Chapter Four, Dazshtan, Shahwan’s Legacy

Walter and Rashad arrive in Central Oregon


It was Spring break, my senior year of High School, and the only time I had uninterrupted time from the schooling of my charges, Dazshtan and Bint Shahwan. Bint was a yearling, born the first of February in my junior year. Dad informed me that Mike and Walter had been discussing with Dr. Marsufi, a request from Rashad, the son of the Sheykh. had expressed a desire to receive instruction from Mike and observe my dad in his Vet practice in Oregon before he continued his apprenticeship at Al Ahmann. Equine reproduction and its physiology had sparked his interest. New techniques in Equine Reproduction were being developed at a rapid pace and he wanted to be in on it.

Rashad had been exposed to the world outside of his tribal existence during visits with his neighboring tribal members. Their young men were more affluent and had been exposed to the world of the Arabian horse show. They drove expensive cars and had traveled extensively. The allure of the modern world seemed to distance them from the hundreds of years of traditions of the horse breeding tribes. Rashad was ambitious and wanted education in the many aspects of the horse world. My grandpa was getting older and having someone with experience at his ranch would be an asset. I was often at his place juggling time between school and the clinic with my charges. Having that sometimes arrogant person on my turf bothered me. Bint Shahwan would be in his care eventually. I made up my mind that the concern for Bint outweighed my concerns.

Walter phoned us from onboard his managed flight from Cairo with Lufthansa en route to Seattle.  He mentioned there was an excited young man on board. My dad and Mike were sometimes doing things in the spur of the moment. This was one of those times. Dad asked me to drive to Portland and fetch Rashad. A late spring snowstorm had grounded all flights to Bend. I was not as excited as Rashad. To think I had to be in the same vehicle with him.

I relented. Dad, at the last minute, informed me that Walter would also be in the vehicle with us. He had a week’s layover and would spend it with us. He was anxious to see Dazshtan and Bint, daughters of Shahwan who he admired so greatly.  The news that he would accompany us over to Central Oregon made my day. I was, by the way, a great driver in the snow.  A great vehicle for these occasions in the snows over the Cascades was a Jeep Grand Cherokee with a full-time Quadradrive 4-wheel drive. It handled great in the snow. I often helped Mike pull his big truck out of the snow with it.

At the airport, there was Walter. He was usually accompanied by his wife Marget. I looked for them together. I almost didn’t recognize Rashad in his western clothes. “Oh, you are looking for my wife? She worked another flight this time.

With a big smile on his face, “You have matured young lady”, Walter exclaimed.

I was so embarrassed with Rashad standing there. I was surprised when Rashad agreed with Walter.

He sort of redeemed himself when he said “and so pretty when not in her work clothes”.

I thought to myself that it would not be as bad as I thought on the drive over the Cascades.

The highway was well cleared by the time we arrived at Mike’s place in Alfalfa. Walter greeted Mike warmly. Walter whispered to Mike, mid-hug, that it was a long time since his first meeting in Fort Worth so long ago. They were like brothers and were both passionate about the Arabian horse. Grandpa often mentioned that he was just a small Arabian breeder in Aloha, Oregon. That meeting changed everything.

Looking at the barn, Walter mentioned, “I am anxious to see those Shahwan kids Mike”.

Rashad pitched in to help with the baggage. Well, he was polite.

I tried to be gracious when I picked up Rashad from Alfalfa the next day. I was a little uncomfortable, but Rashad did seem more mature which made me feel more at ease.

Then I heard, “The trees! The frozen rivers we crossed, and the snow is so beautiful. It was dark when we arrived. I can see that big white mountain over there. Being from the desert, now, instead of sand, there is white snow all around! No palm trees! I have never been in an airplane! And so big!

I could tell he was overwhelmed as I was when I disembarked in Cairo noticing all the cultural changes. He showed another side I didn’t see when we were together at Al Ahmann Stud in Cairo. We were after all 17 years old.

