Prince Ali – Chapter 2

Prince Ali – Wonder Horse Book One
By Victoria Hardesty and Nancy Perez
Authors of Action and Adventure with Arabian Horses


Caroline Howard had no trouble finding her daughter from the night of Ali’s birth. Then, if she needed Becky for any reason, all she had to do was check in the barn. Becky spent every waking minute with her new horse. On weekdays, she rushed to the barn in her pajamas to say “Good Morning” to him, and ran back to say “Goodbye” before Esperanza, her Nanny, took her to school. She stopped in the barn first thing on arriving home from school and spent the balance of the afternoon in the barn after she changed out of her school clothes. Then, Caroline had to retrieve her from the barn for dinner and once again at bedtime.

Becky insisted she would teach Prince Ali how to lead. When Fernando walked Spirit to the turnout for exercise, Becky haltered Ali and led him out behind his mother. She haltered and led him back to the barn when Fernando brought the mare back inside for dinner.

Walter and Caroline Howard evaluated their new foal a day after his birth. They were impressed with the baby, from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. They thought Prince Ali might be the best Arabian foal they’d ever seen. However, they knew many owners felt the same way about their foals, so they kept their opinion to themselves. Becky thought he was the most beautiful horse on the planet, but she would have thought that if he was a “plug nag” because he was “her horse.”

The Howards took several photos of the baby and sent them to the owners of the stallion. They were impressed with the foal as well. They drove from Paso Robles to San Juan Capistrano to see Prince Ali a week later. Walter and Caroline were surprised. It was 270 miles and took close to five hours each way.

When they arrived, Prince Ali was in the turnout with his mother. The two couples stood side by side at the rail, watching the baby run around and play.

“He’s the best baby our stallion has produced,” the wife told Walter and Caroline. “I can’t wait to see him grow up. If he looks as good as I think he will, you have a National Champion on your hands.”

“You think so?” Caroline mused. “I rode his mother to my first national title. We hoped for a good baby from that breeding.”

“He’s pretty young, but look at his conformation. I can’t find any flaws. He’s also got one other characteristic I’m surprised to see in one so young.”

“What are you talking about?” Caroline asked, perplexed.

“Open your eyes and take a good look at that baby. He has charisma. He has charm. He has that “Look At Me” attitude. He catches you with his eyes. He makes you want to look at him! Believe me, if he keeps that attitude, the judges won’t miss him. They’ll all be looking at him!”

“You think so?” Caroline asked in surprise.

“Yes, I know so,” the stallion owner said. “This is the best baby our stallion has sired, and he’s been breeding mares for ten years now. Your mare and our stallion are perfect together. We need to do this again.”

The Breeder’s wife explained, “He’s got that “X” factor that will push him right to the top. You’re going to need a good trainer, one that won’t be harsh with him. You want to let that “X” factor shine.”

Walter and Caroline talked about the Breeder’s visit later that evening. Since Prince Ali was born at the end of January, they wouldn’t need a trainer for him for most of the year. They decided to put off any decisions until September. If Prince Ali still looked this good then, they would take videos of him. Caroline would put together a list of potential trainers they could send a copy of the video. They would make a decision later that year. In the meantime, Becky could have her best friend at home to play with as he grew.

Becky lived and breathed Prince Ali. At school, all she talked about was her new horse. At home, she spent every waking minute she could with him. She informed her mother that Prince Ali was her “very best-est friend.”

Walter mentioned his missing daughter one evening. Caroline told him she was in the barn with her horse. Walter asked, “How long is this going to go on?”

Caroline shook her head, “I remember my first horse. I was crazy for that gelding. I spent as much time as I could with him, at first. Then the newness wore off a little. I spent more time on my homework assignments and watched a little TV before bedtime. This is just a phase. It will wear off. Give it time.”

Two months later, the newness still hadn’t worn off for Becky. Prince Ali hated the days she went to school. He was obedient and easy to handle, but the sparkle left his eyes when she was missing. Caroline and Fernando both noticed. When Espi, what everyone called the nanny Esperanza, brought Becky home from school, they both swore the horse could hear the sound of Espi’s car a block away. Ali’s ears pricked up, and he stood eagerly at the fence, waiting for her to get out of the car.

When school let out for the year, Becky still spent every day she could with Ali. He was weaned by that time, so Becky taught him about baths and taking trail walks on the bridle path behind the Howard’s property. She pointed out the squirrels, rabbits, lizards, and birds they saw on the trail. Other riders used the trail, so Becky taught him trail courtesy by stepping back to allow riders to pass them.

Fernando replaced some old fencing along the back of the property. Becky begged him for a couple of fence posts she could use to teach Ali to jump in the arena. Fernando made sure to pull all the nails out first. Becky led Ali to the posts lying in the dirt and hopped over them first. Ali followed her. That sent Becky into gales of giggles as she exclaimed they were already jumping together. Caroline bought a large ball so Becky could teach him how to play soccer, horse style, as well. After that, Becky’s only time in the house was for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She ate quickly, so she didn’t miss a single minute with her Ali. Caroline had to retrieve her from the barn when it was time for bed.

On Becky’s first day back at school in September, Walter and Caroline looked Prince Ali over carefully. He’d grown a lot. He was beginning to gray out, and the gray color suited him. They took new pictures of him and sent them to the Breeder, along with a short video of him trotting around the arena. Caroline got a call back from them that evening.

“Get him ready for Scottsdale in February! He’s going to blow their socks off!” the Breeder said enthusiastically. “That colt has the moves to go with everything. He’s going to win you a National Championship!”

They talked about possible trainers for Prince Ali. One that was on the shortlist for the Breeder was also on Caroline’s list. Chris O’Neal took over the training business his father and mother started. He went to school in California, at Cal Poly in Pomona, with Caroline and Walter, and married Sharon, a woman Caroline showed with as a teenager. His training barn was doing very well at the local, regional, and national levels. Chris was also known for his kindness with his training horses.

Walter and Caroline talked about it after Becky went to bed that night. “I remember Chris and his wife, Sharon. If I was going to pick a trainer for Prince Ali, that’s who I’d pick. The only problem with him is his location. He took over his Dad’s business, and they live outside of Boulder, Colorado. Becky will have a fit if she can’t see her horse every day. How will she react when we tell her that her horse will be several states away from her? That’s a conversation I’m dreading,” Caroline admitted.

“I want the best trainer we can get. I want someone who will be kind to our horse and still get the most out of him. The location will be a problem, but that’s probably the best for the horse. It’s something that will not make our daughter happy. Why don’t we get a professional out to do a short video? We can send it to Chris and see what he thinks. Then, depending on what he has to say, we can cross that bridge when we get there,” Walter suggested.

Victoria Hardesty has owned, bred and shown Arabian Horses for more than 30 years. She and her husband operated their own training facility serving many young people that loved and showed their own horses. She is the author of numerous articles in horse magazines, was the editor of two Arabian Horse Club newsletters, one of which was given the Communications Award of the Year by the Arabian Horse Association at their national convention. An avid reader from childhood, she read every horse story she could get her hands on.