alert. Every muscle, every sinew was ready to be unleashed with the power and swiftness of a coiled steel spring. The Black was all horse." - from The Horse Tamer by Walter Farley.
This young stallion is Thettwa Ezzain, bred by Mr. Usamah Alkazemi, of the world famous Ezzain Arabians, a fabulous breeding farm located in Kuwait. His sire is NK Qaswarah (NK Hafid Jamil x NK Nariman) and his dam is Albaheiah Ezzain (Nooreddine Ezzain x NK Nakeebya). I love the shape and length of Thettwa's neck, which has a beautiful underline and when meets the head, the angle adds length to the poll. His lines are actually circular, very smooth and flow gracefully into each other. There is harmony and balance present in the horse we see. He has longer, muscled forearms and short cannon bones, which are becoming increasingly more difficult to find these days. He is compact, with a smooth and strong top line, balanced below with a well-sprung rib cage. He is very correct. 

Have you ever heard the saying, "let the sire of the sire be the grandsire of the dam?" In the early 1950's, Lloyd Brackett, one of the founding fathers of the German Shepherd dog in the United States, popularized a long known breeding formula, used in breeding everything from Thoroughbred race horses to Holstein cattle to prize winning sheep. Lloyd Bracket did much to clear the confusion and misunderstanding of line and inbreeding and in the process, he bred over 90 champions. So this saying, "Let the sire of the sire be also the maternal grandsire of the dam" is forever known as Brackett's formula. In the pedigree of Thettwa Ezzain, the stallion, NK Hafid Jamil is the sire of NK Qaswarah, Thettwa's sire, as well as the grandsire of Albaheiah Ezzain, Thettwa's dam. 

When I visited Ezzain Arabians two years ago, I slowly realized that my favorite horses all shared common ground in Ansata AlMurtajiz. A son of Ansata Hejazi out of Ansata Samsara, it was not important whether Murtajiz appeared as a sire, grandsire or even great-grandsire; what became more important to me is the presence of Ansata AlMurtajiz in the pedigree. In Thettwa's pedigree, Ansata AlMurtajiz is the sire of Nooreddine, the sire of Albaheiah. I value Murtajiz's influence and the qualities he passes onto his get, most notably the size and shape of the skull and the placement of the ears, as well as the structure of the eye socket which enables these horses to possess some of the most beautiful eyes seen in the breed: very black, luminous and very large, set lower in the head. 

When I saw the dam of Thettwa, Albaheiah Ezzain, for the first time, I felt like someone had hit me and all the air was driven out of me. I felt light-headed and feared the embarrassment of fainting in the presence of men whom I had never met before. I knew that the mare was beautiful and had traveled thousands of miles to see her. I was not disappointed, as she was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined her to be. I had to get closer and look at her, I could no longer remain seated. While Thettwa is black as the night, Albaheiah is as radiant white as sunshine falling on new fallen snow. She is a taller mare with much substance but very refined, graceful and elegant. She has very fine, black skin which accentuates every line, every curve in her fabulous body. Her muzzle is very much like her paternal grandsire with elastic nostrils that become enormous, while moving. She is smooth and strong over her top line and her tail carriage is extreme, with the tail carried like a flag, away from her body. Most people dream of horses that look like Albaheiah does and unfortunately, never meet them. I am one of the luckier people who can say that I not only saw a horse like this once but meeting her was so profound, that I cannot continue to look at horses in the same way. As beautiful as Albaheiah is, one must stop to acknowledge her very interesting pedigree and the close relationship between the stallion, Nooreddine Ezaain and the mare, NK Nakeebya, her sire and dam. Albaheiah, through both her sire and dam, traces to the mare Nashua, a Salaa el Dine-sired daughter out of Lotfeia, who also became an important broodmare for Katharinenhof, having produced the stallion Nejdy as well as Nashua. Both Nooreddine and Nakeebya are grand progeny of Nashua, as Nooreddine is out of the Nashua daughter named Nada (by Adnan) and Nakeebya is out of the Nashua daughter named Nabilah (by Nahaman). To further underscore how closely related Nooreddine and Nakeebya are, both sires of the Nashua daughters, Nahaman and Adnan, are also Salaa el Dine sons. Nahaman is out of Ameera (Madkour I x Hanan), while Adnan is out of Ghazala (Ghazal x Hanan). Hanan is common ground for both horses.The difference between Nahaman and Adnan comes down to only two horses-Madkour and Ghazal. And with Ghazal being the sire of Moheba II, the dam of Madkour I, is there really a difference genetically between these two horses?

