It's one of
those things we don't like thinking about, but sometimes we don't have a choice.
about protecting our lifestyle. Not about security alarms, or water sprinkling
systems or locks on every door, although those things are great. What I'm talking
about is the kind of safety for your horses that comes with neighbors and friends
keeping an eye on things for each other. The kind of strength that comes from
all of us looking out for Arabian racing.
we had a taste of reality. We have a training stable with a track on another
property a few miles from the main farm. I keep a studio in the loft of the
barn, but I don't generally stay overnight. I like having Nahgua there (Nugui
El Khamsin, featured in my novel Fate of the Stallion) because I can ride him
on the track. At the time of our surprise, Nahgua was recovering from a serious
weight loss that we couldn't understand and the vets were reminding me that,
being in his twenties now, he might not last forever. Just between you and me,
I know differently, but that's beside the point.
Briggin, is also stabled there. But, other than for the two stallions, the rest
of the stalls were empty when this happened and because it looks more presentable,
we keep all the stall doors closed and latched, up and down both sides of the
center aisle. Remember: There were only two horses in the barn. The other eight
box stalls were empty, but latched shut.
I grew up
around here, which is the Northern part of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania's
farm country. I guess I'm used to a certain amount of privacy when you have
a barn set back about a quarter mile off the road. But, I guess there are a
lot of things I'm used to that you can't count on any more. I wasn't counting
on the call from my friend that morning, when she went to feed and water the
We all have
a favorite horse, one that means more than any other. In Nahgua's case, I had
glorified him and Arabian racing in stories, in an audiobook that was read on
the radio in New York City, in TV appearances and in newspapers and magazines
around the world. Now, right before my eyes, both stallions were loose in the
center aisle of the barn. They were fighting. Briggin was fighting because he
wanted to. But, my brave Nahgua was fighting for his life.
were unlatched and the sliding doors were open. The mystery deepened when we
saw that not only theirs, but every stall in the barn had been unlatched and
slid wide open as well. How did it happen? All of us wanted to know how the
stallions got loose, and why.
the deeper mystery is why anyone would do such a thing. As word of the vandalism
got out, we received notes and phone calls here at the farm coming from horse
owners asking what really happened. As near as we can tell, the farm was targeted
by animal rights fanatics acting out a scene from one of my novels. We in Arabian
racing love our horses, and that's why we have them, but there are many people
trying to destroy our way of life through the media and legislation. National
organizations claiming to love animals have taken a stand against animal sports
such as horse racing and they are getting serious public attention. The emotional
passion of the animal rights movement runs deep, but no animal lover would want
two stallions to tear themselves apart and open wide every stall door in the
place to make sure we'd know it was on purpose.
Protect your horses and our way of life. Make friends with your neighbors. Ask
them to look out for your stables always, and thank them when they do.
who have asked about Nahgua, he's back in shape and all patched up. Once again,
I'm riding him on the track for anyone to see. Even without painting it across
the barn in graffiti that night, the message of those vandals was clear: We're
out there. We can hurt you! But, when you think about it, every foal we breed
and raise for racing, every horse we get on the track, sends a message that's
even greater: "Yes, we know you're out there. We've noticed. But, horse
racing is here to stay."
Author/Artist RON HEVENER specializes in animal sports and entertainment. Mr.
Hevener owns one of oldest dog show kennels in the U.S. ("Lochranza,"
specializing in Collies since 1945). His dog "Kane" (Ch. Amberlyn's
Bright Tribute) was featured in his popular novel "The Blue Ribbon."
His interest in Arabian horse racing goes back to the early days of Delaware
Park, now one of the leading Arabian racetracks in the US. His stallion "Nahgua"
(Nugui El Khamsin) was one of the first Arabians to race at Delaware Park and
inspired Mr. Hevener's novel, "Fate of the Stallion."
Along with racehorses and show dogs, Mr. Hevener's interest in Greyhounds started
with the adoption of a retired racer and led to a full-fledged racing kennel
and inspired his novel, "High Stakes." Today, he owns sons and daughters
of every major Greyhound racing sire from the U.S., UK, Ireland and Australia.
An accomplished artist, Hevener figurines and prints from his novels are bought
and traded throughout the world. His original paintings and sculptures are displayed
in galleries and can be found in many private collections.
Mr. Hevener is currently on tour, speaking at bookstores, libraries, theaters,
schools, gift stores, pet stores, dog shows, art shows and horse shows throughout
the country. "Life is a movie," he says. "On with the show!"