Who is Zil?
RA Zil Abask is a beautiful purebred Arabian, whom I raised from a baby. But I never dreamed she would be mine. This is her story. And mine, in a way, for I live with bipolar illness; she has wrought healing and life-saving love upon me more times than I can count.
Little Zil was born in 2007. Her dam is EQD Tempo and her sire is Ibn Prince Raffon DC. Tempo was a rescue mare, in that my family purchased her while pregnant. At Tempo’s advanced age, she wasn’t doing well with the pregnancy…and her being a *Bask granddaughter kind of clinched the matter for me. We bought her. We worked to restore Tempo’s condition, and swore never to subject her to a pregnancy again. In due time she had a healthy foal, which we put up for adoption as soon as she was weaned. In this Quarter Horse-dominated area, Arabs are simply not appreciated. Zil was never adopted, despite her lineage, which also goes back to Raffon; and despite that she was very publicly advertised as adoptable. When she was four years old, my husband at last offered to have her trained…for me! I burst into tears.
In reality, Zil was my dream horse, right under my nose, and I never expected to have her. When I am in my 70s, she will be in her 30s. What could be more right??
Who am I?
I am Amanda, born in ’63. I struggle with bipolar disorder, and I was raised in Connecticut, by a single mother. Since I was a toddler, all I wanted was a horse. I amassed a mighty collection of Breyer horse models, and because they didn’t make dolls and trailers and stables and tack for them at the time, I made it all for myself and my Breyers (the people who rode and showed them were invisible to everyone but me).
For a very brief time, I had the joy of helping an older high school girl with her horse, No Secrets. I loved it in her barn, which had a wooden floor and a hayloft. We groomed and cared for the mare in the crossties with items from Robin’s tack trunk. We listened to I-95 (WRKI at the time) and I learned to love what is now called classic rock music. We went to a couple of shows, and I got to be her groom/lackey/go-fer. In return, she protected me from high school bullies and gave me a couple of lessons and I got to participate in a schooling show. That was that.
Now that I am a parent myself, and our finances are so extremely limited yet we sacrifice everything for our kids, I understand that my parents did as well by me and my love for horses as they absolutely could, and if there is any tone of bitterness in my forthcoming tales of childhood heartbreak, I apologize for it. I am truly very grateful for what my parents gave me.
When I was young, for a brief stretch, my parents got me some riding lessons for my birthday. After exactly the number of lessons paid for, when I had just begun jumping, my lessons stopped as abruptly as they began, and no amount of begging would resume them. Even if I could have worked at the stable for my lessons, they wouldn’t have driven me there. (I now believe they had paid for as many lessons as they could, and couldn’t afford more).
One Christmas in the early 70s, my mom got me a book called First Horse, with the inscription written “May all your dreams come true.” The book gave me the completely wrong idea, of course, although Mom’s heart was in the right place. But I suffered heartbreak. Many years later though, my dreams came true.
Every summer, we went to stay for a few days with my grandma in Kansas City, MO. We always spent a day or two with relatives in Iowa. There, I got to ride on a cattle drive and fell in love with an Arab mare and her foal, Kebah. Kebah loved me and I loved her, and the year she was old enough to ride, I rode her. It was love, love, love, for the two or so years we had our tiny, intense relationship of a cumulative four or five days. Kebah was mine, and she knew I was hers.
Of course I begged my parents, I would do anything, I would get a job and pay for her transport, I would work for her board, and my parents strung me along like that for awhile, saying maybe, as did Kebah’s owner, until Kebah was sold. I was heartbroken once more, worst heartbreak ever.
When I moved to Colorado and got married and then divorced, I was in school full-time and had a full-time job as a medical technologist, for which I had previously gotten a degree and certification. I had the money. I had a place to keep a horse. So I bought a delightful Bar-N pony, without the slightest idea how to train her. With all my working, I didn’t really have enough time for her, either. Whenever my illness got out of control, the responsibility of having to go to the fairgrounds and take care of her was the only thing that got me through my episodes. So in a way, Stormy saved my life.
I worked in Durango until the hospital closed. I had my creative writing degree and my pony, and I moved west to Dolores where Stormy and I lived in a friend’s canyon. She lived in a pasture and I in a wall tent throughout the best fall and winter of my life. I packed my groceries down into the canyon. We rode a lot more. Eventually I got a new job, rented a real place with 10 acres, bought Stormy a donkey to take care of, and my horse life really began. My work ‘friends’ even suffered my company on a couple of camping/trail trips.
Several years later, I remarried, we expanded our land to 40 acres, and had a couple of kids. We wanted a horse for our daughter. We made the mistake of going down to a reservation where our hearts went out to the conditions there. We also made the bigger mistake of going to the livestock auction. We ended up with a lot of very needy horses. That soon led to the formation of a horse rescue, which is another story… kind of my dream realized, but far, far less awesome from the way I pictured it, from the ideal I’d created with my memories of Robin and No Secrets and the beautiful barn and the dense, wooded bridle paths; and with Kebah in Iowa. I guess I have a knack for setting myself up for disappointments. Anyway, Stormy, my first horse, taught our young daughter to ride, and became the “matriarch” of the herd. She had a great time with all her subordinates, until she passed away in her 20s.
We didn’t get Tempo through the rescue; she was totally my own by purchase, and so Zil was and remains. And it was amid the backdrop of the rescue, which we carried on our backs, that Zil’s story begins. We hope you will enjoy our story; though the blog has started now, as she approaches her 6th birthday, the posts will begin with her birth, upbringing, fostering and Adoptable Horse experiences, and so forth. This blog will also touch on other healing horses, including Zil’s predecessors.
So the horses, especially Zil, have wrought help and healing upon me more times than I can count.
Zil is a miracle in my life!