After the passing of her beloved mare, Dory, Courtney Ann of Prince Edward Island, Canada, posted on an the Arabian Breeders and Owners Alliance Facebook page, hoping to find some relief from her grief through the Arabian community. “After Dory passed away, a part of me died with her. It's hard to explain, but she was both my teacher and my family.” Courtney shares. “To watch her transform from nervous and timid to this brave and exuberant mare was incredibly rewarding. We had a powerful bond. I was the one responsible for her care - I worked with her every day; I cleaned her stall, fed her, groomed her. I was her constant. She knew the sound of my car and would come running and calling to me before I even made my way into the stable.”
Asking other Arabian owners to share pictures of their horses was Courtney’s way of trying to brighten this dark time. “I was absolutely terrified to go back to the barn and see her empty stall.” she explains. “When I did go back, there was absolute silence. No one was there to greet me. It was an overwhelming and visceral experience. I never really gave myself a minute to cope with the loss because of the intense demand of veterinary school, but I knew that seeing other Arabian horses and their owners would, in a way, pacify the pain I felt with Dory's loss. A lot of those replies to my post put a great smile on my face, but some made me grieve with owners who had also lost their beloved Arabians.”
Tory Kilmon, another member of the online community, saw Courtney’s post and had a strong response of her own. “Something unexplainable just hit me a day or so after I read Courtney’s post,” Tory recounts. “My husband and I were traveling home one evening, and it popped in my head like a lightbulb. I said to him, ‘I need to give Samar to that girl.’ He said, ‘What girl?’ Then I explained to him about Courtney’s post. He told me to do whatever I wanted to do to help her.”
Tory’s passion for Arabian horses started in the 80’s. “I purchased a 19-year-old Half-Arabian palomino mare, Lajeno Bint O’Honey, when I was a teenager. I had other horses growing up, but this was the first horse I purchased myself. I moved to Horse Cave, Ky., in 2006 and have a small breeding program here at SunSet Ridge. My main focus is quality, not quantity. We currently stand our handsome black straight Egyptian stallion, Al Reyhan Marou, and look forward to our upcoming foals in 2019.” Eager to help a fellow Arabian horse lover who shared her passion, and also her pain at the loss of her companion, Tory reached out. “I couldn’t wait to get home to send Courtney a message. I asked her to please contact me because I wanted to brighten her Christmas,” she remembers.
The conversation continued from there, an exciting conclusion on the horizon after Courtney’s heartbreak. “I knew exactly how Courtney felt when she lost Dory,” Tory says. “I explained to Courtney that a few years ago just before Christmas, I had to put one of my treasured mares down who was five months pregnant. The feeling of complete devastation, heartbreak and crushed dreams. Courtney replied that she just took a moment to put herself in my shoes. She said that I must be a strong woman because she didn’t think that she would have the courage to do that. At that moment, she doubted her ability to become a good veterinarian. I learned that she is in her first year of veterinary college. I explained to her that she will become an awesome vet. She has so much heart and compassion for a young adult. The more I talk to her, the more I learn from her. She has such great values; she is someone to look up to and be proud of. I couldn’t have chosen a more deserving person to gift Samar too.”
Samar Al Jood is a two-year-old filly who was bred by Christie Metz of Silver Maple Farm. She is by Marajh KA, and out of Princess Samaria SMF (PVA Kariim), and is Al Khamsa listed. On receiving the offer, Courtney was understandably overwhelmed at first. “I remember reading her message and not having it click in my head for a good few minutes,” she says. “When it did click, I re-read the email to my classmates who also were shocked. I called my fiance Adam, and asked his thoughts. He was skeptical, which is understandable. I needed to take time to think about it, and Tory was kind enough to allow this. We still had a large vet bill from Dory's diagnostics, and I wasn't sure if I was emotionally ready. After some time I reflected on my experience adopting Dory, and that I took her on while preparing for my out of country move to start my veterinary studies. Sometimes you have to take the leap, and there was something about Samar that 'clicked' with me and I knew that she was something very special.”
After searching her heart, Courtney knew Samar would be the next step in her journey with the Arabian horse. “I contacted Tory around midnight to tell her that I'd love to have her. Samar is not a replacement for Dory, but she reignited my excitement and made me feel hopeful for the future.” Courtney recounts. “When Samar arrived, I was so excited! She was (and is) so beautiful, and I remember feeling impressed with her confidence for a little two year old. The transporter could not make it up the driveway, so he had to unload her on the side of the road. I was worried she would refuse to follow me up the drive in the dark, but she was so calm and respectful and stayed right by my side. She also was very puppy-like, and stuck her muzzle in the snow and dragged it like she was plowing or something. I've never seen a horse do that before. She's proved to be quite the comedian!”
Though Samar made it to her wonderful new life in Canada, the journey wasn’t without challenge. Though Mike Stonionis of Happy Horse Transportation brought Samar safely and without incident to Pennsylvania, the second leg of the journey was not so smooth. “Some unfortunate circumstances occurred en route. The other horse traveling with Samar had illegitimate health papers, and was unloaded at the border. Due to this, the transporter inflated the transport fees for Samar since she was the only horse remaining in the trailer. Courtney had no choice but to pay it. This was wrong in so many ways and I didn’t want this gift and joyful time to be tainted with something negative.” Tory explains. Continuing to go above and beyond, Tory held a benefit dinner at her workplace to help offset this cost. “Courtney is beyond grateful and appreciative. She said that this has been such an uplifting experience. It gives her motivation and goals to achieve. We are definitely going to keep in touch. I feel like Courtney is now family and I foresee a road trip!”
The future is looking bright for Courtney and Samar, a beautiful end to a sad situation, created by Tory’s generosity and the Arabian horse community. “Right now, I have been doing a lot of groundwork and really enjoying every day I have with her. She's very smart and excited to learn which makes training really satisfying. This summer, I plan on showing her in hand but in the future I hope to compete with her in Dressage.” Courtney shares. “Samar and I have really bonded since her arrival, and I love how she is so outgoing and playful. She knows how to 'turn on' when others meet her and I'm so happy I can share her with classmates and others and introduce them to the Arabian horse. I look forward to keeping Tory updated on Samar, and I hope to make her proud!”
To follow Samar and Courtney’s journey, visit her Facebook page.
To learn more about Tory Kilmon and her program at Sunset Ridge, visit her website.