By Jim Porcher
You should judge a horse more by his character and moral attributes than by his appearance. -- Bedouin saying
Many of the Spanish stallions I have known have been magnificent, with their large dark eyes, high-set necks, excellent toplines and strongly muscled loins. They are bred for a powerful trot, with tremendous drive from the rear and elevation of the forehand.
In remembering them, I am reminded of the above Bedouin phrase because the trait they shared – more than any other – was character. I’ve often found myself in awe of them for this.
One such horse was the Spanish stallion, *Makorr. By the time I had met him he was in his mid-teens. He had traveled around the world and had ended up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the stud owned by Dr. Tom and Linda Hoyt.
This would not be an unusual journey for an Arabian stallion at the time, since it was the early 1980’s when investment in Arabian horses in the United States was at its all-time high and horses were being brought in from Europe by the planeloads. What was different this time was the fact that *Makorr was virtually a three-legged horse.
When he was two years old, a severe storm had caused the roof of his stable to cave in and fall, resulting in a broken back leg. The leg had healed poorly with the hock joint calcifying into a large hard mass the size of a football, shortening and making the leg much like a wooden peg. It was a deformity that *Makorr would learn to deal with for the rest of his 16 years. It never restricted him from enjoying life, surveying his domain or servicing mares. He even learned to use a tool to make himself comfortable, as I will describe later.
*Makorr was born in 1970 in Holland and was bred by Dr. H C E M Houtappel. His dam was sold to Dr. Houtappel by Mari Paz Murga Igual. She had arranged for the breeding before the mare’s exportation to Holland, as *Makorr’s sire, Galero, was a Military stallion. It was a most fortuitous breeding as Galero was only a 4-year-old when he was bred to Chavali and he had not yet gained his reputation as a sire of National Champions.
Galero was sired by the dynamic moving Zancudo and was out of the Congo daughter, Zalema, who is out of Galatife. Galatife is of interest to Spanish breeders for two reasons: First, she is out of the Duke of Veragua-bred mare, Veracruz, who is speculated to be out of a Skowronek daughter. Second, she is also the dam of Teorica, the dam of Jacio, another very famous Military stallion.
*Makorr lived most of his life in England. In 1982, Larry and Susan Lease imported him to the United States and he went directly to Wayne Newton’s Aramus Arabians in Nevada. There, it was hoped that he would be used on some of the GG Samir daughters or the pure Spanish mares Mr. Newton had collected. Unfortunately *Makorr’s deformity was a little too severe for that farm to look beyond. He did breed one of the farm’s pure Spanish mares but the other five foals from that year were from outside mares.
During a trip to Spain for the Spanish Nationals, Tom and Linda Hoyt met Dr. Houtappel. He expressed some concern about his horse possibly wasting away on such a large farm and perhaps not getting the individualized attention he was used to. *Makorr, a Galero son, would fit nicely into the Hoyt breeding program, since it focused on Galero daughters and granddaughters. We were continuing to build the broodmare band by breeding to the various Galero sons in the United States and Spain and having our own Galero son would make the process much easier.
Tom and Linda flew to Las Vegas to see the horse, mostly to assess his condition, and I didn’t go on that trip. We knew the horse had a broken leg and was slightly deformed from carrying that leg around all his life, so I didn’t really feel I needed to see him in the flesh. I was fairly sure that if the horse was able to breed, we could use him in our program because I was very familiar with his pedigree as we had been using similarly bred stallions.
The Hoyts warned me that *Makorr was very unusual. But when he was unloaded from the van in New Mexico, I realized I was not quite prepared for how severe his injury actually was.
However, he had a beautiful front end, large dark eyes that were full of character, a dry, classic head, pretty ears (an unusual characteristic for a Spanish stallion) and a wonderfully shaped neck that was very upright. His head was a little long, but it went with the rest of his frame. He had long legs, the front ones straight and correct, and that was about all one could tell about him as he was quite misshapen everywhere else.
As he came with no instructions, and he was quite thin, I was a bit concerned about how to get him healthy. I was told that he really liked carrots so the first thing I did was buy a 25-pound bag. He did relish them, so we kept a steady supply while he was with us.
He came with a block of wood, which was the aforementioned tool. He would move it around his stall and then rest his hind leg on it. As the broken leg was shorter than his good leg, the only relief he could get for the good one was to stand on the block of wood with his bad one. He was quite adept at moving the block around his stall, depending on where he wanted to stand and look out.
I would turn him out in a small paddock during the day but increasingly, in the morning when I would arrive at the barn, he was down in his stall and unable to get up. I had a bar installed across the top of the stall so that we could put a belly band under him and hoist him up. But it became increasingly depressing to see him like that and I knew we had to do something to strengthen his muscles.
How does one exercise a horse with a broken leg?
I could think of only one way – to jog with him. So, off down the road we went, *Makorr’s head up and his ears pricked as he trotted alongside me. After I made my lap, I handed him off to a groom. We took turns jogging with him. That is how we exercised him for the rest of his time with us. I discovered that if I turned him out in the riding arena at night, he would lie down to rest and then have enough room to flounder around in the morning to get up. That also built up his strength, along with wandering around the arena during the night.
I also had a stall built for him with a long run and a concrete edge along the bottom of the fence, so he wouldn’t have to move his block around and could stand anywhere he’d like along the fence. I’ll never forget the look on Dr. Houtappel’s face when he came back for a visit and saw that concrete edging. I think he really knew then how much we cared about the horse’s wellbeing.
Once *Makorr was healthy and strong again we needed to solve the breeding problem. He had been strong enough to cover mares while at Newton’s but I wasn’t sure he was going to be able to live cover mares. We enlisted our veterinarian, Dr. Mike Forsyth, to artificially inseminate the mares. *Makorr would try to cover and then the vet would collect in the AV. As time went on, *Makorr increasingly depended on Dr. Forsyth. His libido had not decreased, but he learned he really didn’t need to attempt to stand on his back leg. Dr. Forsyth says what he remembers most about breeding *Makorr was that his left shin was always bruised during the breeding season. *Makorr’s deformed leg stuck out at a strange angle and while he was breeding the hoof would hit the vet in the shin.
We had this wonderful stallion for two breeding seasons and then he was sold by Dr. Houtappel to Collins Country Arabians in Rancho Santa Fe, California. He bred many more mares there than we were able to give him and was respected and cared for in his last few years as we had in New Mexico. We retained some breedings but he had done his job for us. By that time we were well stocked with Galero daughters and granddaughters for our soon-to-arrive Bambu son, *Delerio.
I don’t think I can end without again mentioning *Makorr’s character. He was one of the strongest and toughest horses I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He was good with me, usually very much a gentleman; he loved women and was always very easy for women to handle. He was indifferent with most men, but for some reason he hated Dr. Hoyt and never missed an opportunity to bite him. He didn’t try this with anyone else. I always found it kind of amusing because Dr. Hoyt really loved and respected this horse and was certainly his benefactor for those two years. But, for some reason *Makorr just didn’t care for him.
*Makorr left a small legacy of offspring in the United States and many of those have gone on to be Champion show horses or become assets in the breeding barn. He produced tremendous bone and large horses. Some could be a little straight in the shoulder and rear angulation, but they more than made up for it in drive and power. All the ones I have known have had his large, dark eye, nicely shaped neck, wonderful, trainable dispositions and, most especially, his tremendous character.
He passed away May 8, 1988.
© 2004 by Jim Porcher.
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