So, the old man got busy and showed me where all of the necessary tools were to do my job, that is, the manure fork, the shovel, the wheelbarrow and the bucket of lime powder. He showed me how to scoop up the manure and throw it in the wheelbarrow. He showed me how to look for the urine spot and how to remove the soiled bedding. He showed me the shed, where he stored the fresh, new bedding and he showed me the manure pile located behind the barn, where I would dump my wheelbarrow loads. "When you get done son, we'll work a couple horses and then, it'll be time for you to go on home." he stated.
The work took all of my strength and I concentrated on doing the very best job I could do. I wanted nothing more than to be a horseman, just like the old man. It seemed like I had only worked a few minutes, when the old man poked his head into the stall and asked me if I was done...yet. "You've been in here for a couple of hours son. You done yet?" he asked. "Yes sir, as soon as I dump the wheelbarrow, I will be finished. All the stalls are clean, just like you showed me, except for the stall with the chestnut horse inside. You told me not to go near him." I said. The old man remembered how tough he had been with the kid. And yet, this kid may be the best thing that had happened to him in a long time. Maybe the kid really loved horses, like he said he did. Now, he wished he hadn't been so gruff about the chestnut horse. The fact was, that he really wasn't so sure the horse was as crazy as he made him sound. If anything, the horse appeared to be curious about people and seemed forgiving of his past, as if he realized that life as he had known it once, was finished and a new, better life was about to start. Thinking about it, the old man had a lot in common with the chestnut horse, as he hoped for happier times and stronger relationships with the people he loved.
"You know anything about Arabian Horses son?" he asked. Arabians...wow. I had read about the breed in one of my favorite books. There was a picture of all these different kinds of horses running, together in a herd and there was a single white horse, stretched out into a full gallop, with the word "Arabian" appearing in a text box, under the horse. I had studied that picture over and over and over. Truth was, if someone could possibly choose from all the different kinds of horses, a favorite, mine would be the Arabian. I just loved how they looked. They looked different, like right out of a fairy-tale. "This horse is as close to a desert horse as you can get in America." the old man's words jarred me to attention, lost as I was thinking about Arabian Horses and how much I liked them. "This horse's grandmother came from the Arabian desert. She was bought by a wealthy man who was into Arabian horses for a little bit and then decided that it wasn't for him. Unfortunately for the horses, that set them on a path that wasn't always kind to them. This chestnut horse ended up in the wrong hands and those hands, ended up making it all wrong for him." the old man explained. As he slid open the stall door, the chestnut horse rocketed into an all out charge, ears flat against his head and teeth bared. While someone might say that the horse looked angry; I could feel that the horse was more scared than anything else. The old man confidently stepped toward the horse, while speaking softly and calmly to him. The horse charged at him, smacking his lips together and shaking his head. When that didn't scare off the old man, he half-reared in his stall, making himself appear bigger and badder than any other horse on the farm. The old man shook his lead rope and got the horse to move away from him, in a small circle in the box stall. Every time the horse decided to stop, the old man shook the rope and kept him moving. I watched the old man but really, I was watching the horse. I had never seen a horse move like this, with his neck stretched out in front of him, long and proudly arched, his beautiful chestnut mane, silky and soft, lightly bouncing off his neck. His tail was lifted high, so high, that the tail seemed to be curled over his back. His back was so short and so smooth and muscles popped out everywhere, in his shoulder, in his hind end, on his abdomen. An obviously beautiful horse when I saw him, standing in his stall; he was even more beautiful in motion and reminded me of the white horse galloping in my book. Suddenly, the horse stopped moving and turned to look at the old man. Slowly, the old man walked up to the horse. The horse stepped away and the old man shook his rope and moved the horse in the opposite direction. After a few minutes, the horse stopped and just like before, turned to face the old man. Slowly, the old man walked up to him and got a little closer than before. "You know son, when he first got here, I couldn't even get him into this stall. He was so afraid. I had that door open and eventually, he would come in to the stall, when he knew that I had left the barn. I just let him be. Didn't ask him to do anything." the old man told me and then continued, "that's enough for today son. Tomorrow is a new day. Come back tomorrow after school. I'll be waiting for you." he said.
