27 February, 2010


I had started running because I wanted to manage my weight and anxiety more effectively. I was unhappy and try as I may to prevent it, I could not keep my growing level of unhappiness from creeping into my daily life and into the interactions I enjoyed with others, even people whom I really loved. It seemed that any response, for even the most casual question, was intense and aggressive, fueled by the state of my overall poor health; both physically and emotionally. I had read somewhere that running stimulated the production of endorphins and led to a euphoria that is known as “runner’s high”. “Maybe my life is lacking from a healthy level of these naturally-occurring endorphins?” I thought. I was curious and desperate for a change, so, I pushed myself into activity. In the very beginning, I could barely run a half mile without feeling like I was going to collapse from the pain and discomfort but gradually, over the course of a year, one mile led to another and another, until the present, which found me running five miles on a daily basis and more focused on other things, such as the length of my stride and my average mile time. Running had become easier and somewhere after the first fifteen minutes, was effortless, leaving me quiet and alone and better able to confront my own self and work past some of the issues that I was struggling with. I had, without knowing it, become a long-distance runner. My favorite running route led me through thick pine forests, which eventually cleared to reveal an open field where “he” was. And I really looked forward to seeing “him” every morning. I don’t understand why but running seemed to sharpen my level of awareness for the natural world, which I learned, was happening all around me. A world that maybe, from behind the steering wheel of a car, I was too preoccupied and going too fast to notice. While not a completely perfect solution, running helped me to be more accepting of the challenges that used to affect me negatively, embrace them and look for the silver lining that may be hidden somewhere. Running helped me to develop the necessary tools I needed to survive adverse situations.

"The perfect life is like the perfect dog. Neither exists, except in the fervid imaginations of humans, whose fantasies often drive their expectations beyond reality."-Jon Katz, from his book, Dog Days: Dispatches from Bedlam Farm

The sun was incredibly bright and I had to shield my eyes away from the glare, as I started to run into the bend that met the farthest reaches of the pasture. The sun electrified the morning dew, until it sparkled on the grass, lending the scene a fairy-tale look. “Gosh, I don’t see him.” I said as I flipped my wrist over to check my watch and to no one in particular, I asked, “I wonder where he is?” I looked forward to seeing him every morning and hoped he felt the same for me. He was a compact horse, balanced, harmonious and smooth bodied. I could divide his body equally, into thirds. His back was strong and level, with a long neck set high on his shoulders, anchored by a noticeable wither, sitting on top of powerful shoulders, which allowed his movement to take my breath away. His body glistened, with a metallic sheen, which made his white coat radiate the natural sunlight, as if he were a heavenly creature, sent to earth in a vision. “Yes, he is a most beautiful horse…” I heard myself say and for a moment, I forgot that I was running, as I was enjoying the image of him, in my mind. “Where is he?” I kept running, an uneasiness growing inside of me, wondering if I would soon run past the most anticipated moment of the morning. “I hope not” I said determinedly, thinking about his big black eyes, which betrayed the aggressive body language of his stallion-hood, with the kind, sweet eyes of a loving companion. “If only…” I began, as I had said every morning. “If only I could own a horse like this, my life would be perfect and I would be so happy.” And out of nowhere, I felt the sound of his hoof beats before I saw him, as he galloped towards me. For someone else, the sight of this horse charging the fence line and calling out loudly would be frightening but I knew better. “Oh, there you are my boy, I was worried about you today.” He came right up to the fence, as I ran towards him, while shaking his head up and down, as if to say, “What were you worried about?” and as he stopped by the fence, anticipating the scratch I would soon be giving him on his wither, I said, “Yes, he is really the most perfect horse that I have ever seen,” as a huge smile appeared on my face.

I have been thinking a lot about Glorieta Gazaal lately. He was a beautiful horse, who was uniquely bred, his bloodlines being a little different, as compared to the pedigrees of today’s most popular horses. While Hadban Enzahi in strain, tracing to the root mare Venus in his tail female line, I always believed he looked like a Saqlawi horse. Glorieta Gazaal died three years ago, on New Year’s Day, 2007. He would have been 30-years old, this coming April.

