Monday, November 17, 2008

Don't Ride to Giza

I have people contact me through my website all the time saying that they are coming to Egypt and have always dreamed of riding a horse "at the pyramids". I always write back asking "which pyramids?" although I know that they are referring to the big ones, the pyramids at Giza, The Pyramids. I point out that the last count I saw was that Egypt had about 120 pyramids and that there are much nicer pyramids for riding than those at Giza. I'm sure that Dr. Zahi Hawass, the head of the Supreme Council for Antiquities, would agree with me since he's certainly made it more difficult to ride a horse to Giza.

I live about ten miles south of the Giza plateau, roughly halfway down a line of most of the pyramids in Egypt. I can see the pyramids of Abu Sir from my garden, and a nice view of Giza across green fields (an amazing sight and one that is getting harder and harder to see daily) is available about 10 minutes away on horseback, weather permitting. The Step pyramid at Sakkara can be seen from a nearby vantage point from the fields, and even better there is a hill behind Abu Sir from which on a clear day you can see Giza, Abu Sir, Sakkara, and Dahshur...roughly 80% of the pyramids in Egypt. Of course we have to hope for decent weather and low pollution from the city, which is getting more infrequent also on a daily basis, but that's a different story. So my question is legitimate and my advice is usually that Giza is best seen by car and then riding be done in more horse-friendly areas.

I recently had a visitor from Costa Rica and he and I decided to ride to Giza from the farm to see what effects the Antiquities Council's new security measures had on being able to ride to the pyramids there. The ride up there isn't bad really, as long as you stay far enough away from the army base at Beni Yusef. They were having maneuvers or competitions or something that day and we rode north to the accompaniment of artillery fire, making a safe distance even farther as far as I was concerned. I had no idea what they were shells or what?...and had no wish to find out. The horses were infinitely less concerned with the racket than we were, which was a relief. When we came within sight of the "closed" portion of the Ring Road, a section that was supposed to circle around behind the Giza plateau but that was never finished due to opposition from UNESCO and the Antiquities Council, we received our first unpleasant surprise. Although the road is just a dirt road, the traffic on it is heavy. Trucks, cars, dump trucks, you name it...they are all traveling on the road as if it were a standard highway. Many of the cars are those of the police so acceptance of this non-road seems to be fairly universal. The reason for the traffic lies in the incredible jam at the roundabout where the Alexandria/Cairo desert highway, the Fayoum highway, and Pyramids Road/Faisal Street all meet near the site of the new Egyptian museum. On a normal day a car can sit there for almost an hour, so it's no wonder that motorists have sought alternatives. To be fair, the government is building an extension to the Ring Road that will connect these areas without using the pyramids area, but it isn't completed yet and who knows if the traffic will lessen when it is done.

So after picking our way cautiously across the traffic, we entered the desert that leads to the plateau. This desert was at one time home to some weekend cottages for the well-connected but they have been bulldozed many years before. Unfortunately the clean-up never quite finished and there are areas where concrete floors still cover the desert sand and piles of rubble remain. As we made our way down the sandy washes towards the wall that now surrounds the Giza antiquities area we first began to be a bit uneasy. Dark spots on the sand in the distance attracted the horses' attention initially and then ours. Closer inspection revealed them to be the remains of horses lying in the sand.

I don't take inexperienced riders to Giza. It isn't such a tough ride as such, but the way that the clients of the Nazlit Semman stables careen across the sands pursued by whip-wielding grooms with little or no control of the horses makes me worry about the safety of my horses and clients. I warn people to assume that any horse heading for them has every intention of running them down...defensive riding is definitely the order of the day.

On this particular day, the riders were, for the most part, fairly calm, but the dead horses that we had to pass on our way in were evidence of the fact that plenty of others hadn't been. Horse carcasses lined the wash as we walked down towards the entrance to the stables area of Nazlit Semman. Most of them looked to be a week or so old at least, horses who had dropped in their tracks as they were on their way back to the stables and the bodies had been left for the kites, crows and desert dogs to dispose of. The Equine Influenza outbreak had been particularly fierce in this area this summer, hardly surprising since the horses live in crowded conditions and are usually in poor condition, and I suspect that many of the bodies we were seeing were horses who had never had the chance to recover before having to work. I know that my horses who were in good health before the outbreak took a long time to be feeling energetic and happy again. We let them rest for at least a month before any were ridden and then they were worked very gently for the next month...short hours, short distances, and slow speeds.

