Prince Ali – Chapter 41

By: Victoria Hardesty and Nancy Perez
Writers of Action and Adventure with Arabian Horses


The week Ali wandered in the wilderness, Becky remained still and silent in her bed in the Intensive Care Unit. She did not move on her own at all. She made no sound. Caroline stayed with her most of the time.

Becky spent most of the time in the fog. Occasionally she would find herself dreaming or remembering things she did with Ali. She could hear Mom and Dad and others talking in her room, but they remained far away, and she could never hear what they were saying.

She found herself getting up before the sun to help get Ali ready for his first class in Scottsdale, Arizona. She helped wash him. He used his upper lip to scrub the top of her head while she squatted down to scrub the shampoo into the front of his forelegs. She was in the grandstands next to Todd when Chris asked Ali to trot into the arena. When the crowd in the stands first noticed Ali, he noticed them and started putting on his best trot. The crowd began cheering. That encouraged Ali to trot higher and higher until he reached his signature high floating trot. It was so exciting to see. Ali won his first class. She was bursting with pride. Becky slipped back into the fog with the sound of crowd cheering ringing in her ears.

Another day she rose from the fog to find herself at Maverick Stadium in Denver, Colorado. She and Todd stood at the Mavericks Players tunnel watching Ali charge down the sideline behind the players’ bench as the announcer introduced him. Ali cantered out and stepped into his high floating trot. Seventy thousand fans in the stadium cheered him on. He stopped and reared on command at mid-field and screamed his stallion challenge. The fans went wild. Someone started chanting “Ah-li! Ah-li! Ah-li!” and the others picked it up. The encouragement led Ali to higher and higher levels. He looked like he floated above the ground! The game was over, and the Mavericks won. Players celebrated on the field. One rushed into the tunnel and asked Ali to join them. Ali head and shoulder bumped three hundred pound linemen, and nose to fist-bumped the running back that scored the winning touchdown. It was all so exciting, but the sound receded as she slipped back into the fog.

Hours or days later, she had no sense of time, she was on an airplane with Mom and Dad, Sharon and Todd O’Neal on their way to Paris, France. She walked into the famous Salon de Cheval to watch Ali compete in the World Championships. He made the top ten! She noticed how nice she was dressed for the finals on Sunday afternoon. Around her, everyone dressed in formal clothes. Men wore tuxedos. Women wore gowns and dripped in jewels. It was the most beautiful sight. Chris trotted Ali into the judging ring. The judges called the winners, starting with tenth place. Ali won! Chris ran his hardest to keep up with Ali on his victory pass. Ali tossed his head and snorted and blew as he floated above the ground. The cheering receded as she slipped back into blackness.

Becky noticed her parents’ voices were getting closer. She could almost hear their words. She hoped she could reach them soon. The blackness wasn’t so dense.


Walter returned to his office Monday that week to handle several large projects coming due. Those projects required his signature. He spent no more than four hours at the office and returned to the hospital so Caroline could leave to shower and change. The two of them took turns sleeping on the cot in Becky’s room in the ICU each night.

Walter broke down and told Caroline what Detective Nelson said about Ali. They worried about him. Ali was a pampered show-horse. Nothing prepared him for life in the wild. He was intelligent and courageous, but he was a prey animal.

At Caroline’s urging, Walter called Detective Nelson and increased the reward for information about Ali to a hundred thousand dollars. Brian Nelson told him the Fish and Wildlife Inspector was in the area on horseback looking for signs of Ali. The inspector ran into Carl Nixon doing the same thing. There were two people on horseback searching, and both of them were very familiar with the area. Brian Nelson hoped one of the two men would find signs of Ali and maybe enough to track him.

“That old man, Nixon, really has a soft spot for your horse,” Brian told Walter. “He was broken up about horse getting away. He told us he planned to go to the Sheriff’s Department that morning to find out what he could about the horse but discovered he was gone when he went to feed him. He told us he had been concerned he might have purchased a stolen horse when he bought him. Nixon lives up there in the mountains with no radio or TV. He didn’t hear the news broadcasts, and he doesn’t get the newspaper.”

“That’s the old guy who bought him for four hundred dollars?” Walter asked.

“Yeah. Nixon told us he called a horse broker looking for a two hundred dollar packhorse. Our suspects showed up with your horse in their trailer. Nixon told us one look at that horse brought his daughter to mind, and he couldn’t pass him up. He said it was like having a piece of his daughter back. Nixon told us he paid twice what he expected and would have paid more, but the two creeps took his offer. He had no idea about the situation at the parade. By that time, it was all over the news. Nixon had no way to know about that.”

“Do you think the reward is high enough now? Do you think it will help to get him back?” asked Walter.

“There are people out there that would turn their mother in for fifty bucks. Yes, I think the reward is high enough. We’ll probably get lots of calls about loose horses. Let’s hope one of them is the right horse if the horse gets down to the desert from where he was. Nixon told the Fish and Wildlife Inspector he was circling the territory of a mountain lion to see if the cat had taken the horse. He hadn’t found anything. The inspector told me there are also a few black bears up there in the same area.”

“Please don’t say anything to Caroline about that. She’s worried enough about Becky, and she knows the horse was last seen in the mountains. I won’t tell her he could be walking into a mountain lion. Like I told you before, that horse is like a son to her.” Walter said. “Let’s keep that between us, please?”

“You got it,” Brian replied. “I’ve got some leads to run down right now, so I have to go. I will call you if I hear anything else. If you need anything, please call me. And let me know how Becky is doing if anything changes, will you?”

“We sure will. And thank you again for all you are doing to help us on this.”

“One thing before I go, Calvin and Danny Hix were arraigned yesterday in San Diego Superior Court. The San Diego DA has them for multiple charges on the bust we did last Sunday. The Orange County DA is charging them with Attempted Murder, Great Bodily Injury in the Commission of a Crime, Grand Theft, and several other things in connection with our case. I don’t think either of them will ever see the light of day again.”

“That’s good to hear,” Walter answered. “I hope they throw the book at them. Do you think you have enough evidence to get convictions?”

“We got ‘em cold. We have fingerprints, DNA, and a good solid witness that will ID them. Nixon picked them out of a photo lineup. We have the horse trailer they used. We can probably get DNA from the horse out of that, but we need the horse to compare it to. They won’t be walking away from this.” Brian told him. “You can take that to the bank.”

Walter relayed parts of his conversation with Brian Nelson to Caroline after they’d hung up. He looked at her. She had blue circles under her eyes, and she’d lost weight. She had a perpetual worried look on her face. And there was a sadness that seemed to overwhelm her. It was hard. He was worried too. He hoped they’d get through all this.

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.