01 May, 2012

Something about Mother's Day....

"The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own."-Benjamin Disraeli 
When Marsha Williams was a child, she discovered an Arabian horse inside a general reference book she had found in the library. Her heart pounded in her ears, when she saw him. There was just something about the photo that captured her attention. She can still remember tracing the horse's silhouette, over and over with her finger. She never tired of it and promised herself that one day, she would have a horse like this. Horses had always defined who she was, who she wanted to become and it was only natural that Marsha decided to dedicate her life to the Egyptian Arabian horse. There wasn't anything else she could do, as significant as working with these special horses.

Marsha became a successful trainer, taking green horses and preparing them for their amateur owners. She had been working with a head-strong Ansata Abbas Pasha daughter who had been proving herself to be a bit too difficult for her owner. With  tender loving care, Marsha had seen the mare blossom in her training. There wasn't much the mare wouldn't do for Marsha. However, the mare's owner grew tired of her and of the time, the dirt and the smell. So Maggie Iacovino paid Marsha an impromptu visit. "You know Marsha, I thought I might find personal fulfillment in this horsey thing and you know what, I haven't. I don't really like it. It's more than what I want to invest of myself, so, she's yours. Marsha was so stunned, she let out a gasp. Maggie looked at her and then said,  "I watched the interaction between you and Abby. She loves you. So, I signed the registration papers over to you. She is your horse now Marsha. Love her and one day, if you have the opportunity to do so, pay it forward." she said, as she pushed a white envelope into Marsha's hands. Marsha was stunned. Suddenly, here was the encouragement she had been praying for. Was she dreaming?

She had heard of a couple who owned  a young and upcoming stallion, recently imported from the EAO. Marsha had seen his photo spread in Arabian Horse World and had instantly liked the charismatic stallion. Now that Abby was her horse, Marsha wasted no time in contacting them. A year later, the stallion had tragically died but not before her miracle mare had been bred to him and eventually, given birth to an exquisite filly, whom she had called MW Milagro, her personal miracle. This filly matured into a beautiful mare, a Class A Halter Champion, who was coveted by many people. She had received a number of offers for her, which she had turned down. She had briefly considered one offer, as it was more money than she had ever earned in her life. It would have lessened the pressure of running a cash-strapped business and allowed her to renovate the farm with all of the improvements that would make her life easier. However, to have sold  "Milly" was unthinkable and in return,  the mare had rewarded Marsha with nine daughters, insuring the survival of this family, on her farm. Marsha's hands lovingly caressed the shiny red neck of Milly's grandson. Milagroso had been a little on the small side, when he was born but under Marsha's care, he prospered and now stood over 15 hands. "You know Matt, this colt's dam was a beautiful mare. I loved her. She was like a clone of her dam, MW Milagro, whom I called Milly. I almost called it quits, the day she died. I couldn't even begin to think, how I would make it, from one day to the next, without her. Like her dam, she was my friend and my confidante. She was carrying another foal by this colt's sire and I was hoping for a filly." she said. Matt looked across the paddock, to a couple of mares who stood with their eyes slowly closing, as they dozed in the sun. Marsha's voice was starting to break and he knew where she was headed next. Matt couldn't bear to hear the words he believed that she would soon be saying. "I love these horses and I care what happens to them. It's hard to let them go. Don't know if I can do it. I am so confused Matt, one moment, I am convinced that this is what I need to do and then, a few seconds later, I no longer feel so strong in my conviction" she explained, as tears started forming in her eyes.

