“This horse is not right for you. You are both green,” declared my instructor, which after forty-five years I still remember clearly, as it was also the beginning of one of the most rewarding relationships of my life and the fulfillment of my childhood dream.
“I grew up in Argentina, a country that takes pride in its horses and their performance. So, falling in love with their beauty, agility and majestic stature was not unusual for a child, certainly not for me. I took this passion with me when a few years later I made my way to my new country and to an open door of possibilities.
“When I was a bit older, I was hired by Pan American Airlines and I moved to Miami, Florida. I flew for Pan Am for twenty-three years; wonderful times of adventure, friendship and a camaraderie that still bond us together.
“Once settled in Miami, the most logical thing for me to do was to search for an equestrian facility where I could finally learn the etiquette of horsemanship and, of course, to find that nameless companion that I knew was waiting for me.
“I soon found a large stable with Arabian show horses. After a few lessons I started my quest for my champion. I soon found a beautiful chestnut Half-Arabian with a certain air of pride, and right then and there, Shane of York, three years old at the time and barely trained, became my inseparable companion for the rest of his life.
“Despite my trainer’s concerned advice, two days later we trailered Shane to his new home and into that long-awaited place in my heart. No, we never made it to the Olympic Games, as at one time I had imagined, but our journey of thirty-one years took us to another dimension which only Shane could have given me with his kindness and sensitivity.
“A few months later I began to show Shane in Saddle Seat Amateur Owner to Ride classes where we won many blue ribbons and white and pinks and yes, some greens. At some point later, Shane let me know that he would prefer to go western. No more of my sitting on his kidneys and double bit in his mouth.
“I then changed out of my blue English habit, which had taken many hours to make, and I fashioned blue suede chaps and we rode in a Tom McNair western show saddle. Shane’s sliding stops under a cloud of dust were incredible, and that added championships and silver plates to his collection.
“After this was accomplished, I decided to ride in Side Saddle classes. I borrowed a pattern to maker my skirt apron and my bolero, and wore and a beautiful hat that my mother had made for me in Argentina. Once again Shane and I entered the ring and accomplished enough points to be, for a while, at the top of the International Side Saddle Organization.
“Life changes brought my husband and I to the Bay Area outside of San Francisco, California. We found that we loved living in Alamo at the foot of Mount Diablo, and Shane began to enjoy the beautiful trails, ponying my newly acquired Egyptian mare Zianna, and sharing long rides with my husband’s mare Phoebe. Endurance rides were also part of his repertoire and there was no stopping Shane from running up those hills. How much fun that was!
“My husband’s career directed us then to Dallas, Texas, and we packed our menagerie and headed off. After breakdowns, flat tires and encountering terrible weather, we arrived in Dallas seven days later. Not sure how many times we loaded and unloaded the two horses, but Shane, as always, remained calm, accepting whatever came his way and looking after Zianna.
“Our new home was charming with a barn with flowers in the windows on a five acre ranch. With no trails around us, we were invited to camp and ride on privately owned properties.
“Then, too soon, we were on our way to Washington State, and Shane continued accumulating ground miles and more geographic and cultural experiences. Our stables on the outskirts of Seattle consisted of 30 acres overlooking Mount Rainier on one side and the Olympic Mountains on the other. With 25 five stalls and only three horses, I thought the logical thing to do was to breed Zianna. What would be more beautiful than seeing this sculptured Egyptian mare running free with a foal by her side?
“Unfortunately, Zianna rejected her lovely foal after birth, but soon we found a large and kind Appaloosa mare who took over the place of Ole Jamaal’s mother. Shane looked over this odd pair respectfully at a distance waiting for the day when he would take over the role of raising Ole.
“Ole and Shane soon became inseparable, with Shane watching Ole in the early years and Ole caring for Shane in later times.
“Shane continued to enjoy life, riding trails through the Muckleshoot tribal lands and even the Pacific Crest Trail. During the last three years of our ten years in the Pacific Northwest, Shane began to show signs of two rotating coffin bones. It was very hard to accept that laminitis would eventually rob my Shane of his zest for life. Our trail rides became shorter on our property and my life became totally devoted to him. I knew that I was neglecting other duties, but I would never leave his side and neither would Ole.
“In 2002 I returned to the Bay Area where I had many dear friends and support. Cory (Dr. Cory Soltau) had remained my friend and veterinarian, and helped Shane and I re-establish in Walnut Creek, California.
Bob Hubbard’s transport brought the precious cargo of Shane and Ole together to California, but realizing the now weakened condition of Shane, the company transported Shane in a double stall in the van, where he could lay down and ease the pain in his feet.
“This time, I found a boarding facility close to my new home. Again, we were together and doing some short rides in the arena. Often, I would get a morning call for me to come to the stables to help Shane get up.
“A year later, one morning on December 23, 2003, while kneeling by his side I knew what his eyes were telling me. Although Ole stood quietly I knew that his heart was crying as I was recalling every moment of my incredible beautiful life of thirty-one years with Shane.
“Shane and I were bonded in amazing ways as he saved my life in more ways than one.”
A New Chapter
When Dr. Cory Soltau formed Pleasanton Arabian Racing Club (PARC), Norma was able to enjoy a new chapter in her love of Arabian horses. They were joined by 17 friends in the Club who shared their passion. In 2016, the Club leased two racing horses, growing to three in 2017, Angelina AA, Ambush AA, and Keep on Dreamin. Norma designed the PARC racing silks, and they were off to the races.
In 2017, Norma, wanting to be further involved, purchased the racing mare, Sand Lilly (Burning Sands x Tri Tiki Joy), born in 2012. She is again enjoying owning her own horse and will have the mare bred in 2018 to the 2013 Dubai Kahayla Classic race winner, Al Mamun Monlau.
Norma said: “Since I embarked in this new adventure, I have met great people, established good friendships, traveled to Abu Dhabi and Marrakesh, and learned to appreciate another dimension of the beautiful Arabian Horse, ”