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A Tribute to the
4H of Geauga County
A Tribute to Hallelujah
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A Wind in the Woods
Geauga County, Northeast
A Tribute to Hallelujah (May 21,
1985 - May 17, 1999)
"Fight, Halle," I urged the heaving pinto
mare with two tiny baby hoofs protruding under her tail. She was a mass
of sweat and straw, and something was very wrong as she tried to deliver
the precious foal we had awaited since June 10. We frantically phoned
all the vets we knew at 4 A.M. in the morning.
We reached Richard Novak, who came out and fought valiantly with
us to save our Hallelujah and the baby we had already named Key's Hurrah.
The little one had Key Largo as its grandfather on both the top and
Tom and I will remember 1999 for the remainder of
our lives. Not only did we lose Bedford Belle's March filly by Tennessee
Walking Horse stallion Pride of Fashion, but we tragically lost our
Buckeye Classic halter champion Hallelujah the morning of May 17, 1999.
Lost with her was her foal by Key Sera Sera, like Halle herself, one
of a handful of Key Largo's get because Key Largo died tragically young.
Key Largo, a liver chestnut and white American Saddlebred stallion,
was chosen by Gene LaCroix to be the foundation sire of the National
Show Horse breed, a combination of Arabian and Saddlebred blood bred
primarily for the show ring.
We were fortunate enough to be Halle's
humans, but for such a short period of time, in the great scheme of
her life and times. Hallelujah was bred by Scott and Linda Ragsdale
in Scottsdale, Arizona, and arrived in this world in 1985, a knockout
lady with a refined Saddlebred face, an unforgettable eye, and a snaky
neck that put her above the competition. She soon came under the guidance
of Wendy Grusckiewicz of Mithra Stables and thereafter Randall Toscano,
who owned her for seven years.
we first met Hallelujah in 1997 she took our breath away. She was ethereally
beautiful and elegant. We bought her and brought her home to our other
horses, who took merciless advantage of her show ring upbringing and
roughed her up repeatedly until she learned to defend herself against
their aggression. Finally after several weeks of taking the attacks
from all comers, she became one of the group. She even learned to abandon
the show ring glistening white coat by rolling in the dust like everyone
else. Hallelujah was at last a country girl with long hours of grazing
on green grass in pastures with lots of trees and split rail fences.
Sometimes we rode her. We marveled at her willingness to perform
on verbal commands alone and to break at the poll with that marvelous
arched neck. When we put her at the end of a lead rope, she pointed
that elegant muzzle skyward and her top-line became level enough to
serve dinner for six. She knew her job. Her ears forward, her eyes intent,
her sparkling silver tail arched in the sun, she stood without moving
a muscle We, who had never known the privilege of showing any horse
in a show ring, let alone a champion, could only imagine the accolades
Hallelujah had enjoyed.
She was our Champion, and somehow we
hoped that her fame would spread to us. Her previous owner had bestowed
upon us the myriad of blue ribbons that marked her presence among Half-Arabian
National Show Horse greats. We displayed those ribbons proudly in our
new arena, along with the ultrasound that showed the new baby she would
deliver in May 1999. We found and ordered archival videos of her show
ring performances. We published birth announcements in the Corral, a
horsy publication distributed in Ohio and Pennsylvania. She was a proud
member of our family, just another one of our children. Everyone who
knew us at our jobs knew how famous we were because of Hallelujah. They
indulged us our fancies, listened politely to our stories, and looked
at our weekly horse photos. If they thought we were crazy or just a
little eccentric, they never ever let on. And we, we were in our glory.
months went by. Motherhood was imminent for Hallelujah. The fiery eye
became soft and deep and luminescent, and her distending belly became
her most prominent feature. She became patient and understanding, as
though the show ring had been another lifetime. All was well. Soon there
would be a tangible record of Hallelujah's existence-a live foal.
As she lumbered slowly in her stall in the darkness of May 16, motherhood
was only a few hours away. At 3 A.M. when we checked on her, we knew
it was time. By 3:30, with foal legs protruding from her rectum, we
knew down deep it was past time. As Dr. Dick Novak struggled to right
the foal and to save our Hallelujah, as we dragged her into the trailer
and sped to the equine hospital, the entire episode seemed surreal.
At 5 A.M. came the pronouncement to put Hallelujah down. Her foal
long dead, we were about to lose her, too. I threw my arms around her
now disheveled neck and thick, dingy mane. "I love you, Halle," I sobbed,
but I could not look into those deep eyes and reveal my own despair.
I did not want her to know what would come next. We accepted the white
forelock and the red halter, the last tangible evidence that Hallelujah
ever owned us. Hallelujah was undoubtedly the most spectacular horse
ever to have owned us.