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My Grandmothers Gift By Denise Gainey www.gaineyarabian.com It is hard to imagine a time when I did not love horses. I still remember my first introduction to these wonderful animals, so many years ago. As a young girl, my family lived in Tennessee near where my father grew up. We were lucky enough to visit fairly regularly with my grandmother, who worked at an orphanage in Nashville called Monroe Harding Girls Home. It was fate, I suppose, that brought me here, as this particular orphanage used horses as therapeutic aides for the girls who lived there. It is no surprise really that these horses were seen as therapeutic for the young girls living at the Monroe Harding Girls Home; anyone who has been lucky enough to have a relationship with a horse knows the therapeutic value of such a connection. Certainly, the girls living at this orphanage must have benefited enormously from the healing power of the horse. When I was a little girl visiting with my grandmother, I was lucky enough to get a tour of the barn where the horses lived. Sometimes, if I was really lucky, my grandmother would sit me atop one of the horses and even lead me around the farm. I absolutely cherished these moments, so when we moved to Virginia when I was seven, I was disappointed that these visits would become fewer and far between. Visits back to Tennessee were rare, and to Monroe Harding even rarer. After the move, my grandmother collected a few photographs and put together a photo album to help my brother and I remember our time together in Tennessee. It was December of 1970 when we received these gifts for Christmas, the same year our father had been killed in a vehicle accident. The albums became priceless to us both, reminding us of better days. Fast forward to Christmas day, 2001. I received a call from my Aunt Linda in Georgia whom I had not seen in many years. She called with the unexpected news of my grandmother’s passing. Just two short weeks later, I received an

envelope in the mail from my aunt containing a small inheritance check. Something just didn’t seem right about taking my grandmother’s money, so initially I refused to cash the check, requesting my Aunt Linda to please take it back.

She refused, reminding me that my grandmother would not have left me the money if she did not want me to have it. She said, “Save it for a rainy day, or do something that would make your grandmother proud.” With my aunt’s words still ringing in my ears, my mind drifted to my sock drawer. It was in this drawer that I had been slowly collecting funds, saving for a young colt I had had my eye on for a few months. I had started a new life with a new husband, and had decided this horse would be the perfect young stallion to start a new breeding program. Then, reality set in. My husband and I also needed to purchase a well for our new land on which we intended to build our home. While we were slowly building our home, step by step, we were living in a 1971 - 21 ½’ Terry camper sacrificing much in order to have our home in the country. I knew the responsible choice was to purchase the well and to continue to save for the colt. I also knew whatever I did that I had to make a choice that my grandmother would approve of. I went to bed with a lot on my mind! Photo by Robert Gainey

I awoke the next morning with an unexpected sense of fulfillment. During the night, I had dreamed I was at Monroe Harding with my grandmother as a young child. In the dream, my grandmother put both my younger brother and I atop a particular horse. When I awoke, I excitedly told my husband about the dream. I told him that I had known the horse from my dream in real life as a young girl, and that the horse’s name was either “Christmas” or “Merry Christmas.” As much as I knew he wanted to believe this was true, I could see it on his face as I was sharing that he found it hard to fathom that a horse could have either of those names AND that I would even remember it. It had been so very long ago. Then, it dawned on me that I just might be able to prove it to him.

When we moved into the camper, it became necessary to rent a storage unit to keep our belongings in, as much would not fit into the “tin can” we were calling home. It occurred to me that somewhere in our storage unit should be the photo album my grandmother had given to me on Christmas day back in 1970. I had a feeling there would be a photograph contained in this album to corroborate my story. I could hardly wait until my lunch break that day, when I would get the opportunity to check to see if my intuition about the photo album was correct. Sure enough, as soon as I stepped inside, I placed my hand inside the first box and pulled out the old photo album. There it was the mini photo album that had been given to me as a gift 31 years earlier. I anxiously began to look through the photos. As I had hoped, there was a photo of my brother and I on the horse my grandmother was holding the lead to in my dream. On the reverse side of the photo in my grandmother’s handwriting it read:

Photo owned by Denise Gainey

When I realized what I had suspected was actually true, that I had dreamt about the first horse I had ever ridden, I was shocked. My Grandmother provided the mount and her name….“Merry Christmas”, the day of my grandmothers passing. It was at that very moment that I knew what I would do with the small inheritance. I knew this would, in fact, be something my grandmother would be proud of. I would purchase the colt I had been saving in a drawer for, HG Esquire+, aka ‘E’! I knew she wanted me to have this horse. “A Gift That Keeps Giving!”

HG Esquire+’s mother, Zakarria had been found in a feedlot in California, picked up by the Arabian Horse Rescue Network and then made her way to her new owner, Lynda Cooke at Holy Glen Farm here in Virginia. This is where she was bred and HG Esquire+ made his grand entrance into the world on May 19, 2000.

Photos by to AHRN

From the minute we purchased the young colt at 13 months of age I knew he was more than special. And now, 10 years later, he has proven time and time again just how special a ‘gift’ he truly is-and in a large way. How wonderful that his mother Zakarria was saved from the feedlot and made her way to Virginia! The first time HG Esquire+ ever left the farm was to participate in a Sport Horse type competition in 2002. This was a very last minute decision, and none of us were really prepared… but we participated regardless! Esquire+ traveled behind us in a very old 2 horse bumper pull trailer pulled by our 1988 dump truck. A week after we had presented HG Esquire+ at the Sport Horse evaluation, we received a formal letter notifying us of the great news: HG Esquire+ had been very well received by Mr. Peter Hansen, a USEF Sport Horse Breeding and German Berieter judge. At this competition, HG Esquire+ was rewarded with the highest category score as well as the highest over-all score.

Who would have ever thought the horse that arrived in this trailer,

Photo by Denise Gainey

and pulled by this Dump truck would have done so well? This really was the start of a most wonderful journey with the ‘gift’ from my grandmother.

Photo by Robert Gainey

In 2003 we opted to do a few Class ‘A’ shows after participating at the first ever Sport Horse Nationals that was held at the Virginia Horse Center. We showed

Esquire+ in Purebred Arabian Stallion Halter & Sport Horse Stallions where he did well. In fact, he won all his classes entered!

Photo by Robert Gainey

In 2004, Esquire’s first foals were born. A Morab colt was born on May 23rd with two fillies born in the next few weeks. These three foals would go on to be the continuation of the “Gift that Keeps Giving“. They were given very special names with a theme in mind. The two fillies born here were given ‘E’ names and we have since maintained this tradition with all future foals. Even other mare owners caught on and began naming their HG Esquire+ foals in the same manner. The idea seems to be a standard now. During the time his first foals were being born, HG Esquire+ was gearing up to win his first Regional Titles. In 2004 the budget only allowed us to show Esquire+ at one show as we were still living in the camper while building our home. We decided to go for broke and take him to the Region 15 show where he earned two Regional Top 4 wins. His daughters E-Khlipse and E-Vangeline were growing up to be even lovelier than we could have ever expected. During a conversation with my aunt, she shared that my grandfather had a sister whom my grandmother had been quite fond of. Her name…Evangeline. Was this a coincidence? I was beginning to wonder as there were so many other unexplained incidents that had taken place since we had purchased HG Esquire+.

Photos by Breanna Doll

My husband & I sold raffle tickets for a chance to win a breeding to Esquire+ when we first began promoting him to the public. We did this for several years donating all proceeds to an Equine Therapeutic Farm in Nashville, Tennessee called Angel Heart Farm. We even traveled to Tennessee to help the director promote the raffle and raise awareness about her therapeutic program. During this trip my husband Robert and I visited the cemetery where my father and grandparents are buried. While at my father’s gravesite, Robert found a special rock which he handed to me. The rock is in an abstract type heart shape. I had always felt like my father was my angel….and now he is my Angel Heart. I carry the rock with me daily as it further validated how special HG Esquire+ was!