“We are in the desert here, the high desert dotted with Juniper trees, sagebrush, and rabbitbrush. There are abundant native grasses and not as arid as the desert you are from. This is a volcanic rock-dotted landscape. Ash was abundant instead of sand. No Palm trees”.  I told him as he looked around in amazement.

I commenced driving the 35 miles to Tumalo, through the BLM onto highway twenty through Bend. Rashad’s eyes seemed to get larger as we crossed the frozen Deschutes River into Tumalo. Just another ten miles to the Vet clinic and my home. Dad greeted us in between his duties. He was just taking off his gloves from checking a mare in foal with an ultrasound machine. Mom popped her head inside the room. Dad was going one way and mom the other way. We walked past the stalls in the cleanroom that held the mares during their examinations. Reproduction and ophthalmologic services weren’t the only services mom and dad provided for the equine community. Bend had a broad spectrum of horse activity. That was our life at the clinic.

Mom and dad excused themselves to clean up. “We’ll see you formally in the office”.

I detoured through the stalls on my way to the office. The horses gave us a loud, almost different whinny. They probably sensed the same smell that I had brought home with me from Cairo the year before. Inny and her new foal Bint Shahwan were the first to be visited. Their beautiful heads reached over the stall wall to greet us. Our barn had an open feel for our horses. We maintained a herd environment. All the horses could see each other. The clinic stalls were more versatile and secure for the variety of horses that visited. They could see each other, but quarantines were a priority at times. Impatiently,

Dazshtan bellowed his greeting just down the aisle. Rashad said he recognized Inny instantly. “She is so much like her Sadu Alhisana (dam). Allah be praised! We miss her at the tents. These two siblings by the Mawlaa Alhisan (sire), Shahwan, Dazshtan and Bint Shahwan, there is so much resemblance to Shahwanyssa who graced our tents”.

I couldn’t resist entering Dazshtan’s stall. Proudly, I invited Rashad in also. I cuddled my two-year-old colt through his obvious youthful exuberance. He was a growing two-year-old and was showing his testosterone. I expected this from a colt who was confident in his place in the herd. Rashad reached out to him, and my colt tried to nibble on my guest. The reaction I got from Rashad was curious. There was a sign that Rashad meted out a harshness, a little rough for my taste. I withheld my reaction. I have learned from my mentors that you should never use force or become angry. I exhorted us quietly that we should exit the stall.

Mom and dad entered the barn and shook Rashad’s hand. “Salaam Alaikum” they both said in greeting.

“Wa ‘Alaikum Assalaam” He replied. “I am honored to be your guest here”.

“It is indeed our honor”. Motioning to mom “We revere your father. His graciousness has blessed our lives immensely.”

Dad invited us into the office and inquisitively asked, “Rashad, I see you have expressed to Walter and Dr. Marsufi your interest in the latest equine reproductive advancements.  As you know, this science is continually becoming more efficient. This knowledge will suit you well in the new environment of today’s world. But, in the desert, the Wadi Surhan, will it be useful?”

“In my father’s day, maybe not. But now, even the Sheykh seeks this new technology to be a tool to preserve the precious bloodlines that have been disappearing from his midst.  I am dedicated to following in his footsteps as he has been led by Alah. That is my reason to be here.”

I appreciate your sincere desire to bring this knowledge to your people, Rashad. We are here to serve that cause”. “Josie. Maybe you can work with Rashad while he is here with the horses. Walter and Mike would like to see how your two charges are developing. But in the meantime, I wanted to outline the day’s activities in between our routines and unexpected tasks at the Vet Clinic. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. No question is inconsequential. We thrive on curiosity here”.

Mom had been working with some recent eye injuries. Her research was always ongoing. They included me as I was accustomed to her ophthalmic procedures. I sensed that Rashad was interested in observing her work also. We were ready and anxious to proceed.

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