Monday, September 10, 2012

Language

Horses are horses no matter what corner of the world your in, they speak the same language.This is something I'm eternally thankful for, because no matter where my travels take me I can train a horse the same as I do at home. They learn the same way, whether the owner is speaking English, Arabic or Fijian.

I have just spent two days working with unhandled horses, mustered off an 11,000 acre sheep and beef farm, in northwestern Fiji, Yanquara Station, may be my new place of paradise. The scenery is amazing and so far removed from what tourists see, there are horses everywhere,  tied on roadsides, wandering through the villages and loose all over the station. My job is to teach the ranch hands, better horse handIng techniques. This is where paradise ends, because the treatment of the horses is shocking, well it would be shocking if I hadn't seen it all before in Egypt, now I'm just used to it and get on with work.

It all comes from ignorance with a good amount of bravado mixed in.  It's men who work with the animals, and they have never been taught anything about horses, it's never been part of their culture,  the attitude is that horses needs to muscled around and dominated, there is no concept that these are prey animals, and  what they are really doing is creating terrified animals. It really is ignorance and not cruelty however, as there is zero access to outside knowledge.

Hopefully me, a little female, using the exact same techniques I use with the wild horses, can show that there are better ways of doing things when ti comes to training. 

With horses it really is the same everywhere though, you take a little bit of time, keep your body language non threatening and horses learn  fast. Get them running in terror and they aren't learning a thing.Once we had convinced the men that chasing the horses around a huge pen trying to rope them, was counter productive, progress was good, within  half an hour, we had a previously un touched  horses leading and picking up there feet. Just as easily as we would any horse at home.

I will just say it again, that the people we are teaching are not cruel, the problems come from lack of knowledge, they were actually very receptive to learning. With a bit of coaching they were all trying our techniques  and most understood the concept we were trying to be explain. 

Working in these places does mean you have to be fairly adaptable though, using what you have access to. Halters for horses is one thing they do not have, and working with harsh 30ft synthetic ropes does not make my job easier but we managed, although it wasn't pretty.