The Red Filly-Chapter 2

 

ApolloMarwariPic

“So how was it? Did you have fun?” asked Helene as she pulled their old pickup onto the two-lane country road at the end of the long gravel driveway.

“Yes, I had fun,” answered Chelsea.

“How about some details?” Helene again prodded.

“Mom, I had fun. I wish you wouldn’t interrogate me.”

Helene sighed and then said, “My new boss, Mr. Singh, invited us for dinner tonight.”

“Mom, I just want to go home. I don’t want to go anywhere,” Chelsea whined.

“Chelsea please, this is important to me. I really love my new job. You’ll like him. I promise.”

“Okay. I don’t have a choice, do I?” said Chelsea.

Helene laughed, “Not really.”

Chelsea didn’t respond and just looked out the window as they drove down the country road into town.  Her view consisted of field after field of mostly cows, occasionally horses and wood frame houses.  Many of the houses needed repairs and a new coat of paint.  There wasn’t a lot of money in Dale City. Most people lived off the land or paycheck to paycheck, except for the lucky ones that worked at James Corp, the best employer in the small town.

As they pulled into town, some of that prosperity could be seen.  There were better houses, even brick, ranch style types, which were popular among the rural, middle class.   Over the years several businesses had cropped up in town, including several chains like McDonalds, Burger King, and such.  Helene slowed the rambling truck to 35 mph as she pulled into the old downtown.  She pulled into one of the angled parking spots in front of a shop which bore the sign, Singh’s Antiques and Curiosities.  At first Helene had been a little worried about coming to work for a “foreigner”, not because she was xenophobic, but because there were rumors of white supremacist groups still operating in the small, Texas town.   Helene was well read and had dreamed of traveling the world, so she welcomed the chance to get to know Amir Singh. But she had been working at the shop for a month now, working on the daily operations and helping with the books and had seen no sign of racism from the townspeople who frequented the shop.  Maybe the fact that James Corp was owned by a black family had had a positive impact on the town.

Amir stepped out onto the walkway in front of his shop to greet them as they exited the truck, the heavy metal doors of the old truck screeching as they slammed them both shut.  Amir Singh was Helene’s age, but unlike her, he was fit. His black hair was cropped short, but was full and a bit wavy, complimenting his olive skin.

“Helene, so happy you and Chelsea could make it for dinner,” he greeted them with a smile.

“Hello Amir, this is Chelsea,” Helene said as she waived an arm toward her daughter as they both stepped onto the sidewalk.

“You call your boss by his first name?” Chelsea blurted out.

“We’re informal around here,” said Amir with a smile as he extended his right hand toward her.

Chelsea looked at his hand for a moment, then reached out and took it. She shook it firmly as her Dad had taught her before he left them. It was the only thing she ever learned from him.

Helene sighed as her body relaxed from her tense posture, which did not go unnoticed by Amir. He smiled toward Helene as if to say, “See, I told you everything would be fine.” She smiled back and the three of them headed inside.

They walked through the shop, which was full of the standard antiques found in any small, Texas town. There were old wooden dressers with chips and scratches, ancient looking garden gnomes, decorative plates on little metal stands depicting women with big, old fashioned dresses, and ceramic figurines in the shapes of cats and roosters and the like.

“Everything is so old in here!” said Chelsea.

“Chelsea!” Helene admonished.

“It’s ok Helene. She’s right, everything is old,” said Amir.

“Well why would people want to buy old things? Asked Chelsea.

“That’s an excellent question, Chelsea. I think sometimes old things, comfort people. They remind them of a simpler time, I assume,” Amir answered.

“That makes sense,” said Chelsea as they reached a door in the back that Amir opened and led them through.

“It smells funny in here,” said Chelsea.

“That’s because you’ve never smelled Indian spices before. I’ve made us some butter chicken and some naan,” said Amir.

“Just chicken with butter? And what’s nahn?” asked Chelsea.

“Come I’ll show you,” said Amir as they followed him to the back of the apartment to the kitchen. On the stove there was a large silver, metal pot that Amir walk toward and then lifted the lid. “Come look,” he invited.

Chelsea and Helene obliged, and they could see chicken covered in a brownish sauce inside the pot as they peered into it. “Oh, I like chicken and gravy,” said Chelsea.

“And here is the naan,” said Amir as he lifted a thin, white cloth from a plate on the counter.

“Oh, it’s just flatbread. I love bread!” said Chelsea.

Amir placed the cloth back over the bread and as he did that, Chelsea was distracted by a photograph on the wall just past the stove and near the kitchen table. It was a picture of Amir, although younger, smiling and standing next to a beautiful golden colored horse, with a blaze running down the length of its face. Chelsea walked closer to the photo and said, “What’s wrong with that horse’s ears?”

“There’s nothing wrong with Apollo’s ears. He’s a Marwari horse, their ears are supposed to curve inward.”

“Mahr-wahr-ee? How do you spell that?” asked Chelsea.

“M-a-r-w-a-r-i,” Amir answered.

“Marwari,” said Chelsea softly to herself. “Apollo was beautiful, he was your horse?” asked Chelsea.

“It’s a long story. Let’s discuss it while we eat supper,” said Amir as he began to scoop the butter chicken onto three plates. He handed one of the plates to Chelsea and he carried the other two to the table. “Helene, could you get the water pitcher from the fridge and fill three glasses for us?”

Helene retrieved the Britta water pitcher from the fridge and poured water into the three glasses that Amir had already placed on the table. Amir placed the plate of naan on the table after having microwaved it for a few seconds to warm it.

