Our Beloved Halim

Halim the house horseOur sweet 9 year old chestnut gelding, Brandywine’s Halim, crossed over last night. I went out to feed the horses and Halim the chow hound didn’t appear. I called out the alarm and all the family members went looking. He was found in the barn pasture standing on 3 legs. The right rear leg was held slack and had a compound fracture on the upper bone. Apparently another horse got tired of Halim’s gangstering their food and gave him a good kick. In hindsight, I realized all the horses had been hanging out by the front of the barn keeping him company before I called them to dinner.
Halim patiently awaited for humans to arrive. He had pivoted back and forth 90 degrees on his good rear leg, drilling that foot into the earth and leaving a berm between his front and rear legs. When each of his humans came to him to say good-bye, he tried to reassure them. When our foster son who had bonded with him crouched and sobbed hugging his knees, Halim bent his head down to nuzzle him. He was a loving other centered therapy animal unto the end, even in his own extremity.
I cut off a large piece of mane and tail. I explained to Halim that we all loved him and thanked him for his love and service and explained we would send him over to the other side of the veil. I sent everyone else up to the house and a dear friend who had come over with a .45 caliber hand gun did the deed for us. Halim didn’t even hear the click of the trigger, it was over so instantly. We all gathered in the house in a circle and prayed together afterwards.
Many of our friends offered to help transport the body to a place where another friend was going to stay home from work and dig a deep grave with his tractor. A neighbor offered to put his back-hoe attachment onto his tractor and dig a grave right next to the body this morning so we don’t have to move it at all. That is what we will be doing when it gets light out.
Halim was one of our “house horses”. He would come in to Claudia and love on her in her bedroom for brief visits. He had been supplemented with bottle feeding when he was a baby and never lost his closeness and loving demeanor to his humans. He was our daughter’s horse and she was away in Portland when it happened, but we were all in touch thanks to cell phones. I made braids of his hair for her, our foster son, and my Claudia for remembrances. I was okay until I went back to cover the body and remembered the nobility of Halim in his final moments when he ministered one final time to us and especially to his foster kid. Then I just sobbed to him and the stars.

oh oh oh she’s Magic!

Here’s Brian and his mare, Magic, at the Crabbet show this year.  Boy did they have fun!

Little Bit Of Magic

Racing pigeons have a concurrent history with Arabian horses. Homing pigeons were used for communication by the peoples who had Arabians. A European man by the name of Ulens imported carrier pigeons from the region and began what has evolved into an extensive sport around the world. The most notable import was a bird called The Persian Carrier. These birds were famous for carrying messages 1500 miles and were used by middle-eastern merchants, monarchies, armies, etc back into ancient history.

My father grew up in Brooklyn, New York and competed in the sport. He continued when we transplanted to Arizona and decades later here in Oregon. My father called them the poor man’s racehorse. He would rather have raced Arabian horses, but that was beyond his means. I inherited his birds and our whole family got into the racing pigeon fancy in a big way. My then 6 year-old son won a large combine race with one of his birds. It was a big win for anyone and a great experience for one so young.

My wife, Claudia, noticed I was wearing sweat pants and a sweatshirt to bed and shivering under several covers one night. She asked me what was wrong and I told her it was no big deal, I had forgotten to wear my dust mask while cleaning the coops earlier. She asked me how long had my apparent allergy been going on. I admitted for about a year. She had just been going through losing her legs to diabetes and she proclaimed the pigeons were going. I said no, I’d just wear a dust mask. She used that nasty sensible logic on me, we can’t both be disabled and take care of the family.. if you are on a respirator, who is going to do the leg work’? She called our pigeon buddies and all the coops and birds and equipment were gone within a week. We helped a new person get completely outfitted.

I was understandably moping around after my loss. Claudia, also being a mental health professional, quizzed me as to what we could replace the pigeons with. We both knew I had a vacuum that needed filling. She helped me explore by asking what brings me joy. I answered, you do. That pleased her. She asked what else and I answered, our kids do. She said, that also is a good answer, but what else that is not in our life currently would bring you joy? I thought as I looked out our picture window into the oak tree pasture and answered, well, a nice Arabian mare out in that pasture would sure bring me joy. Claudia said, I’ll see what I can do.

Several weeks later, Claudia had me drive her around and wouldn’t tell me what it was about. We went to the ranch of a woman we knew and she proceeded to show us a Morgan/Arabian cross yearling. She offered to sell us the horse for a mere few thousand dollars. I was aghast as it looked like Claudia was actually considering buying a mongrel horse and pay purebred prices! I got her aside and said, what are you, nuts?!? She gave a smug smile and told the woman we would consider it. As we drove away I continued to sputter and challenge how she could possibly consider it.

She had me drive about 30 miles to Michele Hawkins Horse Academy. As we pulled up the driveway, Michele walked out of the barn with a gangly bay Crabbet Arabian filly and began showing her to Claudia and asked her what she thought. Claudia said, I don’t know, what do YOU think of her, dear?

I picked my chin up off the ground and was mostly speechless. Michele handed the lead rope to me and the deal was set in concrete! I was hopelessly smitten. I realized later that I had been played with the classic sales technique called High Ball/Low Ball. I had NO objections to whatever we had to pay to own that mare.

Wedding Rehearsal

America, Brian, Claudia, and Michael slow down for a moment to pose for a picture the day before Scott and America’s wedding.  The chapel is being decorated in 30 Christmas trees, each strung in 1000 white lights.  No other illumination will be necessary for the ceremony.  Enchanting!


Brian and Claudia moved to Oregon with their children America (15.5) and Michael (2.5) to be nearer to family.

Oregon feels like home.

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