Sunday, December 30, 2012


For anyone who doesn't believe in global warming, its probably because they spend there life indoors, never dealing with the weather. I'm dealing with the weather alright, typing from the kitchen table looking out the window, the rain is pouring down, and the noise at it pelts the veranda roof is deafening. If it wasn't for the humidity, I could be fooled into thinking this was winter weather, but here were in the southern hemisphere in what should be summer time.

On christmas eve, it rained so much we canceled all our dinner plans, and spent the evening flooded in, the road out impassable. Now New Years looks like it may go the same way. I had all my camping supplies and my kayaks packed and ready to go for a few days exploring out in the islands. But in the early hours of the moringing as I a woke to that sound of heavy rain on the roof, that sound when you know it's not just a quick down pour, but will be steadily falling for many hours to come. I turned my alarm off and went back to bed, thinking that I would at least have a rare sleep in, since camping plans were obviously out.

But there is a reason sleep ins around here are rare. At first light I felt tiny pins pricking at my feet, ignoring them for a few minutes, I finally pulled my feet back under the blankets for protection. Something ran across the blankets and next there was swatting and clawing at my hands and arm, irritating little scratches than wouldn't relent. I pulled my arms back under the blankets, and fell back to sleep listening to the rain.

A minute or two later though, and I was wide awake as tiny teeth embedded themselves into the side of my chin, the pain jolting me awake. Sleep was out the door, and I tried in vain to swipe at the little ball of fur,
that upon seeing I was awake, was trying to use my face as a trampoline, leaping and pouncing all over the show.

I have a new kitten, today is the one week anniversary of Paul, the biting, scratching, face pouncing pest joining the family.

I'm not really a cat person, I love all animals, but given the choice between cat or dog, and I would choose dog. My friends are always surprised to find out I actually already have a cat, although I justify this by saying she's more dog like in behavior than feline. So to now have two cats, no one is more surprised than me.

Paul, a little white and grey spotted tabby kittem,came into my life in the most unexpected way.

I'd had a night out on the town with the girls, we were all done up, high heels dresses, make up, and I had at least washed my hair that day. It was past midnight when we hopped in a taxi and asked to be taken back to where we were staying. A friend remembering, this taxi driver used to drive her mates home along the back roads trying to hit possums on the the way, asked if we could do the same. So four girls crammed into the back seat hit the gravel roads.

We didn't hit any possums, but coming around a corner, stuck in the beams of the headlight in the middle of the road, we're two tiny kittens. The taxi came to a stop, and my friend shoved me out the door " catch them Chloe" and came scrambling after me, clambering over our other mates in the process.

I didn't need to be told twice, still in my high heels I ran up a bank after the kittens, and just as they headed for the underbrush, managed to grab the one with white on it which was easier to see in the dark.

I held onto the yowling ball of fur in a death grip, as finding itself caught, it fought like a banshee scratching and hissing. My friends all of who were now out of the taxi searched for the other kitten but it was gone.

Paul, named after the taxi driver, came home with us. He was mot an appealing character at the time. Obviously a wild cat, he sunk his teeth deep in to my fingers and didn't let go, every chance he got. He was sticky and dirty and smelled like a mix of cat urine and turkey shit. Skinny and covered in a large selection of parasites, he was not the most appealing chap I'd ever come across.

But I love a challenge. How hard could one little kitten be after dealing with multiple wild horses, surely I could tame it.

A week later typing this, I think we're well in our way to having a domesticated little cat. Paul has been, de-loused,de-ticked, wormed, washed and fattened up. He doesn't smell any more, his coat is glossy and silk to touch. More importantly he likes people, food and picking ticks off were two of the things that convinced him we might be okay.

He's sitting here , now that he's exhausted himself playing wake up games early this morning, purring like a motorboat in my lap, totally blissd out and content with life..

