14 October, 2010


The air was soft and warm, as a summer breeze stirred in the noon-day sun. The mares were gathered under the huge tree in the pasture, enjoying the cooler shade that the tree offered them. “Better go over and check the mares, it is really hot today.” said Victor, to no one in particular, as he headed towards the farthest pasture on his farm. It was early afternoon and the mares were quiet, escaping the strongest rays of the sun. As he approached the paddock, Victor was captivated by his mares’ charm and elegance. Smooth of body and harmonious of build, the mares were uniquely special; their physical qualities very different from other horses. The iridescent white coats, made even brighter by their black skin, accentuated every curve, enhancing the silhouette of the mares. The large, round and very black eye captured the twinkle of the sun, as it danced in and out of the shade, intensifying the depth and shape of the eye, reminding Victor of a precious gem, like obsidian. The nostrils, large and delicately curved, underscored the overall beauty of his mares’ heads, which looked as if the head had been chiseled out of the finest stone. The mare’s necks were long and swan-like, with a longer poll and a finer throat latch than he remembered seeing in a long time. Powerful shoulders met a closely-coupled, strong back, supported by deep, well-sprung ribs and balanced with round, well-muscled hindquarters. A high-set tail, proudly held, like a banner, waved in the breeze, moving in time with the swaying tree branches. As beautiful as his mares were, Victor was also proud of their toughness, their hardiness and powerful athletic ability. These were authentic daughters of the wind, able to float over the ground, effortlessly and efficiently, insuring the survival of the nomadic people from long ago, who lived in a harsher and unforgiving climate.

"How long has it been, since I started out on this journey?" Victor wondered out loud.

He remembered what was written inside the brochure he had picked up at the booth sponsored by the Desert Horse club. Less than a thousand horses remained in the entire breeding population of authentic desert horses. And every year that passes, the breeding population becomes even more fragile than the year before.  He loved his mares and shuddered to think of a life without them. Victor had spent the better part of the last twenty years searching for the finest representatives of the Sabra al Halim family, in tail-female-line form. This was his life focus now. He thought of the mission statement inside the breeder’s catalogue he had purchased,”to conserve, preserve and protect…” Initially, he was intrigued by the idea of owning horses who traced back in all of their bloodlines, to horses bred by the Bedouin people, in the Nejd. Acknowledging the wide diversity in phenotype, he had narrowed his choice down to this one particular family, as these horses consistently produced the type of horse he preferred. The mares had not only been challenging to find but far more difficult to purchase, as their breeder was not willing to part with any of them, as their numbers had dwindled to less than ten mares in the breeding population, a result of reckless out-crossing, without regard to their survival or even for the need of preservation. “I want the assurance that you will breed these mares wisely, ensuring their survival for tomorrow.” said Nellie, who had rescued the Sabras from extinction, breeding and raising seven of the generations now represented in Victor’s breeding herd. Yes, it certainly had been challenging and he was grateful that he had been able to prove his sincerity, his knowledge and his desire in preserving these bloodlines. The rewards, too numerous to mention stand before him, dozing contentedly in the mid-day sun. His goals, hidden for the moment within the belly of each of his prized mares was tomorrow's promise that this family would continue, far into the future. Soon, they would give birth to the next generation, insuring the continued survival of this family. Enamored by the qualities in his mares, he had selected the finest Asil stallions, which would complement the qualities of his mares. Eventually, his interest had encouraged him to research history and read about his royal highness, the Prince, who had bred the ancestors of his mares, many years ago, on a beautiful island, floating in the Nile Rive, using the paintings of Albrecht Adam as his guide. Now, his mares, relaxing a few yards from him, are as timeless as the horses that were depicted in the paintings. It is as if the horses stepped out of the portraits, to enjoy life in the real world, on the other side of the canvas. He was eager to see the next generation and his personal contribution towards the survival of the desert Arabian horse. Tomorrow...what a most wonderful word. Victor was like a child on Christmas morning, waiting for the rest of his family to awaken, to discover the world of treasure, waiting under the tree. Soon, the presents his mares would give him would be ready for the unwrapping....

To be continued....


*I must give credit to Mr. Kent Gilbert of the Assocated Press, whose picture of a Scarlet Macaw chick, appeared in The Boston Globe. Endangered Scarlet Macaws, born in captivity, are reproducing in the wild along Costa Rica's southern Pacific coast.

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