Trotters, Arabians, Donkeys and Other People - Page 220 - The Horse Forum
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post #2191 of 2251 Old 09-08-2019, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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I'm loving this literature discussion! And thanks for the photos, @bsms , because photos are always good, plus it cleared up a misconception for me: For some reason, I thought Watership Down was a reference to a sinking boat... ...I thought that since childhood! Didn't think it was a reference to British Hill Country... haha!

And here I was thinking this was about rabbits at sea....

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post #2192 of 2251 Old 09-08-2019, 06:43 PM
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Me too! Actually I didnít even know it was about rabbits!

Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you? - Balaamís Donkey
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post #2193 of 2251 Old 09-09-2019, 12:19 AM Thread Starter
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I only knew because of the rabbits on the front cover of that storybook!

In other news: We climbed a mountain yesterday, and today I'm constantly hungry. How do I say, "Look in the freezer please?", @bsms ?

My strategy this afternoon will be to work in the food garden. Currently on offer there are radishes, snowpeas, salad greens, and raw kale (four varieties) - this shouldn't be a great problem.

I'll have the mountain photos in a couple of days - we did take the camera...

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post #2194 of 2251 Old 09-09-2019, 08:34 AM
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I get hungry like that too! The kale recipe is simple. I put a little salt and pepper and garlic with olive oil on them, and then put them in my over at the lowest setting for about two hours on a cookie sheet, flipping around half way. Get them dry dry. They are a great snack!
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Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you? - Balaamís Donkey
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post #2195 of 2251 Old 09-09-2019, 01:42 PM
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@bsms That's very awesome! All this time, I never actual knew it was a real place. Never bothered to look it up... but it looks an awful lot like I always imaged it would. But I live in Kentucky so everything is pretty green here and I imagine that affected the way I thought of it too.

"She could be a witch, and he would never build a pyre upon which to burn her thoughts, desires and dreams."
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post #2196 of 2251 Old 09-09-2019, 02:28 PM
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@SueC - I've been pulling out and cutting back plants as Autumn has arrived; it's chilly at night and the leaves are starting to turn and some are dropping.

@Knave - I've always lacked imagination when cooking kale. I usually steam it but your recipe sounds really tasty.
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post #2197 of 2251 Old 09-09-2019, 03:13 PM
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It actually is very good @Caledonian . Just donít overdo the seasonings. It picks up the flavor easily.
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Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you? - Balaamís Donkey
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post #2198 of 2251 Old 09-11-2019, 08:33 PM Thread Starter
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I settled in to browse some threads last night when I couldn't sleep properly, found that mustang thread, and thought, "This will put me to sleep!" as it's the old ho-hum, most people don't understand that in (undisturbed) nature the amount of death on the range, mostly from predation, illness and accidents, sometimes from starvation (but more often from undernutrition-related illness / weakness = predation before that), roughly equals the amount of birth, and that when we've removed predators, or have introduced feral animals, it is our ecological responsibility to fulfil the role of the top predators. But, I ended up reading the whole thing, in part because when @bsms gets researching, his posts are always interesting and the information very reliable, so I learnt a thing or two about the situation you have with feral horses in America. We have it in Australia too, and while management isn't perfect, far from it, it's a whole lot better than your situation. There's a lot of aerial shooting from helicopters with hollow-point ammunition aimed at the chest, roughly at where the girth goes. I had to explain to a friend that while there is stress with the helicopter pursuit, it's relatively brief, and that veterinary surveys immediately post-mortem showed >95% of horses had been shot correctly first time; death is very swift - compared to corralling them into yards and then trucking them to abattoirs designed for cattle, where even the chase into the corrals with helicopters is more prolonged than for aerial shooting. Yarding and transporting of wild horses for slaughter is ultra stressful to them, and from a welfare perspective I am totally opposed to it. Temple Grandin is spot on there, as usual when she talks about animal welfare; and informed groups here in Australia have backed aerial shooting as the kindest option for brumby management.

Of course, we also have extremist groups who have no idea about ecological (and practical) realities, who lobby like crazy to stop the shooting. They also want to relocate kangaroos every time they overbreed on someone's golf course, but don't understand that any given spot in nature is generally already fully occupied with herbivores, so introducing excess population just leads to undernutrition, starvation, ecological damage to flora, and extra predation if there's natural predators, which in our country, there aren't enough of post European settlement, for all the usual reasons.

I really enjoyed too the informative posts written by @Knave , @COWCHICK77 , @mred , @boots and a few others with actual rangelands management experience and wanted to say that without getting involved in the actual thread!


