Friday, March 30, 2007

30th March, 2007

A glut of cars have sped past me in the last few days since the clocks went forwards. It's really worrying when it won't be long before there are foals everywhere. At the risk of reading like a DVLA printout, here are a few of them: T61 BFJ R651NNH R884 FKK ND52 ROU.
I went to see a 16 year old horse today whose present owner has had him for three years. He came along with all sorts of baggage but he's prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt, to trust her as much as he possibly can and generally dotes on her. He seems rejuvenated and tries very hard to please her even though he throws the occasional wobbly.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

28th March, 2007

I spent yesterday morning back down at the Margaret Green Foundation Trust working with an aggressive horse that is facing a stark life or death decision. He did launch at me to bite me once but after I shook my little box of gravel at him he didn't do it again at all. Frankly we tried our best to wind him up so that I could address the behaviour again but even though we petted him, made a lot of noise, messed about with food around him and revved a car up behind his stable, he just put on a sweet face and polished his halo. Eventually we took him out for a walk - where he refused to rear and stomp as he would normally do - and then I picked his feet up while he was loose in the school. I had started off by massaging him (and he was very tense) so maybe this had chilled him out. Hopefully he will be having some physiotherapy in the near future and be spending more time out of his stable. I do think that benefits of box resting horses for physical welfare has to be weighed against the risk to mental welfare;this horse hates being kept in. There is no doubt that box rest can be enhanced by horse balls, branches to chew on, lots of interesting but quiet activity outside, mirrors and so on, but horses were meant to be on the move all day every day and some of them cannot cope with being in for long periods. Their mothers, God and extinct, will have told them not to get trapped in places where they can't hear and they can't see all the way round.
Pie has turned up at the yard looking like a burst pillow. Despite two lots of louse powder and a good wormer, he still looks disreputable but a lot more comfortable. There is no social stigma attached to lice in the Forest - it's just one of those things. His girlfriend still thinks he's beautiful.
On the way home from the yard yesterday, I was overtaken at astonishing speed by a grey convertable - DY55 LHR. It had disappeared from view in no time. Wouldn't fancy having a cow land on my lap in one of those. Tonight I was overtaken in the dark by a white saloon, G437 SAA.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

24th March, 2007

I was overtaken at speed by a red Vovol KH02 NPK when I was on my way to a protest about animal accidents held at Bramshaw Post office. A journalist came out from the Daily Echo and we were photographed trying to look grim. Unfortunately I don't suppose it will make any difference.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

22nd March, 2007

I've really had to hit the ground running with a new pony coming in last Monday and lots of interesting mobile work. Today I'm going to see a horse that gets excitable when it rides up to the gallops - I bet it does! Tomorrow I'm off to a non-loader and on Saturday I've got two wild ponies to teach to lead and a pony that is being difficult to catch. In the meantime, Horace has had his first gallop, Piper has had his first proper cuddle and Kennedy, the wild pony, is letting me sit on the floor with him while he's asleep and can now be caught in a five acre field. Progress indeed. Connie and Fudge, the two labradors are also coming to stay so it should be a chaotic weekend.
It's always nice to hear how ponies are getting on after I've worked with them. I was thrilled to hear that Oliver is doing really well and is quite a personality. Another horse, P, has been consistently good to be shod after I recommended that she have physiotherapy for what I thought was a bad back. The farrier had said that he wouldn't shoe her without sedation. I never mind giving free advice either - although sometimes it's impossible without seeing the horse and it's environment. However, I always like to know whether my advice worked and, like the horses, I do thrive on positive reinforcement.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

15th March, 2007 Kanha Tiger Reserve, Mocha, India

I don't think I will ever get blase about seeing tigers. We have seen seven altogether, four from the back of an elephant. We just walked alongside one for almost an hour. Breathtaking. The other highlight has been bathing Tara the elephant in the river. I would recommend the Krishna Jungle Resort at Mocha, Kanha to anyone. We all know that I could live on Indian food anyway but the hotel was relaxed and easy going and our naturalist, Ryan Wright and our driver, Rupesh Khan were such fun. We saw so many different types of birds, deer, bison and of course the tigers. I prefer Kanha to Bandhavgarh as the pace is much slower and you don't feel that the animals are compromised by the tourism.
It was the British that started to kill the tigers in earnest back in the days when military officers needed something to do at the weekends. Between 1875 and 1925 80,000 tigers were killed as trophies and this was followed by the death of millions of birds which were netted just so that the feathers from then exotic ones could be exported to the fashion houses of Paris and London. During the two world wars conservation was overlooked and in the years following independence, Nehru was too busy developing the infrastructure of the country to halt the decimation of the forests and natural habitat of India's wildlife. It was Indira Ghandhi who first outlawed the shooting of tigers in the 1970's. There are less than 4,000 in the world. The parks are gradually increasing the numbers and do their utmost to protect them from poachers. A dead tiger is worth 3 million rupees to the Chinese who use their bones in medicine.
A word about British Airways, the British Airports Authority and Serviceair - if we can get our friend Martin onto a train in Agra and onto an elephant - why couldn't they make sure that they didn't lose his wheelchair for two days in transit? I think their staff should spend a day each in a bog standard wheelchair so that they can understand why he prefers to be in his formula one, sports chariot up until he gets onto the aeroplane and as soon as he gets off it. It's not good enough.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

6th March, 2007 Agra, India

There must be something wrong with me because I got as much pleasure out of making a fuss of a sacred cow as I did seeing the Taj Mahal (which incidentally is stunning). I have also stroked an elephant and that must be one of the best experiences of my life. We are off to Bandhavgarh and Kanha next where hopefully we will see the tigers. In the three days between my holidays I worked with the wild pony before leaving him for Sheila to work with. He is coming on beautifully and we could put his headcollar on and take it off and cuddle him all over. The main issue was bringing his head round so that he would face us - he much preferred to turn his bottom and look as if he might kick. He was terrified of looking at us out of his blue left eye but that has now softened and is relaxed like his brown left one.