I call him “The Arabian Prince” formally and “Al-Ashab” casually, yet my snowy white, Arabian gelding has the
registered name of PH El Sosure. No matter his name, though, he deserves to be known as one of the best blessings upon this earth. He saved my life, and that alone is more deserving than any name that I can think of for him.
Al-Ashab was the first horse I ever bought. When most teenagers around me were looking to buy a first car, I was looking to buy a horse with my own money. I first saw “The Black Stallion” movie when I was 12 years old. It was from that movie that I determined I was going to get an Arabian horse of my own. My parents said I could, but I would have to buy it on my own. I don’t think they actually expected me to continue pursuing the horse dream. When I was 16, I met my Arabian, Al-Ashab, who was 21 at that time. It was love at first sight. I had to have him. I wanted to run my hands over his dished profile again and again and stare into his most captivating, large, dark eyes for all time. I quickly learned that there was not a mean bone in his body, and the joy of his own existence was contagious. It was this joy that got me through one of my most difficult times—a surgery that nearly took my life.
The same year I bought Al-Ashab, I faced something that most teenagers never think twice about—the possibility of losing everything I ever dreamed of or aspired to be. I had one of the worst cases of scoliosis, in which my spine had become a complete S shape, and I had to have major surgery for it. If I didn’t, I could suffer from my spine eventually putting lethal pressure on my internal organs.
I remember writing a list for my surgeon of things I wanted to know if I would still be able to do after having the surgery. They were things as simple as being able to run, dance, sing, play my harp, ride my horse, and eventually be able to have a child. The doctor could only tell me that every case was different and that being paralyzed was a real risk; a real thing that I could possibly experience. I wept. I prayed. I kept weeping and I kept praying. I finally came to a point when I knew I had to “let go” and trust the One who I knew had always been watching over me.
My last ride on Al-Ashab before my spinal surgery was so emotional. Of everything I loved doing, somehow the desire to ride Al-Ashab again was the strongest drive within me to not be discouraged from making a full recovery. I had a picture of myself riding Al-Ashab bareback and took it with me all the way to the hospital.
The nine-hour surgery proved to be successful, having straightened my spine with two metal rods screwed into my spine with hooks and wires. I remember being in the recovery room, looking up at the picture of Al-Ashab and me that had been placed beside my bed and dreaming about seeing him and riding him again. I thought of how amazing it would be to even simply kiss that soft, pink nose and smell his hair. Oh, how I wanted to see my boy again!
But on the third night in the hospital I had complications, and my heart rate would not stop accelerating. Not only had I faced the possibility of losing mobility, but that night I came face to face with losing my life. The whole experience with my heart was a blur. Doctors were all around me; my mother was praying so hard; yet I came under a complete peace, not even feeling my heart rate as being any different.
Indeed, this was true, for my heart rate slowly went back to normal. In the days to follow, I struggled to sit up, but I did. It was then difficult to stand, but I did. Then the challenge was to walk, but I did. I left the hospital after eight days. Being at home proved to be more difficult for me because Al-Ashab and all my other animals in the barn were so close, yet I had not yet the strength to go out and be close to them. I got depressed having to stay in bed so much. I wanted to be back to my normal self again. Although I did have days when I was discouraged, I no longer wondered if I could be better and established in faith that I would be better in time.
Four months later, to my joy and my dear mother’s worry, I rode Al-Ashab bareback. He seemed to sense my new body and, although normally a spirited Arabian, he was ever so gentle in his strides and took care of me. If it were not for the drive to be with Al-Ashab and to ride again, perhaps I would have recovered from my surgery, but maybe not as quickly or completely. I know Al-Ashab was a blessing from Above.
Today I still ride Al-Ashab, at his grand age of soon to be 32. Although he is slowing down, he still has that sparkle in his eyes and energy to burn. I have no back pain, and I ride Al-Ashab as fast as he wants to go.
I can’t really imagine having any other kind of horse besides an Arabian. It’s not that I don’t like other kinds of horses, but it is the sensitivity, character, and beauty of my Arabian horses that inspires me so much, every day. At one point, it was this inspiration from Al-Ashab to simply be normal again and, even now, it’s this inspiration that makes me want to a better horsewoman and a better person all the way around. I want to share the Arabian horse inspiration with others. This inspiration just might be the tool needed to save another or to change a life for the better.