Now to a horse who is far removed by many generations from his wild ancestors, but who looks positively feral at the moment shedding out his long winter coat: Sunsmart. After having a town day on Tuesday, I had another ride on him last night, around the valley floor in the evening. He was again very lively and volunteering a lot of trotting, plus at the end of the valley floor, instead of wanting to go straight home, he asked to go bush-bashing with me through the animal trails in the woodlands, which extends the ride by bringing us back into the pasture near the NE corner of our property, from whence we ride a big loop back. So, that was fun, and he's really crazy when I let him pick the route, usually choosing to go off main paths to little overgrown side tracks where we have to squeeze through understorey and both of us get covered in leaves, cobwebs and various displaced insects. But, I grew up in the bush, and he's developed a huge taste for it in the ten years I've been riding him since his track retirement and consequent introduction to the real world!

We'd had a quagmire-induced month off riding, but now the ground is drying out, are both dying to have adventures and exercise (and one of us, carrots too). I'll be taking a camera with me soon for some more photos, when we venture back into the tree plantation, or the nature reserve north of us, or maybe even Creek Road if I get bloodyminded enough to go out on the sealed road for a stretch even though the drivers are generally too ignorant or uncaring to slow down from their top speeds (110 km/h) for a horse, unless you're walking your horse in the middle of the road and the alternative is they have to hit you, so perhaps I actually need to do that... the road has no shoulder, just ditches either side...

I hope everyone in the other hemisphere is enjoying their cooler weather!

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post #2199 of 2251 Old 09-12-2019, 12:50 AM Thread Starter
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The whole topic of mustangs and death and the acceptance of death is going to lead me to "re-print" a reflection I wrote for other purposes a while back, on coming to terms with death - of a horse I had since childhood a few years ago, of the eventual death of everyone you love, and on the role of death in an ecosystem. I started with the story of my Arabian mare,

DEATH - A ROAD TO ACCEPTANCE

When we arrived in Australia in late 1982, my parents bought a quite remote farm. They had brought two horses out to Australia, one of which was allegedly mine, but when we got here, they decided to take her off me for breeding. This was an animal I was deeply bonded to, an ex-broodmare who'd kind of adopted me and carried me all over the countryside in Europe, and she ended up bleeding to death and dying in my arms after giving birth (and later I found out that my parents had been advised by the previous owners that the reason she was being sold as a child's riding horse was that she'd had a difficult birth with her last foal and the veterinary advice was that further breeding would risk her life...and I have never been able to fathom why you'd do something like that...).

When this horse was taken off me ("because she wasn't really mine, because I hadn't actually paid for her") I wanted that kind of situation never to be able to happen again, and I scraped together all my pennies from selling items I had left behind in Europe, and from what my grandmother had given me for my birthday. I had $600, and went to see our neighbour, who bred working-line Arabian horses. It was a drought year, and horses were going half-price. There was a skinny little yearling in the paddock who looked like a cross between a bicycle frame and a moth-eaten blanket. She was for sale, and cost twice what I had, so I did an International Velvet type thing and did odd jobs and chores nobody else wanted for another couple of years. But, this one couldn't be taken off me. It was years before I could ride her, and I did all her groundwork and training alone, closely following an excellent horse training manual by Australian horseman Tom Roberts. And after that, I rode her many hundreds of miles through the Australian bush, exploring the Reserves and State Forests near where we lived, and eventually competing in endurance rides. She was, during my high school years, the only independent means I had for getting off our farm besides my own two feet. She was my freedom in those years, and my best friend. And by the way, the Australian bush is amazing...

Here's a photo of us when she was two and I was 12:



The rest are from 2008, on the South Coast where I live with my husband, when she was 27... and yes, that is the same horse, she was a heterozygous grey, and those start a solid colour and grey out slowly:





So when this mare died in April 2014 - and I had to make the decision to end her life, she had cancer and her quality of life was nosediving - it was actually a huge bereavement for me. Yes, she was old, yes, it was to be expected, but none of that makes it hurt any less when you lose a dog or a horse you've had for a long time - and I had this horse for 31 years. Also, when I have to make end-of-life decisions for horses, I opt that they be shot, because it is instant and so much better than sticking needles into their necks and poisoning them slowly - having seen both - and having also personally experienced that anaesthetic agents can have pretty disconcerting side-effects as you are going under (I had a backwards-of-the-cliff type experience, which was neither expected nor fun). Shooting is an instant out for the horse, but messy for the onlooker (...I think the onlooker is less important in that situation). After you've got a dead horse, you have to move it to its burial site (because I won't walk them into a pit); so the neighbour came with his tractor to help us, and we buried her at the back of our place, in the bushland. Anyway, it's so sad to see these larger-than-life animals dead. She was like a beautiful silver statue, lying motionless on the ground, with blood flowing scarlet out of her nostrils, and she looked so small. They always do compared to when they are alive.

