"What is REAL? asked the Rabbit one day..." -from The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams
For many children, a toy horse may be as real for them, as the Arabian Horse that you own today is real for you. This toy horse may be as close as a child will ever get to any horse, during his childhood. As an introduction to the world of horses, a cherished horse toy, over time, becomes familiar with every sculpted curve, line, angle and contour, lovingly worn by a child's hands and etched in the young person’s psyche. “Snowflake”, “Silver” or even “Cloudy” becomes a friend of the child, whose wild imagination has the horse galloping over the plains; chasing steers and outrunning bandits. If the toy horse is anatomically correct for breed type and conformation, the toy will subtly succeed in crossing over from just a mere play-thing to an educational tool. When the child matures and encounters a real live, breathing version of his toy horse, the toy horse now becomes the bridge between the horse that exists in his mind and the physical horse that stands before him. The toy horse has now become a real horse and a powerful reminder of the comfortable familiarity of long-ago childhood days.
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."-from The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams
When Jody Cruz was six years old and horse crazy, his father, Felino Cruz, searched for a horse to give his son. While Jody would have been happy with any horse his father would buy him, Felino Cruz had a specific vision of the ideal horse, that is, an Arabian Horse. Over time, this ideal horse, the horse that lived in Dr. Cruz’s mind, slowly evolved and became a real horse. His name was El Hilal.
I have admired Haliluyah MH (El Halimaar x RDM Maar Hala) for some time now. He is beautiful and he is also familiar. I don't remember how I stumbled upon the picture of the Breyer Arabian Horse model but as soon as I saw it, I thought, “ahhh, that's it! That’s Haliluyah!” This particular toy horse was a Christmas present from my parents. It was their way of acknowledging the very real love I have for horses. Perhaps this little horse is the reason why I am so attracted to a horse like Haliluyah. The little horse from long ago, made it possible for me to recognize and embrace a horse like Haliluyah, when the timing was right. While not an artist rendering of Haliluyah, there is more similarity, than there is a difference, as you can see in the following photo of Haliluyah, as photographed by the very talented, Christine Emmert.
“Desperate to produce another foal or two, Maar Hala was left with an equine reproduction specialist in Santa Ynez, CA. 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
Starting an Egyptian Arabian Horse breeding program was not easy for Felino Cruz and he encountered many challenges, set-backs and obstacles that for a less courageous person would have completely discouraged him. This is the Felino Cruz that I would like to remember and why I admire this man so much. He believed in the power of his dreams and in his ability to make his vision a reality. His powerful example exists for all of us and for what we can accomplish, if you just believe.
Unable to find and purchase a straight Egyptian mare, Felino Cruz persevered, never taking “no” as an answer, until he convinced Judi Forbis to sell the Babson-bred mare, Maarqada, who was in foal to *Ansata Ibn Halima. VICTORY…at last! However, while foaling, this mare dies, and while an extremely disappointing loss for him, for the faithful, God opened one door, while closing another. Felino Cruz soon traveled to meet the Middletons, who owned a lovely El Hilal daughter out of the super mare, Maar-Ree. While the Middleton’s would not sell RDM Maar Halima, they did finally agree to sell Dr. Cruz a younger El Hilal daughter out of Maar Jumana, a Maar-Ree daughter. This filly, named RDM Maar Hala, would finally be the catalyst that would bring all the dreams of Felino Cruz to real life and make the reality of an Egyptian Arabian Horse breeding program named Rancho Bulakenyo, possible for the Cruz family.
“Note must be made that my Dad has had a keen ability to acquire amazing horses that were considered unobtainable. Somehow, being told that he couldn’t have a horse made the challenge more intriguing and made him even more determined to accomplish his goal. Recently, I asked him how he was able to purchase so many unobtainable mares. By ‘being friendly’ was his answer.”-Jody Cruz, in his article, RDM Maar Hala, written for the September 2009 issue of The Australian Arabian Horse News
Today, one man’s very real vision has inspired many people and encouraged them to follow his example, that is, to have faith in your dreams and to remain steadfast and loyal to your vision of the ideal horse, which remains a real horse, in your heart, soul and mind.
A hero once walked among us and his name was Felino Cruz. May his memory continue to inspire us and encourage us to believe in the power of our dreams.
Keep dreaming, keep wishing, keep hoping, keep praying,