The three of them sat down at the table, which had already been set with forks and napkins. Amir reached for the plate of naan and removed one of the flat breads before passing the plate onto Helene. He then ripped off a small piece of naan and used it to pick up some of the chicken and then began eating.

Chelsea asked, “You’re not going to use a fork?”

“I’m eating in the traditional Indian way, but sometimes I use a fork too. I set the table with forks because I know that’s what your used to.”

Chelsea copied his technique and used a piece of bread to eat the butter chicken. “I like eating this way,” she said.

“Well, I hope you two won’t be offended if I use a fork,” said Helene, smiling.

“Suit yourself, mom,” said Chelsea.

Amir smiled at Helene and then turned his attention to Chelsea. “Your mother tells me, that you got a job riding horses. I used to work on a horse ranch in India,” said Amir.

“You did? Is that where you met Apollo?” asked Chelsea.

“Yes, he was a prized Marwari stallion in those days. I miss him very much.”

“What happened to him?”

“He left this world some time ago. That picture was from another time, many years before you were born. Tell me about your job,” finished Amir.

“Oh, I’m going to exercise racehorses for Wisdom Racing Stable. But I’m most excited about the beautiful filly, my mom and I saw running in the pasture today! No one has ridden her because they said she can’t race because she’s half Arabian. But Mr. Castillo said if I can win her trust, they’ll let me ride her one day!”

“Why can’t she race because she’s half Arabian?” asked Helene.

“Mr. Castillo says that the Jockey Club won’t allow horses that aren’t full Thoroughbred to race,” Chelsea answered.

“That’s too bad because Arabians are excellent racehorses. They possess both speed and stamina. Marwari horses were infused with Arabian blood early in their history. According to legend, an Arabian ship containing seven Arabian stallions wrecked off the coast of India and were taken to the Marwar region to be used as bloodstock for the Marwari breed. The Marwari and Arabian horses are the most ancient breeds in the world, and both carried warriors into battle,” said Amir.

“Warriors! That’s so cool!” said Chelsea.

“Very cool, indeed. My ancestors were Rajput warriors, so I believe I was born with a love for the Marwari horse,” said Amir.

“So, what is the filly’s name and why did a Thoroughbred ranch breed a half-Arabian in the first place?” asked Helene.

“Her name is Fyrestorm and Mr. Castillo said her mom jumped the fence and got bred by the black Arabian stallion next door,” answered Chelsea.

“So, it was fate, that she was born and that you came into her life. I believe great things are on the horizon for you and Fyrestorm,” said Amir.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Timmy’s Best Friend

TimmyinfrontoftheRedBarn

“Of course, I’ll help your little sister, Lucas,” said Renata.

“Thank you, Renata. I knew I could count on you. Kobi will be so happy! She’s already in love with this horse.  I know you’re not running a boarding facility, but I’ll pay any monthly fees you require.”

“Lucas, you’ve helped me on so many occasions, I owe you,” said a smiling Renata face raised, looking into his hazel eyes. “I’ll expect some work out of her though,” Renata continued, still smiling.

“Of course,” said Lucas looking down at her and smiling too.

Renata reached out and took Lucas’s right hand in hers.  There was a strong bond between the athletic, bronze-skinned deputy and the lovely dark-haired lady from Brazil. Renata broke the moment by stepping back and asked, “So when can I expect my new border?”

Lucas cleared his throat and said, “I’ll call Strider and let him know you agreed, and they can go pick up the horse. They purchased him at the auction last night to save him from the “killer buyers.”

“What breed is the horse?” asked Renata.

“He’s a thoroughbred. He apparently has a minor injury and was therefore deemed no longer useful by your neighbor, Kirk Robertson,” answered Lucas.

Renata frowned and said, “Horses are a lifelong responsibility. Just because they can’t be ridden anymore is no excuse to betray and abandon them.” Renata’s fists tightened as she said it.

“I knew you felt that way Renata. You keep old Ambush around and even Timmy, who’s never been ridden. It’s one of the many things I admire about you,” he said smiling.

 

It was late evening when the truck and trailer pulled into Kuhaylah Arabians. School was out for the day, so Gina was at the ranch and standing next to Renata as they watched the truck pull the trailer up the long drive.

“Let’s meet them at the small barn,” said Renata as she started walking toward the small red barn on the corner of the property.  There were no horses in it at the moment. They had just been using it to store hay.

Renata and Gina arrived at the front of the barn just as the truck was reaching the bend in the driveway right in front of it.  Renata signaled to Strider to stop the truck. Strider had been driving the rig at a snail’s pace, but it was very dry and there was a slight breeze on this cool, crisp, autumn evening, so a little cloud of white dust wafted over them. Strider stepped out of the truck and was immediately joined by a slim, brown-skinned girl with black hair in braids as she slid out right behind him on the driver’s side, shutting the door behind her.

“Hey Gina, hey Renata,” said Strider as the new girl looked on. “This is Kobi Remington, Lucas Remington’s younger sister.”

“Nice to meet you, Kobi,” said Renata smiling.

Timmy, the ever-curious golden pony, came trotting up from the big pasture to check out the new arrival.

“Nice to meet you too,” answered Kobi. “And thank you so much for doing this. I really love this horse!”

“I’m always willing to help a fellow horse lover! We are kindred spirits.”

“Hi Kobi,” said Gina. “I haven’t seen you at Dale City High. Do you go there?”

“You haven’t seen her because she’s in eighth grade,” laughed Strider.

Kobi smiled at Gina, but then turned toward Timmy, “What a cute pony.”

“That’s Timmy, he’s the head of the welcoming committee at Kuhaylah Arabians,” laughed Renata.

