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Witez, Drinker Of The Wind

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216 pages3 hours

Summary

This is the remarkable and (mostly) true story of the Arabian stallion, Witez, born in Poland in 1938. Son of the renowned Ofir and the beautiful mare Federacja, Witez had a remarkably adventurous life. In his first, and very formative, year, he was cared for and trained by an eleven year old girl named Monica Myrek at one of the world's finest Arabian horse farms: the famous Royal Polish Stud Farm near Janow-Podlaski.
The invasion of Poland by German and Russian armies (September 1939) was a disaster for the bloodstock at the horse farm. The horses were rounded up by Russian soldiers and shipped by rail to Russia. In Mostovaja, Witez was taken by a Russian captain for his own and, when the captain was ordered to Leningrad, he entrusted Witez to a young Russian girl (Ivana Michaelovich) for care and training. Months later, with the captain away and fearing Witez was about to be killed for meat by hungry peasants, Ivana set Witez free.
With an innate sense of survival, Witez headed north, traveling mostly at night, hiding in woods and riverbeds during the days until he reached the vast steppes of the Russian north. There, for almost two years, he roamed, becoming a legend as the "Wild Stallion of the North". At last he was spotted by a German ski patrol. The commanding officer, seeing the Royal Crown brand of the Polish Stud on his withers, realized that he had a potentially valuable prize and set out to capture him. A chase was impossible, so he approached Witez as an experienced horseman would, attempting to win his trust. He was successful. Witez’s trust proved to be well placed, because the officer sent Witez to the German's famous horse farm at Monsbach, near the Black Forest, where he received royal treatment. During this time he sired numerous offspring.
Witez had qualities of character that endeared him to all who knew him. He was cheerful, courageous, kind, gentle and intelligent and, in the most literal sense, people fell in love with him. Poland issued a postage stamp in his honor. Over one hundred people attended his twenty-fifth birthday party at which he was honored by a U.S. Marine color guard. He received birthday cards and telegrams from all around the world.
Witez died peacefully at age 28 on the Hurlbutt ranch in Saugus, California.
This is also a story of lifelong friendships developed by those who shared their love of Witez. A key element of the story is the meeting and life-long friendship developed between the two young girls who cared for him: Monica in Poland until Witez was a year and a half old, then Ivana in Russia until she set him free. Both girls dream of seeing him again and, for years, wonder what happened to him. Eventually they learn of him and in dramatic scenes, each is reunited with Witez.

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