Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dortel, El Caballo Negro

(Click on any of the thumbnails for the bigger, better version)
There are horses everywhere you turn at Silent Knights Farms. And, to top it off, Spring was in full swing when we arrived there April 16—balmy temperatures, sunshine, flowers, horses, seven dogs. For me, it was a little bit of Heaven. Since we drove down on Friday and returned Monday, I had two full days there to soak up all the goodness.

Don’t get me wrong, life here in Bear Valley Springs is mighty sweet; but I had grown quite weary repeating, “Goodbye, Winter. It was nice knowing you. See you next year. Don’t hurry back,” only to have Mr. Winter come roaring back for an unwelcome encore. (It snowed here last night—two days before May.) A weekend of uninterrupted Spring was a lovely gift. And, of course, there is no such thing as too many horses about.

Naturally, I fell in love with a couple of horses that were new to me. That's typical of me, I'm afraid. I’m a sucker for great looks and spirit. But, two of my sweetest treats came in the form of reunions of sorts with old crushes of mine.

One of the sweetest reunions was with the black gelding, Dortel. Dortel, the wild man. Dortel, who puts on the tough guy, I-will-eat-you-alive act one minute, but in another stands peacefully while I croon to him in my nonsensical and butchered Spanish. I whisper “Beunos dias,mi Querida. Usted es muy dulce . Mi caballo negro es muy hermoso. El Caballo es muy grande, muy elegante.” (Good day, my love. You are very sweet .) Okay, laying it on a bit thick, but I’m kinda crazy about the beast; and, as for the next part, he certainly is black, black as coal, and very beautiful. Then, the horse is very large (That’s a lie. He’s an Arabian and far from huge.) Very smart. (Yes, maybe too smart for his own good.)
Dortel doesn’t know what I’m babbling on about and certainly doesn’t care that I am close to exhausting my miniscule Spanish vocabulary. I would feel even sillier talking to him about el gato (the cat) or telling him that el rio es rojo (the river is red). Therefore, the next stage usually ends up being “El caballo es muy loco y El Diablo, Si, uno caballo malo . Muy, muy loco en la cabeza.” Dortel isn’t fazed by being informed that he is crazy, a devil, bad, and even very crazy in the head. He just seems to like the sound of the Spanish language. Well, I think it sounds nice, as well, so we visit that way for a while.
Years ago, I met my friend at Silent Knight Farms, because of Dortel. She was walking him out after an endurance ride in Malibu and the moment I spotted them, I was smitten. She looked friendly and I asked the stranger if I might take some photos of her horse. She smiled, said sure, and that’s how it began. She became a client first, then a dear friend. And all because of this muy loco caballo. It was grand seeing him, this weekend, at liberty in one of the larger turnouts. What a joy he is to watch. Like the wind.


  1. Anita, I can see why you would fancy this beauty -- Arabian's do seem to have a certain "flair" about them. Wonderful action photos that not only capture the image but also some of the energy.

  2. Earl - Thanks for your comments. Action photography is an exciting challenge for me, as well as a nice balance to the landscape and still life work.

    Arabians have been my favorites since I was a little girl. After all, I grew up reading those Walter Farley books—the Black Stallion series. You nailed it: "a certain 'flair'".

  3. Anita, you just love the 'wild ones' don't you? :-) That sure is a beautiful horse. I'm sure that he fell, entirely, for your lovely Spanish caresses, even if he is Arabian! Perhaps, since he lives in California, he does understand a bit of Spanish. Haha

  4. Paul - Perhaps this is that tiny, recessive "wild" part of my nature seeking an outlet. Since my life personifies mundane, maybe the attraction to the wild side of horses is what I need for balance. :)

    Dortel's current owner thinks that at some point in his life the gelding was treated roughly by someone. After all, he was on the racing circuit and exposed to a number of handlers. Certainly, in his brief racing career, he "knew" a number of stable hands many of whom most likely spoke Spanish. It could make some sense that Dortel might associate the sounds of the language with food, grooming, and perhaps gentle care.

    On the other hand, it could all be imagination. Whatever, he appears to listen. Hmmm. Perhaps he is amused by the lady who is loco en la cabeza.

  5. It is so wonderful seeing you capturing images of these babies once again. Does my heart good.

  6. Chris - Thank you for the comment. I don't ever seem to get tired of looking at horses.


You can leave your comments here. Because all comments are held pending review, yours will not immediately appear on the site. I eagerly read all of them and sincerely appreciate your taking the time to record your impressions and views. Thanks for visiting.