As if on cue, Timmy walked straight up to Kobi and nuzzled her neck as she giggled.

“He likes you,” said Renata, “and he seems to like your charge too. Let’s get him out of the trailer.”

The trailer was a small, white, two-horse affair. The horse was on the left, so Kobi opened the right rear door after lowering the ramp and stepped inside.  “It’s okay Charlie Brown, you’re safe now,” she said to the horse. He softly nickered to her as if he understood.

Strider opened the left rear door after she reached the head of the horse.

It was obvious Kobi had a bond with the horse because she just tugged back on the lead rope a little while lightly tapping on his chest and he began to slowly back out as she talked softly to him.

He was a sight to see as he stepped out of the trailer into the evening sunlight. He was a well built, bay thoroughbred with a blaze running down his entire face. Kobi turned him around to face the group and said, “His name is Charlie Brown.”

“Charlie Brown? What a weird name for a horse,” said Gina.

“His sire is Big Brown, the 2008 Kentucky Derby winner,” said Kobi.

“But unfortunately for him, he didn’t take after his sire. Too slow,” said Strider.

Timmy walked up to Charlie Brown and they touched noses. They immediately bonded, no squealing or pawing at each other.

“Looks like Timmy found himself a best friend. Let’s take him into the small barn and check him over,” said Renata.

Kobi began to lead Charlie Brown toward the barn and he limped a little on his front right leg.

“Stop a moment, Kobi, so I can check out his leg,” said Renata.

“He has a suspensory ligament injury,” said Strider.

Renata walked up to the horse, bent down and placed her hand on his leg. “His leg does feel warm and there is a little swelling. It’s a common injury in horse racing, but it seems minor. Just a little stall rest, anti-inflammatories, and support bandages and he should be fine. Why was he sentenced to certain death?” asked Renata.

“Like I said, too slow. Wisdom Racing Stables has no room for a slow racehorse,” said Strider.

Renata’s body tensed with anger as she straightened back up. “Ridiculous! This horse would make an excellent dressage prospect. He’s young and healthy. Besides, animal ownership is a lifelong commitment!”

“We knew you would feel that way,” said Strider with a smile.

“What’s dressage?” asked Kobi.

“It’s an elegant style of riding that this beauty would be well suited for. I used to compete on horses like this when I lived in Paris,” said Renata.

“Paris, Texas?” asked Kobi.

Renata laughed, “Paris, France.”

“Paris, France?! Wow! Could you teach me dressage?” asked Kobi.

“I can,” said Renata, smiling and continued, “Let’s take Charlie Brown into the barn and get him settled for the evening.”

Gina opened the white, metal gate to let Charlie and his entourage through to the small paddock area in front of the little, red barn. Timmy tried to bring up the rear, but Gina gently pushed him back and closed the gate. “Sorry buddy. You can see your new friend later,” she said as she rubbed his nose.

Timmy stood guard at the gate as they all went inside the barn to help their new resident settle into his forever home.

Timmy and Charlie Playing Video

Pictures of Timmy and Charlie Brown:

 

 

 

Hard at Work on the Next #TimmyTale

WritingaTimmyTale

On the surface, writing seems like it would be easy. I mean, you just sit there in front of a computer or relax in a chair while you write in a spiral notebook… How hard could that be? It’s not like laying concrete in 90 degree heat after all.  Yet so many of us writers seem to find it so hard to do.

When I was in my twenties, I couldn’t understand where writers got their ideas. But now in “middle age” (I’m 54), I have more ideas than I can possibly put into book form in one lifetime, so that shuts me down.

too-many-choices-paralyzes-progress

Too many choices paralyses progress.  Here’s a good article on the subject:

Too Many Choices: Problems With Searching for an Extraordinary Life

And for me, it’s not just writing, but being interested in so many things (like I think a lot or writers are), such as; astronomy, artificial intelligence, physics, it goes on and on…

Unlike the guy in the article, I didn’t have a childhood with choices or support, in fact, I mostly just had to survive my childhood.  But now, I do have choices, which has become a problem.  So because I can’t choose, for now, I’m going to keep writing Timmy Tales or other horse related short stories and horse related articles, because one constant in my life has always been horses.  Not that I had them growing up, but I read everything I could get my hands on about them, fiction or non-fiction and I watched every movie and tv show that had horses whether or not I liked the show itself.

So for now, I choose horses (and all my other 4-legged loves).

Joey and Chandler approve of this post:

JoeyandChandlerwriterhelpers

Timmy and the Red Stallion

Timmyinthepasture (2)

Gina and Flame galloped around the inside edge of the arena as if they were one.  It had taken several months for Gina to gain the confidence to even ride the magnificent red stallion, but Renata had insisted.  At first Gina would only ride Flame if Renata were present.  Renata would stay on the ground in the arena and instruct Gina.  Eventually Gina gained the confidence to take Flame out on the trails and Renata would ride her trusty gelding Blaze, so Flame would stay calm.  Flame and Blaze had a close bond because they were born within a month of each other at their original home in Dubai.  The half brothers were a gift given to Renata by a sheikh she had met during her time in Paris working for Louis Vuitton.

Gina slowed Flame to a canter and reached down to pet his neck.  The summer sun reached through the open sides of the arena and caressed the crimson stallion’s coat, making his neck almost sparkle in its brilliance.  Gina had been so enchanted by Flame that she hadn’t noticed Renata escort a man and teenaged boy into the barn.  She looked over to see the gate open on the barn side of the arena as she slowed Flame to a trot on the opposite side.  She tensed up when she saw the teenager was her classmate, Chet.  He followed along behind Renata as she led Patriot, the gray son of Spirit, their resident black stallion, into the arena, while the man leaned on the outside of the red pipe fencing and watched.  Chet saw her at the same time and smiled.  Not a friendly smile, but more like a sneer.  He held is phone up and the sun reflected off it.  Flame was already tense because he reacted to the tense signals coming from Gina’ body.  Gina wasn’t prepared when Flame bolted, so when Flame ended up on the other end of the arena, she was left in the dust in their last location together.