I thought about everything that I saw and heard and my mind was full of vivid images and thoughts. While the old man had some beautiful horses of other breeds on his farm; the chestnut horse was so uniquely different from them and from a young boy's perspective, everything he had ever hoped to find in one horse. It was as if this horse had jumped out of his dreams, to take his place in the real world. Before I knew it, I had bicycled into my driveway. As beautiful as the chestnut horse is, I couldn't stop thinking of the negative experiences he might have had. "What kind of a person would want to hurt such a beautiful horse?" I wondered. I couldn't wait for tomorrow afternoon and another chance to see the beautiful chestnut horse again.
In SHE LET ME LOOK DEEP I told you the story of Apple Hill Ani, the mare that the Garretts purchased from April Johnson. However, the Garrett's also purchased a colt, out of Zelebanni and sired by Apple Hill Azal, whom they eventually named ELH Ibn Azal. Apple Hill Ani and Zelebanni were full sisters, sired by a chestnut stallion named Ibn Sirecho. As I researched the Garrett's wonderful story, the story of the relationship that Ginny Garrett enjoyed with this mare captured my attention. As I thought more about Apple Hill Ani, I also thought about her sire, Ibn Sirecho. From a pedigree perspective, his pedigree is especially interesting, as he represents fifty-percent Prince Mohamed Aly Tewfik breeding, through *Nasr and *Fadl. The tail female lines of both horses trace to the mare Bint Yamama. The other 50% comes through the RAS mare *Exochorda and the Sa'ud mare, *Turfa, which invigorates the lines of the Prince with close-up desert breeding. So, while Ibn Sirecho carries a high percentage of Egyptian breeding, he also offers a closer source of desert breeding than many other horses of his lifetime. While Ibn Sirecho is not a straight Egyptian Arabian horse, he is 100% Al Khamsa recognized, which also means that he is Asil, of authentic Bedouin breeding, as every one of his lines can be traced back to the desert.
WHO WAS IBN SIRECHO?
Sirecho and out of the Babson-Turfa mare, Turfara. Originally registered as Esperanzo Asil Sir-Turf, Ibn Sirecho was bred by Raymond and Jane Davis, of Cassville, Missouri. I liked his original name, "Esperanzo" which means "hope" in Spanish. For a young colt, with a whole future ahead of him, I could not think of a more appropriate way to start life than with a name so full of hope. In Ibn Sirecho's lifetime, he sired sixty-four registered Arabian foals. Through the present day, this particular horse has 410 recognized Al Khamsa descendants. He has left a legacy for many people like me to enjoy. Joe Ferriss is one of the people who was successful in bringing the legacy of Ibn Sirecho closer into his life. He once wrote of a special horse, a "war mare" named Anchor Hill Serfa, an Ibn Sirecho daughter he purchased from the Atkinson's of Anchor Hill Ranch.
"She was a dark liver chestnut, very balanced and symmetrical, a very nice head, nothing to excess yet strong, with clean flat bone, and a classic old world look overall."The Atkinsons of Anchor Hill also produced the stallion, Anchor Hill Gamil out of the mare Anchor Hill Bint Gamila. You will remember in THINKING, the story of Glorieta Gazaal, the Atkinsons had purchased *Gamila from Daniel Gainey, who was the filly foal that the EAO mare, *Mamdouha, was carrying by Enzahi, when she was purchased in Egypt. *Gamila was a phenomenal broodmare for the Atkinsons producing the full sisters Anchor Hill Bint Gamila, Anchor Hill Hamila, Anchor Hill Hadga and the extraordinary Anchor Hill Hamla, who produced Glorieta Gazaal's dam by Char Echo, Glorieta Gambolia.
His neck is one of the loveliest parts of him...his neck is outstanding. The neck is long and is gracefully arched with a very fine mitbah. He is neither thick nor short in this area, as we see in some of today's horses. I like his shoulder, the angle of the shoulder and his muscling is phenomenal. His top line is strong and level, with a nice short back, which flows into a smooth croup and a very full, wonderfully muscled hindquarter. His tail carriage is equally impressive and I really love how he carries the tail away from his body. He is harmonious, smooth of body, which is no surprise, considering who his sire is. I have always admired the influence of Sirecho in a pedigree. There is always a little extra-something that I see in horses who carry even only one line to him. Like the challenge I experience to define exactly what "quality" means; so too is the challenge to define this "little extra something" and maybe, both terms are related somewhat,with an answer found in the continuing influence of the horse, Sirecho.