Of all the pictures that I have seen of him, the one above, taken by Polly Knoll, has to be my favorite picture of all, as it captures the dramatic facial features of this horse, as well as his beautiful, slender and long neck, with a very nice length of poll. He was a charismatic horse and it seemed that his very full, very black, very luminous eye enchanted all who saw him. His internal goodness, his kindness, just sparkles out of his eye. His eye is soft, the kind of eye that speaks loudly of RELATIONSHIPS. Thousands of year’s worth of living, in close proximity to humans, is contained in the blackness of his eye. In a day and age when a degree of white has become more acceptable in the eye of an Arabian Horse, it is very nice to be reminded how beautiful a completely black eye is. While Gazaal’s face was not exotic, he is a most refined and elegant horse. His dryness is faithful to the desert that fashioned his features, to insure survival in a harsh environment. I like his larger-sized jowls, as large as dinner plates, with enough width between them that a man’s fist can fit comfortably up in there. I like nostrils, especially when nostrils are large and elastic, helping the horse to “drink up” large amounts of oxygen, when aerobically stressed to the limit, be it in racing or some other athletic endeavor. His neck is set high; with a nice angle and with the little we can see of his chest, we know it is wide and muscled. No surprises as the Ansata horses found in his pedigree had wonderful substance. It is extremely challenging as a mare owner, to think about a horse like Glorieta Gazaal today and not


about the possibilities. He is everything that I have been looking for.
He was perfect.
Too bad that I realized this and discovered what I really wanted, so late in life.
HIS life and mine.

Glorieta Gazaal disappeared for a while and I wondered what had happened to him. I didn’t see him advertised anywhere. As beautiful a horse as he was, soon, we learned that Gazaal had fallen on hard times. I was speaking to a friend once, about the cruelty that Arabian Horses experience a little more frequently than other breeds of horses. It is as if the extreme beauty of this breed brings out the worst behavior in people. I wanted to believe that the sheer beauty and elegance of the Arabian Horse would inspire people to be more like their horses. Egyptian Arabian Horse breeder, Lisa Busch of Utah, kept a close eye on Glorieta Gazaal over the years and when questionable things started happening to him, Lisa, together with Jody Cruz of Rancho Bulakenyo rescued Gazaal from a bad situation. Grossly underweight, he was nourished back to health, through the kindness of Lisa and Jody. They are my personal heroes for what they did for Gazaal, in his time of need. Marty Ryals, shortly thereafter, expressed an interest in the horse and Gazaal soon found himself moving to Louisiana, where Ryalswood Arabians was originally located. Eventually, Gazaal moved to Arizona, under the care of Kimberli Nelson at Zee Ranch, who together with Jon Michael of Hidden Hollow Preserve, helped Marty to further the influence of this glorious horse and make him more easily available to Egyptian Arabian Horse breeders.

Born in 1980, Glorieta Gazaal was a son of Ansata Abu Nazeer, an *Ansata Ibn Halima son out of the imported mare, *Ansata Bint Zaafarana, who, became a show champion mare and dam of champions like US Top Ten stallion, Ansata El Nisr. Her dam, Zaafarana, was a top producer of race horses in Egypt, no surprise, as she was a Balance daughter out of the mare Samira, one of four siblings whom Judi Forbis nicknamed “The Fabulous Four”. A full sister to *Talal, she was a more compact horse, as compared to *Talal, who was a bit stretchier than his sister. I find it interesting that *Ansata Bint Zaafarana produced foals only with *Ansata Ibn Halima, despite being bred to the Saqlawi horse, Ansata Ibn Sudan. Unfortunately, she never conceived to Sudan. I always think, “what if?” over a pure-in-strain Saqlawi horse that would have been born from this cross. However, she “nicked” extremely well with *Ansata Ibn Halima and produced the sons: Ansata Ali Pasha, Ansata El Mamluke, Ansata El Alim, Ansata El Nisr, Ansata Abu Nazeer and the daughters: Ansata Fatima, Ansata Aziza, Ansata Divina and Ansata Zariefa. Ansata Abu Nazeer was purchased by Mike and Kiki Case, for their Glorieta Ranch and became a very good sire, particularly of daughters like Glorieta Zaarina, Glorieta Zaafira, Glorieta Maarqesa, Glorieta Dalima, Glorieta Rabdania and Glorieta Sayonaara. In a May 1982 advertisement in Arabian Horse World, titled Ansata Abu Nazeer: Creating a dynasty of his own! Glorieta made this statement about the horse,