Matt had been introduced to Marsha at a breeders conference by a friend of Matt's wife. Matt was new to horses. Actually, it was Darla who loved the horses and Matt, well, he loved Darla and would do anything to make her happy. Matt thought of Darla and somewhere deep inside of him, he still felt the ache. "Would he make it through any day, without missing Darla?" he asked himself but he knew the answer. He didn't believe that he would ever stop missing Darla. Darla had meant everything to him. It would be almost three years, this coming May. It all had happened so fast, it seemed like Darla was there one minute and then, gone the next. While getting ready for their annual Fourth of July barbecue, an overwhelming fatigue had robbed Darla of the energy she needed, to create one of the most anticipated family gatherings of the year. The following week, Darla and Matt had visited the doctor and as a precaution, had a round of blood tests. A couple of weeks later, the doctor delivered the grim news. As they crossed the parking lot of the medical building, Matt promised Darla that the following year, he would buy her the Arabian Horse she had always dreamed of, in celebration of her victory over her illness. He was determined to fight this with all he had. At the end of August, shortly before Labor Day, Darla had breathed her last breath. Matt was devastated and without Darla, he was lost. Consumed by grief, Matt stayed at home, surrounded by pictures of his beautiful wife.

Six months later, on a business trip down south, he opened the complimentary airline magazine and read an article about alternative investment vehicles, which included breeding and raising Egyptian Arabian horses. Matt remembered the promise he had made to Darla, in her last days. With a new found fervor, Matt threw himself into the many reference books that Darla had collected. He purchased a subscription to Arabian Horse World Magazine. Matt focused on learning everything he could about the Arabian horse. When he was ready, he called Darla's friend, Nora. It was a timely call, as Nora was making plans to attend a Pyramid Society breeders conference and had suggested that Matt register for the event. It was at the conference where Matt had met Marsha Williams. Nora told Matt that Marsha, once a bright student with an exciting academic future ahead of her, had given up a full scholarship to Princeton University, so that she could work for a guy named Victor, a small preservation breeder who had spent a lifetime carefully breeding within an obscure, rare group of horses, descended from a key desert horse named *Sabra, a mare who had been imported from the Nejd region of Saudi Arabia. Victor had discovered, quite by accident, that alternately crossing the mares of this family with highly refined Saqlawi stallions produced a classic-looking horse. In one of Victor's travels, he met the American-born Saqlawi stallion named Ansata Abbas Pasha and strategically, using his best mares, had incorporated his bloodline into his program. Victor had sold a mare to an older woman, who had a penchant for collecting things that many others wanted but could not afford to buy. It was this woman, Maggie Iacovino, who had gifted Abby to Marsha. Matt spoke with Marsha during the conference, learning more about her breeding program and  of all the key horses who figured prominently. Marsha had suggested that he come out to the ranch, as she had two fillies for sale, that would make phenomenal foundation mares for a beginning program. While Matt liked what Marsha had said, there were other farms and ranches that he wanted to visit more. So, he never made it to Marsha's farm.

Matt had been traveling all over the United States, visiting breeders, taking lots of pictures and notes but he always came up short, trying to find just the right Arabian horse. He knew this horse existed, he just couldn't find the horse. So, Matt had called Marsha and made arrangements to finally visit her farm. As Matt drove up her long driveway, he saw a large group of mares grazing in the front paddock. Even at a distance, Matt recognized something special. Smooth of body and harmonious of build, Marsha's mares were unique; their physical qualities different from the other horses that he had seen. Their iridescent white coats, made even brighter by their black skin, accentuated every curve, enhancing their silhouette. The large, round and very black eye captured the twinkle of the sun, intensifying the depth and shape of the eye, like a pool of melted obsidian. The mare's nostrils, large and delicately curved, underscored the overall beauty of the mares’ heads, which looked as if they were chiseled out of the finest stone. The mare’s necks were long and swan-like, with extra length in the poll and a finer throat latch than he remembered ever seeing. Powerful shoulders met a closely-coupled, strong and level back, supported by deep, well-sprung ribs and balanced with round, well-muscled hindquarters. An extreme high-set tail, proudly carried, like a banner, waved in the breeze, As Matt slowed down to look at the mares, he heard loud trumpeting neighing, ricocheting from somewhere on the right side of his car. The powerful sound filled the inside of his car, the outside air and the surrounding hills. As he turned his head around to look, he saw what appeared at first to be a red lick of flame, burning down the hill, at a high rate of speed and coming towards him. "What the heck?" Matt cried out loud.