Going back to Lloyd Brackett and his breeding theories, he understood the value of using high quality dogs who were related to each other. He understood very clearly the type he wanted to reproduce in his dogs and by concentrating  genes and exercising very strict selection, he could breed the traits he desired with much consistency. He was not fond of outcrossing and he said, "Never outcross when things seem to be going well, do it only as an experiment or when some fault or faults cannot be eliminated." While Lloyd Brackett was focused on breeding his own unique strain of German Shepherd dogs; Usamah Alkazemi is equally passionate about breeding the most beautiful Arabian horses.

Another point that I would like to add is NK Qaswarah's ability to sire color. This is a significant point. While he is gray in color and even when bred to gray mares, he has produced a good number of bay-colored horses and like Thettwa, the more elusive black color. Thettwa is one of three black horses at Ezzain, the other two horses are Ekramilbari and Alttafilbari. In everything we know about the Bedouin, we understand that the Bedouins preferred darker colored horses over lighter colored horses and of the dark colors, the black horse was their favorite, followed by the dark bay and then, the dark chestnut. The black horse was so highly regarded by the Bedouin that only the Sheikhs rode the black horses. 

Thettwa is the best of his dam, enhanced by the unique qualities of his sire. Even with that said, it is challenging to look at this horse and not recognize the impact made by Ansata AlMurtajiz and just maybe, even farther back in the pedigree, the legendary sire, *Ansata Ibn Halima. Thettwa, in my personal opinion is very much like him, especially in the outline or silhouette of his body. Over the years, we have been taught to recognize this phenotype as Dahman by the scholars of our breed, most notably, Carl Raswan and Judith Forbis. Perhaps the multiple sources of Dahman blood in the pedigree have something to do with this? Although he is a Hadban strain horse by pedigree, Thettwa is the ultimate representation of the Dahman horse, in very modern form. 

14 December, 2014


The night air was cold upon her face, even without the wind. She wept. Her heart, was broken in two and drowning in loneliness. The large, open space that is the desert surrounded her and made her feel even more alone than she already felt. "How could she do this to me?" she wailed,
How could HE 
Her inner rage boiling, the fury launching from her lips,
Her tears, like icicles, frozen forever on her cheeks, a harsh reminder of the icy heart that betrayed her and driven her away from a place of comfort...her home. Her son, now fast asleep, wrapped himself tighter in her cloak, as the wind blew a little harder, a little colder. Yes, it was going to be cold in the desert tonight and Egypt was still a few more nights away.

"God of Abraham, I have no reason to trust you but if you are everything Abraham says that you are, please, do not abandon me!" she screamed into the black night.

The wind suddenly grew stronger and the sand, suddenly airborne, blasted angrily against all in his path. A whirling, dervish of sand surrounded her and her child.

"What is this, what is happening?" she questioned, with great concern.

"Hagar, your faith in the living God has been heard and God has sent me to you, to help you, in your time of need."

Suddenly, out of thin air, the handsome young man, with hair of gold and eyes of blue, stood facing her and said, "Peace to you, Hagar and to your son, Ishmael."

The angel Gabriel figures prominently in three world religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. I find this fact amazing, as many people, all over the world, share common ground through Gabriel. גַּבְרִיאֵל, Gavri'el, Gabrielus, جبريل Jibril, Jibrail, جبرائيل , Gabriel, in all the various names which people know him, means "strength of God". In all three religions, Gabriel is a messenger, between God and His creation.

