As I shared in an earlier post, my first encounter with Oman was brief but memorable. We often told friends about our experience with this unfamiliar little country.
Then, three years later . . .
As a member of the Racing Committee for the upcoming 2015 Sonoita Horse Races, I was responsible to help find my share of sponsors. We were celebrating our 100th Anniversary and wanted the races to be very special. Four years before, in 2011, the State of Arizona had cut off all funding for horse racing. Racing continued at our local track only through the hard work and dedication of hundreds of volunteers.
Remembering Oman’s generous support of the World Arabian Horse Championships in Paris, and the many gifts given to all visitors, I sent a letter to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. I invited him to join us in supporting horse racing in southern Arizona. I hoped he might sponsor a race or perhaps send a small gift to auction or sell.
Time went by. I received responses from nine of twelve fund-raising letters I had sent out, but nothing at all from
Oman. Well, it was a long shot, I thought. Then, on April 19th, twelve days before the races began, came an email from Oman marked “URGENT”. It said: ” . . . it has been decided that our Commander of the Royal Cavalry, Brigadier General (BG) Abdul Razak Alshahwarzi . . . will be attending your special event . . . .”
I was struck with awed disbelief. This gracious little country on the other side of the world would be sending a delegation to the 100th Anniversary of our Sonoita Horse Races! What a wonder – what a delightful turn of events! I was tickled, I was amazed. While working, amused smiles alternated with utter disbelief – what a very funny situation we were in!
In my personal life, I had begun struggling with boredom with our life along the mexican border. I missed moving around the world with the U.S. Army. For the last year, because of a leg injury, I had been unable to hike or ride my horses. I had been awaiting a complete knee replacement. I actually had prayed for some adventure in my life. I think God has a sense of humor, and in this case, He gave me a gift that keeps on giving – questions to answer, avenues to explore, mysteries to solve regarding Oman’s history, people and culture.
Who was this little nation? Who were these people who would take time to visit our little border town? My curiosity was piqued. I was hooked! My next six months would be consumed in my new research interest: learning about and trying to understand this little country and its people.