Arazi (Camargue/First Blush)
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Mareesah (Mareschal/Rasmara)

Aazari arrived unexpectedly early at about l am on 23rd March 1998. His dam, Mareesah, was grazing in the field and seemed very surprised by the event. She really didn't know what to make of him.

We very soon realised that she was becoming antagonistic towards her foal and as he struggled to stand she started to try to kick him. Lisa and I eventually caught her and we led them both into a stable.

The next four days went by in a blur as Lisa and I took turns staying in the stable trying to get Mareesah to accept her foal.

Joanna Vardon at the Foaling Bank was very helpful throughout this time. However, despite trying every remedy she suggested, we eventually had to separate mother and son. Mareesah was showing no sign at all of any maternal instincts. Every time he wanted to feed we had to try to protect him and by this time we were so tired we just couldn't cope with the situation any longer.

Things went very well - Aazari accepted us as his new 'Mums' and feeding went according to plan, although we found that the recommended amount of milk powder to water was far too rich. We had to halve the quantity as he was beginning to get swollen joints, among other problems. Our broodmare, Roxhalia (Ahmoun/Roxanya), just loves foals and although she couldn't provide him with milk, she gave him love and companionship for the next ten months. By this time he was bigger than she was and becoming very coltish so we had to separate them. She was a real star.

When Aazari was about five months old he became very ill, running a high temperature with a rasping cough and was very listless. None of the usual antibiotics would clear it and eventually tests showed that he was suffering from a Rhodococcus infection. This is a bacterial infection which is not easy to diagnose and is uncommon in the UK. It causes abscesses in both the lungs and abdominal lymph nodes and can also cause ulceration of the bowel. No wonder the poor little lad was feeling so low! Treatment is difficult but in this case it eventually responded to a three month course of antibiotics normally prescribed for humans. Yet another stressful time but many months and a 1,500 vet's bill later he began to improve.

Our vet, Chris Pearce, was marvellous throughout this worrying time and without his expertise and dedication the result could have been a very sad and premature end to our lovely colt.

By this time we were beginning to realise how very beautiful Aazari was and felt that if we could only get him well we may have something very special to show in 1999.

Lisa was getting married in February 1999 so Emma Maxwell kindly agreed to take our colt for training. At first he didn't like his new home but gradually he changed and on subsequent visits settled well.

His first show was the Wessex Spring Show and he thrilled us all by becoming the Junior and Overall In-Hand Champion.

His next shows proved equally successful - 2nd at Bath & West, overall In-Hand Champion at the South of England, 1st and Junior Male Champion at the Wessex Summer Show, 2nd at the South East Region Summer Show and 1st and Reserve Best Yearling at the Summer Show at Malvern, which delighted us. Towerlands was not quite so successful, but he was still 6th out of a class of twenty one colts, gaining a silver medal.

Aazari's successes this year and all the lovely comments we have had from friends and acquaintances have made all the worry and heartache that we encountered in the first few months of his life seem worthwhile.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Emma Maxwell and my daughter, Lisa, for showing him so well during 1999.

Joan Culnane