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June '09

Having had a good rest and holiday, I am now back in harness and it is Craig’s turn to be ‘spelling’.

I always seem to find equines when away, and this time was no different. First there were the marsh ponies on the Loughour River estuary in Wales - and there were many of them including their new foals – a vast area of marshland where the ponies live out permanently. They have owners, but are not used. Obviously the grazing of the riverine vegetation was good as they were all in very good nick and strangely, because of the easy and soft ‘going’, their hooves were nothing to complain about. The resident stallion came to check out if we had any tidbits, but moved away to guard his mares when he found that we were empty handed.

Of course, for me, there is no way I will miss the Household Cavalry Changing of the Guard at Horse Guards Parade – held at 11am everyday.

Only this time when I arrived, I found that a new Museum had been opened at the parade ground and the nice thing was that, through a glass window, one was able to observe the men going about their business of grooming, mucking out, cleaning tack, the horses standing quietly in their wooden stalls munching away and just seeing a working stable ‘work’.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (in PE)….

One of the problems Craig had to deal with was a badly burned mare (hot water) and he came through the ordeal better than the mare did. She is improving rapidly and her foal at foot has settled in nicely.

There was a man who once said to me that ‘you should leave the donkeys outside (at AWS) and not bring them in off the verge. Fortunately I did not take notice and therefore instead of the Walmer donkeys ‘getting in the way’ of motorists, they now congregate outside the fence or the gate and bellow to be let in!! I would much rather that they are out of your way and so we bring them in, give them a feed and in due course, the owners come and find and collect them. As long as you and the donkeys themselves are safe, I am happy!

The sick man from a few months ago has made a recovery and in due course requested that we bring his donkeys back. While we are happy that he has responded to treatment, Craig and I were sick at heart at having to return them to him. One thing led to another and so only three adults were returned, leaving the 2 youngsters to be adopted out. They are safe where they are and give endless hours of pleasure to the landowner, his wife, (proud foster parents) and the grandchildren too!

Then we heard that one of our carters, finding that someone was in the process of trying to relieve him of his donkeys, actually broke the oke’s leg with a piece of iron! Howzat!

A panicked phonecall from a township resident about the fact that ‘there is something funny hanging out’, led to a visit to the vet who removed a vrot foetus that was being ejected from the mare. Once it was removed, a few days rest was all that was required to get her back on track.

On our first Donkey Clinic in Humansdorp, a number of horses and donkeys were inspected and treated where necessary and problem harnessing requirements identified. Unfortunately we had to end the day with a visit to the local vet who euthanased a donkey foal with a severely wounded shoulder – it appeared that it may well have been kicked, or perhaps run into something. The owner was most grateful for our assistance in getting it to the Vet concerned, and was happy that the right action was taken for the good of the foal. The Vet was most understanding about our predicament and we thank him for his support.

With crime running rampant all over these days, it was so nice to have the backup of the Kwanobuhle Police Station whose officers assisted another of our merry men in retrieving his ‘missing’ donkey from Greenbushes. They were most helpful and in due course, the mare and foal were taken home by us.

Of course, we all know one way or t’other about the three cold fronts that swept our coastline this past week, which meant that aside from the high winds and very heavy rain, electricity was also a problem. Thankfully, we are all drying out now with a few good days of sun and warmth. It just so happens that the sun also dries up the water in the camps!!

We have also had a number of good tack sales over the past month, the proceeds of which go towards our ongoing work with horses and donkeys both in and outside the townships.

And so, into July!