Once in the stables area we discovered that the new security measures meant that we all had to buy tickets to the pyramids (before a little baksheesh had given entrance), and my groom, who was accompanying us on a training ride for one of the younger horses, was only allowed in once the police decided that he did not work in the immediate area. Only local personnel from a particular list are allowed in now. Once inside we rode up to the three large pyramids (and a number of smaller ones) enjoying the fact that the area was relatively uncrowded, but still not horse carcass free. However, the areas in which we could ride appeared to be rather restricted unlike before. It was not entirely clear what the rules were, since we got different versions from the various police guards and other horse people.

On our way back out we decided to cut the body wadi out of the route and head home through the countryside which took us past an area that seems to be used as a dump by the stables and local inhabitants. There we made our way past a man hauling a painfully thin dead white horse out to the desert on a wooden wagon and then past an area where a fairly recently dead chestnut horse marked a pile of at least six other bodies and a set of feet that protruded from a blackened pile of debris indicating that someone had used old tires to try to burn a horse's body nearby. It wasn't much of an improvement. Our spirits didn't really rise again until we'd made our way down to the familiar dirt roads of the countryside, having negotiated with a fair bit of difficulty the rush hour traffic on the road that isn't there.

For myself, I will be happy never to ride to Giza again, and my warnings to fellow riders about what kind of things will be seen are clear and blunt. It's much better to go there by car and avoid all of that. It would be even better to see someone help the poor horses who work in horrible conditions, but how that will happen is beyond me, unless the stables simply close due to lack of customers. To be fair, there are some very nicely kept horses there, but I have to wonder at their mental state. My horses find the experience of being in the presence of so much pain and fear quite unsettling. They can deal with chaos, cars, noise and traffic with complete calm, but the fear and pain unhinge them a bit and their relief at leaving the area is so clear.

copyright 2008 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani

Monday, July 14, 2008

Swimming In A Sea of Germs

About a week or ten days ago a vet friend of mine stopped by and dropped a bombshell. Egypt had been hit with an Equine Influenza epidemic that seemed to have originated in Alexandria but it was moving quickly throughout all the provinces...spreading like wildfire, to use a good summer analogy. Equine Influenza isn't a stranger to us at all. My four weanlings all came down with coughs and runny noses in late May. No one ran much of a fever and two of them graduated to antibiotics for sore throats, but no real harm was done.

As much as we might wish it otherwise, we do share the earth with a lot of creatures, some of which make us ill. Vaccines for horses are not produced in Egypt so most of the available vaccines are imported from Europe or North America. We get local tetanus and rabies, but that's about all. Having decided to educate myself about things medical for both my animals and my human family, I looked at the vaccines that were available here for horses and decided that my horses were probably better off not vaccinated. One of the problems involved was the fact that to facilitate shipping and get more money for the kilo shipped, most of the vaccines here are "five-way" or more...five vaccines in one shot. The research that I've done on the subject indicated that vaccines are better when they are given individually and over a period of time to allow the body to recover between blows to the immune system, since that is what a vaccine is.

We've all become so used to the idea of vaccination that none of really thinks about what a vaccination is. When we get a shot to vaccinate, we are given a small dose of a disease, one that we will recover from with no appreciable after effects within a couple of weeks, giving us immunity to the disease in question. But anyone who's ever carried a fussy baby after its first vaccination or who's had a yellow fever injection, will agree that this is a blow to the immune system that can leave a body feeling pretty ratty. I recall having to double up on some vaccines for a hasty trip to some unusually germy location and being sick as, well, a dog. Imagine how the horse must feel after a shot including five vaccines at once. No thank you.

Another issue is the nature of the influenza virus itself. The flu virus is one of the fastest mutating things on this planet. It is a true pain in the neck for vaccine manufacturers because every year (at least for humans) the decision has to be made as to what the latest version or strain of the flu virus is going to be in the yearly flu shot. If they guess well, the vaccine is a success, but if they don't, it isn't so useful and people still get sick. I don't know about the US, but we have viruses racketing all over Egypt all the time, both human and animal. We are a hub of travel for Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East and there is a huge pool of human and animal bodies to absorb the various varieties that are imported on every plane landing at Cairo International.

