A Love Story

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Allemar+ (Photo by Bob Tarr)

Arabians are our YourDressage Breed of the Month for July!  One of the oldest horse breeds on earth, and the influence for many other breeds, these elegant horses are easily recognizable with their delicate faces and high tail carriage.  They excel in many sports, particularly endurance riding.

Dressage enthusiasts who ride Arabians have the opportunity to earn special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards as Arabian Horse Association, North American Shagya-Arabian Society, and Performance Shagya-Arabian Registry are all Participating Organizations.

We recently asked our social media followers to share stories about what makes these horses so special.  Here, read about a Region 2 breast cancer survivor who didn’t start riding until her 40’s, and the story of her special homebred Arabian, Allemar+//

By Charma Fargo

PART ONE

Have you ever watched an elegant rider and powerful horse complete a graceful dressage test and marveled about the amount of work and preparation involved? Sleek and shiny hair coats, polished boots, the precise movements of the dance unfolding before you all add up to a monumental dedication.

Allemar+

But what does that expression on the rider’s face mean? A brilliant smile of accomplishment? Eyes roll with relief? Are the tears marking a path down dusty cheeks caused by disappointment or joy? For breast cancer survivor Charma Fargo, the tears flowing after her completion of a brilliant Fourth Level ride in the Spring of 2006 were just one more step in the progression of her love affair with an Arabian stallion, Allemar+//.

The love affair began in the foaling stall in 1994. “My mare decided to foal standing up,” said Fargo.

Fargo’s friend Jan Sharp hurried over to help and Fargo said, “What should I do?” “Catch him!” Jan yelled. The slick, almost black, big eyed colt slid from his mother’s womb straight into the willing arms of Fargo. She was there for him at the beginning, many years later he would be there for her, as well.

Fargo, of Ashtabula, Ohio, always loved horses but didn’t begin riding seriously until the age of 40. “I didn’t want to get old and say gee, I wish I would have ridden,” Fargo explained. Amateur rider Fargo chose the discipline of dressage. “I just thought dressage was more interesting and would be something I could do.” In her late 30’s, Fargo was single with two children, working hard to support herself, her children, and still nurture her riding enthusiasm. She rode her first horse, Major Goal, a National Show Horse, who was raised and trained by Fargo. He was not interested in dressage, so she turned her attention to training the scraggly colt that fell into her arms several years earlier.

The three year old Allemar+/ / was beginning to show the quality and promise of his outstanding lineage. Fargo produced Allemar by breeding her Arabian mare CA Sweet Dreams, to six-time National Champion Arabian stallion Allience+/ / after watching him wear the championship rose blanket yet again at the Arabian National Championship Show in 1992. The kind and gregarious Allemar+/ / was a willing student of Fargo’s training efforts. Fargo explains, “I thought that if we were keeping him a stallion, we should get him started right away.” He soon found himself inside the white fenced dressage rectangle at schooling, Arabian, and rated shows.

At the Kentucky Horse Park

The training of Fargo and her handsome young protege progressed steadily and accolades began to accumulate on their show record. “What a good horse he has been for an amateur,” said Fargo. “He loves to go to horse shows, and he loves people. He also has moments when he is full of himself.” In 2002 exactly ten years after Fargo first saw National Champion Allience+// at the Arabian National show, she returned to Louisville Kentucky’s famous Freedom Hall. This was her first trip to the Nationals and she won a National Top Ten in First Level dressage Amateur-to-Ride with Allemar+//.

This was just the beginning of a stellar show career which encompasses more than 170 awards including the highly coveted USDF Bronze Medal and multiple Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards, Arabian Horse Association Region 14 Championship, Reserves or Top Five’s at First, Second, Third, and Fourth Levels, Legion of Honor, Legion of Supreme Honor, and Legion of Excellence. Perhaps Fargo’s favorite award was a fifth place out of twenty-seven at the ABIG/USDF Region 2 Championship. The other twenty-six horses were warmbloods. The championships and awards were fabulous, but Allemar+// would soon give of himself in a more urgent way.

A day like any other day in late June of 2005 changed Fargo’s life. She found a lump in her breast. After 15 years of regular, negative mammograms, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Surgery and chemotherapy at Cleveland Clinic suddenly took up her riding time. “I couldn’t ride for 6 weeks. My friends helped with lunging and riding Allemar+// so I could keep him in shape.”

“Then in August”, Fargo said “I had Al’s shoes pulled on the day entries closed for the Arabian Sport Horse National Championship show. I couldn’t go. I just cried and cried.” But the crying didn’t last for long. The once lithe and athletic Fargo collected her devoted gaggle of friends around her and went marching forward.

Enjoying retirement

The doctor advised her to stay out of the barn and away from mold and dust. “I can’t get through this without going to the barn,” Fargo told her husband, Larry. He supplied her with a special dust mask and off she went to the barn. Chemo treatments lasted for 16 weeks, every other week. During the week of chemo she didn’t ride, but on the off week she did. “I wanted to ride as much as I could, but I had to be careful”, Fargo related. “I didn’t want to sit and dwell on the cancer. My riding was a big part of my life – I didn’t want to make the cancer a big part of my life. Allemar+/ / kept me going.” The fancy, charismatic dark stallion was there for her and the love affair reached an even deeper level.

Fargo’s last chemo treatment was just before Thanksgiving 2005. That winter, she worked with her trainer. April 2006 found Fargo competing at Fourth Level with Allemar+/ /, smiling, crying, and cancer free. Allemar+// was treated like a rockstar, as usual, by his admiring fans at the horse show. The fan club lined the ringside, holding their breath and riding each step with the elegant duo. They counted strides for the changes, pushed for the extensions and cheered them on. Perhaps the fans wondered why Fargo cried after such a beautiful presentation. She beat the dark shadow, she was back.

“When I bred Allemar+//, said Fargo, “I thought I could make money selling him and use the money to put my kids through school. My kids are now through college, and I still have the horse,” laughs Fargo.

Allemar+// has sired several successful offspring. His first foal, a black Anglo-Arabian named Ruby Toosday, has already been named a National Top Ten winner in Western Pleasure at Youth Nationals. Fargo and Allemar+// will debut at Prix St. Georges in 2007. “I’m scared to death”, she said. Not to worry, Allemar+/ / will be with her every tempi change of the way.

PART TWO

After receiving my USDF Bronze and Silver medals and one score toward my Gold medal, Allemar+// was retired due to a tendon tear and advancing age. He is now 27 years old. He has been a fabulous horse to learn from and help me through some tough times.

My current dressage horse, SRC Gabriella
SRC Gabriella

Now in my 70’s, I am still actively riding SRC Gabriella, an Arabian/Friesian cross. She has been shown at Arabian, USEF/USDF open, and multiple Sport Horse National shows, with many wins to her credit. I still take regular lessons and care for my horses. I have my own barn and indoor arena.

Arabian horses have been a big part of my life and made my childhood dream come true even at a later time in my life. Don’t let your dreams pass you by, make them happen!

Part One of this story is dedicated to Wendy Gruskiewicz, who passed away from cancer in 2020. She was a skilled journalist and wrote Part One of my story several years ago. She was also a lifelong Arabian breeder and trainer, Arabian judge, and my friend.

Related Links:

Information about the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards

Breed of the Month – Arabians! Part 1

The Silver Lining

Small But Mighty: Calabash

Don’t Underestimate a Mustang

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