Makhsous x Antigua Dance
17 June 1993 – 16 June 2020
Iridescent spun silver, the finest white silk. Lustrous deep brown intoxicating eyes that could flash with disdain or, most often, radiate wisdom and love. Delicate, ethereal features that somehow seemed chiselled from rock. A quiet courage, and steely resolve that was never more evident than the last year. A study in dryness, harmony and quality. Sheer beauty. Your mum’s joie de vivre, your dad’s pride, courage and spirit. Your own sense of self and love and devotion. You literally screamed “I am an Arabian horse… I have come from the desert with its closeness to the spirit of nature…” – part of the poem written by David Gardner we used for your father, for you, and for your brother.
Marquis I. Darryl Larson photo
I read the poem again. I knew the time was drawing near. It fits your brother to a T. He is “a warrior spirit, with a fierce love and no mercy for failure”. And while it is true you are “born of the wind” and you would be right in claiming “for my spirit lives on in my children’s children”, parts of the verse are just not you. You never caused any trouble; well, mostly anyway. You did have an uncanny ability for being in the right place at the wrong time. When another stallion with a much more aggressive personality managed to escape his stall and headed straight for your stall, you ridiculously refused to retreat to the safety of the corner. All 14.2 hands of you took him on. After all in truth this was YOUR FARM – well, okay, maybe you shared it with your younger brother, but, rolling eyes, we don’t let him know that – just because you were a benevolent king. What part of KING did he not get? When things were sorted out – you were hysterical. Literally. You were so mad you had to be tranquillised to calm down. We could find no major injuries. Gashes and bumps and bruises – but you were Just. So. Indignant. Did he not understand you simply do NOT ACT LIKE THAT? Always the gentleman – it hurt your heart more than your body. Then two more times your brother escaped and bypassed all the mares to go straight to pick a fight with you. After all, you did goad him on a daily basis. Those smug looks and little head tosses and prancing so gorgeously while growing to 16 hands as you passed his stall every day. It drove him crazy. He never really hurt you – in fact last time, you got the better of him – but you two had mostly superficial squabbles. He actually had a love/hate relationship with you. Your last day – as you courageously and cheerfully struggled to walk outside – he watched you. As nearly every day of his 25 years before, his gaze fixated on his older brother who lived in the mare barn near him. Except this time – he didn’t bang the door or squeal or challenge you to a duel as he had done every single time before. He stood, wide eyed. Frozen. Tense and worried. He knew.
Left to right: Becky Rogers, Makhnificent KA, Janice Bush, Jean and Herb Rogers, Marquis I, and Nancy Rogers Blankenship. Scott Trees photo
So did the woman whose dedication to a dream shared by a friend and mentor, ultimately brought you into this world. The tapestry of life. That woman, Janice Bush, carried forward a wish from Leonor Romney of Somerset Farms that her Ruminaja Bahjat daughters be bred to Makhsous. The circumstances of that wish coming true are remarkable and involve more than a little belief in divine destiny. You can read about it here: www.kehilan.com/marquisstory I remember well the night you were born. Your great-granddam Talya (Talal x Hoda) was leased to be bred to Ansata Shah Zaman. Both parents tall, elegant white horses – the resulting foal for Somerset Farms was a petite, huge eyed chestnut roan filly named Talyla. Life – unexpected weavings. In turn her daughter – your dam Antigua Dance (by Bahjat), was tall, grey and very special. As Antigua foaled her second foal in Texas in 1993 – Janice was there – having just moved to Kehilan to join in breeding and marketing. She was an original partner in your sire, Makhsous. And you were the first Makhsous foal born at Kehilan after his celebratory purchase from the Gleannloch Legacy Sale. When the delicate, grey colt finally stood up – we all gasped. I remember Janice saying: “He looks like a painting”. Huge eyes, dished face, tiny, tiny muzzle, fine neck and legs and curly tippy ears. She looked up at the sky and said “You were right”. There was the cross envisioned at Somerset between Lee and Janice. A nobleman of regal bearing and royal blood. And the first of that cross. Thus the name Marquis I.