All it takes is a horse owner to say farewell to his/her pony before leaving on holiday while wearing a sweater or jacket that gets packed to be used while riding in Egypt, a sweater that has been sneezed on, and we have free shipping. So the likelihood of the particular vaccine matching the particular strain is not all that high. In fact, this seems to have been the case here because some of the horses currently sick are competition jumpers who are required to have had the shots for competitions. Either our vaccine was a bad match, or the horse wasn't really vaccinated or something else went wrong. In fact a vaccinated horse can still get sick, but he/she won't show the symptoms while still shedding the virus and infecting everyone else in reach. I don't know if I really want to have horses around who don't show that they are sick while being infectious. And then we have the problem that horses and donkeys actually work in Egypt and the economy would be hit hard if suddenly all the donkeys carrying food from the fields were told to stay home rather than work for a month or so.

So what do we do in an influenza epidemic? Some of us are keeping our horses at home as much as possible. In my case, they haven't been off the property since we got the news and as few people and cars as possible are coming in. I have broad bands of whitewash powder in front of the gates to disinfect people and cars entering. Visitors can come to the house but the horses are off limits and the paddocks are about 100 meters away and upwind. We are giving the horses herbs to help boost the immune systems and listening carefully for any coughing that might signal that the virus has landed among us. So far so good. I don't worry that I will have a horse drop dead of the virus, but having to nurse 25 equids (donkeys and mules can get this too) really doesn't sound like fun. The horses at the pyramids stables don't have it so easy. Reports from friends who know stables there are that the horses are working as usual, sick or not. The rates of sickness there are higher and there will likely be fatalities due to the lack of care for sick horses. Horses in the pyramids will also sufffer afterwards since the stable owners are unlikely to observe the rule of thumb that a day of respiratory illness should equal a week's rest afterwards. For a bout of EI, they would be looking at a 6 week layup, something that is hardly likely to happen there. It isn't an easy decision for any of us, but I guess it depends on how important your horses are to you.

copyright 2008 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Picking Up A Mule

I have a friend who is besotted with mules. A retired petroleum engineer who is still consulting with companies here in Egypt, Bill decided that rather than buying a fast car to prove that he's still young, he'd buy a mule. His first mule, Lula was a nice little grey hinny and he's been riding around the neighbourhood on her, to the amusement of the local children. In Egypt, mules are not considered appropriate for riding, but Bill is an American and mules are more than appropriate for riding in the US. I've been encouraging him in his fascination because my experience with mules has shown me how intelligent, steady and reliable they are, so he has found a very willing partner. Bill came to me a week or so ago and said that he'd found a nice jack mule and wanted to bring him to the farm. We arranged that I would go with him to meet the soon-to-be previous owner of the mule along with a groom to help with the transport and to try out the mule for riding and a vet to eliminate any extraordinary health problems.

So off we all went to Barragil, a neighbourhood that is in transition from rural to urban near Imbaba. It is not the kind of neighbourhood that most foreigners, or for that matter most Cairenes, visit for fun, but it wasn't nearly as bad as we'd been lead to believe that it would be. Bill and his driver had arranged to meet the mule's owner at a certain corner in the area so we headed there and eventually (nothing in Egypt is straightforward) we found him. Our vet, Karim, checked the mule's legs, chest and body looking for any unrepairable damage. We had no illusions that the mule would be in perfect shape, and he wasn't. Time being driven with a cart in a headpiece that included a thin piece of rope to apply pressure to his nose had left him with a scar across his nose. But this, we assumed, would respond to things like Vitamin E capsules applied to the area to heal it. His lungs were clear, he had no tendon issues and he trotted out cleanly without trying to kill the groom sitting on his back.

His feet, happily a fixable item, were in pretty bad shape. He had three shoes, each of a different type and the hoof of each was a different height. How he could work in any degree of comfort was beyond me. But I'd already arranged with the farrier to come and do something about the trim of his feet. At our place he wouldn't be needing shoes at all. We don't work on asphalt. One of the interesting things about his initial shoeing was the fact that there were pads in place on two of his feet rather randomly, pads constructed of old tires.

