2023 theswiftrunner home header sepia
2023 theswiftrunner home header sepia

A Loving Farewell to Artzi

by Mel Dixon

Over 21 years ago, through my sister, I met a little, thin, scared eight-year-old chestnut Arab. He was emaciated and terrified. I promised him then I would keep him safe and he would never be mistreated again. Animal welfare organizations, ILPA and the RSPCA knew the dealer, and they promised to visit but they couldn’t help until he was on the ground and unable to get back up. I couldn’t wait for that. I found Wikefield farm, a livery stable just north of Leeds, in West Yorkshire, run by Barbara and her husband Michael, fit for a prince. 

ArtziWith Elise, my youngest daughter, pulling faces in covid.

 I was anxious to know if she had space for us. After she showed me around, she asked about my horse. When I told her I didn’t actually own him yet, and I had no idea how to get him from Epsom to Yorkshire, she immediately got on the phone to arrange help and transport the next day. I called the dealer who I knew was going to be difficult, but after some negotiation she agreed to a price and we arranged transport. Thanks to Mosie (my sister’s mother-in-law) for getting up at 4 a.m. to load him as quickly as possible in the dark, and thanks to my sister for doing the transaction with the dealer. It was an anxious night, worrying that the dealer would change her mind or that HE wouldn’t survive the journey standing from Epsom to Bilborough, but he did. Barbara fetched him to Wikefield. He was strong and determined, and we soon got him settled in his new stable, removing the old headcollar that was stuck to an open wound on his head.

Barbara checked on him through the night – he was clearly a fighter. We met fellow liveries, sisters Joanne and Sharon, on our first night, popping their heads round the door. Their Arabian gelding, Albi, was to be Artzi’s  big brother in the stable next door. They grew a kind of love/hate, annoying brother relationship over the years. 

ArtziSummer in the Wikefield school with Anais, my eldest daughter, and Elise.

 Artzi met the workers the next day. And he and I began a ritual that became his favorite thing: a quiet cuddle and kiss of his eyes and blowing gently into his nostrils…I did it the night I rescued him, and when he went to sleep peacefully for the last time, so he knew he was safe and that I was there. 

Artzi wasn’t so easy for the first few years and was only handled by a few. He scowled at anyone who came near his door. Barbara moved him to the end of the block so he would feel less threatened. He was suspicious and defensive. You had to be wary of his teeth when entering his stable. Michael asked jokingly to remove his teeth and nicknamed him “Jaws.”

The farm’s regular veterinarian, Chris, said he just needed an “Arabectomy.”  We went through a good few farriers until we found one he liked. He didn’t really like men. I prayed he would stand for them. Luckily he was barefoot so Graham, his farrier, trimmed him in his stable. I’m sure he caught a good few people offguard with his teeth and feet and was sworn at quite a number of times. We slowly fed and rehabbed him and after a few months were able to long rein him, and later bought a saddle and bridle. 

Rebecca was Artzi’s sharer for 18 years and she loved him dearly. Joanne and Sharon cared for him as their own. He never went without anything he needed, he was treated like royalty. We tried to show him calmness, patience and respect for his space so he learnt he was listened to. 

ArtziThe last show at Wikefield, in 2005, where Artzi placed first in-hand, three years after I rescued him. I am holding the rosettes.

 His default was to defend his space. His trust and respect came after it was earned. When he did trust you he would do anything for you, and you were one of the chosen few allowed into his precious space. He was sensitive, honest and so clever. When my kids were born he welcomed all three, never pushed, gently took a carrot or polo from their little tiny hands, let each of them fuss, plait, brush and ride him and he protected them. The innocence of a child brought an extra calmness to Artzi.  

Oh, and how he loved a lesson with Joan, our old instructor. He listened to her instruction before we’d given the aid. “What a good boy,” she would shout from the side of the school with her walking stick, and his ears would prick up and he would try his little hardest almost to say, “Yes I am!” I often wondered if she reminded him of someone, maybe his first owner, as he hung on to her every word and his hard exterior melted away when he was near her. 

c6a29cf9 91c0 4738 9abb 3c495a555d48Photo taken a couple of weeks ago.

 I remember how he would give the biggest whinny and come galloping to the gate when I whistled to him or called him. I knew by his majestic grace that he must be well-bred but I didn’t know much about his breeding until my recent post. To me he was just my little Artzi, and the internet wasn’t so helpful in 2002. 

Artzi mellowed through the years and touched everyone’s heart. There are lots of  cheeky Artzi stories. I am grateful that he had so many guardian angels who were able to give him the life he deserved for 29 1/2 years. Wikefield will not feel the same without the little, cheeky, expressive and opinionated chestnut Arab on the end of the block.  He was a little superstar and we are heartbroken. I believe that horses choose us. So I wanted to say thanks for choosing me Artzi, and letting me into your space, it’s been an honor to be yours. 

Since I posted our story and thanks to the power of Facebook I found Artzi’s first owner. It was lovely to hear how much she loved him and how special he was. She worked at the stud where he was bred. He was shown in hand with lots of success and she still has his photos on the wall. He was nicknamed “widget” – oh that would have suited him. I knew he’d  been loved and doted on before – he just needed to be reminded of how it felt and how to love back.

d9a19b9b 743a 4b60 8df0 f365c5c50c82Winter 2018, in the round pen stretching his legs with Rebecca. His summer coat just coming through.

image1Making sand castles with Elise, actually Artzi was knocking them over, hence Elise’s face.

ArtziArtzi love. He was very patient when being fussed over by the girls.

e32f984f 8f87 40cb a54f 915c287415eaArtzi and me on the beach. An eventful ride in 2004.

IMG 6896Anias cantering in the sun.

IMG 8179A picnic walk 2002.

IMG 8182My my favourite photo of Anais and Artzi in Summer, 2022, just before Artzi retired from being ridden. He did love to be ridden.

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Unfinished Tales – How Many Other Artzis Are out there?

By Betty Finke

In over 50 years of attending Arabian horse shows, I have seen, photographed, and archived literally thousands of horses. They fall into two categories: those with long careers in showing and/or breeding that I see again and again over the years, and – the vast majority – those I only see once and never hear of again. I often wonder what became of them. Did they become someone’s riding horse, leading a quiet backyard life?  Or did they die young? Or perhaps they were sold abroad. Every horse has a story, including those that never become famous. You just don’t hear about those.

One of the nice things about being on social media is that, from time to time, one of those “lost horses” resurfaces and I finally learn its story. Bayoub Otal (Bajhat Lalayla), later known as “Artzi,” was one of those horses. I saw him just once, in 1996, at the U.K. International Show at Towerlands: a beautiful liver chestnut two-year-old colt with a golden mane and tail, a blaze, and a white hind leg, very much in the image of his Crabbet sire line which was very popular at that time. I never saw him or heard of him again until, just a few days ago, he popped up in my newsfeed on Facebook, if only because he had recently died at 30 years of age. His story is one of those tales of which I fear there are all too many, where a beautiful horse through no fault of his own falls on hard times. But, literally at the last moment, this horse found his person and a forever home where he was cared for and loved for the rest of his years.

While Artzi has galloped over the rainbow bridge, I wonder how many others are out there like him.  And I hope they may be as lucky.


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Denise Hearst
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Betty Finke
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Cindy Reich
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Johanna Ullstrom
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Scott Benjamin
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Jeffrey Wintersteen
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