Forty-one years ago an Arabian filly of royal parentage was born in Poland. *Arosa’s sire, *El Paso, was the US and Canadian National Champion who sold for a million dollars. *Arosa’s dam (mother), *Arra, was the champion of Poland and Europe, and a stakes-winning racehorse.
At the time *Arosa was born, Americans paid huge amounts of money to purchase and import Arabians from the Polish government. *Arosa was imported in her three-year-old year. (The * indicates imported.)
Through twists of life, *Arosa became my horse when she was eight years old. By then she had already raised several foals for her previous owner.
My toddler daughter, Alisha, was the first person to sit on *Arosa’s back. When *Arosa was eleven years old, I trained her for riding. Even though she was well past the age most horses are started under saddle, her wonderful personality made her the easiest horse I’ve ever trained.
Shortly after *Arosa’s first competition, the woman who owned the barn where *Arosa lived was nearly killed in a sexual assault. Even though I hated putting *Arosa’s care in the hands of strangers, I needed a new place to spend my free time. One of my criteria was my horse would only be turned for exercise into a safe wooden paddock. I moved *Arosa, and my children’s pony, to what seemed to be the safest barn in town.
I was wrong. A few months into boarding, my horse got out of the exercise paddock. Little did I know the barn owner had leased an adjacent pasture for other horses. *Arosa ran into the new field. Meanwhile, an inept stable hand pulled a tractor and manure spreader across the field’s opening. A gap remained, so he pulled a barbed wire gate across the rest of the opening. Panicked, *Arosa tried to exit the opening she’d just gone through and got tangled in the wire, severing tendons in her hind leg.
What followed was an emergency trip to the University of Missouri to save *Arosa’s life. Then came months of treatment by an innovative local veterinarian to whom I credit saving *Arosa. Even though the tendons were not repairable, we hoped she could eventually live a pain-free life.
It’s amazing how close you’ll bond with an animal when you’ve cared for its injuries multiple times a day for nearly a year. *Arosa’s sweet disposition made the gruesome treatment easier.
The lack of tendons made *Arosa’s leg stiff. She adapted to walking by flexing her hock and lifting that foot higher. It seems strange, but after several years I could ride her at slow gaits. We moved to Arizona, where *Arosa and I enjoyed hours of gentle trail rides in the desert. She also became a Pony Club mount for a young girl’s first low-level experiences in competition.
*Arosa and I spent hours communing while I groomed her. I did not ride her when she got older, but she enjoyed walking around a paddock with my four-year-old granddaughter. Emma was the last person to ever ride her.
On March 4, 2010, *Arosa laid down in her stall to rest but had difficulty getting up. Her leg wasn’t strong enough to push her weight off the floor anymore. This created other health problems. After nearly twenty-four hours of the best veterinary care, she worsened. Thirteen days short of her twenty-ninth birthday, the veterinarian euthanized *Arosa.
Her story certainly has great sadness with a lifelong injury caused by the stupidity of one person. This sort of ignorance is one reason I’m so adamant about teaching good horsemanship.
Light from a star lasts past the star’s existence. Horses with *Arosa’s gentle spirit are the ones Bedouins let sleep in their tents. They are the spirits for stories and poetry. *Arosa is my gold standard. She is the one horse I will always wish for; the one I constantly miss. Her life enriched me. A gift.