Once the inspection was over to our satisfaction, the problem remained of transport to the farm. A pick up truck was rented and it was backed up to a small hill alongside the roadway. Unfortunately the hill was a hill of garbage, and quite reasonably the mule, who we'd found was called Antar, was quite unwilling to use it to launch himself into the pickup. The groom outsmarted him by tying a scarf over his eyes so that he couldn't see what he was walking on, and he was quickly loaded into the truck. Throughout all this we never collected a crowd of more than about half a dozen spectators, practically a record for foreigners doing something weird in Cairo.

In due course, we all arrived at the farm where Antar was more than happy to be unloaded. It was dinnertime when we arrived and the horses couldn't have cared less about Antar's arrival with the exception of Lula, Bill's hinny. She ran up and down the large paddock calling to him as if to say "Look, everyone. One of my kind. I'm not alone. I have family." Antar, on the other hand, was more interested in getting into a clean paddock filled with rice straw and a huge bathtub of clean drinking water. We've tried him under saddle and he's a gentleman, brave of heart and willing to cross large puddles, and he seems to have no real vices. I think that Bill did quite well.

copyright 2008 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Some Horse Sense

In all fairness to one of my anonymous commenters who is convinced that New York's carriage horses are truly abused, most people, especially people in cities, really haven't the foggiest idea about horse care and what constitutes abuse. Horses are large, long-lived social animals who were designed to move constantly and eat constantly, sustaining themselves on food that is not especially high in nutritional value by our standards. They mature slowly, being physically ready for riding only after four years, and mentally mature at about seven years...though some of them never really make it, if you ask their long-suffering owners.

For a horse to be raised and housed in a stall, staying there for most of the day, is roughly akin in abuse terms to raising and housing a child in a walk-in closet. No amount of ceiling fans, automatic waterers or high quality grain is going to make up for the loss of movement, activity, and mental stimulation from being outdoors. Visitors to my farm usually come to ride the horses and even so are often surprised (sometimes happily) to see my horses living outdoors 24/7 in a large paddock all together. This does mean that the more playful youngsters might be sporting the odd scrape from a wrestling match (after all, they have teeth and hooves, right?), or they might be dirty from rolling or sleeping in the sand, but they are happy and healthy. They love to go out for rides in the desert and farming areas, they enjoy being ridden and are well aware of the fact that the humans call the shots. While ponying a group of horses to a neighbouring farm the other day, I dropped the lead lines of two of my geldings. If they were miserable, abused horses, this would be their chance to make a getaway, but instead all it took was a "Well, come on and catch up!" from me to have them walking up to me to collect the lines.

Until recently there was a riding stable near Central Park. It's closed now, and closing it, while not such a great thing for the people who loved to ride the horses, probably wasn't such a bad thing for the horses themselves. They were housed in a stable in an apartment building and had to walk through the streets to get to the park. I don't think that riding horses in cities is such a great idea. I know that the police do so in New York and other large cities, mostly in park areas, and I can see the logic there. The police riders and horses are well trained for their jobs and know what they are doing. The average pleasure rider is much less well-trained, especially for urban riding. But the closing does mean that most people's idea of horses is pretty much what they find in FAO Schwartz.

copyright 2008 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Horses in New York

I'm in the US for a couple of weeks to see my son graduate from Harvard Business School and just to visit with my daughter, another grad student at NYU, in New York. One of the items on the itinerary of this trip has been a trip to the American Natural History Museum on Central Park West to see their exhibition The Horse. A couple of months ago I received an email from one of the curators of the exhibit asking if they could use my photo, The Eighth Generation, the picture here of Mme. Wegdan el Barbary and her Arab mare Bagdada with Bagdada's filly. The filly is now a mare herself, since I took the photo in 2005. Unfortunately, we couldn't take any photographs inside the exhibition and they are not going to print a catalogue, so I will frame the photo for Dany when I get back.

The exhibit is delightful, including equine skeletons and physical information along with examples of saddles and bridles from history and different ethnic groups and information on the activities of horses and humans throughout history. Outside in the park surrounding the museum there are some fiberglass casts of life-sized horses that have been decorated by artists. It's a welcome break for me as I'm missing my equine and canine crew here in the Big Apple.

Being a big city, New York doesn't have that much space for horses, but they do have the carriage horses in the park. My daughter and I took about half an hour the other day opposite the Plaza Hotel to do a good inspection of them, as every so often we hear cries about the "abuse" of these horses. After extended conversations with the horses and much petting and hand nuzzling, I feel pretty confident to confirm that these horses are in no way abused. All that we saw bordered a bit on fat, as a matter of fact, with well-trimmed feet and properly fitting harnesses.