Chet started laughing.  Laughing at her, the way they always did at Dale City High…

 

A week had gone by and during that time the video had gone viral, well, viral among Dale City High students anyway.  Gina found herself where she often did after being subjected to the almost daily humiliation that was Dale City High.  She was crying into Timmy, the golden pony’s, neck while he silently consoled her.  She felt something press into her back and turned to find Flame offering his muzzle for a kiss.  His best friend, Blaze, watched the trio from a short distance away.

Timmy was in the paddock with the two chestnut Arabians recuperating from an eye infection.  The brothers loved the pony because he had been their caretaker when they first arrived at the ranch to help them get adjusted.  Timmy had a knack for calming other horses and was often utilized for his “nursemaid” capabilities.

“Gina!”

Gina looked toward the paddock gate to see her friend, Strider Castillo. She wiped her tears with the back of her hand and waved as she headed for the gate.

Strider hugged her when she turned toward him after closing the gate.  Then he stepped back and looked at her face.

“You’ve been crying.  Are you okay?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” Gina lied.

Strider wasn’t fooled.   He had known Gina all through high school.

“It’s those bullies isn’t it?  That video going around Facebook?” he asked.

Gina started crying again.  He held her again and said, “You have to stop this Gina.  When you let them get to you, they win.”

Gina took a deep breath, stepped back and looked Strider in the eye and said, “That’s easy for you to say.  You’re starting college this year, so you don’t have to deal with them anymore.”

“Exactly my point.  They’re nobody to us.  You just have one more year to deal with those losers,” said Strider.

“I thought at least I’d get a break from them in the summer, but it seems like they’ll always be in my life.”

“They won’t,” said Strider. “Trust me.”

Strider and Gina walked into the barn to find Jalissa and Renata feeding the horses.

Gina’s entire demeanor changed, and she called out, “Jalissa!” as she ran to her and swept her up in a big hug.

The expression of pure joy on Gina’s face at seeing Jalissa was not lost on Strider.

“Gina, why don’t you and Jalissa take the wheelbarrow and get some hay.  I’ll finish graining the horses,” said Renata.

Gina practically skipped off with Jalissa.

 

The next morning Gina and Strider took Flame and Blaze out on the trails at the ranch.  They had been enjoying the clear, crisp morning trotting and loping the two brothers along the flat parts of the trails.  Now they rode side by side, talking as they headed back to the barn.

“Gina, I’ve noticed the way you look at Jalissa,” said Strider.

“What do you mean?” asked Gina.

“I mean, it’s obvious you’re attracted to her.”

“She’s beautiful.  Anyone would be attracted to her,” said Gina.

“You know what I mean,” said Strider.

“Look Strider, I’m happy for you. You know…that you’re out of the closet and all, but believe it or not some, no, most of the world is straight,” said Gina.

Flame took a couple of high steps because he sensed Gina’s tenseness.  She relaxed a little, “Sorry boy,” she said to Flame as she reached down and rubbed the stallion’s neck.

“Yeah, most of the world is straight, I guess.  But not you,”

“Strider, just because I notice someone is pretty…well, it doesn’t mean anything.  And besides, I don’t want to go to Hell.”

“So you think I’m going to Hell?” Strider laughed.

“No, of course not.  You’re too nice, but I would…”

“Now you listen Gina. I know you’ve been raised in this holy roller religious bullshit, but this is what I think.  God made me this way, and God doesn’t make mistakes.”

Gina sighed and said quietly, “That’s beautiful.”

They rode the rest of the way to the barn in silence.  When they reached the outer, arena gate, they stopped and watched as Chet cantered Patriot around the arena.  Patriot rounded the far end and was then heading toward them.  When the graceful, gray gelding drew near their position and saw them, he slammed on the brakes.  Chet wasn’t ready for that, so he was launched in the air over the front of Patriot’s lowered head and landed on the floor of the arena hard.  He started crying.  Then he shouted, “Shut off that camera, faggot!”

Gina looked over at Strider and saw his hand raised with phone in hand, obviously videoing the incident with a broad smile spread across the width of his chiseled brown face.

For a moment Gina smiled too.  But then she reached over and pulled Strider’s arm down.

“I don’t want to be like them, Strider,” said Gina.

“But…,”

Strider saw the sincerity in Gina’s eyes.  He put the phone in his pocket.

“I love you, Gina,” said Strider.

“I love you too,” said Gina.

 

 

 

BlazeandFlamePaddock
Blaze and Flame
Patriot Headshot
Patriot

 

 

Book Review-Joey by Jennifer Bleakley

Joey Book Cover

Joey is the biography of a horse, but not a famous horse like Man O’ War or Seabiscuit, just a regular horse that was saved from bad circumstances and in return rescued his rescuers.  Everyone who ever meets Joey can’t help but fall in love.  Joey had been a show horse early on, but after an injury ended his show career he was passed from owner to owner and eventually ended up in a neglectful situation, which often happens to horses who are considered no longer “useful”.  At some point during this time he went completely blind, which was probably due to malnutrition.