My mare Princeton Maarena has a beautiful head with an extreme jibbah. I don't know where she gets this head, as I knew both her sire and her dam and neither horse had a head shaped like hers. So, while searching through Google Image search, I found a photograph of Ibn Sirecho's head and I was stunned. He reminds me so much of my mare! Could this head come from Sirecho? Or...can it be the concentration of the Bint Yamama dam line through both *Nasr and *Fadl? Mahroussa, the dam of *Fadl was recognized as one of the most ethereal mares of Egypt. When I look at this particular picture, I get a strange feeling of deja-vu. I have seen this face before and then, I remember...oh yes, Mimi.
The horse looked at me intently, anticipating my next move. The old man had left for his sister's house, about 20 minutes away, so I knew that I had some time to find out for myself if this horse was as crazy as the old man said he was. I held my hand up to the bars of his stall, trying very hard to keep it quiet and steady. The horse looked at my hand and snorted. He stretched his neck as far as he could, from where he was standing, barely touching his muzzle to the skin of my palm. A few seconds passed and he took a step and stretched his neck out, enabling his muzzle to reach closer to my hand. I felt his muzzle hairs on my skin. We stood a long time like this. When the horse was convinced that I meant him no harm, he moved closer to the front of the stall, closer to me. I had sliced up some pieces of apple and had kept them in my pocket. I now offered these pieces to the horse. He sniffed them, unsure of what he was to do with them. He smelled them again and happened to lick one of the pieces. Suddenly, he ran to the back of his stall, kicking out with both of his hind feet. I jumped back and then, got my senses together. That's when I whispered softly to the horse, "I'm not going to hurt you. I just want to be your friend." and as I whispered this to the horse I remembered Ken McLaughlin from the My Friend Flicka book I loved so much. What was the word that Ken was always so anxious about? Oh yes, "loco'. "Could this chestnut horse be loco too?" I wondered. "Is that his problem?" I worried about it for a minute. And as I was lost in these most worrisome thoughts, the horse turned around and walked quietly to the front of the stall, where I stood and hung his head over the stall, pushing my body with his muzzle. In a second, I shook myself free from all of my "loco" thoughts and realized what had just happened. I was now closer to the horse than I had ever been. And suddenly, it dawned on me that the horse was asking for the pieces of apple that he had tasted. So, carefully, I held out my hand and watched in pure utter delight as the horse ate every piece of apple from my hand. Weeks passed and with every piece of apple, the chestnut horse deepened his relationship with me. Soon, the horse trusted me, assured that I would never strike him like so many others had. Every day, I waited for the old man to leave for his sister's home. It was the highlight of my day, the few minutes spent in ecstasy with a horse whom over time, I realized represented everything I had ever wanted, even if I didn't yet understand what everything was. This horse was it...my everything. These days would remain forever etched into my memory as some of the sweetest days of my life. Then, my studies became more important than they had ever been, due to a sternly written teacher's note home and I wasn't able to visit the old man for a while. For the next few months, I agonized over not being able to see my two closest friends in the world: the chestnut horse and the old man. On my way to church, my parents drove past the old man's farm and it was all I could do not to snap my neck in two, as I craned and looked for a brief glimpse of any activity that could be seen from the road. I wondered over the horse and whether the old man still owned him.
Six long months later, smarter and freer than I had been in a long time, I rode my bike over to the farm. Much to my surprise, the old man was riding the chestnut horse. I stood against the fence rail and watched both horse and man, carefully. The old man was smooth and subtle.