If some people think that having to pull a carriage through a shady park during the day is abuse, well, they should probably try standing around in a walk-in closet all day with nothing to do. The fact is that when the working conditions are reasonable, horses would prefer working to not working. It's much more interesting.

copyright 2008 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani

Monday, May 05, 2008

Learning to Slow Down

Saturday was the Kentucky Derby, not an Egyptian event but horse people are horse people world wide and we were all horrified to see that the young mare who came in second had to be euthanized on the race track at the end of the race. As someone who raises and trains horses, I find this particularly upsetting. I still remember so clearly the death of Ruffian, one of the most spectacular mares in racing in a horrendous racetrack breakdown in the late 70's. I don't believe in keeping horses in glass cases lest they get a scratch, but it is so definitely time for the equestrian industries to clean up their act.

By equestrian industries, I mean not just the thoroughbred flat track racing industry in the US, but also other equestrian industries as well. We have the tourism stables here in Nazlit Semman where young horses are shipped in quantity to be sold on, to be used for tourist rides at the Giza pyramids, and all too often to be injured, overworked, and improperly cared for. In Egypt and much of the Middle East we have both Arabian and Thoroughbred flat track racing and we also have the heavily industrialised FEI endurance racing, which is actually not much more than flat track racing but on incredibly long distances. What all of these industries share in common is the fact that they are making money through the use of horses but are not looking out for the best care of their raw materials...the horses.

Horses are not machines. They might not be the rocket scientists of the animal world, but they are social animals who know their friends and family, they are capable of extraordinary care for the puny humans who presume to climb on them and boss them around, and they do much of what they do for humans out of an amazing trust, misplaced as it may be. The flat track industry is probably regulated more by the customer support for the events than anything else and the editorial from the New York Times that the title of this post links to points out that the industry needs to stop and take a hard look at the way that the race horses are bred, trained and raced. People will get tired of seeing lovely horses die at very young ages. After all, there is no reason that race horses can't wait to race until they are four, five or even...GASP!....six. Most serious horse people know that horses get better as they get older, like humans, and that they aren't even really mature until they are about seven years old. I don't start my horses under saddle until they are four because the spine of the young horse hasn't stopped growing until then. They have plenty to learn in terms of training and socialisation before they handle a rider, and when they do, they have a pretty good idea of what is going on and how to deal with it. The main reason for racing horses young is to get back the buyer's investment as quickly as possible. Big business strikes again. Wake up guys! It isn't called the Sport of Kings for's called that because only kings could afford it. No one ever made a lot of money on horses..they are how you make a small fortune out of a big one.

Endurance racing and three day eventing are theoretically amateur sports, or at least what passes for amateur these days. In the old days of my youth, an amateur sport was one that you did for fun, not to win a cash prize or to make a living. The International Equestrian Federation (the FEI) is the umbrella group for the national equestrian federations that are supposed to be overseeing these amateur equestrian sports. According to their website, they are supposed to be be the guardian of the welfare of the horses participating in FEI disciplines (show jumping, eventing, dressage, endurance, driving, and so on). They are supposed to be there to be the spokesman for the silent partners who give everything they have to the sport, including, all too often, their lives. Unfortunately, the FEI makes its money from the very sports that they are supposed to be supervising.

Its income comes from the fees it charges those who are putting on FEI events, to which a portion of the prize money (what happened to the amateurs?) that is offered at the events is added, as is a fee for drug testing and supervising personnel and so on. It is, therefore, in the corporate interest of the FEI to have big events with lots of sponsorship and television rights and excitement. Eventing horses and riders have been paying a very heavy price for this lately with a number of deaths in the last few weeks, including two horses euthanized and two riders injured (one, Laine Ashker, very seriously...her horse Frodo was one put down, a dream horse who had been in the film Lord of The Rings). At some point, one would imagine that if the governing body were really governing, they would take a long hard look at something other than the balance sheet. (By the way, the charges for each service are available online on the FEI website at

In the end, a major source of the cancer, as I see it, comes from the push to make equestrian sports television friendly spectator sports. Personally, I don't want to watch horses on television. I'd rather be riding.

copyright 2008 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Chance For Hilal

