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[RC] Private Celebration - Maryanne Stroud Gabbani

Yesterday I went out to my horses and saddled up Dorika, my first mare, my love above all, and my truest buddy. She's been on R&R for almost 2 years now, first for a broken sesamoid, then an abcessed hoof, and finally a pregnancy that seriously depleted her reserves making her too thin to consider riding until recently. We ambled out the gate leaving my gang of dogs whining miserably behind and went out to see that the countryside was still there. After 2 years without riding, I wondered if we would still have the same connection, would she have gotten spooky or silly? It was like the most perfectly maintained lock and key. I thought and she did, and her delight in encountering the donkeys, camels, dogs, children and chickens was visible. We circled through some familiar farms and then entered the desert at Abu Sir to walk back to Sakkara Country Club, a place that was her home for many years, and that just recently got its horse-loving owner back from California to bring it back to life.

As we entered the desert just below the pyramids at Abu Sir, a group of Japanese tourists waited for us to go through the gate, smiliing at Dory. She's a tiny thing, but the second she sees the desert, she seems to grow in size. She arches her neck, flings up her tail and a shiver of excitement runs through her body that her beloved desert is STILL there after two years. I kept her to a quiet walk for our two hours of country and desert but both of us were dying to just take off and soar again....Thank heaven one of us understands delay of gratification. The air was crystal clear and you could see all the blocks in the pyramids of Giza, but there were rainclouds blowing south from Alexandria so that the palms, eucalyptus, and cassuarina trees along the desert edge were a grey blue against the black and the berseem fields gleamed a green that defies description. It is the very essence of green fertility and nurture.

When we got to the Club, I rode her back to the stables where we found Ibrahim standing in a group of people looking over a big chestnut jumper. Dory walked up behind him and laid her head over his shoulder...gave him quite a shock, but it was so good to see him again and welcome him home. I tried to chat for a while but Dory was back in Dory-mode and wanted to be moving again, so I mounted and headed back towards our paddocks down the road. A group of my friends were sitting at a table on the grass by the pool ordering lunch, so Dory and I walked in between the tables to say hi and order a sandwich for when I got back. There are signs saying "no balls and no dogs" by the pool but nothing saying no horses, so...... Ibrahim thought it was funny, as I did it to tick off his mother who is a very non-equine sort of person who has made our lives miserable over the last couple of years. As he said, I could probably ride Dory right into someone's living room and she wouldn't knock over a table.

We went home through the village by the club through the soccer games and laundry. Only two hours of heaven but worth the wait. This is the mare whose love of movement and exploration led me to find endurance, the mare who has taught my children to ride and been utterly trustworthy with them, while taking me on some hair-raising gallops through the desert. She's the mare who will go anywhere with me and do anything, and who has given me two of her beautiful sons who are as strong, kind and honest as she is. I am blessed indeed to have such a friend and to have been able to spend a magic afternoon with her.

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani
Cairo, Egypt
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return." --Leonardo da Vinci

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