Chapter Six

Rashad Returns to His Tribe.


On the trip to the airport, Walter confided with me that the hierarchy of the Ruala tribe that Rashad comes from protects their horse’s lineage with a passion, it is almost an obsession. When Walter discovered the horse breeding tribes among the Wadi Serhan, the Sheykh enthusiastically shared with him many Bedouin stories passed on through their ancestor’s narratives and oral legends, the vibrant and sometimes emotional expressions that are laid out during social occasions. Among the pedigrees and legends of the horses that shaped the legacy of the horse breeding tribes, and especially the Ruala, was one that shaped their heritage.

It is an intimate story that isn’t shared often with outsiders and has been passed down through the generations. He told me that he knows that Rashad has been steeped in those traditions and distant stories. The short visit by Rashad to Central Oregon had been a valuable lesson for me. Walter expressed these things while in the presence of Rashad who seemed to be visibly moved by his words.  I was young and had many lessons to learn about life in general. I thought I was well informed, but my prejudgments of some individuals were unfounded. Our visitor from the Wadi Serhan had surprised me. I found Rashad to possess qualities that impressed me. My father, a Veterinarian, was dedicated and passionate about advancing the techniques he learned in equine reproductive physiology. In contrast, Rashad had an unmistakable desire to advance the genetics and legacy his father will leave to him. I felt more comfortable with him during his short visit, and now with Walter’s words, I knew why.

It was a long trip back to the Wadi for Rashad. Walter accompanied him to Cairo on his next supervised trip with Lufthansa. Al Ahmann welcomed him and communicated the travels of his safe arrival back to the tents of the Ruala tribe. Dr. Marsufi provided Amir, breeding manager at Al Ahmann, with a safe passage back to the Wadi Serhan.

I was told, by Amir, that he visited the Bedu Petra of the Wadi Rum. The Ammarin tribe which had developed an extensive knowledge of their environment and complex moral and social code all of which were expressed and transmitted orally, especially relating to the traditional breeding practices of the Arabian horse that is known to have developed along the Wadi Rum. Over the years, more and more Bedu groups have settled down. The provision of education, housing, health care, and sanitation has made a sedentary existence more attractive for many of them, leading, however, to the erosion of skills and traditions developed by the Bedu over generations. His neighbors who were more affluent, the Bdul, were among his visits during his travels back home. Dr. Marsufi, a wise man, confided in me during our conversations on the phone that Amir was worried about the influence these young men of the Bdul would have on Rashad. I appreciated the trust he had in me to share these things.

Amir shared with the Doctor that during Rashad’s visit with the young men of the Bdul he noticed Rashad out with them and their horses. These young men had been out showing their horses at the Arabian horse shows and were bragging about their experiences with Rashad. They were mingling with the horses freely and one of the horses came close to one of the boys. As the colt reached out to the young man, he slapped the colt to move him away angrily. It was noticed that Rashad was having an intense conversation with the boy that did the slapping. Amir shared that he asked Rashad about that conversation as they continued with the trip back to the tents of the Ruala tribe. He was quite embarrassed, he said because he did the same thing in Bend with Dazshtan. He reached out and angrily pushed away Dazshtan’s invitations to play with him. He had lots of time after the quiet conversation that Mike had with him about dealing with an inquisitive colt to think about the principles Mike had shared with him. Mike, Josie, and Walter all had made a major impression on this young man Amir said. He told me that he was impressed with how Dazshtan interacted with Mike as he took hold of him. He noticed they became as one and were respectful with each other. Rashad had told the young men that story and bragged on Dazshtan to them to the point that he mentioned Bint Shahwan was from his father’s herd combined with Shahwan’s bloodlines. They were not impressed with the handling part but respected his father’s prowess in handling of the bloodlines of his herd.

“Did I make a mistake of divulging the existence of Bint to these obnoxious kids?” he asked Amir.

The conversation continued for the rest of the trip about what he had learned while he was in Bend. Amir noticed a real change in Rashad’s attitude and the way he interacted with his horses.

I feel it is necessary to note the turmoil that was occurring in the territories of the horse breeding tribes during those times that we in the United States were happily carrying on breeding and treating our equine partners in our clinic. The territories inhabited by the Ruala tribes and their neighbors were being threatened by violence by outside forces. It was, unfortunately, affecting the ability to provide seasonal forage. Their nomadic lifestyles were affected. It was unfortunate that some of the northern tribes had experienced casualties of horse and camel populations as well as from time to time their Bedu tribal members. I was assured by leaders of my host tribes that they were apprised of the dangers and that I was under their protection. Rashad, on the other hand with Amir to accompany him back to his tents felt secure. The nomadic way of life far from the political turmoil of the neighboring states seemed to assure and shelter them. They believed that the world that exists on the outside is transitory. Their way of life has not changed over the centuries, and they resist the overtures to alter that way of life from forces from the outside. But there were potentially damaging changes to their traditional ways of life and the principles that guided their breeding practices. Lurking on the outside was dangerous western influences. The desire to win at all costs threatened to destroy the foundation and traditions of centuries that guided the horse breeding tribes.

Rashad was confident that his tribe and the tribes under the influence of the Sheykh were protected from western influences.  His guidance and leadership regarding the elements of the mare families in his breeding program were of his highest priority. The Sheykh had regarded my Grandfather Mike to be a beneficial influence on members of his tribe to ward off these dangerous changes coming from the western world. He, Mike, and Dr. Marsufi had embarked on a campaign to educate the horse breeding tribes and the encroaching modern Arab world of the popularity of the Arabian horse in the west and their detrimental influences about to make dangerous destructive changes to their way of life.

I was steeped and constantly reminded, being the daughter brought up by my father and mother Shirley and Mathew Peters DVM, and educated by Mike Briggs; and Walter Heuser, who had witnessed the destruction of the foundation breeders in the western world because of politics, greed and abusive practices in protecting what had made Arabian horses so special. At a young age, I was dedicated to the same goals as those individuals who cultivated and developed the foundation and ethics of breeding principles of the Proud Breed, the oldest breed of horse in the world, the Arabian Horse. I slowly began to feel the same goals were shared by Rashad Amri. Throughout the generations of their tribal members, those goals, I feel were passed on. Rashad, seeing the changes occurring in the tribes in Jordan on his return to the tents of the Ruala tribe, I was assured by Amir that it had made a lasting impression on him. Was that arrogant boy I met at Al Ahmann when we were both 16, living up to the legacy of his father.

There is so much to this story that both Rashad and I were about to experience that would answer that question!

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