Along comes Kim Tschirret who has a dream to unite troubled horses with troubled kids and Hope Reins is born. Joey along with another Appaloosa, named Speckles, arrive together at the fledgling therapy horse ranch to be among the first group of horses to help troubled kids.  The volunteers at the ranch, along with Kim, learn as they go and have to face special challenges brought on by a blind horse like Joey.  The book is inspiring because they learn and adapt to Joey’s needs as well as the needs of the children entrusted to their care.

There is a strong Christian theme to this book, which I thought might be off-putting for me because I am not particularly religious; although I do believe in a higher power.  But, it’s actually heartwarming following the main players and how each of them addresses their individual faiths and hope in God and the miracle that is Hope Reins.

Warning; tears will be shed in the reading of this book.  Sometimes the tears will be because of sadness, but mostly because the book is heartwarming.  Reading this book strengthened my belief in the something more that all of us can have faith in and the ability of some people to truly access the goodness with themselves.  I highly recommend this book for horse lovers and anyone who wants further evidence that there is true kindness to be found amongst the humans.

This book was a gift from my beloved Franch horses:

Joey Inside Book Cover

Pretty sure my dear friend, Julz, helped them pick it out! 😉

“Good Writing is Hard Work”

good-writing-3Snoopy Comic

I think I have like twelve loyal followers and I love you all, so I wanted to let you know that I haven’t stopped writing, just been redirecting a bit. I am currently working on the third Timmy Tale, which will be titled “Timmy and the Filly” and I’ve officially started writing my novel which was originally going to be called, Fyrestorm, but I’ve now decided on, The Red Filly, to pay homage to the original Arabian horse everyone fell in love with, The Black Stallion. Here is a picture of my copy from the 1968 printing, complete with Half Price Books sticker (that I can’t get off without ripping the cover):

IMG_5026

So before I get back to work, here’s the revised synopsis for The Red Filly:

The first time Chelsea Resmon sees the red filly, Fyrestorm, galloping in the green pastures of Wisdom Ranch and Racing Stables, it’s love at first sight.  But Fyrestorm is an outcast at the ranch because of her bad bloodlines.  Half-Arabians aren’t suitable for horse racing Chelsea is informed.  Chelsea is an outcast at her high school, because she too is different. She can’t help but be drawn to Fyrestorm. Chelsea forms a bond with the filly  and begins to ride the magnificent filly in secret.  For the first time in her life, Chelsea feels empowered and like her life has meaning, but then an accident threatens to separate Chelsea and Fyrestorm forever.

Timmy Goes Missing-A Timmy Tale

Timmyoutontheland

 

Gina loved the weekends because her mother often allowed her to stay at Kuhaylah Arabians from Friday night through Sunday afternoon. So instead of waking up on this Saturday morning to the sounds of her mom and current boyfriend arguing, she awakened to the smell of chicken apple sausage cooking. At her own home, she would have been lucky to find a decent brand of cereal and milk that was in date.  After her usual morning ritual of face washing and such, Gina wandered into the kitchen just as Renata was scrambling the eggs.

“Good Morning, Renata,” said Gina as she retrieved a couple of plates from the cabinet and carried them to the table.

“Good Morning,” said Renata.

The morning news was playing in the background on the small television on the kitchen counter as Gina finished setting the table and Renata finished cooking.  Gina helped Renata make the plates with eggs and sausage and Renata set another plate on the table with toasted English muffins that were already dripping with butter.  Renata turned to shut off the TV because she preferred talking during meals, when a breaking news story announced a missing boy.

The local news reporter, Nancy Hill, appeared on the screen.  All blonde hair and blue eyes…a walking cliché.

“A boy has gone missing,” she announced maintaining her serious reporter face as she continued.  “I’m here at Connie’s Creatures, a local petting zoo, where the search is underway for a five year old boy that disappeared from his church group who were here to visit the sweet farm animals as part of the Mother’s Day Out program that the church runs for single mothers.  The boy’s mother has just arrived,” said Nancy with a gleam in her eye.

Seconds later, Nancy Hill, was shoving a microphone in the face of the distraught young mother.

“That woman has no shame,” said Renata as she turned off the television.

“You know her?” asked Gina.

“She used to cover horse shows and the like.  She always loved it when someone was injured.  The more serious, the better.” Renata continued, “That animal farm is near here.  We need to help with the search after we feed the horses.”

Renata walked over to a side counter and picked up her iPhone.  “Go ahead and eat. I’m going to call Lucas.”

“Lucas Remington, the sheriff’s deputy you’re friends with?” asked Gina.

Renata nodded as she said, “Hello Lucas.  Yes, I heard.  We’re going to help with the search after we feed the horses.  Gina’s with me.  Okay, I’ll call you as soon as we’re done.  Let me know if you need horses to continue the search,” said Renata and then she clicked off the call and slid the phone in her pocket.

Gina had finished eating and was starting to clean up, but then Renata said, “We’ll clean up later.  Pull on your boots and let’s go.” She grabbed a chicken sausage with one hand and ate it as she opened the back door with the other and strode toward the main barn which housed the mares.  Gina came flying out the door behind her just after slipping her feet into her steel-toed cowboy boots, her barn boots as she called them.  Even in a hurry, Renata looked graceful in Gina’s eyes as she scrambled to keep up.

Several scoops of feed later, the mare’s barn was done, and they headed to the smaller stallion barn.  Spirit and his son, Flame whinnied in unison as Renata and Gina arrived at the barn.  Renata walked straight to Spirit and held the beautiful face the black stallion offered over the stall door in her hands, placing her forehead to his.   He became a kitten in her hands. It always looked to Gina as if they were communing telepathically.  She couldn’t help feeling jealous every time they did it.  Flame nickered softly to her.

