A Perfect Royal Flush
roy·al flush /ˈroi(ə)l fləSH/
noun (in poker) a straight flush including ace, king, queen, jack, and ten all in the same suit, which is the hand of the highest possible value when wild cards are not in use.
When a very special horse enters your life, blesses your life with great joy, then goes on to live an incredible and fulfilling life with great friends - I call that a perfect royal flush.
I had long been a fan of the stallion TheEgyptianPrince (*Morafic x *Bint Mona by Nazeer) so when the opportunity arose for me to purchase a daughter, I didn't hesitate! Egyptian Empress (TheEgyptianPrince x Drifronna by Snow Drift) was an aged mare when she came to me, but I had known her for many years prior. In her youth she was fantastically beautiful - she was grey with speckles of chestnut dots covering her body and had the hugest, darkest, most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. She was not a tall mare but was so well proportioned and balanced that it was hard to notice unless she was standing next to another horse. Her head was attractive but not extreme - with the exception of those eyes.... they were truly breathtaking!
We bred Empress to our high percentage CMK stallion Raffons Topper (Multi-National Champion Raffon++ x Multi-National Champion Toppers Belle by Mister Topper). I was hoping for a colt that would eventually replace his sire in our program - probably the only time I have ever WISHED for a colt! I wanted a name for this foal that would reflect how special I knew he would be. I also wanted a name that would be memorable and easy to pronounce - and decided on the name ROYAL FLUSH (SMR Royal Flush as our farm name at the time was Son Meadows Ranch).
The birth of SMR Royal Flush...
So before he was even born my "colt" had a name and a destiny. : ) Fortunately for me, Empress did produce a colt and a magnificent one at that! Royal was everything I could have hoped for - he had the substantial bone, size, and movement of his sire with his dam's ginormous eyes and sweet, soft disposition. I spent hours upon hours with him that first year - wanting to be sure he was completely solid on all the basics such as leading, standing tied, loading into a horse trailer, getting clipped, bathed, and having his feet picked up / trimmed. I took him for walks around the ranch and taught him basic manners.
We took Royal to his first show as a weanling. It was a local show, meant to be more of a learning experience as it was his first time off the ranch. All my hard work paid off as he was curious of his unfamiliar surroundings but handled himself very well with all the activity going on. We entered him in a halter class just for the fun of it - which he won! We took him to a second show and he again won his class. These were not Arabian shows and as we live in Quarter Horse country, it meant a lot to me that the judges could see quality regardless of the fact he wasn't their breed of choice.
As a yearling Royal's bay coat started showing signs of turning grey, and for the next two years - even though his conformation and structure were beautiful, his coloring was not the most attractive (his head was greying out faster than his body so he looked like a bay horse with a white head lol). Thus, we kept Royal at home, waiting for his coat to reach a more flattering stage of the greying-out process.
His three-year-old year, Royal started catching the eye of mare owners who inquired on him as a breeding stallion, but I felt strongly that Royal needed to prove he was a suitable riding horse prior to breeding any mares. Thus, that spring he went to California to be started under saddle by a well-known classical dressage trainer. I wanted him started slowly, with a classical foundation as his future would be in dressage and sport horse. Royal was the only Arabian in the training barn but not the only stallion. The trainer loved that even though Royal was much smaller than the warmbloods she rode, he had similar movement and "felt much bigger" under saddle. She also raved that Royal was the best-mannered horse on the place! He was there for several months and returned home just before winter.
While Royal was away at training, we sold his sire to a woman who had fallen head over heels for him (and became a dear friend in the process), we moved from our 5-acre location in Missoula to a 10-acre location in Stevensville, and I acquired the liver chestnut CMK stallion Golden Ecstasy (Gold N Ali x DRA Burgundy Rose by Burgundy Sun) aka "Gideon." My young Phara-bred colt Pharao (Burgundy Sun x The Sun Heiress by Eclipse ofthe Sun) was now a yearling and I was excited by all the possibilities the future held for my breeding program. I had never loved the name Son Meadows Ranch (my husband had chosen it) and wanted a name that reflected the goals of my program. Thus Dahabi Arabians was born (Dahabi meaning "golden" in Arabic).
From Royal Flush to Dahabi Rafiq...
However, once Gideon arrived, he garnered the interest of the mare owners who had previously inquired on Royal. I was not concerned, as the two stallions were very different from one another and both had great qualities. I knew that Royal would attract more attention once his coloring wasn't so off-putting, and was willing to be patient for when that time would come. In the meantime I changed his name to Dahabi Rafiq meaning "Golden Friend" in Arabic, as he was proving to be such an incredibly sweet, mild-tempered boy. Also, since he was a product of my breeding program, I wanted his name to reflect my new farm name and not the old one.
A few years passed by and little by little, my marriage was falling apart. My husband had seemed so supportive of the horses when we were first married - but that was short-lived and with each passing year his resentment and jealousy over my time and dedication to the horses became greater. In an effort to save my marriage, I reluctantly agreed to sell off the stallions and broodmares and thus not have a breeding program to promote. I planned to retain a horse or two to enjoy.
Even though his quality was only becoming more evident as he matured, because I was so attached to Rafi (his barn name after the name change), I decided to geld him in hopes of retaining him as my personal riding horse. Unfortunately, I was only able to claim Rafi as my personal riding horse until the following summer when I had to part with him as well in yet another attempt to save my marriage.
Dahabi Rafiq - Multi-Talented and Trail Horse Extraordinaire...
Fortunately, Rafi went to some dear friends of mine. They continued his dressage training, and in time found he had an aptitude for reining so pursued that as well. Over the years Rafi has become a trustworthy and treasured member of their family, and is the horse they put young children on, take out on the trails, and enjoy spending time with day in and day out. Rafi lives a wonderful, happy and fulfilled life - I couldn't have asked for better!