In the time of Babylon, Daniel was visited by the Angel Gabriel, who helped Daniel to interpret visions that he experienced and did not understand. Gabriel's revelations bring wisdom and understanding, where there was none and bears witness to a God who loves His people and cares for each of us so much, that He would send an angel to Daniel, to counsel him.
"I am Gabriel, who stands before God.."-Luke 1:19
In Christianity, Gabriel is the angel who informs Zacharias of his wife's forthcoming pregnancy. Elizabeth, despite an advanced age, gives birth to a son, John, whom we know as John the Baptist. However, Gabriel's greatest message was to Mary, when He visited her to deliver the news that she would give birth to Jesus. Subsequently, Gabriel visits Joseph in a dream, to warn him of Herod's jealousy and his mission to slaughter all the newly-born male babies in Bethlehem. While the New Testament does not tell us that Gabriel was in fact, the Angel who delivered the news to Mary Magdalene of the resurrection, most Christians believe that Gabriel was the angel who said "Why do you search for the living among the dead?" Most Christians also believe that Gabriel was the angel who ministered to Jesus, as He agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His passion.

In Islam, Gabriel is also an angelic messenger, delivering messages from God to His beloved people. During the last days of Ramadan, on Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Great Value), Muslims remember the night that Gabriel descended to earth, to reveal the Qur'an to the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him). Muslims also believe that Gabriel accompanied the prophet on his ascension into the heavens.

One fact is amazingly clear, whether you read the Qur'an, the Bible or the Tanakh; Gabriel has been trying to get our attention. He wants to help us get closer to God, in the hope that we may form a deep and loving relationship with Him. Gabriel reminds us that all good things come from God and in times of great desperation, when we need God the most, his message is full of great joy and hope.

God loves you.  God wants you.

For those of us who love the Asil Arabian Horse, we are connected through the much-loved legends that have passed from one generation to the next, concerning the origin of the horse. Gabriel figures prominently in many of these stories.
"My blessed companion and friend of my creator, thou wilt never fail me."-from The Classic Arabian Horse written by Judith Forbis
"Who are you and where have you come from?" she asks, as she backs up towards her sleeping child, positioning her body between the stranger and Ishmael, offering her child protection.

Although she does not recognize him, she asks

"Has Abraham sent you for me?"

with a little hope still in her voice.

"I mean you no harm Hagar, the Lord God has found great favor in you. For you have remained steadfast in the faith of Abraham. You have not strayed from God and worshipped the pagan gods," he explained, "God is my strength and has sent me here, to this desert, to you, to bless you."
And as his words drifted into the growing wind, Hagar felt the heat rise and the sand started to swirl around her and from nowhere, the sound of a beating heart, amplified, pulsing in her eardrums, faster and faster.

"What is happening?"

And then, the most beautiful creature Hagar had ever seen, materialized out of the wind and stood before her, looking at her. She was extraordinary in her beauty and in her spirit, for she imparted an immediate feeling of peace upon Hagar, the likes of which she had never known. The creature was smaller than the camel but larger than the donkey, with eyes set wide apart in her broad head.  In the middle of her head was a white mark, shaped like a star, as if the star had fallen out of the night sky, landing upon her bulging forehead. She reached her nose out to Hagar, stretching her long neck and soon, her warm breath was dancing upon Hagar's skin. Her broad chest flowed into powerful shoulders, conveying the fact that this creature could fly like the wind, across the sand and away from danger. Her tail, like a flag, was blown from side to side, as if made from the finest silk.

"What is..?" her question, unfinished, drifted in the night air.