Marquis I. Scott Trees photo
As we walked you out to graze one last time – you needed help. With Janice’s steady hand on your side, you were happy as always. She was white. No colour to her face. Devastated. You really have no idea how much she loved you. Every single day of your life. Enough that when you were three years old at the Egyptian Event and the interest from Qatar was strong, she turned down a life-changing sale to keep you at home. At Scottsdale the next year, more interest from various countries was becoming harder to ignore. Another woman who loved you deeply from the time you were a baby was literally violently ill over the prospect of you leaving the country and not residing at Kehilan. My sister Nancy has loved you and cared for you even when you were injured from a fight or sick at the Event because you hated travelling. She always said: “Just let him stay home and be happy.” And to her, “home” meant Kehilan. Your other biggest fan, my father – Herb Rogers – made the decision to buy you from Janice. He is the reason you were able to reside in comfort in Texas for 27 long years. Most have heard about my mother – Jean and Bubba (Makhnificent). But many do not know that it was Herb who agreed to buy Marky and keep him at Kehilan. Marky was always the first and last horse Herb visited. Even recently at 95 years old during Covid quarantine, he has visited you – now the grand old gentleman of the farm at 27 years old. The promise made to Janice was that you would stay here with us. So many offers and whispers and polite entreaties ensued the rest of your life. Astonishingly, recently in your 20s, interest still in purchasing you for prominent breeding programmes in the Middle East. Sometimes, I think we did you a disservice. For you would have been a big star, and had the best of the best mares to breed. I would have loved to see your bloodlines utilised that way. Your special influence spread. Unfortunately, your semen did not freeze well and so we were not able to offer your genetics worldwide without you leaving us. That decision was so very hard. And I am not going to pretend we made the right choice for your legacy. But in the end, your eyes told the story. You hated travel, hated the show-ring. Loved to show off and prance and strut for fans at home. Or for only one person you loved who was watching you. You were happy at home with us. We worried what the stress of leaving would do to you. And honestly, we couldn’t imagine life without you. You were beloved by everyone at our farm. We made the right choice for your soul.
The iconic photograph of Marquis I. Darryl Larson photo
You were so content at home. And I loved you dearly. You were a constant inspiration to me. A source of joy. But in a world where during your lifetime I have had between 50 and 100 horses to care for, foal and breed, it was too easy to take you for granted. “Put the injured filly next to Marky – he will babysit her.” Never a worry about people or even children visiting you. Avery, my great-niece, and you had a game. You banged on the door and rattled the snap and she came and kissed you. You beamed. Big soft eyes filled with love as you reached over the door to allow her to hug your face. She left and waited. You banged on the door and rattled the snap and back she came again. Over and over. And over. Need a model for a photo session or a film on Arabian horses? No problem – Marky will do it. Dress him up. Turn on the lights. Camera. Action. Mane flying, nostrils flaring. Videos by Darryl Larson that were a template for future advertising of stallions with native outfits and artistic camera angles of nostrils, eyes and spun silver manes flowing. Photo upon gorgeous photo by several photographers, many of which are literally iconic shots of an Arabian stallion. In use by clubs, magazines and even displayed at the Phoenix, Arizona Airport and local shopping centres one year as advertisement for the Scottsdale Arabian Horse show. So many people worldwide have seen Marky. They just don’t know who you are. Always healthy. Not a picky eater. You were not usually on my daily list of horses to observe or treat again and again. Your brother certainly was. Surgery. Ulcers. All kinds of residual lung issues from his accident. I fed him at 2am at night for years and had to check his demeanour, manure etc. As I left the barn only a kiss on the nose for your cheerful face watching the whole ordeal with bemusement. Your brother, with his life-threatening accident as a two year old (you were four) has always taken more of my time, energy and demanded the attention. He. Just. Does. He is Bubba. But that didn’t mean I loved you less.