While the Maxwells proved the excellence of Ibn Sirecho as a sire, what happened next would prove the athletic excellence of Ibn Sirecho, as a sire of working western performance horses. Ibn Sirecho was sold to The Searle Arabian Horse Farm in Chandler, Arizona and very quickly, became an important sire for Bill and Kris Searle. Ibn Sirecho, authentic to his desert heritage, sired agile, willing and intelligent working ranch horses for the Searles, who did well at the Nationals and also at the famous Scottsdale All-Arabian show in the western stock horse classes. In 1983, Ibn Sirecho's daughter, the 1980 mare, Jezail (out of the double Ibn Fadl grand-daughter, Al Asmaje) won Champion Snaffle Bit Western Pleasure with Kris. In 1984, the Ibn Sirecho sons, Al Hajal (out of Sakkara, a daughter of Al Asmaje sired by the Sirecho son, Muhairon) and LeEncore (out of the Al Asmaje daughter, Ibn Fadls Finale) won 4 top tens. In 1985, LeEncore won a Reserve Champion Hackamore Stock Horse at the Scottsdale show. In 1987, Le Encore went to Scottsdale again and was pinned top ten in open stock horse. It is interesting to consider the amount of *Turfa blood in all of these horses, as the line to *Turfa, on both sides of the pedigree appear 4 and 5 times. Is the fact that these horses did so well in performance attributable to a mare who enchanted all who knew her with her amazing movement? I think this is a fact worth considering.
Gail Hoff-Carmona, at the urging of Mrs. Jane Ott, purchased two Ibn Sirecho horses from the Maxwells. The double Sirecho mare Samoohah (Ibn Sirecho x Sifana) and the stallion El Hamdani Bey (Ibn Sirecho x Fanistar) became part of Gail's breeding program at Princeton Arabians, both in her small Blue Star breeding program and also combined with her straight Babson Egyptian horses. Gail said
"...these horses are among the very best when you consider disposition. They tend to be very easy to train and quick to learn."Like the horses bred by the Searle's, these two horses were also rich in the number of crosses to the mare, *Turfa. Gail crossed these bloodlines with her horses like Serr Maariner, whose Babson lines nicked remarkably well with the *Turfa blood and increased the percentages of Prince Mohamed Aly breeding, present in Sirecho's pedigree. The progeny of these Ibn Sirecho horses became part of the Los Alamos Dressage Center's training program, helping Gail to teach dressage to children.
"Okay son, now bring the horse over here. Give him a little bit of your right leg. That's good. That looks real good." the old man said and continued, "I want to do something special for you Victor. I want to encourage your love of horses and give you some hope for a future filled with these horses. I just sent over a transfer of ownership to the Arabian Registry." I looked at him, listening to the words he was saying but not fully recognizing the significance of the words he was using. "Victor, I am giving you this horse. I want you to keep him here and I will continue to work with you. One day, this place will be yours and you can take up where I will leave off. By then, you will have learned my training methods which respects the sensitivity of these horses, while helping them to reach their full potential. In that way, we can be a small part in a greater plan...to insure that all horses will enjoy sound and sane relationships with humans." he said. I drew in my breath, hoping to keep myself from falling off my horse from the shock of what the old man said.
MY HORSE...he said MY HORSE.
If only the old man were still alive, to see the breeder Victor had become. The old man had a profound impact on Victor's decision to become a preservation breeder, hoping to produce another horse like the little chestnut horse. Victor had grown up with this horse, who had become the closest friend Victor had ever known in his life. When it was time to bid good-bye to the chestnut horse, Victor had looked into his eyes and promised him that he would insure the survival of his family, for others to enjoy and cherish, long after he and the chestnut horse's descendants had gone from this earth.
So, if you haven't figured it out yet, my name is Victor and I breed Asil horses of combined sources, particularly Babson-*Turfa horses, with and without the influence of Sirecho. I hope that you will recognize the plight of these horses, once more prosperous in number than they are now; this breeding group sadly faces reduced interest and a reduced number of breeding horses. I hope that my story inspires more "Victor's" as the *Turfa horses really need help, they are a FRAGILE breeding group and if nothing is done soon, they will disappear forever.
Long live the influence of *Turfa, a great and powerful mare, who remains so vibrant and relevant, in her descendants.
PS Many thanks to my friend, Diana Johnson of Bint Al Bahr Arabians, who helped me find so many photos of Ibn Sirecho. I am so grateful for her friendship. Also, I need to publicly thank and credit Ms. Karen Stalmann, whose Khamsat article, THE MAXWELL CONTRIBUTION helped me quite a bit in trying to understand the influence of Ibn Sirecho. Also, Ms. Kris Searle wrote an article titled THE MAKING OF A WESTERN HORSE which I also need to credit, as I learned about her horses like Jezail, Al Hajal and Le Encore.