"She is a gift, from God. Her name is Kuhaylah and her children will inspire and encourage people for many years to come, long after you are gone from this place, for God has found favor with you Hagar and with your prayers...."
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies"-from the song, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, written by Charles Wesley

PS The painting by Mary Haggard was the poster for the 2002 Scottsdale All Arabian show. The scond painting of the chestnut Arabian Horse is by Fred Verbeek

01 October, 2014


"....large liquid dark eyes of oval shape..." - Carl Raswan
I pulled into the driveway and saw Maria just stepping out of her golf cart, with an arm full of hay.  She had just started feeding the horses. It was a good time to visit, as I could help her with all of the chores while we talked. "Hey, how are you? Thanks for letting me come over" as I gave her a big hug and then asked, "where's your new mare? I don't see her."

With a panicked look on her face, Maria quickly searched the herd with her eyes. "Um...oh, there she is, David, right over there,  by the water trough. She's the little chestnut mare with the white star," she said and continued, "you know, I don't really know that much about her. Her owner died and the relative that I dealt with, didn't really know much, other than what was on her papers. She's a sweet mare though, sad but really sweet. She doesn't socialize with the rest of the horses in this pasture. When she first got here, I thought maybe after a few weeks, she would be used to everyone. But that time has come and gone and still, she prefers to stand alone in the far corner of this field, away from all the other horses." Maria explained, as she agonized over the cute mare. "What do you think?" she asked me. I shrugged my shoulders because I had nothing to say. Maria looked at me and then continued, "the vet has seen her a couple times and has run a blood workup but he can't seem to find anything wrong with her. Nothing. She's healthy. So, I have been wondering over her diet and whether the grain I am feeding her might have something to do with it. I might switch her to a forage-based diet. I've already tried a higher dose of vitamins but I haven't seen any change. She looks so sad, so withdrawn. I know this sounds crazy but I have an animal communicator coming here tomorrow morning, to evaluate her."

"I don't think that's crazy Maria," I replied, "you might just find out what's bothering her and then, help her get better." We talked a little more about her new mare and a few other things and pretty soon, it was time to go home. "Call me and let me know what the communicator finds out about your mare. I'm stumped." I said, as I backed my car out of her driveway and drove away.

Louise Reardon, the animal communicator,  arrived early the next morning. Maria explained all of her concerns about the new mare. After some time, the communicator called Maria over to the pasture and proceeded to give Maria an answer that she was not really expecting. "You know Maria, this was a very poignant session for me. One of the more memorable sessions that I can ever recall. Your mare started to weep great tears of sadness, as if her heart was going to split in two halves, as she remembered her mistress. She had deeply loved her woman, who sounds like a gentle and kind soul. Marti was her name. She called your mare Desi. She doesn't like the name you are calling her by. She prefers that you call her Desi. Marti made Desi feel very special and she told her that of all the horses in the world, she was the most beautiful horse she had ever known. Marti always had kind, soothing words for Desi. She made Desi feel better. She spoke directly from her heart, using words that were raw, full of imagery and feeling" and then, Louise stopped for a minute, to brush a tear out of her own eye. "I'm sorry." she said. Maria looked at her in full amazement, hanging onto every word Louise said. "But the most amazing thing your little mare said, is that she remembers Marti's eyes most of all. They were the most beautiful eyes. Dark, liquid eyes that seemed to be like two pools of melted obsidian. Obsidian. Can you believe Desi said that?" Maria was quiet and Louise, broke into her silence with a question, "do you have a camera?" Maria looked at her, puzzled and repeated, "a camera? whatever for?"she asked. Louise explained, "Desi told me that when Marti looked at her, she could see, in the depths of Marti's eyes, her own beautiful reflection. So, I promised her that you would take her picture with your camera and show it to her every time you see her. It's not the same as seeing her reflection in Marti's eyes but I noticed you have light blue eyes and well, it's the best that I could come up with. It made Desi happier to know this." 

So, imagine my surprise, to learn the whole story, when I called Maria later. I cried, to learn that Desi was grieving the loss of her human. I also loved her name. Desi. And then, it hit me and I laughed out loud, "WOW, even horses like selfies, just like people."

