Cindy Harcombe and her husband of 45 years, Neville, of Woodbine, had been breeding Arabian horses since 1982. Cindy and Neville had switched to breeding straight Egyptian Arabians about 2 1-2 years ago. They had purchased two mares with pure Egyptian breeding and Cindy is very open about saying that only the dip in the economy made it possible to pursue this dream as Egyptian Arabian horses are wildly expensive and wonderfully beautiful.
For those who do not follow the minutiae of breeding Arabian horses a small side bar is necessary here. The Arabian is an ancient breed, presumed to be the earliest precursors of the modern day Thoroughbred. Over the years the Arabians have been bred in several corners of the world with each corner contributing a very distinct type of Arabian. There are British bred, Polish bred and desert or as they are known now, Egyptian Arabian horses. As one might expect with the current price of oil those persons who reside in Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar and places of like ilk can afford to place a high premium upon these almost magically lovely horses.
With their two lovely mares in place on the farm the rest of the Harcombe bucket list included a research trip to the one place in the United States where a large number of Egyptian Arabians could be seen at one time: the annual Pyramid Society Egyptian Event which regularly takes place during the first full week of June in Lexington, Ky. at the Kentucky Horse Park there. After that the idea was to decide where to breed these mares depending upon the stallions and their offspring at that show. Reservations were made, tickets were purchased, farm sitters were at hand and all was in order for the trip.
And then tragedy descended upon the small farm in Woodbine. On May 11, 2011, only three weeks before the trip that the couple had so looked forward to, Neville Harcombe passed away. As one can imagine the shock was tremendous.
After the ensuing weeks of private grief, distress and dealing with the public necessities of such an event, Cindy looked around her and realized that there was nothing left to do that absolutely had to be done. In that moment she also remembered that all of the arrangements were still in place for two people to go to Egyptian Event. And so she went, taking a friend with her for company and support. It was a good thing to do and it had long consequences.
During that long year that passed after the death of her husband Cindy became aware that she and Neville had some unfinished business to attend to. One of their shared dreams was to take a horse of theirs to the Egyptian Event and show it. After having been at the Event, Cindy looked at her 13-year old purchased mare, SBF Karizmaa, and she knew that the mare was of the rare quality that she had seen in the show ring there the year before.
For two months before the show, Cindy worked the mare, fitted the mare and groomed the mare completely by herself. Then she loaded Karizmaa and hauled her all the way to Kentucky in her truck and trailer to show the mare in just two classes, Novice Adult Handler and the much harder Mares Over 10 Years class where she would be showing against professional handlers.
As Cindy Harcombe says, "It was only when I was finally on the road that I realized that, while I was worried about buying enough diesel fuel to get there, I would be showing against horses owned by people who thought nothing about flying their horses in from Kuwait and Qatar for this show as well as horses from all over the United States." It was a sobering thought.
The Egyptian Event places to 10th place and the winners are announced in reverse order. When the winners were called in the Adult Novice Class, Cindy was placed third in the nation for the finest of Egyptian Horses present.
Then came the Mares Over Ten class and Cindy was the only amateur handler in that big class. As the winners were called out with their owner's names and the names of their professional handlers Cindy could truly feel the meltdown beginning within her. And then it happened again. At the third place her name was called and once again she walked out with her lovely gray mare, Karizmaa, third in the nation for all to see.
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"The tears were coming but I knew I wasn't alone," Cindy says. "And I held my ribbon up over my head so Neville could see it plainly because I knew that he was watching and was proud of me for doing this for us both."