In our previous article we wrote about the wonderful part horses could play in helping children with behavioural issues. That is a very big part of what we do. But at Mooikrans Equus there are times that we can just sit back and enjoy those precious moments with our 47 beautiful four legged friends.
Just like humans, each horse has its own personality. People often ask me if I know the names of all the horses at Mooikrans. That always brings a smile to my face. I not only know his or her name, but his ranking in the herd, his joys and fears in life, his good qualities and ifany, also his lesser good qualities. In short, I know each unique individual the same way you would know your close friends.
One of the reasons why horses are such suitable therapists, is because their personalities are remarkably similar to ours. Horses also become depressed, lonely and discouraged, but can also be happy and joyous. Different from humans, they never hold a grudge. They never plan to pay you back for any assumed wrongdoing against them. No, they forgive and forget.
Zulu is a beautiful pitch black gelding with a white marking and a white sock on the near hind leg. He is a born larrikin. And he is also a gifted copy cat. Countless times he has embarrassed us because you never know whether he is playing up or whether it is for real.
A few years ago we had a very fancy riding club visiting. They brought their own horses and these Thoroughbreds were all shod. After many miles, but still far from home, one of these Thoroughbreds became lame. We had little sympathy for the soft city horses and boasted about our tough Boerperd horses with their sound feet. After several diagnoses and even more opinions, it was decided that the horse was unfit for further duty and had to be walked home.
So the rest of us mounted and started off again. After only a few strides the alarm was raised again, this time by Zulu's rider. Something was seriously wrong with his horse's near hind foot. The poor animal could barely walk. We all had a look and a feel, but could find absolutely nothing wrong. How embarrassing! A lame Boerperd, and that in front of all these Thoroughbreds. With a perplexed face I watched him being walked home. Wait a minute!
Did we not all fuss about his near hind foot just a moment ago? How come it was now his off hind foot that could barely take any weight? The little rascal soon realised he was caught out as he then had to step lightly home - mounted.
At a time we had broodmares with foals at foot. They were kept in a special small paddock where visitors could admire and fuss about them. Zulu noticed the fuss and somehow managed to get into the little paddock. His role play as a new mother was quite convincing!
The arena is the place where the novice riders are taught. Zulu is an old favourite there because of his ability to freshen things up and break the monotony of going round and round. This particular day he had a young aspiring rider of about 8 years walking in front of him, ready for the lesson and all dressed up including a little black English riding cap. The walking went on for longer than usual and Zulu's patience ran out. In the corner, where he was out of eye sight, he stretched forward and with one well aimed strike, bit off the little button on top of the cap. It must have been an awful sound from under the cap. The poor little rider assumed the worst, expecting to see his brain peeling out from the gash in his skull. His screams filled the air for miles. Some other wannabe riders started screaming because of the upset and some more started screaming just because. All this while Zulu was quietly but desperately trying to get rid of the little button still in his mouth.
Just to get back at him, I came up with a plan to prank Zulu. I have noticed that Zulu was one of the scouts who had the responsibility of the safety of the herd. One Sunday afternoon I quietly stalked the grazing herd and hid among the tall grass not too far from the black scout gelding. As soon as he was within hearing distance, I made a scary sound and some movement in the tall grass. The perfect scout that he was, he cautiouslycame closer and then raised the alarm. All eyes were now fixed on this brave scout. Zulu himself was so blown away by his own bravery. By now I couldn't help laughing out loud. This time it was his turn to be embarrassed! To be scared by a duffer!
Get to know your horses, also when they are not under the saddle, and a whole new world would open up for you!