“KARA KUMS CALIPH”
April 2nd, 1975 to July 3rd, 2008
This is a tribute page to a very important member of my family who sadly passed away on July 3rd, 2008. Caliph was very old, in his 34th year, and had been a huge part of our family for the past 21 years. His teeth had worn down to nubs and, on our veterinarian’s advice, we had been feeding him a muck tubful of sloppy alfalfa cubes thoroughly soaked in water for free choice feeding, together with a small size pellet grain mix, ever since Caliph had choked on his regular hay six months ago. I managed to clear that choke by gently massaging his throat. I was not so fortunate the afternoon he got into our hay barn and choked after eating the hay which caused an impaction in his oesophagus. I couldn’t clear the blockage and rushed him to our vet who worked for a long time using a tube and warm water to try to clear it after sedating him. He started to hemorrhage and collapsed - there was nothing more to be done so I asked her to euthanize him and he passed quietly, laying beside me with his head in my lap. We buried him on our property looking over the outdoor ring. From the first day we owned him he loved to rub his face on an old leather jacket of mine so I placed that under his head with a Mars bar in one pocket and a roll of English Polo Mints in the other (both his favourites), covered him with his red and black show cooler and placed one of his First Place Ribbons and his grooming tools beside his head. We will put a very large landscaping rock on top of his grave, marked with his brass stall plaque. Rest in peace, Caliph - you were one special horse and will be so missed.
If any of the horse community in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia are reading this website, they may remember Caliph. This is his bio page written prior to his death.
I first rode Caliph on July 13th, 1987, at a week long summer camp in which my Mother enrolled me for something to do in the school holidays and which was held out of Sunshine Hills Equestrian Centre in Delta. She had ridden in England and her Father was a Riding Instructor for the British Army during WWII so the sport was not entirely foreign to the family. Caliph was 12 and I was 16. I had never been on a horse before but we just seemed to “click”. We were together all week while I was learning to ride, groom and muck and we won a book which I still have for my being the most improved student in the group. I found I loved the sport and horses and my Mother bought Caliph for me in the Fall of that year. I was so lucky with my first horse - Caliph is the kindest horse I have ever met. He has absolutely no vices – has never raised a hoof in anger or bared his teeth and was always willing to go along with whatever I wanted to do. He is half Quarter Horse and half Registered Arab, a reddish coloured bay with black mane and tail, 15.3 hh and very, very fast. We spent hours “cowboying it” together, riding down to the beach or galloping round the fields. He taught me more than he will ever understand, although sometimes I was more on the ground than on his back. We were fierce competitors at the barn “Playdays” in the jumping competitions and won many ribbons. Caliph always had style – I didn’t – but with his Arabian ego, he managed to look very flashy at the shows.
We also played a little with dressage. Although Caliph’s cow hocks would never achieve elegance in the show ring, I do have a few good score sheets in my old files. We moved to Greystone Equestrian Centre in Delta where I started lessons with Leslie Reid (Canadian Olympic team member). She threw up her hands at seeing Caliph - he was not the calibre of horse required for her program - so we dropped out. Transferring to the new blue Sunshine Hills Centre, he remained there while I went to College in Virginia, U.S.A. My Mother rode him while I was away and he was also used as a vaulting horse for a youngsters’ program. On my return I started teaching at the North Shore Equestrian Centre and took Caliph with me. I didn’t use Caliph as a lesson horse but did permit a couple of my favourite students to ride him, one of whom was the wife of a Scottish doctor in Vancouver (more about Ismay later).
When we moved to Quesnel and started our breeding program, Caliph was officially retired from riding duties and became the babysitter for the foals after weaning. He seemed to like the babies and played Grandad in the same paddock when they were first weaned from their Moms. They liked him and he seemed to get a kick out of playing babysitter and teaching them their manners.
In 1996, my Scottish Doctor friend and his wife retired and moved back to Scotland. She is very involved in the horse community near St. Andrews and stewards many shows. One of her chief delights is working with the Scottish Welsh Cob & Pony Society and when she decided to sponsor one of the classes she chose to do it in Caliph’s name as she had learned to ride on him. Each year she presents a sterling silver Quaich (dish) inscribed with the name Kara Kums Caliph to the winner of one of their junior classes. Now, how many horses in Canada can brag about this!! It gives us a little chuckle as he is half Arab and half Quarter Horse (not a Welsh Cob) but we are immensely proud of this honour. Caliph always receives his own card from Ismay at Christmas time, together with a year’s supply of Polo mints (a candy well known to Brits) and Mars bars which are his absolute favourites. He also loves Coke which he will drink straight from the can without spilling a drop.
Caliph is now over 33 years old. Although we don’t mention it in his hearing, he does not look quite as “show ready” as he did in his younger days. His back is swayed, his spine and hips are very prominent, he has much gray in his mane and on his face and he has a fat tummy. But........ he does not have any visible signs of arthritis, he can still trot and canter well and gets down on the grass for a good roll with no problem. He doesn’t have quite so much patience with the younger horses and now prefers his own paddock, feed bowl, salt block and run-in shed. It gets very cold up here in the winter months and, although nature is kind to old horses and he looks like a large teddy bear with his thick winter coat, he now owns a very thick blanket, worn from December until Spring.
When I got on Caliph’s back that first day of camp July 13, 1987, who ever knew it would lead me to a lifelong passion for horses and riding – I can’t imagine a day without them. How many people can say they know the day their life changed.
Rather than using an up to date photograph, we thought it kinder to include a picture of Caliph in his “salad” days – sleek, round and full of his own importance!