How to capture 32 years of companionship, loyalty and sheer joy in a few paragraphs - an impossible task! Details come together to form a complete picture and all who knew and loved Sayyid will have their own stories to tell.
The first purebred stallion born to the Sariah Arabians stud, by Lady Anne Lytton's stallion Silver Flame out of gentle foundation mare Cleothera bred by the late Mrs Hardcastle. On his dam's side Sayyid traces to the Queen of Sheba, one of the original Crabbet imports.
My own special darling - he was the first foal from my Sariah Arabian's foundation mare, Cleothera. Waiting for her to give birth, I sat up days and nights, living in the car and at the stable yard. I was then ordered home to rest - but in the early hours of the morning I was woken by a phone call telling me "she's had it" - but that she was rejecting him. I rushed straight to the yard.
The strong bond, which was to continue for 32 years, was created when I first cradled the foal Sayyid on my lap. At first glance I couldn't believe his perfectly exquisite head and his sheer beauty. He was so small he only reached his dam's hocks and I reared him for the first precious hours by bottle feeding him every half hour or so with milk taken from his reluctant mum who had initially rejected him.
I stayed with him all day encouraging mare and foal to gel. Towards nightfall, hidden around a corner, while the baby Sayyid actively endeavoured to find the milk bar, I at last heard the sound which is heaven to any breeder's ears - the glug, glug, glug as he finally made contact !
I had placed a soft crepe bandage around a somewhat swollen fetlock and the next morning as I turned out mare and foal into the ménage, the bandage unfolded and trailed behind. As quick as a flash Cleothera saw it and flew to her baby's rescue, stamping on and squealing at the bandage (which I can only assume she mistook for a snake) until it lay "dead" on the ground. Her mother love had taken over.
A year later our move to the Surrey Hills followed, which is where myself, Cleothea and Sayyid formed the foundation of Sariah Arabians Stud and also where our winning started in earnest, it has to be said, much to the amazement of people who thought they knew better and had advised me to geld my Arab colt!
Sayyid was multitalented and always co-operative - right from day one. I soon realised that he was too intelligent for the orthodox methods of training - he despised the lunge he couldn't see the point of it! So he was produced solely by hacking out.
In his training I found to my great joy that I only had to ask him to do things once. As he was fully cooperative he seldom needed to be asked a second time. I am pleased to record that Sayyid was one of a few stallions who never needed a stick to be laid upon him.
Sayyid's beauty never exceeded 14.3 however and I commenced backing him in earnest when he was two and a half with a lightweight jockey. I reluctantly mounted him myself on one occasion to demonstrate a point and realised with wonder and appreciation that he could easily carry me. Thereafter I rode and competed him for the next 30 years.
Sayyid's placings included the UK International Arabian Horse Show, Royal Windsor, Ardingly and many others, he also took part in a display at Olympia.
Whilst taking me, his elated rider, to the top levels as a ridden stallion, it was when qualifying for the UK International at Towerlands that we received unexpected but much welcomed praise and encouragement from the words of a very well respected judge of ridden stallions. On placing Sayyid he said "He's just wonderful, he knows it all, you just have to sit there and let him do it" These words were proven true by the way Sayyid conducted himself in the show ring, displaying the willingness and ability to adjust himself to the riding styles and demands of the various judges - he always had perfect manners and never put a foot wrong.
Sayyid also always competed in the Windsor Great Park Ride, leading "the gang" in his inimitable style, way out front - and being admired by everyone.
Sayyid made a big contribution to Sariah Arabians in his escort work out on hacks, often with other stallions and mares in the same ride. His fearless approach to any challenge which presented itself often saved the day whilst out and about. Sliding into his transitions so smoothly that all followed him harmoniously. It was Sayyid's rock-like steadiness and close understanding which gave courage to many a nervous or novice rider - he also controlled the "experienced" know-all !
I was riding him sensitively up to within two or three days of his passing - clean limbed, sound of wind, well covered and with no apparent signs of his true age.
Sayyid always proved to be a perfect gentleman to his visiting mares, always adjusting his behaviour to theirs with a good quality of red blood in with the blue. His beautiful progeny was sold within the UK and to Geneva. Fortunately, the stud retained a pure-bred daughter called Sariah's Sasha out of Sariah's Shalimar (also international), and also an Anglo-Arab mare whose dam was bred by the Queen and who is half sister to Princess Anne's eventer Doublet. As daughters of Sayyid, both animals had beautiful heads.
Always playful and putting on a show - Sayyid particularly enjoyed carrying items in his mouth - such as his favourite plastic laundry basket! In addition to buckets and a plastic dustbin. He would canter around the arena changing direction and legs, enjoying himself. He often finished his display with a rear.
In the aftermath of the 1987 hurricane, Sayyid memorably saved the day, although wringing wet with sweat due to the unusual circumstances, he managed to carry me through the devastated woodland to a telephone in order to summons help to release two of my other horses that had been pinned against a wall in their stables by a fallen tree. Although somewhat traumatised himself, he also got me safely back to the yard and his mares.
Soon after this disaster, whilst leading the way as escort and taking a path ahead of the others, Sayyid became entangled in telephone wire hidden under the leaves. At first he was terrified, haring around whilst I tried to get off. I eventually fell off him and he went to set off for home at a gallop. Unfortunately dragging me behind him also entwined in the wire. But Sayyid soon realised, sensing the danger and hearing my voice, and he steadied up and waited. The wire broke and I was able to re-mount a trembling Sayyid and continue to escort the hack.
What a celebration that was ! Friends came from far and wide - the day was glorious, the barbeque delicious. The seating was around the ménage. The Birthday boy as usual rose to the occasion with due presence and dignity, wearing his special birthday sash. He always knew how to capture a crowd by his sheer charisma. He patiently waited while the stud showed off his offspring and relatives nearly all produced by the stud. So impressed were the crowd that they were not satisfied until I'd got on him and gave a small display. Much to the amusement of us all when the official party was over and Sayyid was turned out in the ménage - he tore around with his laundry basket and instigated a party of his own with his admiring mares.
It is not however Sayyid's worldly acclaim, but the delight he brought to everyone, that will be remembered by those who knew him most - he was known to reduce some foreign visitors to tears by his beauty. Everyone always felt safe with him - whatever the challenge. From the first day I set eyes on him ... we were soul mates.
If ever the words "Well done thou good and faithful servant" were appropriate to a horse - then Sayyid is the one.
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