The stallion had seen the man driving the vehicle up the driveway. "Who was this man and what did he want with his mares?"  the stallion thought as he galloped down hill towards the driveway. A few feet from the fence line, he turned to his left effortlessly and slowed down to a floating, suspended trot, as he snorted deeply, to let the man know that he was there. As beautiful as the mares were,  the stallion defied description. He was extraordinary. Matt had never seen anything quite like this horse before. He was what the old-time cowboys called a three-circle horse, incredibly balanced, with a body comprised of rounded lines and curves. The powerful shoulders were set at an angle which allowed the horse so much freedom, that he flew over the ground with enormous strides. His neck was long, swan-like, with a pronounced arch, gently curving upwards to meet a head that was short and wide, with a prominent and very detailed bone structure. His back was short and strong, with a tail that was set high and curled over his back, accentuating his short, smooth and strong top line. He was exquisite and to Matt, was the masterpiece of Marsha's  program . Matt was in awe. He had to have the horse. He needed him. At first, Marsha would not even hear of it. "He is not for sale Matt, not at any price. Not at all. I have waited a long time for this horse to be born. I dreamed about him and now that I finally have him, it makes no sense to let him go." she said emphatically, leaving no doubt in Matt's mind that he had decided to fall in love with a horse that could never be his.

When Marsha called, almost a year later, Matt was surprised by her phone call and by the news that circumstances beyond her control, was forcing her to liquidate, to raise the cash she desperately needed. Matt didn't even wait a second to consider whether he should or shouldn't. Granted, the money Marsha was asking, was more money than he ever thought he would pay for a horse but the image of the red stallion, still burned in his heart and well, he had to have the horse. Matt accepted Marsha's offer.

So, now, having driven with his new trailer all day, to pick up his horse, Marsha was having second thoughts.  Matt was feeling anxious, as the dread filled him. "I am so confused Matt, one moment, I am convinced that this is what I need to do and then, a few seconds later, I no longer feel so strong in my conviction." He watched Marsha, as her face suddenly changed to a look of resolve, as if someone had whispered something into her ear, giving her strength.  Marsha drew in a very deep breath and said, "but then Matt, I thought of Maggie Iacovino and how her generosity made it possible for me to even get to this point, where I can significantly impact the life of another person, like Maggie had done for mine with Abby. She told me to pay it forward, so, Matt, he's yours, I want you to take him and help him to become the star he is destined to become. That is his destiny, to be nothing less than a star."

As Matt headed home, he was overwhelmed with happiness. He thought of the coming weekend and realized that Sunday was Mother's Day. Finally, the promise he had made to Darla, had come true. He couldn't think of a more appropriate time of year for this miracle to happen. Even through death, Darla continued to live victoriously and her dreams, now helped Matt to discover joy, when he felt he had none. Matt had found a new purpose, a new direction in his life. He felt lighter and happier than he had felt in a long time. The world suddenly felt more exciting and more hopeful. He was headed home with Darla's horse, the horse that Darla had once dreamed of owning and now, he would carry on for her, honor her, with a horse that she would have chosen and been proud of. "Happy Mother's Day Darla...I love you." Matt whispered, as a tear ran down his face.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms, both human and equine.
Ralph

3 comments:

Cathy said...

Two thumbs up, Ralph.rlingsz

Anne-Louise said...

Beautiful.

James said...

Hi - will you post your Blog at The Arabian Horse Community ay vorts.com? Our members will love it!
It's easy just cut and paste the link and it automatically links back to your website. You can also add Classifieds, Photos, Videos, etc. It’s free and easy…
We are looking for contributors to share stuff with our members. Please help.
Email me if you need any help or would like me to do it for you.
The Arabian Horse Community: http://www.vorts.com/arabian_horses/
Thanks,
James Kaufman, Editor