This is the place where I record my current learning experiences with horses. I’m personally aiming to become an excellent horsewoman, but the nature of horses is that they are truly catalysts for personal development. So, while half of my musings will be from a point of observation and communication with horses, this only reflects the way that I am personally developing. Because of this, it is my hope that you can relate to my blog on whatever level you wish. If you are a fellow horseman-in-training: good to meet you, it's wonderful to be on the same journey! But at the same time, if you are a complete stranger to me or to horses, you are just as welcome. Hopefully this blog will bring you some amusement; even if it is just laughing at how mad we horse people can be!

In this blog, you can find pages about my life so far, mentors, and of course, horses and my adventures with them.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory..."

Monday, March 29, 2010

I'm in my element!

This morning was my first 'official' morning of playing with the horses (although, admittedly, I couldn't keep my hands off the ropes over the weekend, and I did go down every evening to spend some undemanding time with the horses: watching their group dynamics, stroking the ones that came over to me, putting my headcollar on/off some of them, and playing a couple of the Parelli games).

I like what I see. The horses have had natural upbringings, and great foundations. The initial herd (of 4 horses) was brought out from Australia in the 1980's, and from there Vicky has bred her own herd of 19....and it is still growing! In order to avoid decreasing the gene-pool, she has brought in a couple of horses from Zimbabwe and Malawi over the years, although at the moment only 3 of the horses were not born here

I think I will be able to contribute to the staff's understanding of horse communication. They are very gentle with the horses; sometimes too gentle, and as a result the horses think humans are a wonderful wonderful thing, but they don't have the biggest amount of respect for us. They're obedient, but mostly only when it is convenient for them. I'd far rather have it this way, than have a fearful horse/dominant (predator-minded human!) situation. However, it would be good to see a slightly more balanced relationship...

As I said to Geoff, I'm happy to fit in with their routine, and see how life works here, before rushing in with changes. So the next few days will be spent getting to know the horses, the humans, and the area.

Today we had a play with Noita, the yearling. The staff, Dowdy and Gramsead, usually just (hap-hazardly) lunge her, so I got my Parelli equipment out, and started teaching her (and them) the 7 games. It was humbling to have people so ecstatic about what seem to me basic concepts; just shows how much they are willing to learn.

Anyway, after that, we went for a ride/hack/trek (pick the word you fancy!) which was absolutely amazing. We are on 2000 acres of farmland/tea estate so I'm sure that plenty of riding and hiking will be coming my way!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I've arrived in Mufundi!

Beautiful scenery on the 10 hour bus trip:

Well, after a 11 hour journey using (pretty rural) public transport, my cousin Anja and I have finally arrived at our destination. We were initially pleased to find a flat screen TV on the bus, but we were not amused to have the same 5 (!) African music videos played repetitively for most of the journey.

The 'toilet stop' was literally just pulling over to the side of the road, and the driver telling us to feel free to relieve ourselves! Thank goodness I grew up in Africa; it was not quite the shock it could have been! Anyway we got there safe and well, and were warmly greeted by Vicky and Geoff Fox on the other side.

First impressions are VERY important, and so far they've only been positive! Geoff and Vicky have lived here for over 50 years. Originally they came out from the UK to manage the tea farm for a season (Iringa is a big tea growing region) - but they never left. In their time here they have established and managed five tourist lodges across the country, while continuing to farm tea. They have also done a lot for the community (setting up an NGO and building community halls, orphanages, hospitals and more!)

Statistically speaking, the region is the highest HIV/Aids area in Tanzania, with around 40% of the overall population being HIV positive. 60% of the youth are HIV positive. As a result, you see much illness and poverty, as well as too many children left parentless. Amongst other things, Mufundi NGO runs a Children's Home for (I think) 36 children. The orphanage is divided into three homes, each of which is manage by a full-time housemother who looks after a dozen children. Anja (my cousin) will be volunteering at the orphanage full-time, whereas I'll be working with the horses during the morning and at the orphanage in the afternoons. I'm told that the Easter period is very busy on the tourist side, with many guests staying-and wanting to ride - so I might not make it to the orphanage over those couple of days!

Tomorrow, being Sunday, will be spent having a leisurely breakfast, followed by Geoff showing us around. In the afternoon we'll be heading down to the orphanage, and then community hall, as every Sunday afternoon, the children go to 'life skills' class in the village. Anyway, I think I've got typing diarhhea, I'd better head to bed. I went down to see the horses this evening (couldn't resist!) and they look like a great bunch. Can't wait to start playing with them on Monday!