02 November, 2009

Cheval du Coeur

“The rejoneador, it must be explained, is a mounted man, who fights bulls and does, on horseback, everything the matador does, including the killing.”-Edward Laroque Tinker, from his book, Centaurs of Many Lands

Galloping across the ring to where an angry, mountainous mass of rippling muscle stood, the rejoneador delivers the challenge and the bull, determined to bury his horns into someone, accepts and charges the horse and rider. The horse pirouettes, giving the impression that he is galloping in one spot, while the rejoneador gently urges his horse close, closer, ever closer to imminent danger and places the first of the banderillas between the shoulder blades of the bull. The fury flashes in the bull’s eyes and he races toward the horse, ready to clear the arena of this most annoying two-headed animal. Aware of what may happen in the following seconds, the crowd gasps loudly…

One could say that a horse galloped into Clothilde Nollet's heart at a very young age and never stopped galloping until she reached her soul.

"A true horseman does not look at the horse with her eyes, she looks at the horse with her heart."

Clo's grandmother managed a hotel when Clo was a small child and one of her employees was a Spanish gentleman, who possessed an impeccable attention to detail, a strong sense of style, all with the eye of an artist. Rumor had it that once; he had been a brave and mighty rejoneador, the most famed in all of Spain, riding agile horses in bullrings, inches away from death. The young men were in awe of this warrior and would practice with each other the dance of the bull, as they imagined his story in their young minds. Clo was fascinated by the horses in these stories, whose unparalleled courage, never wavered in the face of great danger. The old man recognized something familiar in the young girl's eyes; maybe, he saw himself as a child, yearning for the horses which brought him only joy. It was Clo's good fortune to meet this Spanish horseman, for he taught Clo all about extensions, collections and half pass-to-half pass changes of directions. The lessons became a strong foundation, which would ultimately help Clo to recognize the qualities which create loyal and courageous partners, loving and devoted to their riders, willing to try anything asked of them, even to face danger, head on.

In 1995, one of the last Mahrouf daughters was born at the Babson Farm. Mahrouf, a handsome and athletic chestnut stallion, was shown by Carolyn Gardner in 1981, to a Region 11 Park Horse Championship. Mahrouf’s filly was out of the Ibn Fa-Serr daughter, Fay Amy. Henry Babson, long considered a pioneer in the Arabian Horse community, was the first Egyptian Arabian Horse breeder to experiment with breeding a full brother and sister. When he bred the black stallion, Fa-Serr to Fa Deene, the stallion Ibn Fa-Serr was born. This stallion sired 85 sons and daughters, including the dressage champion, Serr Maariner. Fay Amy’s dam was a famous bay mare named Aroufina. In another story, this mare, when bred to the stallion Fa Noufas, produced the mare Noufina who was eventually bred to the Sabeel son, Lancers Sahm, producing PH Safina. Bred to *Orashan, she produced BB Ora Kalilah, who produced the ultimate Arabian Horse, Imperial Baarez. With four crosses to the Saqlawi mare, *Bint Serra, the mare which Henry Babson fell in love with, desired and ultimately required the help of Dr. Branch, to convince Prince Kemal el Dine to sell this mare to him. The little grey filly, influenced with multiple crosses to *Bint Serra, was refined and elegant, with a longer, narrower face that is more often seen in horses of the Saqlawi strain. She was named Bint Fay Amy, in honor of her mother, whose place she would eventually occupy in the Babson Farm herd.

Three years later, in 1998, Clo was able to realize a dream that many horse-crazy young girls like her also dream of, an Arabian gelding of Polish ancestry. Her horse. Her dream. Lived, her way. A horse, which in her mind was more like the horses that the Spanish horseman rode in his country. She wanted to be like him and make his stories, her stories. That is, her own stories to tell one day. It was this horse that created for Clo a curiosity for Arabian Horse history and opened her mind to learn about the Egyptian Arabian Horse.

