I put that out on my vendor table at the Summer Classic Arabian Horse Show, Harlansburg Show Grounds, in 2004.Put it out to the universe that, after losing Max the year before, I was ready to look for another Arabian. (Was that the year we had a loose horse right outside the vendor tent, and I wondered whether she’d fit in my Civic Coupe? I always kept a halter and lead rope in my car, but in fact, all we vendors did was make sure she didn’t head toward the road while her owner came up with a can of grain and her halter.)
Just before Christmas, 2004, a woman called to say a horse had just come in to Henderson Equestrian in Butler, and they thought his situation was precarious due to his owner’s health. Was I interested in meeting him? A bay with a star.
Day after Christmas, the freezing cold arena at Henderson, and they walked him toward me. That big white star on his forehead shone like a beacon. His name was Cash. A 17-year old Polish Arabian. When he shed out, he had tiger-stripes on his front legs, a nickle-sized black body spot on his left side, and ermine spots on both hind heels. Three white socks, varying heights.
He was my gigolo—good looking, did nothing that might be called work, I paid all his bills. His manners were impeccable—no biting, never saw him kick, no stepping on me. An aristocrat of mixed Polish and Egyptian bloodlines, foaled at the end of the Arabian boom, and named Cashoggi after Adnan Kashoggi, the richest man in the world—who was later revealed to be an international arms dealer. Never shown, never shod, gelded at 8, possibly got his first under-saddle training at 16 or 17. He had heaves, from moldy hay, or a damp barn, and he could never have hay again.
Turned out, that wasn’t true. His heave trigger was not hay, but a mold that only blossomed in the fall. He dodged it for years, only having one flare-up that I can recall. He had “tick fever” twice, and colicked once, and got kicked in the ribs. His face went gray. When he was 32, he started showing symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome, and he was on daily meds for the rest of his days.
He wasn’t well started for riding. He was started late, and may not have had much time to learn to carry a rider. I was told he had learned to buck. He was anxious about having a person on his back. But on the ground, he trusted me. He was on the long line when a sapling started to fall beside the ring. I halted him, talked to him, dared not go near him because I knew he would bolt when the tree fell. He did, I dropped the line and let him go. He didn’t run away from me. He stayed on the circle around me. Scared, cantering, but listening to me. He came down to a trot, so I gave him an “Aaaaand walk.”—and he did! So I gave him a “Ho!”, and he stopped. I picked up the line, and walked toward him, folding up the line as I went. And told him what a good boy he was!
I didn’t care about riding him. I had less time, he was afraid of being ridden. I didn’t have to be on his back to enjoy being with him.
We used the ground poles to learn his prepositions: He could do “over”. Any horse can do that. And of course he could do “around.” But as an Arab, he could do “between” like nobody’s business We’d walk between two poles, turn tight around the end and walk between the next set. He was nimble—but I always had to tell him to pick his feet up when we came back into the stall! Every time.
His stall window looked into the chicken coop. And at the end, when he was in the small pasture where the other horses could not chase him, he hung out by the neighbor’s outdoor chicken coop. I went down to see him, and heard the hens singing quietly. Cash liked chickens. I’m so glad he had that!
He was 34 years, one day shy of 6 months when I got the call every horse owner dreads: 5:15 in the morning, from the barn. Something was wrong, I might want to come out. The vet confirmed what I already knew.
He went surrounded by those he had known for years, his vet, the farm owner, me. I stood where he could see me, and he pointed his ears at me, which horse people know means he was looking at me. All I could see was that big white star, shining in the early morning light.
Rest in Peace, Cash.