Photo by Denise Gainey

My aunt came to visit us while we were in Tennessee, bringing a special surprise with her. She brought the brush set that I had hoped one day she would locate. This was the only item that I truly wanted that had belonged to my grandmother. I held what had been the original box these items were purchased in. When lifting the hairbrush from its designated space within the box I noticed a tag with writing laying underneath. The tag read “From Mr. B” and in the lower left corner ‘Xmas 1942’. Yet another reference to Merry Christmas. My grandmother was pregnant with my father at this time.

Photo by Denise Gainey

In 2005 HG Esquire+ would miss Reserve National Sport Horse Champion Stallion by only 3/10 points. This was a large class with 30 Purebred stallions entered. This was his first time being shown by Mr. Larry Jones and the two together received the honors of SHN Top Ten Stallion.

In 2006 HG Esquire+ made his under saddle debut at the Spring Arabian Classic. Here he placed in all three of his ridden classes and winning his Sport Horse In-Hand classes with Mr. Larry Jones. In 2007 he would ride his first Dressage test and win! This class had 14 entries. He also did well in his other entries at this show. During the first part of the show we were blessed with the news that his colt, Evan Almighty was born. His owners were not kidding when they shared he was marked up just like Khemosabi++++//

Photo by Robert Gainey

Later the same year HG Esquire+ would be named Sport Horse National Top Ten Stallion a second time. This time with 33 entries in his class. All this from the horse who’s owners lived in a camper for 4 ½ years to build their home pulling HG Esquire+ to his first competition in a 1988 Ford Dump Truck, with an old, ugly 2 horse bumper pull behind. It would seem that this horse was destined to do special things and against all odds! In 2008 HG Esquire+ would continue to show on the Arabian circuit but he would branch out to the Open world as well. He was presented to USEF Sport Horse Breeding Judge Nikki Felton at an American Warmblood Society Inspection held at Willow Hill Equestrian. Handled by Mr. Larry Jones, HG Esquire+ was accepted for breeding and awarded the Silver Medal at the inspection. This would also be the same year his colt Hy Wynds would begin his Sport Horse Show career and do exceptionally well.

Photo by Kara Hite at picsofyou.com

Also in 2008, Horse Illustrated did their feature article on the Arabian Sport Horse using a photo of HG Esquire+ taken by Robert Gainey. HG Esquire+ served as the representative of what characteristics an Arabian Sport Horse should display. Photo credit Robert Gainey

In January 2009 HG Esquire+ was awarded the American Warmblood Society Bronze Medal End of Year award for all mature stallions inspected in the U.S. during 2008. He had foals born from Mississippi to New York. He was sent to an Open Dressage Training barn for more precise training. It was during this time that HG Esquire+ was seen by many with a vested interest in producing the highest quality Sport Horse foals; most had no previous experience with HG Esquire+ or Arabians in general. In September 2009 two of his sons, Evan Almighty and GA EKhwaytor headed to Lexington, Kentucky to show at Sport Horse Nationals. Both were just young 2 year olds, and this was GA EKhwaytor’s first show ever. Evan Almighty did his breeder and owners Susan and Temple Robinson proud by being named Reserve National Champion 2 year old Jackpot Colt. GA EKhwaytor was just as spectacular for us. He too was named Reserve National Champion 2 year old Jackpot winner in the Gelding class. What an exciting trip this had turned out to be. I kept saying prior to the show “I smell roses!” Now we were lucky enough to say we actually have them!

