In the mid 1980′s my parents decided to take part in preservation breeding for the Davenport Arabian. Dad purchased a few mares and a stallion for Mom and they eventually bought a farm of their own. Soon after, the breeder with whom they worked gave them a petite grey stallion — Haluf.

My parents bred Haluf to Allah Rebekah. On April 1, 1989, Grand Finale was born. A happy day quickly turned into a nightmare when my parents realized that the mare had hemorrhaged and had to be put down immediately. We lived in a small town in Wisconsin, at least 90 minutes from a surgical center. My parents put Finale in the back of the family station wagon on my sister’s lap and drove to Madison. The colt would have an extended stay, multiple blood transfusions and much needed care.


For my 9th birthday present, my parents sent Finale to a local three-day event trainer. After only three months under saddle I started taking lessons on him. We began showing the following summer and eventually got hooked on eventing. Dressage was definitely his forte followed closely by cross-country, where he made it clear he could compete with the big boys.

By the time I was 15 we had successfully competed in preliminary-level events. A year later we qualified for a one star. Days before submitting our entry, Finale tweaked a check ligament in the pasture and after being patient with rehab, got back on track. Unfortunately, during competition he refused at the down bank and I knew he wasn’t feeling like himself, so we withdrew from the course. After much thought I decided to retire him.

Over the years, Finale continued to be my main man. I leased and rode plenty of other horses, but Finale was my favorite. When I went to Michigan for college, he did, too. Together we created a successful lesson program, which paid for his board during my college years. He was excellent with children and had a special skill with those who were overcoming a fear of horses.

For Finale’s 20th birthday we decided to see if he would take to driving. He did, like a natural. I had brought him to a local tack store to fit a harness and order a cart. Since I had gone through the trouble of making the trip, the owner offered to hook him up to a “drag” and give me my first driving lesson. She felt so confident in him that she hooked him up to her own wooden “easy entry.” Within 10 minutes, I was driving by myself with no one at his head.


Now 23 years young, Finale has moved from Wisconsin to North Carolina with me to begin a new chapter. My husband and I are expecting our first child and I just know that Finale is going to be the most handsome little lead-line mount and partner for our daughter.

I feel so lucky to have a horse that everyone dear to me considers to be part of the family. He means just as much to the rest of the family as he does to me, even though sometimes they don’t want to challenge my own love for him. I don’t know what I would have done without him in my life. Every good memory I have has to do with Finale and we have plenty of time to make even more.

By Anne Mieke Ratering


Michaelanne (Mikey) Dehner grew up in Bucks County, PA and took up horseback-riding at an early age. She showed competitively before going to college to pursue a degree in Vocal Performance, focusing on opera and musical theater. Her passion for the outdoors led her to Colorado where she has lived for the past 13 years with her husband and her Siberian husky, Logan. She recently left her job in the outdoor industry to spend more time with her 2-year-old daughter. In addition to riding horses and writing, Mikey is an avid hiker, marathon runner, certified running coach and personal trainer.

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