“I know.  You want your feed,” Gina said quietly.  She walked to the feed bin, lifted the lid with one hand and grabbed a scoopful with the other.  She closed the lid after retrieving the scoop and then crossed the narrow barn aisle and entered Flame’s stall.  He immediately attacked the feed after she poured it in the corner feed bucket.  The sun was peeking through the small windows up high in the stalls and Flame’s bright red coat glistened with spots of gold and copper.  Gina couldn’t help wishing he was hers and she could one day share the same bond with him that Renata shared with Spirit.  Flame lifted his head from the feed, turned toward Gina and nuzzled her, but quickly returned to the feed bucket.

“He’s bonding with you,” said Renata, as if she were reading Gina’s mind.

“What do you mean? He just turned for a second,” said Gina.

“When a horse stops eating feed, one of their favorite things, to greet someone, that means they care about that person,” said Renata.

Gina took one more look at Flame before stepping out of the stall and allowed herself to imagine for a moment that he was truly hers.

“Ok, let’s go feed the retirees.  They’re already gathered up front,” said Renata, breaking Gina from her reverie.

Gina loved how Renata called the front pasture horses retirees.  They earned their retirement she always said.  The feed buckets for the pasture horses hung on the fence just east of the stallion barn, so they didn’t have far to walk.  Renata had poured feed into a wheelbarrow that she rolled over now as they walked toward the fence.  They both grabbed a scoop of feed and emptied them into a couple of buckets before wasting no time to scoop up some more feed.  This was a process that had to be done quickly to minimize the breakout of fights.  A few minutes later, all the horses were happily munching away in their individual buckets, but then Gina noticed one of the buckets had no one attending to it.

“Oh my gosh, Renata! Where is Timmy?!” Gina exclaimed.

“I just noticed that too,” said Renata.  “I’ll saddle up Spirit, you get Freedom from the other barn and we’ll ride out to find him,” said Renata.

Gina ran to the mares’ barn to get Freedom.  The seasoned mare had finished her feed and was happy to see Gina to take her out to the paddock as per the usual routine.  Gina slipped her halter on her in the stall and as she exited the stall, she turned right in the barn aisle to head to her paddock.

“Sorry girl.  We have to find Timmy first.  You’ll get to hang out with your paddock buddies later,” said Gina as she patted Freedom’s neck and then turned her the other way toward the saddling area.

Just a short time later, Gina met up with Renata outside the gate that led to the front pasture.  Renata on her black stallion, Spirit and Gina on the dependable chestnut mare.  Freedom was the first offspring of Spirit.  And like all his children, she was beautiful; fiery chestnut coat, flowing tail, blaze and all.

“Ok, let’s check the pond out front first,” said Renata and they cantered out together toward the pond.  What a sight they would have been to anyone watching.  Two petite women riding magnificent Arabian horses, running with tails held high.  One glistening black in the morning sun and the other flaming red.

Timmy was not at the pond, so they headed toward the gate that led to the back pasture.  It was open this time of year, so they cantered through single file, Renata leading the way on Spirit.  Kuhaylah Arabians was over two hundred acres in size, so the search was cut out for them.  They rode side by side on the main trail, walking now and watching and listening.

They both stopped in their tracks.  They heard the faint whinny at the same time.  Gina’s heart leapt into her throat, “Timmy’s alive!” she said out loud because she had feared the worst.  She loved that little golden pony so much.

Renata held up her hand, palm facing toward Gina.  She was listening intently.  Nothing.  So, she called out, “Timmy!”  There was another whinny in response to her query and this time stronger.  It came from in front of them, off to the right, deep amongst the trees.  Renata urged Spirit straight into a gallop from a dead stop.  Gina urged Freedom to follow.  The red mare wasn’t as fast as Spirit, but she willingly followed at a good clip.

They slowed to a trot as they left the trail to enter the thicket.  Halfway into the trees, Timmy came trotting up to them.  He seemed perfectly fine, so Renata said, “Timmy, you gave us a huge scare.  Come here!” Timmy looked at Renata and just as it was with Spirit, it appeared that they were communicating telepathically.  They continued to stare at each other for what seemed to Gina like several minutes, but in reality, was only seconds.  Timmy shook his head, blonde mane tossing about his neck, then turned on his heels and trotted deeper into the trees.  Renata followed without saying a word, so Gina followed too.

Timmy slowed to a walk as they entered a small clearing, so Renata and Gina slowed their mounts too.  Timmy had stopped in front of a lone tree in the clearing.  Renata and Gina had both been temporarily blinded by the morning sun.  Timmy stepped sideways, head down near the base of the tree and when Gina and Renata urged their horses a few steps forward into the shade of the great oak tree, they saw what Timmy was looking at.

The little boy stirred and placed his little hands on each side of Timmy’s soft muzzle and kissed his nose. “Hello horsey,” he said.

….

“We found the boy,” said Renata talking on her cell to Lucas. “He’s fine, just a few scratches and tired after his adventure,” she continued.

The little boy whose name was Caleb, he had informed them on the ride back to the house, was now munching happily on some leftover chicken apple sausage at the kitchen table.

“Ok, we’ll see you in a bit,” said Renata before setting down the cell phone.

Renata walked over and sat down at the table with Gina and Caleb.  “How are you feeling Caleb?” she asked.

“Great!” he answered with a mouthful of sausage.  “I love Timmy! He saved me! And I love Freedom too! I never got to ride a horse before! Can I ride Freedom by myself sometime? I mean, it was fun riding with Gina, but I wanna try on my own!” Somehow the boy was smiling, talking and eating all at the same time.  Gina and Renata looked at each other and smiled.

