May 17, 1992 - January 11, 2010

Over the years, hundreds of horses have come into my life.  Many qualified as being exceptional.  None have left such a void as the passing of Zarf.

He was special from the very beginning.  We carefully    planned his breeding.  His sire was a Thoroughbred stallion that we were standing for friends.  Go First was a modest race winner, had great breeding and was a wonderful sport horse type.  Searching through the dictionary for a name, I came across the definition of an ornamental holder for a coffee cup without a handle.  His dam came to us from William "Army" Armstrong's Coffee Cup Ranch in Fairfield, Montana.  He had plenty ornamentation by way of his loud coloring.  The name made perfect sense.  From then on, we called him Zarf. 

We knew right away that he would become our next stallion.  As he grew and filled out, he exceeded our expectations.  His first foal was a blanketed colt in 1995...the only time he was ever bred to a colored Appaloosa mare.  That colt sold at 2 days.  First time in a trailer, hauled to a show, where he placed in all classes shown.  Was this the beginning we had hoped for?


If only it was.  On October 3rd that year, Zarf appeared to have colic.  We moved him from his pen and put him in a stall on the advice of the vet.  Later that day, he passed a small enterolith.  We rushed him to the clinic.  After a quick evaluation, we were off again to UC Davis for emergency surgery.  Watching him being taken away, neither of us were sure we'd see him come back.  All we could do was pray, knowing he was in the best hands possible.  It was as bad as worrying over your child.

The surgery went well.  Six more flat sided stones were removed.  The largest was 3" across.  Eight days later, we were able to bring him home.  Recovery time went well, but dreams of him becoming an event horse went out the window.  His foals were going to have to perform for him.  I cringed every time he mounted a mare for breeding.  Visions of his incisions popping open haunted me for years.

Life was good again.  Outstanding foals arrived every year.  Every one was out of a solid mare.  A few were foaled without characteristics, but they quickly colored.  The majority went to new owners as dressage and event prospects...and those shown became winners.  They were all wonderful movers.

In 2004, we took Zarf in to have his teeth floated.   We asked the vet to look at some dry areas on his sheath.  The skin was flaky and raised, similar to warts.  They were carcinomas and probably malignant.  The areas were cut away, stitched up and we hoped for the best.  Two years went by before they appeared again.  After their removal, we knew that only so much tissue could be taken away.  We didn't want to think about when they might come back.

The cancer seemed to be in remission.  No new growths for several years.  Then some red lesions appeared.  By Thanksgiving, they were getting worse.  They exploded with a vengeance over the holidays.  Zarf was still his happy self and didn't act like he was in any discomfort.  On January 10th, the lymph nodes were swelling in his rear legs.  He wanted his grain, but couldn't walk into his stall to get it.  He told us it was time to let go.  The next morning we took him for his final trailer ride.

I did my share of crying.  It was hard going to feed our oldest mare.  She was kept in the pen next to him.  Count More kept looking for her buddy.  They always acted like an old married couple.  She'd get angry and he'd try to kiss and make up.  Zarf was kind to any horse you put next to him.  Mares, foals, even other stallions were all treated the same.  He loved having company.

We have our memories.  I'm very thankful to have had him for those years.  He was a true joy.