18 January, 2012

He Was a Goosebump Horse

That's what my friend, Anne-Louise Toner said about Asfour, an Egyptian Arabian stallion bred by Dr. Hans Joachim Nagel and purchased by Marion Richmond in 1985. Asfour was a son of Malik, a Hadban Enzahi son out of Malikah, who traced in tail female to Halima. Asfour's dam is the legendary queen of Katharinenhof, Hanan. It had been more than a few years and thousands of miles since Anne-Louise last saw Asfour at Simeon Stud. Ahhh, Simeon, the magical place where a mighty mare by the name of 27 Ibn Galal V once lived. This mare had made a profound impression upon Anne-Louise, changing the way she looked at all horses forever..  
"I was about 12, and Australia was holding its first-ever National Show.  I already knew I loved Arabian horses, so I told my Mum (who is a great mother) how important it was that I go see the horses at this show.  Suddenly, there was this PRESENCE in the ring.  Galal was a big bodied mare -I think a bit like Sonbolah, in some ways as well as color - and she curled her tail over back and snorted, and the energy about her was humming, palpable, so intense as she stood still - before curling up like a bow about to let loose an arrow, all this incredible, controlled power, and just elevated off the ground in the most amazing, huge, powerful, elegant trot across that arena.  She looked at (well, at the time I said she looked right at me but remember I was 12 and had read "The Black Stallion") the people ringside and snorted at us, and she was SO different!  There was nothing hurried or rushed in her movement, it was strong and deliberate and purposeful but light and effortless as a feather." 
When Anne-Louise last saw Asfour, he was barely out of colt-hood and yet, a rising star for Marion. He would ultimately exert a significant influence not only in Australia but throughout the world, in every place where the straight Egyptian Arabian is revered and celebrated.  Anne-Louise has had the good fortune to meet many great Egyptian horses since then, so, she wondered how Asfour would compare to some of the wonderful horses that she had met. "Would Asfour be just another good horse?" she wondered.
"He was in his box, tied to the back wall, and they had the top door closed as it was cold and rainy.  They opened the top door, and out of the darkness of the back of the stall, Asfour turned his head, just casually, to look at us.  It was like slow motion, a flea-bitten, masculine, dry, exotic face as it slowly turned, and then these two HUGE BLACK eyes in that white face blinked at me.  I had chills running up and down my back and down my arms and my knees were wobbly.  He hit you like a physical force, from 14 feet away.  We wandered in and patted him and I tried to be appropriately cool while I admired him."
Asfour was every bit extraordinary as Anne-Louise had remembered him to be. He was beautiful and one of the most physically stunning horses she had seen in a long time. He took your breath away. Asfour was a flesh and bone incarnation  of the horse that gallops in a person's imagination, inspiring and encouraging a heart and soul to keep stretching and reaching for the stars, even when everything you have been told, reminds you that this type of horse is just not possible in the real world.

Oh, yeah?

 you ask of the naysayers and then you say confidently, "well, you haven't met a horse named Asfour."
"Not to take away from other, beautiful horses who make you happy just by seeing them, but those horses, for me, were completely different. Not perfect, beyond perfect to the point where the imperfections are irrelevant. Maybe some horses are just destined to be immortal, beyond the silly confines of mere human bureaucrats and their petty criticisms."

PS this feature is lovingly dedicated to *Simeon Sachi, an Asfour son owned by Anne-Louise Toner of Al Atiq Arabians in Germantown, Maryland.

1 comment:

Anne-Louise said...

Oh, Ralph, Sachi and I are so honored by the dedication. It was that first visit back after all those years, when he completely knocked me over, all over again, that convinced me I needed Sach. The photos were taken a couple of trips later - but I still have the goosebumps and that huge goofy grin on my face, Asfour did it to me every time I was near him.

Hug your horses :)