“So I was the one with all the glory
While you were the one with all the strength
A beautiful face without a name for so long
A beautiful smile to hide the pain…”
Avery and Marky
In 2004 at the Egyptian Arabian Horse Fair put on by EAHA of Region 9 here in Fort Worth we had a magical dinner for participants and spectators. Twinkling lights, tables on the arena floor, Cynthia Culbertson narrating the history and mystique of the Egyptian Arabian horse while stallions burst through the fog to walk among the tables. I was so tired. I had been up for days running the Fair with no sleep. It was hot. And I had to show our own Kehilan horses too. I took you first into the ring – before Bubba. (Thank God as he would not have listened like you did). Go, go they said. Becky and Marky you are up. I couldn’t see. You couldn’t see. We ran through the fog. You spooked. Over the metal chains and stanchions you leapt. It was a complete disaster in the making. “MARKY – STOP!” I screamed. You could barely hear me above the music. You surely couldn’t see me. I couldn’t see you except to know that you could be seriously hurt on this stupid and dangerous fence we had put up. (We. Do. Stupid. Human. Things.) It was like slow motion. I remember Cynthia’s gasp and everything went quiet except for the music. But you froze when you heard me scream. Froze in place shaking with fear. But your quiet courage and your trust in me won out. You did not move a muscle while everyone rushed to untangle you. The stanchion was under your belly. You seemed okay. I walked you a bit and you seemed fine. Cynthia pointed out the great trust Egyptian Arabians give to their guardians. Never ‘owners’ – we are guardians of the treasure. To huge applause you finished your walk among the tables in complete calm, head and tail held high. Magical and white and mystical in those twinkling lights. A true fairy tale horse from the desert. Then, of course, as usual, came Bubba. It was time to present him. So you were taken back to your stall. So busy. I did not get back to see you until about 2 am. Upon petting you before I went home I realised that you had a huge deep gash on your belly. In the rush it had been missed. Luckily it was repairable. But just a little deeper and you would have been literally gutted and killed. No one until this day knows that I sat and cried in your mane that night for how careless I had been with your trust. I promised you I would not endanger you again. I would always and forever put your well being first.
“It might have appeared to go unnoticed
But I’ve got it all here in my heart
I want you to know I know the truth, OF COURSE I KNOW IT
I would be nothing without you…”
Marky and Becky
I could write volumes about your contributions as a sire. Your ability to pass on the tail carriage, soulful dark eyes, graceful neck, porcelain features and perfect Arabian disposition. Fancy, proud and smart and kind. I could tell people little known facts such as you were trained in western pleasure. And you were so beautiful at it. That Bob Battaglia once mused about putting you in a cart for a country pleasure horse – you would be “so very pretty trotting down that rail”. I agree; too bad it didn’t happen. The fact that you have sons who anchored superb breeding programmes such as Silver Maple Farms (Majestic Noble SMF, now at Imtal Arabians) and Sonrisa Farms (Latif KA). Or that your daughters are simply stellar as broodmares. They cross with a variety of bloodlines and always add something extra. In fact it is here you really shined. The cross of your brother Bubba (Makhnificent KA) onto your daughters has been pure gold. Our very best foals have come from this cross including Naadirah KA (ex Isabella KA) who was Reserve Junior Champion Filly at the Event but garnered nine 20s in her scoring and ultimately resides at Al Khalediah Stud in Saudi Arabia. Or the international stallions Marajh KA (ex Marquisah KA) for Al Jood Stud of Qatar and Marzoukh (ex Marquis Jewel) for Nabilahh Arabians in South Africa. Right here at home our own Sakhr KA (ex Simpli Iresistibl KA) exudes your influence more than his sire. The beautiful neck and liquid eyes and fine pearlescent alabaster coat. Everything ‘curvy’, the suspended and floating trot – he is the best of your traits coming forward. I simply cannot watch him without invoking your vision in every move. I could list your show-ring accomplishments – in VERY limited showing – the Event wins and Regional Top 5 stallion etc… This information will come in time. I will make sure your importance to our programme is indelible. I owe you that. But that is not what this story is about. It is about you. And me.
