Well, to follow up on my first story of Saudi Arabia, I thought I might share this story with you.
My family started out the summer in Hail, Saudi Arabia. We stayed in Hail on an off all summer long. On one occasion my father took us out to a very very remote power plant. It was surrounded by massive sand dunes.
Outside of the power plant were a few adobe/mud huts that had been built centuries earlier. They were all crumbling and falling down. I liked to explore and there was nothing else to do so during the day I would go out into the desert and look around. Well, one day I saw a herd of feral donkeys. There were about 15 or so in the group. Older jennys and some foals and middle aged ones. I noticed after awhile that one of the donkeys was limping pretty severely.
I have had horses since I was two years old, and at age 12, my thoughts ran to becoming a veterinarian. I had two horses back in AZ. So, I was greatly concerned about the donkey that was limping.
The group of donkeys were almost wild, they would not let you get near them. I had nothing but time during the day while was dad was working at the power plant so I put a plan into action. Each evening when Dad and I got back to town, we would go to the market and I would pick up a handful of carrots and sometimes I was lucky enough to find an apple. I would then pack these in my backpack and go to work with dad.
It took me about 2 weeks to earn the trust of the donkeys. I would inch closer and closer and set a piece of carrot on a rock, then I would back up a few feet and sit down cross-legged. Then the waiting began.
Usually the dominant mare would come over and see what I was doing. I always tried to angle myself closer to the injured donkey. He couldn’t run as fast as the others and seemed to have resigned himself to his lot in life. Eventually, I was able to get him to eat out of my hand. Then I would scratch behind his ears and rub his neck. On his rear leg wrapped around his fetlock was a piece of imbedded rope. It had grown into his leg. It constricted the muscles and tendons, thus making him limp. It was a nasty wound. It had obviously been put on him when he was a yearling. I surmised he was about two years old or close to that age.
Dad bought me a halter and rope and the next time I went out to the desert I was able to halter the youngster. I started by picking up his feet and getting used to being handled. Each day I would pick gently at the rope and the wound and dig it out bit by bit. I unraveled the rope first. Then I had dad bring me some hydrogen peroxide. I didn’t have access to betadine, so I had to work with what I had.
After the third day of picking at the rope, I was finally able to get it loose from the wound and pull it off.
I doctored the wound and gave him the whole apple. He rubbed his large head against me as if saying thank you.
I took another week pouring hydrogen peroxide on it, and it was well on its way to healing. He was getting better and better and had started putting weight on that leg. Yeah, Success. After three weeks he was scampering around like a newborn foal again.
Well, unbeknownst to me the entire month I had been working on this project the men at the power plant had been watching me.
One evening my Father got a phone call. He came into the living room and said ‘Kathy, you have been summoned.’ I said “Summoned by whom?” He replied “The Prince”. Dad then asked me what I had been doing during the time I was at the power plant. He was thinking I had done something bad, or worse.
I had no idea why one of the Prince’s of Saudi Arabia would summon me.
Well, A visit was arranged and a limo picked all of us up. It drove us to a very very nice palace in Hail.
Here is Qishlah Palace.
I was taken through hallways lined with gold leaf and plush native rugs. The statues and artwork were absolutely stunning. A group of women took me into a room and had me pick out a dress and robe to wear. I was thinking all of this was very strange, but, Heh, go with the flow.
I then joined the rest of my family at a large dining table. It sat 50 people easy. I was then introduced to the Prince and he asked me to sit down to dinner with him. The appetizer was pretty interesting.
It was a Spider Monkey. Picture in your mind a spider monkey sitting on your plate. A servant arrived and proceeded to remove the skull cap of said monkey. My father said under NO circumstances offend the prince. I had to at least take a bite of the monkey brains. UGGGGG! The next course was even better. Pickled sheep’s eyes. I had a big problem with this dish. It kept rolling around my plate looking at me. Dad, elbowed me hard in the ribs. When I stabbed it with my fork it squirted and that was all she wrote for me. International incident or not, I was NOT going to eat a sheep’s eye.
I asked the Prince if I may be excused? He replied, I did look a bit under the weather and excused me from the table. The servants took me to a library room and I walked around and wondered at all the old tombs and scriptures I saw. It was impressive.
After awhile, the Prince walked into the library and asked if I was feeling better. I replied, ‘Yes’ much!
He then said “Would you like to see my Arabian Stallions?” My eyes lit up and with a big smile I said yes.
He then led me down several hallways and passages and out to his stables. At the end of the barn was a large stall and he took me to this one. Inside was a beautiful pure black Arabian stallion. His matted mane was over 3′ long. He was snorting and prancing around his stall. The Prince told me he was wild and that no one was able to tame him. I asked the Prince if I could go into his stall. The grooms were all shaking their heads NO. When one of the grooms came forward to say no, the stallion reared up and kicked his front legs and hooves out and slammed the wall. The stallion had his ears back and was not happy to see the groom. The Prince observed all of this but didn’t say anything. I then waited for the Prince to reply to my question. He said, “You see how this stallion acts around people, he is dangerous”.
“I could not with good faith, allow you to enter his stall” Well, if you know anything about me, I am not one to take NO for an answer. I can be very persuasive. “I can tame him”! The Prince said “he will kill you.” I said, “No he won’t.” I then asked for all the grooms and the prince to back away from the stall.
I slowly slid the door open and stepped inside the stall. The stallion was looking at me, but did not have his ears laid back. He swished his tail and rolled his head and neck. I walked very slowly up to him and scratched behind his ears. His mane was very matted in that area and I could tell it was pulling on him and making him uncomfortable. The stallion lowered his head and let me pet and rub his neck. I scratched under his jawline and then ran my hands over his shoulders and down his back. I passed behind him to the other side. The stallion just turned his head and watched me. He didn’t make any aggressive moves at all. He was very relaxed, (He had one back leg propped up on the tip of his hoof).
I then ran my hands again up his ribs and over his back. I then hopped up on his back and sat astride him. The stallion twitched one ear back and forth very quickly, but did not move. I spoke to him in a smooth whisper. I squeezed my legs together slightly and the stallion walked around his stall in a circle.
When he stopped I slid off his back and patted his neck and told him he was a good boy.
I then exited the stall and slid the door shut.
The Prince was smiling, The grooms where shaking their heads in disbelief. The Prince said “You have a gift”. “First, you tame one of my donkeys and heal his wounds, then you tame this wild stallion”. He then led me out of his stables and I joined the rest of my family. The limo drove us back to our Villa in Hail.
I thought all of this was interesting, but pretty par for my course in life. The next week Dad got another phone call from the Prince. The Prince wanted me to come and work in the Royal Stables for him.
Unfortunately for me the summer was over and we had to go back to AZ. The Prince understood this and said he was gifting the stallion to me. Dad thanked the prince but said, he had no way to get him back to AZ.
Well when we returned to AZ, dad had not forgotten what the Prince had told him, so he took me out to an Arabian Horse ranch and bought me an Arabian horse. I went on to qualify for the 1984 Olympics with that Arabian but that is another story.