War is war, but to have to live

Autor Valentina Smiyan.
About Dargansara
This story began in 1993, when an outstanding horse was born at an equally-outstanding stud. One could talk endlessly about her accomplishments and her contribution to Russian horse breeding (she gave us such representatives of Akhal-Teke breed as Khair, Sharida, Rursi). But this story is actually about something different.
It happened in 2013, when the mare celebrated her twentieth birthday. She had given birth to a handsome Degni Shael and was enjoying life grazing with the rest of the herd. Her life was predictable and safe: she grazed, came into season, foaled and this happened year after year.
But then everything changed, and her routine was broken and the time came to do what thousands of generations of her ancestors did for their human masters. But let us tell the story…
There lived in Ukraine two little-known people who were united by the same dream – the dream to be able to look after an Akhal-Teke horse - an amazing creature, the Heavenly Argamak, the amalgam of snake, cheetah and eagle… a miracle horse.
The choice of horse of this breed in Ukraine, both by overall small numbers and by the eccentricities of their owners. As fate would have it, the first letter of enquiry about the possibility of acquiring inexpensively an Akhal-Teke horse for pleasure was sent to the first stud farm found on Google: Shamborant stud “Shael”. Frankly speaking, we knew little about conformation or pedigrees, we simply admired the Akhal-Teke breed. We had an image of a “Horse” with a capital “H”, one who can only be persuaded, never forced, one whose key trait is the pride for all its ancestors who were loyal to their humans for generations.
In this materialistic world, where everything can be bought and sold, where selflessness and wisdom are considered to be a vice, it was hard to believe that Shael offered us as a gift two pearls of the Akhal-Teke breed: Aida and Dargansara. The first was destined to bring happiness to “her new humans” in Kiev, whereas the second one was bound for then still peaceful Donetsk. When this latter decision was made, two souls became intertwined: one belonging to a girl in love whith Akhal-Teke horses and the other one of a horse forever loyal to her human.
The journey was long and exhausting. It was especially hard for Dargansara who couldn’t understand why at the end of her life her settled and happy existence was taken away from her, why she is being transported somewhere and what is awaiting her at the end of the road. But despite all the fears and terror of the unknown, the horse trusted the human and followed. After some time she found herself in her new home, amongst her new family, and started to get used to her new herd and new humans. Her long and intricate name Dargansara was shortened to the sweet and homely Dara [related to the Russian word <дар> meaning ]. Indeed, she was giving her new family hours, minutes and days of happiness and warmth. This could have been the end of the story about the selflessness of the Akhal-Teke, but then madness swept into our life, it was interrupted by war.
It was hard to believe that this was happening with us and not somewhere in the faraway Iraq or Libia. After the first casualties, people started to leave Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose . . ."
"I am responsible for my rose," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.
And so Dara’s family stayed. To take the horse with them was impossible and to leave it meant to betray the endlessly loyal friend. As before, they continued to share their happiness but now they also shared their sorrows. And now Dara is not simply a respite, a miraculous surviving fragment of peaceful life, she is now the stalwart of her family who rely on her to get food. All the roads in the suburbs of Donets are constantly under attack, there are road mines along the dirt roads. The only way to get food is to travel several miles through the forest and across fields to reach the store. Unlike other horses, Dara quickly got used to the sound of war planes, explosions and the sounds of anti-aircraft missiles. It was now her turn to help people and Dara didn’t let them down. Every few days she was making food trips, avoiding danger, through forests and fields, carrying her human to get food and support the family.
In the modern world, where machinery forced out the modest worker and horses are bought for entertainment, a piece of sports equipment or a status symbol, it is easy to forget that from the ancient times the horse was a human’s partner. The Akhal-Teke horse has a special place in the history of this partnership which was formed and perfected during thousands of years. These horses are capable of amazing feats, one just has to understand them and feel their soul. Dargansara has encapsulated in her the collective memory of her breed and began to serve people, in the way that her ancestors did for many centuries.
Dargansara is the first foal, born at our stud since its foundation in 1991. She is a typical representative of El line, not only in her conformation but also in her temperament. It is well known that El’s ancestors were well-known alaman horse, used in military campaigns and raids.
El himself was successful on the racetrack and was only beaten by the even more distinguished mare Pel. There is a story Vladimir Petrovich Shamborant used to tell, about a farm worker who was forced to bring her child to work with her, due to kindergarten being closed, and how she used to leave him in El’s stable where the stallion entertained the child, and distracted him from crying.
Dargansara’s pedigree is full of famous names which have contributed to the breed’s glory. Dargansara herself is the founder of a dam family. Her daughters and granddaughters are the pearls of the breeding stock at the Shamborant stud.
When we send her into retirement, we could never imagine that her fate will turn out the way it has done, and that she will have to withstand such challenges. Her story is an example to us all, a warning that nobody is guaranteed a trouble-free existence and we too should live a life worthy of our ancestors, as she does today.
After all, it is always one’s choice – to shoot or not to shoot, no matter how insane are the orders given to us.
(Text in Italics is by the breeder of Dargansara, L. Babaev)

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