I had been on autopilot the whole day she was put down, and busy with burial and cleanup and dealing with the other animals on our farm. I didn't get to stop until sunset. As the sun dropped below the horizon, I sat down on a grassy bank in our garden and watched the colours in the clouds until they faded away. And I was sad, and it wasn't until then that I cried. That's because I always have an autopilot that gets me through situations like this, and I don't let up until all the necessary tasks are done and everyone has been looked after.



Sitting on that bank in the twilight, I contemplated how strange it felt to be breathing when she was not. The universe felt different, as if the moon had been taken from the sky. I felt small, and space felt big. It was the day of the Australian election, and my husband was down the town hall helping out, and didn't know my mare was dead, because it had been a snap decision I made during the day, after I'd already voted. Doing the count takes time, and people get home late. Bereavement is different when your spouse has got their arms around you, and Brett is always supercalifragilistically wonderful at times like that. But in the gap before that happened, I sat with night falling around me, my dog leaning against me and the crickets chirping in the bushes, just breathing and contemplating mortality.


I'd only lost two relatives up to that point, both of them on another continent; the rest was all losing companion animals. But, none of those were like the loss of this particular one, which was so in my face, and a friend to me from childhood to midlife.

It is a very difficult thing that sometimes the only thing you can do to help someone you love is to kill them. What you wouldn't give for a magic wand... But, on the other hand, I trained as a biologist / environmental scientist, and I am acutely aware that the cycle of life works the way that it does for a reason. If you halt death, you have to halt birth (something the human race has been slow to understand, to their own peril and the entire planet's); otherwise the place gets out of balance. The process of evolution is facilitated by excessive offspring coupled with huge fatality rates - that really drives natural selection, and therefore adaptation to a changing environment. This is the very process that has resulted in the splendour and stratospheric diversity of species in the wilderness areas of this planet.











People generally are out of touch with this; many live in cities, and rarely encounter death, and when they do, it's all hushed up and sanitised for them... I really recommend the Japanese film Departures:


Death is basically the price paid for life, and the two are inseparable. But just look at the life... the photos below are all taken in the on-farm remnant vegetation conservation area that we steward at our place:







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post #2200 of 2251 Old 09-12-2019, 01:11 AM Thread Starter
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And I'll just finish with a few of our orchids. This is a Flying Duck Orchid:



Next is the Hammer Orchid. The BBC came to film this species near the Stirling Ranges some years ago, and we discovered it in our own conservation remnant. The Hammer Orchid lures the male wasps which pollinate them by producing for them a dummy female complete with pheromones that they will try to pick up and mate with, as they ordinarily do with their own wingless females waiting for them on branches. Attempting to fly off with the dummy catapults the head of the male into the stigma at the other end of the joint in the plant, and by repeatedly being duped, the male will carry pollen from orchid to orchid...



This one may be called a Hare Orchid, but it looks like a ballerina to me:



We also have "normal" orchids:



I could string on literally hundreds more photographs, but will restrain myself. The heathlands around where we live are one of the planet's biodiversity hotspots, with over 2,000 identified plant species alone, so we never stop ooohing and aaahing, but unfortunately, most people simply don't know what is there...

...and if you ask me if death is a price worth paying for the very existence of all of this, then that makes death so much easier to accept. But of course, it still hurts when we lose someone. I spend more time in wild places when that happens; the more you grow to love the wilderness, the more you can see and accept that individuals die but life always continues, and just be deeply grateful to have a turn on this stage.

The flash of light between eternities of darkness. On the other hand, the darkness to follow is unlikely to be different to the darkness before, and I don't spend my life terribly bothered by my absence from history prior to 1971. You don't feel that darkness, because you're not there; that darkness and you will never actually meet, because you no longer have a self then - as the Stoic philosophers said a long time ago. It's the people who have loved you who feel that darkness. But they can carry your light, if you pass it on to them, and the best way to pass on your light is to love others, and the best way to honour beings you have loved and lost is to carry their light.

There's a terrible beauty in grappling with these things - as exemplified in this song about anticipated loss, where the person writing this song saw the foreshadowing of the death of his partner, watching her sleep. The song was written in 1987; two years later he married her and they've just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary - just to put another angle on that, yet of course, the basic premise remains that we're all going to part sooner or later.


But there's also a gentle beauty, and a peace you can find. And above all, there are so many deeply precious moments, exactly because there is an end point.

Here's another philosophical perspective on all that, which is interesting to think about:
https://dailystoic.com/how-to-not-fear-death/

That ends the excerpts from that particular reflection. I also wrote Flower Memorials earlier on this journal, which most of you already read and also dealt with death and nature: https://www.horseforum.com/member-jo...post1970698951

One thing is pretty clear - no other species gives death as much thought and rumination as ours does...
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