About me

I’m a dad, a Quaker, an alternatives to violence britain (avpb) workshop facilitator, a storyteller, a Union Learning Rep (UNITE), an Evertonian, and I work as a Tutor Organiser (TO) for an organisation you probably have never heard of, the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA).

2 thoughts on “About me

  1. Thanks, Marte. Its so good to hear about these folks – I would like to be their neighbors. I am not sure they would like to be mine because not everyone likes neighbors who have horses, But I hope you will enjoy my story, because my two retired horses are such characters. Here is a letter to a friend:

    You asked, how is my zoo. My zoo is always a surprise. The day before yesterday, the biggest horse decided to go into the garage where the car was already parked because ….

    …well I don’t really know why, but I made up a story to illustrate what may have happened March 13, 2016.

    Boneca and VIP

    Boneca means “doll” in Portuguese and Spanish and its a common name for a working horse in many countries, or more commonly “Dolly” A farmer might call his two plowing horses Dolly and Max or any two names that have different sounds so that when he called to them to pull they would know which one he was talking to, to tell them to go whoa down, or get up (some speed) or turn, etc.

    So my Dolly/Boneca is a sour old thing. She was bred at age 3 or 4, too early, as usually good horsemen wait until the skeleton is fully formed at age 5 before they ask a mare to carry a foal. Anyway, she had four colts by the time she was 8 years old when I bought her for 250€ and she was a physical and nervous wreck. Each colt was taken away from her at age three months, another mistake because colts are naturally weaned from their mothers at age 2. When people try to make money with horses, the horses usually suffer.

    Oh well, and then she was trained to ride, barely, and was sold to a man who lived and worked outside the country and he left his wife to take care of his horses including this grumpy mare, Dolly. The wife forgot to feed or was afraid of the horse and didn’t feed her, so the horse looked for greener pastures and ran away, only to be caught and beaten so she wouldn’t go there again, presumably into the neighbors’ garden or field, which destruction the neighbor did not appreciate. The beating satisfied the neighbor.

    So Boneca was angry, sad, hurt and hungry for a long time until I found her at a stable, all skin and bones, each of her hooves split apart in 3 or 4 places from overeating when she could find food. All that food just went to her feet and they expanded, breaking open those hard hooves. She was lucky to be alive, but she was slated for the butcher.

    When a horse is starving like that, you can see their structure and she had a very good form, so I bought her for a little more than the butcher would have paid for her, 250 euros, and took her home and fed her up. Eight years later, her feet healed, she stopped hitting me with her head, stepping on my toes (AHHGHGHGHHHH! ! ! !) , pushing me into walls, etc. and she is fat and sassy. She comes when she is called, cleans the fields well, makes generous deposits to the garden and has learned to bow gracefully. It took eight years for her to decide pony hugs are okay.

    I can’t ride because I have two crushed discs in my lower spine and it hurts to jounce around on horseback. But she is appreciative of the food, shelter and kindness, and is good company. Besides she is copper colored, with big apple size dapples across her back in the summer time and has black mane and tale, black stockings up over her knees, a fine little black muzzle and Cleopatra eyes, and her ears are also outlined in black. She is a very pretty horse, now 16 years old. She is half Guarrano pony and half Portuguese Lusitano, the middle sized mare of my two horse herd.

    Now along comes VIP.

    V.I.P. was treated like a king from birth because he was bred from a long line of Lusitanos. He is pure white with a long flowing tale and mane. His eyes are jet black and he is streamlined in form, maybe a bit gangly but he handles himself well and he was a prize jumping competitor. However, something happened to cause him stress and he developed arthritis in his two front feet, making it painful to walk. So his owner, who truly loved him, looked for a good home for the horse to retire. VIP is 22 years old, Horses can live to be 35,45, years old with good care. The Lipizzaners in Austria where things are done right or not at all, live to be 65 according to some. So VIP came here last August and is still figuring out some of the strangeness of living outside a stall. He is so tall I can’t see over the top of his back. He always holds his head high, so brushing him is like grooming a giraffe. He was a stallion until two years ago and hasn’t quite figured out what he is now.

    The two of them came to the garage on their way to the stable the other day while I was getting ready to leave. I was putting out their oats while whistling them in to their feed buckets in their stalls around the corner. However the garage door was open, showing the car and a space about wide enough for me to get my fat self past the car. Ãnd I think the conversation went something like this: (Ahem)

    VIP: Where do we go? Where do we go? Where’s lunch?

    Boneca.: (What a dunce!) We go to lunch at the stable, stupid! Wait here at the gate next to the garage, Me first! Get behind me and wait in line!

    VIP: Uhhh. like this?

    B: Yes. Stand up straight and don’t mess around.

    VIP: Yeh, but where is the food?

    B.: Susan is getting it out of those big blue plastic barrels in front of the car and putting it in our feed buckets in the stables.

    VIP: Oh, yeh, I can see her in there. Say why don’t we just go in and get our own food?

    B.: Because the car is in the way and its not our food until she gives it to us. We have to be polite and wait until it’s ready so she can separate the buckets so we don’t fight and steal from each other.

    VIP: Oh? Well, I’m too hungry to wait. I’m going to get my own.

    So he wiggled in past the rear of the car, but couldn’t get past the rear view mirror. Then the garage door slid half way shut behind him and he couldn’t back out. He began to sweat and shake from claustrophobia and began to rear up, as if he would try to jump over the car. That’s when I walked into the garage door at the front of the garage.

    I’m thinking, Oh, no, he will put his front legs through the windows and I’ll have a wrecked car and a horse so badly damaged he will have to be put down. On top of all this the owner has not given me his papers, so he is not really mine yet. The papers are stuck in some bureaucratic mess in Lisbon, so they say.

    So I say to myself, I must stay calm, because if I freak out, he will really panic. So far he is standing on all fours. Somehow I must go out the other door, outside and around to the big garage door, open it without scaring him. and get him out. But if I go out of his sight he might panic. Hmmmmm.

    So I said, Staaaay: like you would say to a dog. and just kept repeating that calmly, and backing away slowly and out the other door, calling more loudly but calmly as I hurry around the outside, opened the big garage door and held it up so it wouldn’t slide down again, and started saying; Back! Back! very firmly. His knowledge of Enlgish is limited, but we have been practicing this one and he eventually figured out that BACK was the only way to go and after several tries, he finally wiggled out again,

    But not before Boneca sashayed back and forth in front of us sniggering, trying to nip his butt, and being a general nuisance. He must have been confused by my signals to her to get away and to him to come out all at the same time.

    When he finally found a way to wiggle back out again, I was so relieved all I could think was Thank God! and mentioned briefly that he was not to do that again. And off to lunch we went.

    This is what you get if you ask about the zoo……

    .

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