Yesterday was a good day. A special day. And it was one that I have waited for, for many, many years. Yesterday was the day that I finally met Amir Jamaal.
Back in 2007 – 10 years ago – I was visiting the US Egyptian Event in Lexington, for the first time. As I walked into the foyer, a lady with a bright smile and a fabulous cowboy hat was there, saying hello to people I was with. The lady in question was Karin McMurtrie, owner of Hawksflight Farms in Sarasota, Florida.
Over the years, Karin and I became good friends. She also became a very good client, advertising her beautiful Hawksflight breeding programme through the pages of The Arabian Magazine. She has many stunning horses but I will never forget the day when she sent the image over for the first advert – a shot to me that remains one of my all time favourite photographs of an Arabian horse. The image in question was the now iconic shot of Amir Jamaal, captured in such style and class by Gigi Grasso.
That photograph… Look at it! It is just incredible, and it really does capture the soul of this sweet, and oh so special, stallion. Majestic and noble, strong and powerful, but also a gentleman to the core.
Fast-forward 10 years – and yes, Karin and I have decided that it would only be right to return to Lexington once more this year and celebrate our friendship alone with our deep-rooted love of the Arabian horse – and I happened to be in Florida once more. Only this time, I made sure that I took a trip south of the normal Ocala route and visited Sarasota for the first time. I was so excited to visit her farm and to see her horses. But above all, I was so excited to meet Amir for the first time.
As if the magic of the day was not already special enough, yesterday turned out to be Amir’s 25th birthday. A double celebration – or is it triple – of a love and admiration for a distant horse, and one about to be realised in the flesh.
Amir Jamaal is, as his name suggests, a son of the great Ali Jamaal (Ruminaja Ali x Heritage Memory by El Magato). He is out of the El Shaklan (Shaker El Masri x Estopa by Tabal) daughter, Luz de Fe (ex Fantasia Castana by Barich de Washoe. Karin saw and fell in love with Amir when he was five years old, and yesterday he was the final horse to be presented at the end of what was a very special presentation.
As is so often the case with grand old gentleman, we went to see him rather than he to us. I was holding my breath as we approached his stall – and one look at this grand, majestic boy and tears formed in my eyes, just as they right now as I recall yesterday. As I got closer and Karin took me in the stall with him, the tears fell. I was a mess. But a very happy mess, meeting one of my equine heroes!
Karin wanted to photograph us together – I have a feeling that yesterday was as important to her as it was to me – and the results are below. I love this one particular photo, however. One person on Facebook said that the look on my face says it all, and I have to agree.
As I am preparing to leave Sarasota for the next leg of my American adventure, I have returned to Hawksflight for one final time. As I sit and write this, Amir is over my shoulder, looking at me from across the barn. I have already gone to see him and have cuddles with him again – he took one look at me, whickered, and came over to see me.
There is something about this grand old boys that captures me so much. I was the same with the late Orashan (Messaoud x Ora) at Saba Arabians in Australia. These are the horses that look into your soul the moment you stand in their presence, and something shifts inside of you. You are never the same again after being in their company, and a piece of your heart stays with them always.
Karin, Mitch, Ken and the Hawksflight team – thank you so much for making of my dreams come true yesterday. It was such an honour to stand in front of you special boy – a living piece of history, being a son of the great Ali Jamaal – and to see him was nothing less than amazing.
Amir Jamaal – thank you for being such a gentleman and a true ambassador for the old Arabian stallion. The touch of your fleabitten coat, so soft that it felt like silk, under my hands as I stroked you will stay with me forever, as will your gentle call of recognition to me this morning. It will be hard to walk away from you today, and I hope that our paths will cross again in this lifetime if not the next.