Friday, November 04, 2005

Horses Are Here

The time came finally to move the horses. I had hoped to have the pipe corrals moved to the new land, but an attack of greed on the part of my landlords at the old land gave me a couple of weeks of hassles, negotiations and headaches instead. Using whatever passed for logic in their strange minds, they decided that I shouldn't take any of the construction that I'd paid for and placed in the fields. I tried to use the village approach to solving the problem and consulted the omda, the village authority, on the matter. He had no luck at all with the people who, despite having no legal basis at all, still claimed the right to my paddocks. It didn't seem to matter that I was leaving the perimeter fence, two storage rooms, a rebuilt wall, proper cement roof on the pump room and the watchmen's room, a fully equipped bathroom and feed bins for horses on the property. They insisted that I should not remove the pipe corrals and the shed that stood at one end of the paddocks. Since the people living in the village surrounding the land were all relatives of the landlords, my simply taking the pipes would have started a battle of sorts and that was something that I did not want for myself or my horses. Horses have a tough enough life in Egypt without angry humans gumming up the works. I've seen the results of people taking human disputes out on animals at some of the Nazlit Semman stables (like those in the photo above), and it isn't pretty.

When I got the news that negotiations had truly broken down and that I was going to have to go to the civil authorities, the police station in Badrashin, I was about to go riding with clients. Happily, they were understanding when I asked if they would mind riding more horses for less time as I had to move all of my horses rather abruptly to ensure that they would be out of the range of any angry humans. We put bareback pads on a couple of the geldings, and saddled Dory so that I could pony her three year old son along side. The horses could sense my concern and were a bit anxious on the way over. When we arrived at the new land, one of my grooms was waiting there for the horses to be sure that they would be all right. It was good that he was there as well, since one of the geldings tried to follow Dory back to the old paddocks rather than be left at the new ones.

Another trip to the old paddocks and we picked up two other geldings, the little mare Diva to pony, and the other grooms brought Fares and Stella by hand. When we collected the remaining six, we were told that these horses had been anxiously circling and calling as they waited for us to arrive.

The arrival of the group was greeted with loud calls by the horses who were waiting in the new paddocks and wondering just what was going on. Despite the fact that I'd been riding the horses to the new land for the past month to acquaint them with the place where they would be living in the future, the abruptness of the move caught all of us by surprise. Once everyone was in the same place, all of the horses settled down nicely and began enjoying the fact that there was much more to watch in the new place. A neighbour's mare being walked along the road in front of the paddock was an object of intense scrutiny, while the men working the land in the field next door seemed to be highly entertaining judging by the length of time the horses spent watching them.

Not having the old pipe corrals posed a special problem for me, however. Fares and Bunduq, also known as The Grumpy Old Men, don't really get along that well with the other horses in the paddock. Whatever hopes I had that the new paddock being bigger would make a difference were dashed when Bunduq proceeded to herd the others around by threatening to kick them. However, with a space of about five or six metres between the paddock and the perimeter fence, my builder pointed out that it would be very simple to divide up the 80 metres of the paddock into about 7 smaller paddocks to use as feeding boxes or places to keep horses while we use the paddock for a lesson or something. Woven plastic mats were fixed to the perimeter fence to provide a wind break for Fares in particular.

Initially the horses reacted to the larger paddock by running around like idiots, but once they got over that, an increased togetherness seemed to be the order of the day. If one of the horses was taken out of the paddock, the entire group followed along the fence line. To try to ease the transition, we decided that we would keep everyone on the property for the next couple of days so that they could get the idea that this was the place that they belonged. My builder's sons are delighted that the horses have been moved. Ahmed, the younger boy, had been asking to see "Doo" on a daily basis and the two of them come over for a ride on Bunduq at every opportunity. And he's such a good natured old guy, he obliges happily.