I really don't know when my love of horses first surfaced. I can't remember ever being without it. As a kid, I read every horse book I could get my hands on, including all the Black Stallion and Island Stallion books by Walter Farley. I used to cut out pictures of horses from magazines and paste them into a scrapbook. In elementary school art class, horses were always my subject of choice, although the subject matter wasn't always obvious to anyone looking at the finished product. I also collected figurines of horses. Get the picture?
My parents always thought it was a passing fancy. After all, nearly every little girl goes through a "horse crazy" stage. They used to tell me that I could have a horse when I could afford to buy one.
A few years after I graduated from high school, I was still living at home when my parents bought a 20-acre farm. They agreed to let me put a horse barn on the property and fence off an area for a horse. I began the search for the perfect horse for me. Ultimately, I decided on a 10-year-old Half-Arabian mare located in Vacaville, California. She belonged to Lauren, a young woman who had raised her from the time the filly was weaned. Lauren was going off to college and needed to sell Gayranna (pronounced "gare anna"). We corresponded; Lauren sent video of the mare; and the deal was made.
|Gayranna in 1976, at age 19|
Lauren and Gayranna had grown up together, learning from each other. Lauren rode her in a number of horse shows and said they never came home without a ribbon in every class they entered. Then Lauren and Gayranna joined a drill team that square danced on horseback. They traveled all over northern California, doing square dance demonstrations at various events; and Gayranna was so good that new kids learned the routines while riding her.
Lauren also did some dressage with Gayranna, which is a more disciplined and precise method of performance, often referred to as "equine ballet." And, typical of a young girl with her first horse, Lauren taught Gayranna tricks like bowing, counting, and indicating "yes" and "no."
In fact, when Lauren made a trip to Indiana to visit Gayranna, 11 years after I had bought the horse, Gayranna picked right up on the tricks that Lauren had taught her all those years before.
Gayranna was perfect for me. She was well trained, so she helped me gain experience in riding and handling horses. And she produced lovely foals. I had some very good friends who owned a champion Arabian stallion named Seranej. We bred Gayranna to him, and the resulting colt, Serada, grew up to be a U. S. National Champion in both halter and performance. And, to my surprise and delight, one of the visitors to Serada's stall at the Nationals, following his National Championship win, was Walter Farley himself.
|Serada (Foaled in 1968)|
There were six more foals from the breeding of Gayranna and Seranej over a period of years, all of which did well for their owners, whether in the show ring or on competitive endurance rides or by producing quality foals of their own or just by being good companions for their owners.
|Sera-Diamond (Foaled in 1972) and Serada, brothers|
|Seradan (Foaled in 1974)|
|Sera Lee (Foaled in 1975)|
|Country Seranade (Foaled in 1977)|
|Gayranna's last foal (Foaled in 1979). I dubbed him "Moose" His new owner gave him the name "LaStrada."|
If you were counting the pictures of Gayranna's offspring, you may have noticed that there were only five, besides Serada. That's because I couldn't locate a photo of Seramac (foaled in 1971) to include with the others.
Gayranna lived to age 24, and her death broke my heart. Other horses came and went during the years that Gayranna and I were together, most of them her offspring. But she was my first, and she was my last. I had sold all the others, but I could never sell her. She was my friend.
I still have a love for horses, but I haven't ridden since Doug and I went to a Colorado dude ranch about 13 years ago. I wonder if I could still do it. I like to think I can. Maybe it's best if I don't find out.