“In 1980 all three of our straight Egyptian foals: Glorieta Gazaal, Glorieta Maarqesa and Glorieta Zaafira, were sired by Ansata Abu Nazeer. The quality was so outstanding and the type so very consistent we were elated. He is proving to be a prepotent producer of the extreme type of Halima and the classic elegance of the Egyptian.”
Glorieta Gazaal was out of the mare, Glorieta Gambolia, a daughter of Char Echo and Anchor Hill Hamla. In the late forties, the American breeder, Daniel Gainey, impressed with the results of Henry Babson’s Egyptian Horses, wanted to incorporate Egyptian lines into his program and so, he went to Egypt and purchased the mare *Mamdouha, who was in foal to the stallion Enzahi. The mare *Gamila was the foal that was born of *Mamdouha and at twelve years old, *Gamila was sold to the Atkinson’s of Anchor Hill Ranch. Bred to Anchor Hill’s straight Babson Egyptian stallion, Hadbah, she produced the extraordinary foundation mare, Anchor Hill Hamla. She was a beautiful, old-world type of mare, who was harmonious and smooth-of-body. She had lots of curves and lots of round lines. She was also a typey horse, not exotic but classic, with chiseled features and a dry, refined face. However, it was through her progeny, that Anchor Hill Hamla would prove to be most influential. Actually, she out produced her full sisters: Anchor Hill Bint Gamila, Anchor Hill Hamila and Anchor Hill Hadga. Subsequently owned by Glorieta and bred to horses like *Talal and Ansata Abu Nazeer, when bred to the Negem son, Char Echo, she produced Glorieta Gambolia. That’s Gambolia, in the picture to the right. When I saw that Char Echo was present in her pedigree, I was happy, as he is a son of the mare Sirhabba. I love the influence of Sirhabba. What is also interesting is that Gambolia was bred to *Ansata Ibn Halima, the sire of Ansata Abu Nazeer, the year before she produced Gazaal. From this cross, Gambolia produced Glorieta Angelima.

Laurence Perceval Hermet is currently involved in a forthcoming French publication of Asil horses for the group called ACAB (Association du Cheval Arabe B├ędouin). In an email that Laurence sent to me, I found among the attachments, a proof page for an ad that will appear for Laurence of Arabians. The ad profiles a 2007 Glorieta Gazaal daughter now owned by Laurence, Hadba Bint Gazaal. My eyes and my mind were disconnected, as my mind could not believe what my eyes were seeing.


What a real live beauty. The picture captures a filly in full flight, in that special moment when a trotting horse is air-borne and all four feet are off the ground. She is moving forward in a very nice supple frame, with a relaxed back and great energy, projected like a missile, in a straight line. She is driving off of her hind end and her hocks are elastic enough to dig way behind her and push her body forward, across the ground. Her shoulder has the freedom to reach out and grab as much ground in front of her, to balance the power from behind.

Hadba Bint Gazaal was bred by Kimberli Nelson of Zee Ranch in Arizona, from Glorieta Gazaal’s last season at stud. Hadba Bint Gazaal is the reason why I think of a stallion like Glorieta Gazaal today and for my heightened awareness for his continuing influence through his daughters. She is a living testimony to his siring brilliance. She is an exciting horse, as her tail female line, for both sire and dam, trace back to the mare, Anchor Hill Hamla, though her daughters Gambolia and Dalima. Congratulations to Kimberli for breeding such a wonderful mare and to Laurence, for recognizing a high quality horse like Hadba Bint Gazaal. I wish she were my horse.

Of the recorded progeny for Glorieta Gazaal, his percentage for siring daughters is approximately 80%. I shuddered when the thought initially entered my head…were we in the midst of a strong broodmare sire and we missed the opportunity to take full advantage of this phenomenon? Could Glorieta Gazaal have been the kind of sire whose influence would be felt through his daughters? Can the influence of Glorieta Gazaal continue with his daughters, like Hadba Bint Gazaal? Could a double Anchor Hill Hamla mare become as prolific and as outstanding of a producer, as her great grand-dam? Can she continue to further stretch the influence of this most remarkable mare and allow her legacy to be felt farther than it was ever thought possible?

Just thinking,


Kimberli Nelson said...

Wow, thank you Ralph! You brought tears to my eyes. I am not the writer that you are, I wish I was but you expressed all that Gazaal was to me, Jon, Marty, Jody and Lisa. Thank you for this. And thank you for loving my Bint Gazaal. she is a treasure and I am so glad she is in the wonderful care of Laurence in France. I miss her so much, she is a beauty and a love.

ryalswood said...

Ralph, I'm with Kimberli. I loved the Gazaal piece! From the first moment I saw a photo of Gazaal, I loved him and I said the same thing you did, "I would love to own a horse like that!" I had no idea that one day I would, or rather he would own me. He truly was a wonderful horse with a great personality. He kept me laughing all the time, well, almost all the time. Even now as I think about him, he puts a big grin on my face.
And I'm proud he produced the beautiful mare Hadba Bint Gazaal for Kimberli. Now that he's gone, I find many folks who love him and want one of his daughters. But, you know, he was one of those horses that it wouldn't have mattered if he never produced anything of merit because he was IT! Just knowing him and being close to him was a privilege. And fortunately, he has left a great legacy.
Thank you...marty