In the almost 60-year history of the Babson Farm, no one imagined that one day, the doors of this farm would be closed forever. For admirers of this most serene place, this was not the future that one expected, for a farm that had given birth to so many wonderful horses. And that for horses like the beautiful Bint Fay Amy, as well as for a stallion like Mah Deluque, they would travel far away from the lush pastures and the cypress barn, to breeders like Pascal Lavreau and Margaret Albertine, who recognized the quality of these horses, tracing in all of their bloodlines to only the five horses that Henry Babson imported to America, from Egypt, in 1932. Bint Fay Amy would soon find herself on a journey to Belgium, where she would eventually produce a grey daughter by Meranti Fa Asar named Canasta Fay Sara. But for a horse like Bint Fay Amy, something was missing…maybe not something, maybe…it…is…someone.

In England, Clo had an opportunity to visit the Egyptian Arabian horses collected by Mr. Martines. She was impressed, as all the horses were of excellent quality and abundantly blessed with Arabian Horse type. Clo secretly promised herself that if she were able to breed Arabian Horses one day; this would be the type of horse she would want to produce. She met Amélie Blackwell and the two young women, sharing common ground and interests, developed a friendship. The passion of one ignited a fire in the other. Clo learned all about the Babson horse from Amélie and she soon found herself searching for the breeders of these horses, with a hunger for knowledge like she had never known before. Her enthusiasm for the bloodlines was embraced and welcomed by like-minded Babson enthusiasts and breeders. Soon, Clo found herself with many pictures and pedigrees of horses. It would be horses like Ser Mahrouf (Mahrouf x Fay Amy) and BA Serr Isaac (Serpreme x Mah Amy) which would catch her attention.

Clo made two trips to America, in 2006 and then again in the summer of 2009, to meet Babson breeders and to see their horses. At Jody Dvorak's farm, she fell in love with TES Mahala Amira (Mah Hab x Amys Amira), a very refined bay mare who is a maternal grand-daughter of Fay Amy. At Carolyn Jacobson's Beaux Chevaux Farm, she met Mah Barouf, who was also one of the last horses sired by Mahrouf. Slowly, Clo recognized that from all the horses she saw, she preferred the horses who shared common ground through the mare, Fay Amy and the stallion, Mahrouf. The map was drawn and the two individuals moved closer than ever to their final destination: each other.

In 2008, Clo’s friends visited Bint Fay Amy in Belgium and knew from Clo that she was looking for a straight Babson Egyptian mare. The mare was now owned by Pascal's veterinarian, who had managed to breed one foal from the mare but unfortunately, had not been able to produce any more foals from her. Her friends sent the pictures...and then, the horse that lived inside Clo's heart stopped galloping and all was still. The horse that she had known all this time was suddenly in front of her. She had found her. They had finally found each other. Clo found the horse that she was looking for, the horse that she saw in her mind and had felt with her heart. Suddenly, from somewhere far away, the Spanish gentleman smiled broadly. The lessons were now complete. Clo was ready to move on with her story.

Bint Fay Amy has finally arrived home, by way of America and Belgium, to find the girl's heart that she knew all along that she owned but could not find, despite galloping all over the world searching for her. She...Clo...forever…happily ever after. And soon, she will bred to Princeton Maariner, who also came a long way to help spread the influence of one man's dreams, one man’s kind heart and one man’s stories farther in the world than he ever thought possible.
“There should be no mediocrity in love and without love, you cannot create art.”-Nuno Oliveira

Un cheval du coeur...a horse of the heart. I love happy endings.

EnJoy your horses,

Please visit the website of Juan Mateo Lopez named Los Toros for more information regarding las Corridas, los rejoneadors and some fantastic photos. All pictures of Bint Fay Amy were taken by Clo Nollet.


Brigitte Kilian said...

Wonderful story Ralph!

Brigitte @ www.nasheeta.com (blog only in Dutch but nice pics to see!)

Juan Mateo López (Motril@Digital) said...

Ralph me encanta su blog y desde ahora seré un asiduo lector de él. Por ello lo he incluido como blog favorito en Motril@Digital con el nombre de "Egiptianarabian". Por cierto, gracias por recomendar mi web dedicada a los toros.
Si desea ponerse en contacto conmigo mi correo es motrildigital@yahoo.es
un saludo cordial.
Juan Mateo López