Click for slideshow

Part 2

No one could sneak up on the Henry Metzes at their hilltop estate; they have five guard dogs. They are not German Shepherds or Dobermans. They’re little Jack Russell terriers. But the clamor they set up as they bounce off the walls is daunting.

“Come right in, but don’t make eye contact,” says Christie. “Then they’ll settle down.”

But this is really hard, because they are so cute you want to scoop them up. I successfully make it to the kitchen while looking at the ceiling, where we will proceed with Part 2 of our interview on the famous Silver Maple Farm Egyptian Arabians. Christie has many wonderful memories of their adventures.

One unforgettable moment was after their stallion, Simeon Shai, won the Egyptian Arabian World Championship in Paris. “There was great excitement and, in France, they let the crowds of people come into the ring to touch and admire the horses,” says Christie. “The trainer felt the stallion nudge him and he was horrified to see a 3-year-old child with his arms wrapped around the stallion’s hind leg. Simeon Shai turned to see what was attached to him and instead of trying to shake it off, this kind horse stood perfectly still until the mother could safely retrieve her child.”

Christie revels in naming off the many different qualities of the Arabian breed because they have enriched her life in so many ways. “These horses really are unique! They have the dense bone and amazing stamina that makes them a perfect endurance horse. They can easily travel 100 miles a day. I think there is only one horse in the world that can out-distance them. The Arabian can subsist on minimal feed because of its unique metabolism, and they have a larger heart. Which I believe was inherited by the Secretariat daughters, because Thoroughbreds have Arabian blood in their veins from way back.

“They have one extra vertebrae and very strong backs. The reason that they carry their tail up like a flag is that they can expel body heat in this way. You’ll notice that horses from cold climates have a flatter tail-set. Those large Arabian nostrils take in air more readily,” she says.

“Maybe best of all, these horses can really teach you how to laugh. One winter, Henry had put on quite a few extra pounds and one beautiful spring weekend we were going to ride together. He stepped up on the mounting block and got on a mare that he enjoyed riding. She let out a groan and actually turned around and looked at him. I was in the barn and could hear him saying, ‘What are you looking at? So I put on a couple of pounds over the winter!”

Another experience that Henry remembers well was in a show ring, when he noticed that a young woman exhibitor had a wire attached to her ear. She was receiving instructions from the trainer as she led the her horse around the ring in a halter class, which is against the rules. Henry later found out that the woman was blind, and this horse had been so carefully trained that even a blind person could show him!

Christie is on a committee at the Kentucky Horse Park, which is putting on the current exhibit “A Gift from the Desert - The Art, History, and Culture of the Arabian Horse.” Priceless historical memorabilia from several different countries is on display. The Metzes will be going there soon, with their horses, for the prestigious Pyramid Society Arabian Horse Show.

“I love raising horses, because they teach you about life and they teach you about death,” she says softly. “There is something magical about being a thread in such a beautiful tapestry of life. It is said that the Arabian horse’s large, dark liquid eyes allow you to see into their soul.”