There was a knock at the back door.  Renata rose from the table and walked the few steps to the door, opening it and in stepped Lucas Remington, tall, dark and formidable in his deputy’s uniform.  He removed his hat as he entered, revealing the tight, jet-black, curls clipped closely to his head.  He was clean cut and smelled of leather and musk.  Gina always had a hard time talking to him because of his great beauty.

“Hi Lucas,” Gina managed.

“Hello, Gina,” he said before turning his attention toward Renata.  His face softened when he gazed at Renata, and Gina wished that someone would look at her like that someday.

“Hello Lucas,” Renata said smiling.  “It’s good to see you as always.”

Lucas smiled at her and then turned toward the boy, his face all business again. “How you feeling, Caleb?” he asked.

“Awesome!” said Caleb, now munching on an English muffin.

“That’ good to hear,” said Lucas now smiling at the boy.  Lucas reached out his hand and said, “Let’s go see your mom now, she’s been worried sick,”

“Okay,” said Caleb getting up from the table and grabbing another English muffin on his way out.

“I’ll call you later Renata and let you know how things went,” said Lucas as he turned to leave, holding Caleb’s hand.

Caleb stopped and turning toward Renata asked, “Can I come back and ride Freedom one day?”

“I would like that Caleb,” said Renata.  “Lucas, give my number to his mother, will you?” she asked.

“Yes ma’am,” said Lucas, tipping his hat and smiling warmly at her, before turning and stepping out the door with Caleb in hand.

After they drove off in the squad car, Gina asked, “Why don’t you go out with him, Renata?  He’s obviously in love with you.”

Renata had her back to Gina as she continued to look out the kitchen window even though the car was no longer in sight, but then she turned toward Gina and for a split second the sun caught in her eyes and Gina noticed a slight shimmer, as if Renata were holding back tears. But that wasn’t possible Gina thought, because Renata was always strong, never emotional.

“Gina, we need to turn out the mares,” Renata said as she turned and opened the back door, stepping out as she said it. Her voice was strong as always, no hint of sadness or longing. Gina followed her out the back door without another word.

Bargain Table Horse Books and Arabians

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It seems that every horse coffee table book I’ve ever picked up from a book store bargain table always includes Arabian horses.  I started thinking about this because I was disappointed that the book pictured above doesn’t contain one of my favorite breeds, Marwari.  But then I thought, well, I guess it would be pretty impossible to include every breed of horse in every coffee table book.  But then I thought further and realized they always include Arabians.  (At least the ones I’ve seen.)

This book even has one section completely devoted to them:

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While the rest of the breeds are grouped into categories:

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A quote from the book: “With his tiny curved ears, large liquid eyes, extravagantly dished face and luxurious mane and tail, the Arabian is the horse of dreams.”

Another quote: “This beautiful ancient breed is thought to go as far back as 3000BC and has strongly influenced many of today’s more modern breeds of horse.”

I’ve been aware for some time that the Arabian horse influenced many other breeds, most notably the thoroughbred through the three foundation stallions;

The Byerley Turk:

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The Byerley Turk by John Wootton

The Darley Arabian:

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The Darley Arabian stallion painting by John Wootton

And the Godolphin Arabian (my personal favorite):

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The Godolphin Arabian, by George Stubbs

(I’ll write more about these three Arabians in another post.)  I was surprised to learn that Arabians also directly influenced the American Quarter Horse.  Growing up in Texas, it always seemed that Quarter Horse owners and Arabian owners are of different mindsets.  It still seems that way actually. So other than a little Arabian blood coming through to the American Quarter Horse via early Thoroughbred foundation stallions, I had no idea that there were full blooded Arabians among the early Quarter Horses until I read an article in the December 2018 issue of Equus that mentioned two Crabbet-bred Arabians who were direct sire-line descendants of Mesaoud, one of the foundation sires of the Crabbet Arabian Stud in England.

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Mesaoud at Crabbet Park

The stallions were Astraled and Ribal:

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I never tire of learning about Arabian horses and their influence on other breeds and their appearance throughout human history.  I have much more to learn about the Arabian horse, but as in everything I love, I am a life-long learner.  I welcome comments and additional information as I know this blogpost just barely scratches the surface. I’m learning as I write!

Timmy and the Girl-A Timmy Tale

Just for fun I’m going to write a series of short stories centered around my little rescue horse, Timmy. Here’s the first one! Timmy is just so cute I felt compelled to write stories about him! Hope you guys like it!

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Timmy

Gina shimmied under a low spot beneath the white, pipe fence separating the front pasture of Kuhaylah Arabians from the road, and the pony trotted right up to her as always.  She pulled the carrot from her pocket and, not wasting any time, he took the entire treat in his mouth before the rest of the herd noticed.  The pony was the smallest of the bunch and not a purebred, like the rest of them. He was a cutie though, a beautiful coppery, golden color, with a dishwater blonde mane and tail and a jagged, white, blaze running the full length of his face to the tip of his nose.  And on this lovely Spring day, his slick coat glistened in the sun.  The pony didn’t leave after he finished the carrot, but stayed with Gina.  She was drawn to him because she was an outsider in her circles too.  And, like him, she had dishwater blonde hair, although it was cuter on him in her opinion. Gina felt less than cute with her skinny body, flat chest and long, stringy, often tangled, hair.

Gina spoke softly to the pony, rubbing his neck and scratching his cheek, the way he liked. “I love you little boy, I wish I could stay here with you,” she said as she started to cry.  She hugged his neck as the events of the previous day came crashing back into her brain.

“We have to add Gina Targoff to the list,” Chet whispered.