29 September, 2014

Barn Coat

I remember when I purchased this coat. I had gone to the store to buy something else and I walked by the outerwear section and there it was. I must have picked it up a hundred times, only to change my mind each time and place it back on the rack. 
It's not me. 
I'm too short. 
It's too long.  
It's lightweight.
I'll be cold in it but...it had deep pockets.
BIG pockets.
I could fit a lot of cool stuff in there, like a couple wormers plus a few carrots, a hoof pick, curry comb, syringes and a rolled up lead rope. And that was just for starters. Maybe even a rock or two. I love rocks. I pick them up off the ground all the time. It just seemed to me that there was alot of potential in those pockets. So, I bought the coat...yup, for the pockets. I love pockets. 
And wait, 
I have to be honest with you. I also bought the coat because, 
I thought I looked like the Marlboro man when I tried it on. 
You know, a cowboy. 
I always wanted to be a cowboy. Just like Johnny West. And Thunderbolt. You can't forget Thunderbolt. He was the best part. But this coat needed some serious character before any of that could happen. Over the years, it's gotten a lot of character. With two horses, you can imagine how much character this coat has gotten. My kids are embarrassed to be seen with me in public, if I am wearing this coat. "Please, can you wear something else" or "It's not that cold out, really, you don't need to wear it" or "you really need a new one, you look like a homeless man with that old coat, it's gross" they tell me with painful looks on their faces. It's a sore point in my household. But I love this coat and even if I were to win the big prize on Lotto tomorrow, I would still wear it. I'll never get rid of it. It's comfortable but more importantly, this coat smells like my mare, Maarena. I bury my face in the coat and it takes me back to when I was standing right next to her, with my face buried in her silky mane. How I loved those days. Did I really understand how fleeting that time was? I was so happy then. Nothing could bother me on those days. Every now and then, on the really bad days, when I miss her most, I'll hug it and with every ounce of me, I can almost feel my arms wrapped around her neck. I didn't want to let go. 
I didn't want to say good bye. 
I wasn't ready.  
Please, stay with me. 
Don't leave me. 
So that's why I can't get rid of my coat. It's full of...character. My mare's character. I see her in this coat. That's why I can't wash it either. It still smells like her. I see all the smudge marks from when she rubbed her head on my arm, after I wormed her. At the time, I wasn't thrilled with all that white paste that I thought would never come out but it did...sort of. And that time that she choked and all that stuff came out of her nose. That came out too. And when I needed a cloth to wipe her face and I couldn't find one and only a sleeve would do, well, that stuff came out too. It's a really good coat now. It's been repeatedly baptized by stuff, over and over and over. Why, I would say that it fits me perfectly now. Thanks to all that character and...stuff.

26 September, 2014

A Short Course in Miracles

"Fairy tales can come true, they can happen to you, when you're young at heart..."-from the song Young at Heart, written by Johnny Richards and Carolyn Leigh
This is Haliluyah MH, an El Halimaar son out of RDM Maar Hala,  as photographed by the very talented, Christine Emmert. When I think of Haliluyah, I think of his miraculous beginning,
“Desperate to produce another foal or two, Maar Hala was left with an equine reproduction specialist in Santa Ynez. The vet was given carte blanche to ‘do whatever it takes to get her pregnant.’ By this time, Maar Hala was 21 years old but was in excellent health. At the end of the season, she was not pregnant so the decision was made to bring her home, reassess in the spring, and then decide if her reproductive career was over. At home she was pampered and treated like the queen that she was, but she was not teased and her cycles were not tracked. In April of 1995 the vet returned to examine Maar Hala to determine if it would be worth our while to try again. Upon examination, the vet told my dad to sit down because Maar Hala was pregnant. Dad exclaimed, ‘Hallelujah!’ and we had the name of Maar Hala’s next and last foal, Haliluyah MH.” -Jody Cruz, in his article, RDM Maar Hala, appearing in the September 2009 issue of The Australian Arabian Horse News
Who said miracles don't happen anymore? We just need to be more aware of them and to live each day as if it is in fact a miracle, because when you get right down to the middle of it, you are the miracle of your life. You just don't know that yet.