Becky and Marky. Scott Trees photo
But today it is difficult simply to walk by that empty stall. As I said, I took your good health and disposition for granted. Until December 2018. You were three-legged lame. An abscess you had fussed with off and on for a few months suddenly was very deep, all the way to the coffin bone. The x-ray was brutal. The stress on the hoof caused laminitis. And at nearly 26 years old, your knees and hind fetlocks were a little arthritic, you didn’t even have one ‘good leg’. Many said it was your time. But as I sat with you soaking your foot. As I came over every night at 2am and sometimes a 10pm night check to see if you needed your boots fixed, your feet rewrapped or socks changed, or pain meds – and again at 4am or 5am. I did not see that you wanted to quit. You had moments of extreme pain for sure. One torrid and humid night I sat with you all night trying to cool you off. Sponged you off and gave you pain meds. Changed your boots three times until I found a pair you could stand in and made pads from another pair that seemed to help. This went on nightly for five months. Many days became good and you were making great progress. Mostly cheerful – but you leaned on me on the bad nights. Head on my chest – just like your father. I would look you in the eye. It was soft and sometimes tired, but calm and loving. It wasn’t time. Eventually, you were doing superb! However, I still came nightly to check you the rest of the year. I was so worried. Your brother would get so mad – suddenly you had all the attention (they live three stalls apart). How. Dare. You. I told him after all these years – it was your time. Now he got the perfunctory kiss on the nose on the way out. By last autumn, you were prancing and snorting again. No one but me could believe it. But I knew your courage. Your heart. Your trust. You showed it to me that night when I almost killed you.
“Did you ever know that you’re my hero
And everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my wings…”
Marquis at 24. Janice Bush photo
Old legs do not last forever. Slowly this spring your arthritis has progressed. The tendons in your hind legs had taken a beating from the last year of bearing so much weight. You could barely bend your knees, and your hind fetlocks were dropping precariously. But every day you went out to your grass paddock to graze and survey the mares and foals. Many your grandchildren and now great-grandchildren. One day you escaped and I had to CHASE you down the fence line while you teased and called to the ladies. I laughed so hard. That. Was. A. Good. Day. You gave several swan song performances for visitors. Gorgeous as always. On stage/on cue. Now wearing a beautiful silk drape to hide your ageing body. You would never accept someone seeing you less than perfectly groomed and sparkling. Last week I was planning for your birthday. You turned 27 on 17 June . Maybe a party? On 15 June you fell in your paddock. Patiently you waited for us to slide you under the fence and help you up. Upon rising something was wrong. You could not understand why your back legs and back did not work. Your hind legs kept crossing. Later after some meds, I took you out to graze and you fell again. The bewildered look on your face was the first sign. No better the next day, you fell backwards into the flowerbed of roses outside your stall. It took every ounce of effort for you not to fall into that rose bush. That was unacceptable to you. You have far too much pride for that to happen. But you stood trembling and swaying for several minutes afterwards with the effort. And then you looked at me. Your eyes said it all. My heart sunk. It was time. I sobbingly said I understood. I had promised you all those years ago. After a few minutes you courageously and proudly walked back to your stall. Where your big fan was waiting to blow your spun silk mane. I understood. You understood. And you were calm with the knowledge that I would do the right thing. Happy even. For you were always happy if I was with you – you must have known how much I loved you.
Marquis I at 22 years. Janice Bush photo
27 years ago last week I brought you into this world in my lap. 26 years and 364 days later in my lap, I helped you out of this world. Oh my Marky. With every fibre in my body, I hope you know how much I loved you. My heart is broken. Life will not be the same without you.
Of course thank you for all your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Your place in our breeding programme and that of many others around the world is secure. But beyond that – you taught me so very much about optimism, pride, courage, love, dignity, kindness and TRUST with a capital T. In a world of increasing strife and sometimes meanness, you were a source of love and inspiration and goodness. You who were “born of the wind”. I promise – I never loved you less. Fly high Marky. You’re my Hero.
“Did I ever tell you you’re my hero?
You’re everything, everything I wish I could be
Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my wings
“Fly, fly, fly high against the sky
So high I almost touch the sky
Thank you, thank you
Thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings.”
The Wind Beneath my Wings, Bette Midler
Marquis’ final resting place – with sire Makhsous and grandsire Sultann behind