R.I.P. Hadarah: March 9, 1985-December 6, 2014
I lost my best friend this morning. How do you even begin to say good-bye to someone who’s always been there for you? Someone who’s been with you for nearly half of your life? I’m trying to find out. It’s so hard when you can see the light slowly fading away, even when you know there is no suffering. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I knew the day was not far off when I had to say good bye. I hoped to make that as gentle as possible for her, and she was ready. She apparently had a massive stroke just before suppertime last night, and I gave her my last hugs. She went in her sleep during the night resting in her stall. We should all hope to meet as kind an end! I will remember her often, and the memories are all good. I can honestly say I don’t have any bad memories of her, not even the one time I fell off during a jumping round and got a concussion. She always did everything I asked of her and more.
I first met Hadarah when she was a two-day-old foal, in the stall with her mother Shaamin, peeking out between the boards at the strange creatures who had gathered just outside. She was so small then, a little black filly with a star on her forehead and a few grey hairs dotting her muzzle. We all knew she would be grey anyway, because both of her parents were, but I didn’t care about that. We looked at each other that day in the barn and bonded. I knew somehow, some way, I had to have this horse.
There was no way I could buy her then. We lived in apartment 25 miles away in North Seattle, and besides, I didn’t have money to buy a horse. The only reason I was even there was because we had been invited to visit friends from a new church and see their horses. They were Arabians, too, the breed of horse I had wanted to own since I was a kid. Life has a way of working things out, though. I don’t understand why sometimes things work out and other times they don’t, but this time they did. I kept in touch with our new friends, and we accompanied them to a couple Arabian shows at the Tacoma Unit #2 in Spanaway, Washington. I was hooked. Believe me, horses are not difficult to fall in love with, and Arabians are no exception.
I didn’t especially care for Arabian shows, however, especially all the “politics” that goes with winning. If you have to have the “right” trainer, or saddle, or whatever is in fashion this year in order to win, you can leave me out. I am not interested in playing those games. I’d rather spend my money and time on my horse and becoming a better rider, thank you. As a result, I never attended another Arabian show, even though we owned them nearly 30 years. Instead, Hadarah became a registered Arabian Sport Horse, and we took up dressage training and (sort of) learned to jump. I kept falling off, though, so the jumping had to go–so much for my dreams of competing at horse trials and three-day events.
About six months later, I got a phone call from my friend with the filly, asking if I would be interested in buying her. Would I? Are there craters on the moon? We had since moved to a small acreage not far away with a small horse barn, so I at least had a place to keep a horse, but still, money was pretty tight. I told my friend that I didn’t know what I could do about the filly, but she said not to worry—it would work out. She had previously sold her to another friend whose situation was not working and had to take the filly back, so if I wanted her, she would bring her over if I could help.
To make a very long story short, Hadarah became my horse. I had no idea how special she was, but a little pedigree research gave me a clue. Her tail female line goes back to Nedjme, the first horse listed in the American Arabian Horse Registry Association. Nedjme was one of the horses brought by the Hamidie Society of Syria to perform at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, and arguably the best of the lot. Hadarah looks exactly like her now. She also goes back to Raffles on her dam Shaamin’s side, one of the best Arabians ever brought to this country from Lady Wentworth’s Crabbet stud in England. On her sire’s side, she goes to the very best Polish breeding through her grand sire +Pentagon, as well as to the very athletic horses the Hearsts imported from Syria. One little known fact of note is that she descends from Rudolf Valentino’s stallion Jadaan, who can be seen in his movies The Sheik and Son of the Sheik. Because so many of the Kellogg horses were used in the movies of that time period, she is related to many of them.
But to me, Hadarah has mostly and primarily been my best friend. I’ve spent many happy hours riding and just being in her company through the past almost 30 years. We had lots of riding lessons with my dear friend and instructor Karin Bishop and riding on the trails around Kent, Washington, where we lived then. Hadarah was always her sweet, generous, kind, and very intelligent self, and in the end, she taught me most of what I know about horses. She always had a happy whinny for me as soon as she’s heard my voice, and the only time I ever fell off, it was my own fault. We had so much fun riding the trails—she loved to gallop and was an incurable snoop–she couldn’t wait to see what was around the next corner. And there’s been the kind of trust and respect between us that one rarely hopes to find in any relationship, whether it be with another human or an animal. I could always depend on her, and I think she could say the same of me.
My aim for the past couple of years has mostly been to keep her healthy and happy with her life. She’s required a special diet, due to the loss of dentition, and that’s at times strained the pocketbook, but it’s my responsibility to keep her fed and healthy with food she can eat and enjoy as long as she’s able. I think the veterinarians would be happy with what I’ve done. Aside from that, she was never demanding, and I was able to bring her with me to Northeastern Oregon when we retired this year. She was fed in her own stall, so she wasn’t disturbed and I always put her in it at night. She wore a blanket if the weather warranted it. The rest of the time, she mostly roamed our acreage as she wished, usually in the company of Laddie, my new riding horse, who is a Friesian-cross gelding. Hadarah thought he was the bomb! She even got a little flirting in this past summer.
Here is a poem I wrote about her a few years ago:
I see through your eyes grey pony,
Little Arab mare, twenty-one winters gone.
You feel the year turning,
The Wheel of Life moving onward.
Deep inside, you know
Never any blame
For things I’ve left undone, and
Always a glad whinny when I come,
Asking for a treat
(No thought of my owing
Or your deserving).
You never wonder
What tomorrow may bring.
You are the soul of patience,
Acceptance, understanding, and trust,
And I’m blessed.
You’ve taught me so much more
Than ever I taught you.
I gave lessons in collection,
But you taught me balance.
In the meantime, I tried to give her the best day she could have every day. I do regret the days when I could have spent more time with her and didn’t, but those are the only regrets I have. I will miss her more than I can imagine now that she’s not there to greet me every morning. Those people who say that animals have no souls or that their souls die when they do, don’t know anything. If they do, so do we! Now she’s free to gallop across the fields of Glory with Shaamin and Waaj, Shaheeda and California, and I’ll be listening for your whinny when I get to Heaven, Doll Babe! I’ll be looking for you! Rest in Peace, My Sweet Girl.
*”Hadarah” was originally published in my book of poetry Howling at the Dark Side of the Moon (Trafford Publishing, 2011). This tribute also appears in my blog “Not a Natural Blonde” at www.sablwolf.blogspot.com.