I have a lot of friends in the US and in Europe who have horses and when they talk about the types of feed, the equipment, the clinics, and the veterinarians, sometimes I'm a little jealous. Our horses get by on much more meagre rations of all these things. On the other hand, our horses can have great grooms who care for them carefully and are a huge support to us. Today, I had a chance to think a lot about the things that we have and don't have while I had a month old colt undergo surgery for a nondisplaced fracture of his femur. As is so often the case with horses, we don't know exactly how the fracture happened, but a few days ago he was seen to be lame in a way that rang a lot of warning bells for me. Fortunately, there is an excellent orthopedic vet who visits Egypt regularly, mostly for the stud farms, so I was on the phone as quickly as possible to have him xray the colt's injured leg. His examination was frightening. The doctor was fairly sure that there was a fracture and he was very concerned that the fracture might affect the growth plate of the femur. The next day, he confirmed that there was a fracture, but was reassuring that it did not affect the growth plate. His advice was to put in a screw to stablilise the bone, and this could be done once his assistant had arrived from the US with the necessary equipment that she would be carrying along with some things that had been requested by the breeders.

Yesterday, he called to say that the equipment was in the country and that we could perform the surgery at one of the local stud farms where the owner has built a small clinic for surgery. This stud is Albadeia, owned by the Marei family, and I've had occasion to use it a couple of times before. About five years ago the same vet fixed a pair of subluxated patellas on a four month old colt for me, and then about two years ago he did check ligament surgery on that colt's mother, my favourite mare. So this morning I arranged to borrow a horse trailer (another item in very short supply in Egypt) from a neighbour along with her driver to transport two of my grooms, myself and Hilal (it means new moon) over to Albadeia, about 15 kilometres away.

Once the vets arrived, we had to shave the area in which they were planning to put the screw in the femur, not an easy task with a wiggly month old colt who would much rather be running around exploring than being held down so that a noisy machine can do funny things to his leg. That task accomplished, we had to do the initial sedation and then move him into the surgery room, a small tiled room equipped with a rolling bed that could be made larger or smaller in size with attachments that fit on the sides. Hilal didn't need to have it any larger than the basic bed.

His tiny size was a problem when it came time to suspend his leg from the loop hanging from the ceiling as well. Most of the surgery in this room is done on adult Arabian horses, so we had to improvise an extension of the loop with the horseman's friend, duct tape. This isn't the first time I've observed the surgery on my horses, since the vet knows that I don't faint or dissolve in tears and I can be relied upon to do such essential tasks as swatting flies in addition to photography. But seeing his fuzzy little body lying on his back on a surgery bed was pretty tough.

Even tougher was watching the doctor pick up the veterinary equivalent to a Black and Decker drill and search through bits looking for the right size for this tiny leg. He commented that in the US he would be able to use imaging to be sure that he had the location of the bit in the right place and that in our case we would have to use "dead reckoning"...a choice of words that I found most unfortunate. There were about 6 local vets in the room observing and assisting in the surgery, since these techniques are not usually taught in the university.

We watched the doctor line up the site of the incision and the line of the drill insertion with concern, concern that turned to real worry as the first attempt to insert the screw failed due to the softness of the foal's bones. He tried another screw which also failed to hold. This was not looking good at all. A second hole was drilled in a slightly different area of the femur (there not being a lot of choice) and a third attempt proved successful.

Faces lit up and smiles broke out throughout the room as the vet stitched up his little patient. Hilal's duct taped foot was cut down and he was rolled out into the garden to recover from the anaesthetic. This recovery room is probably one of the finest perks of the surgery at Albadeia. Imagine waking up from surgery on soft green grass under tall palms and rubber trees, surrounded by flowering bouganvilleia, roses and watched over by some of the most beautiful Arabian stallions in the world. Not too bad. Hilal is home now with his mother Stella. He's confined to a box for a while and not at all happy about it. He managed to escape yesterday to rip out of the box like a little racer, only to turn around and return to captivity when his mother called to him. Stella was a most unhappy camper while her son was away for surgery. She fussed and called out for him all afternoon, making the grooms walk her all over the farm so that she could search for him, dribbling her milk at every step. Their reunion when we got him back in the afternoon was lovely and within about five minutes Hilal was firmly attached to the lunch machine. Everything is looking good for a complete recovery and an interesting life for this young man.

copyright 2008 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani