mare pushes one last time, fatigue nearly overcoming her.
The long journey and poor conditions have robbed her of
her usual vitality. She tries gallantly to get to her
feet to see her foal but is unable to rise. Wearily looking
back to where her newborn lies, she groans and finally
gives up. Resting on her side, drenched in sweat, the
little mother's nostrils flare as she sucks in the cold,
damp air and tries to recover from her exertions.
foal lies in the straw, steam rising from her tiny, dark,
motionless body. She is premature, only 310 days in her
mother's womb and barely ready for the harsh, outside
world. The birth, the little mare's first, was difficult
and the foal is exhausted. Perhaps it would be easier,
kinder to just let life slip away. Perhaps this journey,
which started six months ago, is too hard for one so small
sat on a bail of hay watching the horses nibble at their
breakfast, their contented munching reassuring her that
the whole world had not turned upside-down. Six months
ago she and her parents had been happily living in Cairo,
father Richard, and his brother John, had an Arabian horse
importing business. Richard often traveled to Egypt to
find prospective horses for their clients. On one such
trip Richard met and fell in love with a beautiful Egyptian
woman named Kalyn and decided to stay.
long after setting up his business in the famed El Zahraa
stables just outside Cairo, he and Kalyn were married.
A year later their daughter Dayana was born.
of Dyana's early childhood years were spent beside her
father at the timeless El Zahraa stables. It was here
that Dayana first fell in love with the Arabian horse,
one of the most ancient breeds known to man.
instilled in his daughter a great love for all things
equine. Father and daughter spent countless hours together
at the stables. Dayana was insatiable in her desire to
learn about horses, and Richard had the infinite patience
to answer all of her questions. Richard not only gave
his daughter the gift of knowledge, but also the self
confidence to act on that knowledge and take pride in
remembered one of the first stories her father had told
her as a little girl, and though she was now twelve she
still loved to hear it. The story was called Al Khamsa,
which meant "The Five." Dayana closed her eyes.
She could hear his gentle voice in her mind.
is the story of the beginning of the Arabian breed.
A very, very long time ago, the wise prophet Mohammed
wished to test the courage and obedience of his Arabian
mares, to seek out only the finest. One hundred of the
most exceptional animals were penned together without
water for several days.
at his command, the magnificent herd of horses was released
from their enclosure. Freed from their pen, the mares
ran to a nearby stream to quench their desperate thirst.
However, just as they were about to reach the water,
Mohammed blew his war bugle summoning them all to battle.
all that he had chosen, only five mares stopped, and
turning on their haunches, sped back to their master
and their duty. These five mares Mohammed claimed were
worthy to become the mothers of the Arabian breed."
looked at the three horses in their pens, Aziz, Barika,
and Khadijah, her father's treasures. She imagined when
she gazed into their deep, dark, expressive eyes, she
could see those five beautiful, ancient mares of the Al
Khamsa as they sped across the desert sands.
an exceptional stallion in his prime, pawed at the ground
in frustration at his confinement, his sleek muscles rippled
under the gleam of his jet black hide. Not one white marking
marred his perfect coat. Under saddle he was shear excitement
and power exploding with each stride.
a gentle and wise mare with luminous eyes and a smoky
grey coat, raised her delicate head high on a perfectly
arched neck. Dayana had ridden her many times and each
time was amazed how smooth and graceful the mare moved
beneath her. Riding Barika was like sitting on a cloud.
Khadijah, pregnant with her first foal was Dayana's favorite.
She was as light as Aziz was dark, her coat, mane and
tail a silken white. Khadijah's petite frame, only 14.1
hands high, made her the perfect size for Dayana and the
two had made a great team in the show ring.
raised his head and bugled in alarm, the shrill sound
splintering the quiet morning air. He was young, and proud,
and the mirror image of his famous sire, Adl, one of the
most prized stallions in all of Egypt.
the youngest of the three, startled at the sound of Aziz's
call. Pregnancy had made her sensitive and nervous. Dayana
jumped off her perch and slipped into the holding pen.
She stroked the white velvet of Khadijah's coat as the
mare blew air through her delicate nostrils, searching
out the source of danger.
the wise Barika raised her head and snorted in disgust
at her two companions. Little rattled the steadfast mare,
and she seemed annoyed that her breakfast should be disturbed
for no good reason. Dayana smiled fondly at Barika's matronly
ways. She was a calming influence and soon, following
the older mare's lead, all three went back to munching
also followed the lead of her little herd and tried to
let go of her own unrest. This morning would be the beginning
of a long journey, one that was put into motion six months
ago with the death of her father in an automobile accident.
eyes misted over and she buried her face in Khadijah's
mane trying to fight back the tears. It was difficult
to fully accept that he was gone. Since the day of the
accident, she had spent most of her time with the horses.
They brought some comfort, but she still expected to hear
his voice call out from one of the stalls. Moments when
she had questions hurt the most. Without thinking, she
would turn to go and seek him out then remember he couldn't
answer her questions anymore. It made everything seem
her father's death, Dayana's Uncle John sent word that
Kalyn and Dayana were welcome to come to the United states
to live with his family. Though an accomplished equestrienne
herself, Kalyn decided not to continue her husband's business
in Cairo. Instead she would sell their horses and use
the money for a new start in America.
was devastated to hear that they must sell all the horses.
They seemed all she had left of her father. Desperate
not to lose everything, Dayana worked hard to persuade
her mother to at least take Aziz, Barika and Khadijah,
the jewels of her father's years of work.
first Kalyn was skeptical, but with a little persistent
persuasion from her daughter she soon realized that taking
the two mares and stallion might make good sense after
all. Both Aziz and Barika had already proven themselves
in the show ring and could help her establish herself
as an equestrienne in the United States. And Khadijah
had been bred to Aziz, now one of the top stallions in
all of Egypt. The foal would be quite valuable.
booked passage on a small freighter out of the port of
Alexandria. She and Dayana would accompany the horses
and provide their care. Uncle John agreed to meet them
in San Francisco and transport them to his ranch in Arizona.
on the docks drew Dayana's attention. Soon the horses
would be moved from their holding pens to the cargo area
below the ship's decks and she and her mother would join
them for their journey to America. She took a deep breath
to settle her nerves then ran her hand over Khadijah's
swollen girth. Originally the schedule of the trip would
have put Khadijah safely on land before the foal was due.
However, the ship had been delayed in port and now the
margin of error was growing slim.
stomach churned in a knot. Uncertainty filled her mind.
Perhaps Khadijah should remain behind? The journey might
be too difficult. There would be little help if the foal
were born on the ship. She looked into the little mare's
eyes and a trust passed between them. Khadijah would come
with them, and Dayana was determined to see her safely