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July 2007

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And a very good 1st of August to you all!  And a very Happy Birthday to all those Thoroughbred horses out there who have turned a year older today!  
 
And then, why should the Thoroughbreds be the only ones to have a birthday?  It should be for all equines, don't you think?
Anyway, a extra pat or carrot for any donkey or horse you see today.
Due to the fact that I took Leave this month, you might have thought you would get no news at all, or perhaps a shorter version.  Sorry - there is much to tell, but the problem is exactly where to start!
 
I spent a wonderful time with my son in England and wandered for hours looking at all the wonderful architecture, mainly ancient, and statues, many of which show our friend, the horse, with triumphant rider aloft brandishing a sword.
 
And now, to apparently duck to the side:
In Port Elizabeth, we have a very special statue at the top of Mount Road.  I went to look at it again this afternoon, because like many of us, I pass it fairly often, but never give thought to what it is all about.  I have been told that it is the only statue in the world to the horse rather than to the bloke who is sitting on it, which is why the soldier is on bended knee, watering his steed.  Be that as it may, the inscription goes on to say that these animals went to war and the monument is in their honour and once upon a time, I think the trough at the base of the monument was used for water for the animals.
 
Now back to the main story:
On a day trip to London and having had an appointment with the Brooke Charity (they concentrate on equines in difficult situations in the Middle East and the very northern parts of Africa and Kenya) I was walking down Park Lane towards Marble Arch, when I saw a donkey!  As the traffic was whizzing past and tour buses were parked waiting for their passengers in Hyde Park, I just had to see what it was all about and crossed the road to the centre island.  And then got a lump in my throat.
 
I was looking at the most magnificent monument to all the animals that have served in war situations over the centuries and the poignant part of it all was the stone carving saying THEY HAD NO CHOICE.   A curved stone wall, with a break in the middle through which the animals were 'going', probably to show leaving this world.  The animals waiting to 'leave' were a bronze donkey, loaded with a back pack, in working mode, head lowered.  He followed a mule, in typical mulish style, neck stretched out long with a partial gun carriage on his back.   On going though the 'veil of death', I found a gorgeous Labrador Retriever on point, and in front of them all was a life size war horse with shod back feet the size of soup plates.   All in bronze, and completely true to life.
 
The monument was unveiled in 2004 by the Princess Royal who we all know is passionate about equines.  Of course, the monument was not only to equines, but to goats, pigeons and included more than one camel carved in bas relief, and many others. 
 
It is probably the most amazing and touching thing I have ever seen, and I took pictures to remind me.  If you ever are in London, you really should try and get to see it.  It certainly took my breath away and I had a wild desire to hug the donkey, much to the surprise of bystanders!
Now for the avid readers:
The ECHCU has received a generous donation from David Stubbs from the sale of the book he has written about his father, of Settler stock, and going on to David's own life.  For those who have never met him, you have missed a great opportunity.   A wealth of good old fashioned horse sense and a good humour to boot.  Both David and Charlotte, his wife, are Judges of many riding disciplines and have forgotten much that we will never learn.    David is supportive of all Horse Care Units around the country, and when going to Shows to Judge, takes copies of his book to sell and then donates a sizeable portion of the proceeds to the local Horse Care Unit.
 
To this end, he is sending me copies of the book that can be purchased from me at a cost of R150.00.  The book itself is A4 size and is about three centimetres thick and has much Settler history and pictures.
 
Go on, treat yourself to a copy!  I have got mine!
A hobby I started years ago is stamp collecting and over the years I have amassed a large number, all of which I have washed, dried and sorted.  (Very therapeutic!)  So it came as a lovely surprise when the President of the Cape Scottish Association, Bruce Strang, handed me an envelope at the beginning of July.  He wondered if I would like the stamp enclosed.   I was amazed to see an English (where else) stamp showing two donkeys in fine regalia.  What a great gift!    So many countries use their flora, fauna and domestic animals to draw attention to their country's 'assets'.   And so, England has these two charming donkeys showing off.   They also have a Donkey Association with a yearly magazine, copy of which I have been given and read.  Donkey competitions with young and old (both handlers and donkeys) taking part and in fact they have a thriving Donkey Stud industry too! 
Which brings me to the most exciting part:
Mrs Di Roe phoned and asked if she could assist with the donkeys.  On asking how she felt she could be of assistance, I got the shock of the month - a pukkah English Donkey Judge, Cart Driving Judge and Instructor!   And she wondered IF she could help!
 
So, with her considerable expertise, we have started manufacturing bridles for the donkeys and in keeping with the KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly) principle, you will soon be seeing things on the roads of Walmer and Lorraine things that you never ever thought you would see! 
 
M   

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