The Legend of Phoenix
After talking about it for at least the last five years I am finally nominated my horse Garock (a.k.a. PHOENIX) for the OCTRA Honour Roll. Many of you know me pretty well by now as the short grey-haired ‘old’ lady who needs a stool to stand on to check mucous membranes and backs on the big horses. I swear, the riders deliberately pick me out to go over their horse just to see me stand on tippy-toe to palpate a back! I really think Joan Storrey and Shirley Dennis should teach their horses to kneel for me. Joan says she’s working on it for 1998.
For you more recent members I do have a horse, Phoenix, who is now going into his 25th year. We did compete for ten or eleven years, but personal reasons forced me to retire us from competition. We still go out in the Vivian Forest three or four days a week although the oncoming winter might restrict us a bit depending on weather and footing. Always a problem for those who don’t have an indoor arena.
In those years of competition Phoenix was first, and either Reserve or Sweepstakes Champion, in many rides and placed in all but one (which was my fault as I incurred time penalties). He was only pulled from one ride and that was because he was kicked on the knee by a novice horse. He was also top Competitive horse in 1983 and top ten most years. I still call him my OCTRA horse and for the benefit of those who never met this paragon of equine perfection (naturally, I’m biased), I would like to share his story for those who never had the pleasure of meeting him.
On Halloween in 1976 there was a devastating fire which burned the barns at Shadow Creek Farm in Stoufville. Many people lost many good and beloved horses. Di Lost all. Phoenix is the result of funds from OCTRA members specifically for a horse for Di. (Nancy Beacon, OCTRA Newsletter, December 1977)
In June, 1977 I went to an all Arab Auction to bid on a specific horse and ended up with Garock. Why was he called Phoenix? In December 1977 I wrote in a Newsletter the story of the legend of Phoenix…
Many years ago, a bird of great beauty flew through the lonely skies above Arabia. This was a unique bird – the only one of its kind with no companion or mate to share his travels or his soaring flights.
Year after year, century after century, the Phoenix flew over the desert, circling the tents of the desert tribes, now and then touching down at some refreshing oasis. Finally, weary from spanning so many miles and so may years he would dive to the earth on an unerring path straight for the camp fires, plummeting right into the heart of the flames only to arise just as swiftly from them, cleaving his way through the night sky to the very stars – reborn, renewed in vigour and spirit, the rich hues of his plumage restored to their former brilliance, his song once more gay, to begin the 700 year cycle again.
In June of this year (1977), through the generosity and kindness of OCTRA members I was able to buy at the All Arabian Sale Garock – a four year old Arabian gelding.
The name " Rocky" did not really become such a handsome, friendly little gentleman whom I had bid for on sheer impulse knowing nothing whatsoever about him whether he was a stallion or gelding, his age, broke or unbroke! Luck and good fortune were with me and we suited each other down to a " T" .
The gentleness of my mare, the colour of my filly and the personality of the gelding that I lost were all combined in him. PHOENIX seemed appropriate and, since he is such a people lover he will enjoy meeting you on some of the rides next year. Who knows if he’ll be a winner (although he surely looks it) but winning to me isn’t the important thing …. The new trails we ride and the people we meet are and we’ll be looking forward to many of both" . The rest is history and, although, I’m not out there competing I’m still there enjoying the people and the horses enjoying the sport of competitive long distance riding.