Judging a Book by its Cover
WH Royal Freckles makes a splash on the cover of Omar’s Wild West Adventure after positively impacting a young boy with Down syndrome.
By Kelsey Ritchie
Radio personality Will Rogers once said, “The best thing for the inside of a man is the outside of a horse.” Those fortunate enough to spend abundant amounts of time around these four-legged creatures know the truth in his statement, but it becomes even more obvious when newcomers to the “horse world” notice the effect, too.
For Barbara Ali, witnessing the truth in Will’s quote in her son Omar after his first contact with a horse affected her deeply—enough, in fact, to write a book in her Omar’s Adventures series about his trip out West and his interaction with a Paint Horse.
Barbara’s youngest son, Omar loves adventures and learning about new cultures. Omar has Down syndrome, and through her books, Barbara aims to show children that even though Omar might look different, he still enjoys the same things.
“He loves to have adventures, and we take him with us when we travel,” Barbara said. “We think experience is the best way for him to learn.
At only 9 years old, Omar has been able to see more of the world than many adults. Other books in the series include stories of his trips to places such as the London Olympics, the Arabian Desert and the Caribbean.
Several years ago, Barbara met Karaly Maione, who invited the Ali family to visit her ranch in Idaho. Struck by Karaly’s love for animals, Barbara immediately wanted to write a story about Omar working with horses. Never having had experience around horses herself, Barbara knew that Karaly’s love for animals and children would make writing the story easier and more enjoyable.
“Karaly was patient and willing to talk to us about horses in a way we could present to children,” Barbara said. “She said it would be good for other kids to know how animals can help people.”
While in Idaho, Omar spent time with WH Royal Freckles, a 1999 sorrel overo Paint mare. A retired show horse, “Freckles” earned Superiors in trail and Western pleasure; now, she’s used for lessons and shared her expertise with Omar.
“Karaly said Freckles would be the perfect horse for us because she was so gentle,” Barbara said.
In the book, Omar’s Wild West Adventure, Barbara depicts Omar learning how to groom and saddle Freckles. This was his first time on a horse; Omar’s excitement was obvious. Karaly walked beside Freckles and instructed Omar how to steer her over poles and in between cones.
The rest of the book takes the reader alongside Omar on his journey through the Oregon Trail and through the Pacific Northwest.
“The feedback has been so positive,” Barbara said. “The photos make it seem like you’re there with Omar. It’s good for all kids to see that even a kid born with a disability can have fun.”
Freckles and Omar formed a special bond during their adventure, and Barbara encourages owners of horses like Freckles to reach out to youth to help them experience the world of horses.
“They definitely connect at a different level. Since we had that experience in Idaho, Omar has asked when we can go to see the horses again. We are working on finding a therapy center near our home for him to try more riding. I’m so pleased he enjoys horses now!”
After seeing the impact that Freckles had on Omar, Barbara hopes that her book will show the ability that animals have to connect with children of all types, focusing on abilities instead of disabilities along the way.
“We have been lucky to see so many places,” Barbara said, “Whatever fun adventures come our way, I consider writing about them in the future.”