“Of course! She should be at the top!” responded Cassie, in a louder whisper. Chet, Cassie, and their minions all giggled.

Gina was keeping her head down, pretending to read whatever textbook she had opened in front of her.  She refused to cry; she would not show them weakness.  Even though Gina knew they were whispering loud enough for her to hear on purpose.  Dale City High School was almost a daily exercise in humiliation.  She fought back the tears though…

“Yeah Gina is definitely the ugliest girl in the school,” said Chet.

They all laughed again.

The golden pony put his head on Gina’s shoulder as if he was trying to comfort her.  She hugged him tighter and just let the tears flow until there were no more, but she continued to hug him, just taking in his horsey scent and allowing it and the quiet to calm her mind.

“Timmy has really taken to you,” said a voice behind Gina. One with the slightest hint of an accent, an accent from another country though, not rural Texan as Gina had grown accustomed to.

Gina straightened and jumped back a step from the pony in one quick move.

“I’m sorry. I know I’m not supposed to be here,” said Gina looking up at the woman astride a black, Arabian stallion, solid black save a small white star on his forehead.

“Come closer girl,” said the woman.

Gina walked toward her and saw that she was probably around her mother’s age. She was attractive, with an exotic look about her.  She had her long brown hair pulled back with a black velvet scrunchy.  But then Gina’s eyes were drawn back to the horse.  So much like the black stallion she had read about, except the one in the books was solid black. But this stallion before her had the same wild look of the one in the books; thick black mane, forelock blowing in the breeze about his face, and a thick, flowing tail.  He pranced about a bit and snorted a couple of times.  The woman said something to him that Gina couldn’t quite hear, and he settled down.

“What is your name?” asked the woman.

“Gina…Gina Targoff,” Gina answered. “Please don’t have me arrested. I’ll never come on your property again.”

The woman laughed. But in a lilting way, not in a, you’re darn right you’re going to jail, kinda way.

“I was actually thinking of offering you a job. I’ve watched you with Timmy. You two have formed quite a bond.”

“Timmy, a cute name, for a cute little boy!” said Gina.

The woman laughed again.  “My name is Renata Silva and I am the owner of this ranch.  So, what about the job?” Renata asked.

“I don’t know anything about horses or ranches,” Gina answered.

“Do you know how to drag a water hose or carry buckets?”

“Umm, yes…” answered Gina.

“Okay, good.  We’ll start with that,” Renata smiled.

Gina smiled back and then jumped when something firm and soft rubbed the small of her back. She spun around and little Timmy nuzzled her chest.   Gina reached out and stroked his face.

“He loves you and trusts you.  You’re a natural with horses,” said Renata.

“He’s so sweet. May I ask how he came to be here among…” began Gina.

“…among all these purebred Arabians?” said Renata finishing her sentence.

“Well…yes.  Is it rude to ask?” said Gina.

Renata laughed again. A sound like music to Gina. “No, it’s not rude, Gina.  He was my horse, when I was a young girl in Brazil. The story of how he and I came to be here in this small north Texas town is a long one,” Renata said with a smile on her face.  “Spend a little more time with Timmy and then head up to the big house and I’ll show you around,” said Renata as she wheeled her black stallion around and galloped up the hill toward the house.

Gina watched the beautiful woman in control of such a magnificent animal and couldn’t help wishing that could be her one day.  She turned back to Timmy and gave him a hug. “Did you hear that boy? Now I can see more of you and no more sneaking around!” One of the chestnut Arabian mares had come closer, curious about this skinny, young girl in the big pasture.  Timmy laid back his ears and turning on a dime chased her off as if to say, “This is my girl!”

Gina laughed, for the first time since she could remember. It had been a long, emotional journey from Dallas to Dale City. Even though they were only an hour apart, they were years apart in cultures, and the students of Dale City High did not respond well to a newcomer.  For the very first time in a long time, Gina felt like she was where she belonged.

 

Al Khamsa (The Five)

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Al Khamsa by Karen Kasper

All modern Arabian horses are said to descend from five original mares.  There are many versions of the story of Al Khamsa, but the one that seems to be the most popular is the one in which it is said that after a long journey, Mohammed released his band of horses to drink water at an oasis, but then blew his battle horn and only five of the mares stopped and returned to their master in spite of their great thirst.  The legend goes that these five mares were chosen to be the foundation mares for the Arabian breed because of their loyalty to their master.

The five strains named after these mares are, Keheilan, Seglawi, Abeyan, Hamdani, and Hadban, or various spellings there of.

In her book, The Classic Arabian Horse, Judith Forbis tells an albeit less magical story about the origin of the five mares in which several tribes from Yemen come to visit the prophet Mohammed and present him with “five magnificent mares, belonging to five different races of which Arabia was then said to boast.” In her version, Mohammed steps out of his tent, caresses them and says, “Blessed be ye, O Daughters of the Wind.”

Also in Forbis’s book she states that Carl Raswan, who was a well known historian of early Egyptian Arabians and lived among Arab tribes for over a decade, did not acknowledge all five strains.  “Raswan divided the Arabian breed into three main strains,…Saklawi was representative of feminine elegance, grace, and refinement, while Kuhaylan, signified masculinity, strength, boldness and power.  The Muniqi strain was of a racier build, usually more developed in the forehand and lighter behind.”

The Al Khamsa may be stuff of legend, but according to alkhamsa.org, “Any horse in North America that Al Khamsa, Inc. believes, after study, to descend entirely from Arabian horses bred by the nomadic Bedouin horse breeding-tribes of the Arabian Peninsula is an Al Khamsa Arabian.”