Photo by Robert Gainey

In July 2010, through the encouragement of our dear friend Shayna Dolinger, we ventured once more into the Open show world with HG Esquire+. We had him shown by Mr. Tommy Doyle at Dressage at Lexington. He competed against Oldenburgs, Hanovarians, Trakheners and other Warmblood type stallions. Never did we expect anything more than some exposure. During our time at this show, while at the stalls getting ready for the class, a sales representative for Finish Line products approached me. During our discussion about the samples he intended to leave with me, he noticed HG Esquire+ in the stall. He commented “Do you know whose horse that is? That is an Arabian isn’t it?” Of course I immediately claimed Esquire+. The sales representative thought Esquire+ was there only to hang out and not to show against the big Warmbloods. I informed him otherwise and went on to tell him just how special HG Esquire+ was. I also brought to his attention all that he had managed to accomplish in spite of little to no means of Robert and myself. I shared that I felt that Esquire+ was “A Gift that keeps Giving,” given to me by my grandmother indirectly. I went on to share with him that my father had been killed in a vehicle accident in Elgin, Illinois just after we moved to Virginia and how I located the photo album my grandmother had given to me Christmas 1970. After a bit more conversation, he shared that he was from Elgin, Illinois. He went on to tell me the story of a vehicle accident that he recalled as a child that had occurred directly in front of his home. The accident he recalled in fact was the accident that my father was killed in. Was this a coincidence that just prior to Esquire+ being shown I would meet someone from Illinois? Someone who knew of my father’s accident in a personal way? I venture to say not. In fact, I felt that this was a clear message that both my father and my grandmother were very much there with Esquire+ and I in spirit and he was going to do well!

Oh my were we stunned when it was announced that HG Esquire+ had earned the title of Reserve Champion Stallion of the show and now qualified to compete in the Open breeding classes at the well-attended and respected Dressage at Devon show held each September in Pennsylvania. He even graced the home page that promotes this show beginning the morning after his win.

Photo by Robert Gainey

There have been so many special incidents surrounding HG Esquire+ and his children. Each incident as unique as they are individuals and all with a connection to “Merry Christmas” in some form or fashion. We were notified right at Christmas (2010) that an announcement would be made in January 2011. HG Esquire+ was awarded ‘American Warmblood Society Sire of the Year’. He earned this title due to the average scores of his offspring presented for inspections being the highest. His son Hy Wynds was accepted for breeding receiving Gold Medal at his Inspection in North Carolina. He also is the only Purebred Arabian to ever receive Premium status in the history of the American Warmblood Society registry. Yet another wonderful piece of news to arrive at Christmas!

Photo by Anjanette Williby

As we neared the end of 2011, I wondered what this year’s ‘Merry Christmas’ surprise was to be. It would not be too long before I would know.

Just before Thanksgiving I was approached by a freelance writer who was putting the February 2012 feature article together for Horse Illustrated. The article, ‘Born in the U.S.A., the American Warmblood’ would profile HG Esquire+ and some of his accomplishments. Not to mention that just prior to Christmas we would receive our copy of the book ‘The Arabian Horse’ Volume II that included photos taken by Robert that included several photos of two of HG Esquire+’s sons.

Photo by Robert Gainey

HG Esquire is truly “A Gift That Keeps Giving” in every since of the word! Each Christmas we anxiously await our new story as we know without a doubt there will be one. From the beginning when HG Esquire+’s dam was found in a feedlot to where the story has led today, there is absolutely no question that HG Esquire+ was destined to be special. It is our sincere hope that he continues to be the ‘Gift that keeps Giving’ for many years to come and touch the lives of others through the sheer enjoyment and enrichment of owning one of his children or simply visiting him here at the farm. We hope you have enjoyed what we consider a very remarkable, spiritual, and factually true story. HG Esquire+, a very special gift!

Profile for Denise Browne Gainey

HG Esquire+, 'A Gift that Keeps Giving'  

From the beginning , the special circumstances surrounding being able to purchase HG Esquire+ and some of his stellar accomplishments. A s...

HG Esquire+, 'A Gift that Keeps Giving'  

From the beginning , the special circumstances surrounding being able to purchase HG Esquire+ and some of his stellar accomplishments. A s...