Abha Karachi, our beautiful bay Arabian mare, also known as ‘Cheetah’, has been with us for over ten years. Yet in all this time, despite the many lovely Arabian horses that I have photographed in different parts of the world, I have never done a proper portrait of her. Yesterday I finally did! She generously allowed me to produce this lovely portrait of her.
Abha Karachi, 2022 (21 years old), beautiful and spirited in a traditional Bedouin halter
Karachi wasn’t always in such good shape. We got her over ten years ago when we were living in Jordan, rescuing her from the terrible environment that she was in. Along with a dozen other horses, she was stabled in a Jordan Valley, Dead Sea farm, where the summer heat and humidity were unbearable, with swarms of biting insects and no where for them to escape the torture. Her mane and tail were severely rubbed and her coat was dull, covered in scabs and sores. Their food was pitiful and exercise almost none existent. While the horses weren't deliberately maltreated, they were seriously neglected.
Despite Karachi looking such a sorry sight, there was something special about her. Yes, her Spanish Arabian bloodlines were good, she came from regal stock, but it was more her spirited character and gentle but determined demeanour revealed behind her deep black eyes that spoke to me.
Karachi, 2008, at the Jordan Valley, Dead Sea farm
I paid a handsome sum for Karachi, but not to ‘own’ her - how can any living creature be ‘owned’ by another - instead to be her guardian, to look after her to the best of our ability.
In 2012 Karachi travelled with us from Jordan to Spain, accompanied by her inseparable companion Ra’ad, a grey Arabian gelding who was raised alongside her at the same farm in Jordan.
(When we acquired Ra’ad, which means ‘thunder’ in Arabic, he was a fiery, unhandled young stallion - but that is another story for another time.)
Our elegant Saluki dogs, Ghazal and Sah'm, also travelled with us from Jordan to Spain. What more could one want, I thought, especially when coming from the Arab world, than to set up a new home in the countryside with such wonderful creatures as Salukis and Arabian horses!
Ten years later, both horses are happy, well and, I believe, very content with their lives. They are treated with respect and affection, are always loose and free, choosing to remain in their shelter or to explore various parts of our farm, graze from the slow-feeders and paddocks, roll in the arena or just snooze under the shady trees. They have training times and riding times, both of which they look forward to. When we hack out, they are ridden gently, as always, barefoot and bit-less. My dream of sharing a part of my life with Arabian horses came true! And being with them taught me much about so many things in life, horse-related and non horse-related. There is a certain spiritual wisdom in horses that one can only feel when spending time with them.
Karachi & Ra’ad, 2012, at the Saifi stables in Jordan, a few years after we acquired them
Karachi & Ra’ad, 2020, enjoying some sweet figs from the basket
Siets, Ghazal & Sah'm, 2018, in front of an impressive sunflower plant in our Granada farm