Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Horses of My Youth

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I got my first horse at the age of 11. She was an Appendix Registered Quarter Horse mare named Sugar. She was a beautiful sorrel, but too much horse for a child. She was sold after one month. My next horse was a Pinto-Saddlebred mare named Princess. I had her for a few months before it was time to move up to something with a little more spunk. My third horse was an AQHA mare named Babe. She was a good looking, solid bay, with loads of substance. I had her for several months before my grandmother, Rose Kennedy, decided what breed most interested her. Babe was sold shortly after we bought our first Arabian, a 7/8 Arabian mare named SWA Zephyr.

SWA Zephyr ("Tisha") was just the first of several Arabians that my grandmother purchased. Below are some of the horses we had between 1971 and 1978, when my grandmother passed away. I took care of the horses, took hundreds of riding lessons, attended shows as a spectator, and later as an exhibitor. I was at the ranch every minute I wasn't at school or sleeping. I carried the latest issue of the Arabian Horse World magazine with me until the next issue came out. I spent hours with books researching Arabians, and dreamed about them constantly. I slept with our mares when they were ready to foal, was the first to handle the foals, and later, to ride them. It was some fantastic life for a young girl, and one I feel privileged to have had.

On April Fool's Day in 1971 my grandmother bought Farseyf (view pedigree) AHR# 23673 (Lafarr x Raseyfa). "Zeus", as he was known in Simi and San Fernando Valleys, had been owned by a horse trader named Ken Stanley. He had been trained to do tricks, was an excellent roping horse, and sired dozens of foals by non-Arabian mares. My grandmother put Zeus into training with Vic Oppegard in Santa Ynez, CA. In his first Class A show he won his Western Pleasure Maiden Horse class at the Central Coast of California show in Santa Maria. Also, during his time in Santa Ynez Zeus was featured in a commercial for Wheaties Cereal. We were justifiably excited to watch the commercial during prime time three times a week. Years later we tried to get a tape of the commercial but were unsuccessful.

Zeus sired only 8 registered purebreds:

  • Farlady AHR# 43175 February 28, 1967 Mare Grey
  • Velrasa AHR# 47588 March 21, 1968 Mare Grey
  • Velayk AHR# 47586 April 13, 1968 Gelding Grey
  • Roayal Bey AHR# 60562 January 19, 1969 Stallion Grey
  • Ali Myrr Farseyf AHR# 54888 March 3, 1969 Gelding Grey
  • Boseyfa AHR# 70709 May 17, 1971 Mare Grey
  • Dayseyfa AHR# 87326 March 15, 1972 Mare Grey
  • Abu Sonse AHR# 115711 May 24, 1974 Stallion Grey

Grandmother had Zeus for two years. That second year he was home where I got to ride him nearly everyday. We played tag in the avocado orchards, and rode the trails in Moorpark and Simi Valley. He may not have been a great Arabian stallion, but he was an amazing horse. I was heartbroken when she sold him back to Ken Stanley. We had but one foal by Zeus. SWA Seyfa had been a very sweet and loving foal until she was traumatized by a veterinary treatment as a weanling. She was never the same after that. She was still sweet but was afraid of everything. Seyfa was sold in 1977 to some friends, who were extremely patient and gentle with her.

Grandmother purchased Sindi Mal (view pedigree) AHR# 42877 (Soteptann x Sindi Gemal) indirectly, from the Beehive Utah Breeder's Sale in June 1973. She had a Bo-Gin Samiri (Syzygy x Lalla Kadija) colt on her side, and was in foal to Shalimar Drifter AHR# 47087 (Garaff x Shalimar Bestgida). She was part of the dispersal of horses from the Estate of Clarence Dout, Harrison, NE. She had been pasture bred and handled minimally. She was a very kind mare, although terribly shy of people. The colt on Sindi's side was not purchased, but stayed with his dam until weaning. Sindi was 15.1hh with a lot of substance, a dry head, and very clean legs. With some gentle and persistent handling we were able to make sure that Sindi received the care she deserved. She was an exceptionally quiet and patient mother. Her daughter, Sindrifittizz ("Tizzy") AHR# 106548 (view pedigree), was a joy to work with and garnered great amounts of attention due to her flashy coloring and lovely personality. She was so flashy that a Canadian soft drink company chose her for a television commercial in 1976. Sindi's son, Akhir Al Nahr ("Ace") AHR# 136506, was tall and leggy with presence and attitude to spare.

Before moving from Ventura County to Shasta County, California, in 1977, my grandmother took Sindi to George Ferrante, a trainer in Hidden Valley. Although Sindi was with George for only a month, she made miraculous progress. Our plan wasn't to ride her but just have her respond to humans in a more relaxed way. In one month's time George had Sindi under saddle and moving out quietly. I rode her once but Grandmother and I decided not to ride her again. She had lived 10 years without being ridden, and we decided to let her remain unridden into her old age. After my grandmother passed away Sindi was sold and I never saw her again. I was in touch with the woman who purchased her for a couple of years, but regretably lost touch. Tizzy was sold to a husband and wife in Paradise, California, and Ace to a man in Anderson, California.

My grandmother purchased Bonita Velvet AHR# 50598 (Syzygy x Asil Vanity) from Rancho Bonita Vista in Moorpark, California, in 1972. She was in foal to Kello-Gwalor (*Gwalior x Sanibel), who was owned by the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center in Pomona. Rancho Bonita Vista also owned Velvet's full sister, Vanity's Echo; her dam, Asil Vanity; and her grand dam, Venus. She was barely 14hh and was nearly as wide as she was tall. She had lovely dark eyes, a short (but very well shaped) neck, was wide in the chest and deep in the girth. She loved to put on a show when loose - snorting, floating, and flagging her tail. She had very nice ground manners and was fun to ride. She was very smooth-gaited and when gathered up and collected, could nearly canter in place. After foaling Gwallorrias Belle AHR# 96954 (view pedigree) in 1973 she was bred to Sahara Prince (The Real McCoy x Sahara Queen). She had Gypsy Mellodee AHR# 106547 (view pedigree) in 1974. In 1975 we took her to Award Arabians to breed her to Ferdine, but my grandmother was talked out of that by Walter Zolezzi. Instead, Velvet was bred to *Eleuzis. In April 1976 she foaled twin fillies. One was stillborn and the other was Jene Sais Quois ("Rockette") AHR# 136508 (view pedigree), who was quite small but a real dynamo. Velvet was sold to Sandy Reis, I believe, in 1977. Lorri and Rockette were sold in 1979: Lorri to the same couple who purchased Tizzy, and Rockette, to my friend, Connie Iversen (later Murphy). Gypsy had been leased to Pereira Arabians in 1978 and later sold to Patti Drennan before I bought her back in 1982. I had her until her tragic death in 1990.

Grandmother purchased Ganeta Ann AHR# 71951 (Rafflad x Ganeta) as a two-year old in 1973. She was quite thin, anemic, and badly scarred; both physically and emotionally. She was surprisingly trusting of people but very spooky. She had horrible scars inside her hind legs and on her right front pastern. After building up her health and weight I started doing ground work with her and proceeded to riding her when she was about 3-1/2. She ended up being my grandmother's favorite riding horse, although they mainly just walked around the track on the ranch where we boarded. Ganeta aborted her first foal by Dunes Ace in 1975 and was re-bred to him later that year. She foaled Cytherea ("Cythy") AHR# 136507 in 1976. Ganeta was sold to my friend, Connie, for whom she had several lovely foals. Cythy was sold to a man in Orange County, California.

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