Even for someone who's not a huge feline fan Paul's pretty cool, and temporarily the Wild Horse Project, may become the Wild Cat Project instead...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The journey

Life is about the journey, negotiating the bumps in the road, the sharp corners that throw you off guard, climbing the hills and enjoying the ride down the other side. Working with horses is kind of similar, you have to enjoy the good times, work through the bad times, and pay the vet bills that our equines give us at the most un-expected times. While it's important to have goals and destinations to work towards you have to enjoy the bits along the way as well.

Summer is definitely the time to get out and enjoy the best of what living in New Zealand means. The workload around this time of years is easing up slightly, as far as general farm work, and longer daylight hours gives the opportunity to make the most of what can be found in our own backyards.Warm weather means getting out of the arena, and going to the beach, forestry rides or making the most of friends who have large farms to ride across.

I took two Kaimanawas to the beach recently, for Miro this was his first time having a ride off the property. He exhibited the cool, calm and intelligent nature that I love in New Zealands wild horses. No hesitation he was right out there splashing in the waves, and Fern from the 2010 muster was right beside him, calm and stoic as usual. Horses, nice weather, beach, it is bliss, one of those moments in the journey of life that you live for.

Because no matter what you do how careful you are there will be bumps in the road. I got all the stallions from the 2012 muster, plus a two year old born from the 2010 muster gelded/ castrated. They were great, but had a few complications from gelding, that set them back a few weeks, a little bump in the road. However it wasn't long before they were back to being happy, healthy, playful and full of life again. Anyone who has horses know, these things happen and there is no point worrying to much about it.

Gelding is something that people have varying opinions about. Some feel all mustered horses should be gelded as breeding in captivity take homes from those still on the ranges. While others argue that horses should be kept entire to ensure the breed survive, and preserve unique genetics, if something were to happen to wild populations. As well as the fact, that some people will never adopt from muster anyway. When discussing this topic with people there should always be a " proceed with caution" sign as opinions can get pretty heated, me I listen to both sides and stick to the middle of the road in my approach.

Other things in life set your course off in a slightly different direction. I'm a wee bit disappointed in myself. It's been six months and I haven't got my Kaiamanawas to a single show, they are more than ready, and that was the goal. I would have liked to have shown it was possible to go from wild horse to show horse in under six months, and it definitely is. But I've been busy, the horses that make me money are the ones that get first priority on going to competitions, and due to the rising cost of competing this year I've gone to far fewer shows, the wild horses have had to miss out. However this isn't such a bad thing, as it means I've got to enjoy doing other things, like going to beach, which I wouldn't have had time for if I was busy competing.

Along the the journey, one of the better things is crossing path with old friends. So It was great to see one of the horses that I handled from the 2012 muster, now thriving in his new home. Shy Boy was every inch the little wild stallion when he arrived off the truck, wild eyes hidden behind a huge black mess of mane . The only one of the five stallions, who looked like he might try to jump the 6ft stockyard fence and escape if you ever scared him to much. But once haltered, and realizing we weren't there to hurt home, he became the sweetest, most willing horse imaginable, and a real favorite of mine. Him and his owner however have always had a very special bond and its great to see such a partnership and what a wonderful horse he's turned into. He still looks every inch the wild horse, but his behavior is much more confident and secure in himself, and he's has the most regal prescience about him that draws everyone in. He's retained all that great about being born wild, and benefited from domestication to, as there is nothing at all wild about his attitude these days.

So while I'm a bit disappointed about not getting to show off my wild horses to the public, I'm still enjoying every bit of the journey with them, the downs just making the good parts that much better and hopefully with the new year, will come new opportunities for adventures, and getting them out and about. I think it's always important to remember the reason at the end of the day for having horses is our own enjoyment, that's what makes them so special, it is the pleasure and time we have with them. So rather than stressing about all there is yet to achieve, I'm going to go put my bikini on, load my horses up and head to the beach, life is all about the journey and this time of year is a time to enjoy it.