03 September, 2015

A Goodbye Snapshot

“Promise me you'll never forget me because if I thought you would, I'd never leave.” ― A.A Milne
His mind was everywhere this morning. His thoughts were like the waves of the ocean, frightening and intimidating, as only the wildly beautiful, yet powerful surf could be. The year had been chaotic, bringing many changes, none of which were especially welcomed. Cancer, seemingly out of nowhere, had become his biggest nemesis and he was starting to feel weaker, his resolve for fighting this giant and "his personal Goliath", shaken. He wasn't sure what the next 3 or 4 months would bring and whether he would even live long enough, to see springtime. “Yes” he thought, “what a shitty year it has been.” He was tired and felt like shouting "uncle!" at the top of his lungs. Financially, the year had also been a train wreck and while his mind had been in a good place this past summer, his health responding  to several positive and upbeat changes, the financial part of it never really came together as expected.  The new home he found, two towns over,  appeared to be ideally suited to his changing level of energy and strength. It was perfect...and manageable. Three and a quarter acres, cross-fenced into 5 paddocks with a charming 4 stall barn. A cozy 3 bedroom New England-style cape cod, with a screened- in porch overlooking one of the paddocks, made it even more wonderful. He had made an offer on the place, $285,000, contingent on the sale of his place for $850,000. His farm was beautiful and reflected the many years of blood, sweat and tears he had personally invested. He knew that the price on his farm was ambitious but he was counting on the desirability of his property.  He couldn’t go anywhere in town without someone stopping him, to tell him how much they loved his farm. And, with the surplus of money after the purchase of the new place, he could pay off some of the medical bills that had been dogging him and have enough money left over to live comfortably and focus on his recovery. But the deal on his 45 acre farm fell through and after all was said and done, it really hurt to lose the deposit he had made. That was his hay money for this coming winter. Since then, things had just spiraled out of his control. It was cold now and he could see his breath, frosty and white. Fall was like a harbinger of colder and drearier things to come. From where he stood on the hill, he could see the glare of the silver tractor trailer, as the sun reflected off its shiny body. The truck had turned off the highway and within 15 minutes would be pulling up his driveway. Time to get Ferise. He couldn't believe that it had come to this. He had tried, really tried to avoid this outcome but keeping the horses became an impossibility, no matter how hard he tried. So, one by one, he had said goodbye to his treasured mares and now, he had to say goodbye to Ferise. This was going to kill him. Ferise had been with him for 15 years. He had bought him as a weanling from a friend who had bred him, with a very specific purpose in mind - to be her herd stallion. She never got to see him mature into the magnificent stallion she believed he would be. He had been her masterpiece and every foal he had sired, a memorial to her insight and wisdom. On the day she died, he had promised her that Ferise would only know one home, his home, for the rest of his life and she, had consummated her agreement with one last smile. That promise, over time had now become a legacy. No doubt about Ferise's importance and yet, something had to be said about what Ferise did for him. No matter how upside down his world had become,  Ferise was the constant, the steadfast friend who without saying anything, could somehow dull all the sharp and painful edges of life. What would he do now with Ferise gone? He walked over to his paddock, halter in hand. His hands were trembling. He had prayed for a miracle, the hardest that he had ever prayed, since his friend had died. But where was God? The silence had been grueling, now, as it was back then. Ferise saw him and wheeled around and cantered to the gate, nickering softly at the sight of his friend. He placed the halter over his head, clipped the lead and started to walk towards the barn. He wanted to brush the dust off his body and switch to a warmer sheet, maybe the fleece lined stable blanket would be great. His eyes studied every curve of his horse, in the hope that they would forever be etched in his memory, as vividly as he saw them now. Oh! How he loved this horse! Ferise kept turning his head to look at him, to study the face that he knew so well. Something was different this morning and he had sensed the heaviness in the man's heart. He lightly pawed the ground, to ease the growing anxiety that was building in him. "Easy now boy, nothing to worry about." he heard himself say. The lie he just told  his horse overwhelmed him. He reached out to stroke his neck, to comfort him but more than anything, he didn't want to forget the way his body felt under the touch of his hand. Ferise’s coat was especially fine and silky to the touch, proof of his desert heritage. It was killing him. He didn't want to say goodbye. He wanted to keep all his horses and yet, this one...it was really going to hurt. As he buckled the straps  of the blanket across Ferise's chest, he heard the rumble of the truck's motor as the truck came to a stop in the driveway. He took a deep breath, as if to cleanse his body of the deep emotion he was feeling and wheeled around to greet the driver, as he walked to the back of the truck to lower the ramp of the trailer. "Good morning, cold enough for ya?" The driver said and asked, "is that the horse I'm picking up this morning?" He shook his head to indicate yes, not fully trusting that he could utter words clearly, without giving away how he felt inside. No one had helped him prepare for this part of the journey and even though it may be “just a horse” to another, the pain he felt was every bit as painful as the pain he felt when his friend and Ferise's breeder had died. As the driver walked towards him, to take the horse, he waved him away. "If you don't mind, I want to take him up into the trailer myself and say goodbye." he explained. He hadn't finished speaking those words, when Ferise turned around and grabbed the arm of his coat and wouldn't let go. He wasn't biting him, he was just holding onto him with his mouth, as if to say, "please, don't leave me. I don't want to go." Tears welled  up in the man's eyes. The power of this moment was more than he had bargained for. How would he face tomorrow with Ferise somewhere else, knowing that he had turned his horse's life upside down? They only had each other and in the next few seconds, both of them would lose everything they have.

1 comment:

JoeF said...

I agree, Ralph with your pondering about Farazdac. I will never forget when I first saw him only about a year an a half after he arrived in the U.S. He was exotic and a horse like no other. Actually in person, one did not notice at first any of the faults you describe because of his incredible nobility. However at that time (early 1970s) there were still many in the U.S. who were not very comfortable with so "different" of an Arabian horse just as it was with Morafic before in the 1960s. German writers have also said the same about Kaisoon. These horses back then who approached the "extreme" in type, refinement and nobility were foreign to what many were used to, which is why horses like Ansata Ibn Halima and Hadban Enzahi were more like what people could envision in their concept of the so called "ideal look" back then. Times of course have now changed and extremes are becoming much more normal.

As for his siring ability, I think that (with the exception of Ikhnatoon) Farazdac was just carrying forward the tradition of certain stallions who are mainly good broodmare sires as was the case for Farazdac's full brother Faleh, who was also an impressive horse but of a completely different type than Farazdac. This broodmare sire quality was true also of Farazdac's sire Alaa El Din, and also true for Sameh and his son Ibn Hafiza and certain other sires. Actually some of Ibn Hafiza's finest daughters were retained by the EAO. Unfortunately with a horse like Farazdac the desire is often to re-create him in a stallion rather than a mare -- a stallion that all will flock to and admire and book breedings to. When this did not happen in the U.S., it may explain why Farazdac at his point in time did not sire more straight Egyptian horses.

Personally I feel that broodmare sires are seldom appreciated as much as those that create grand patriarchies. It takes some long term bigger picture thinking to value broodmare sires. But then the Bedouin knew this -- and they had lots of time in the past to try this out.