My Zambia Chimpanzee Chronicles, Part VI (Horses)

TODAY’s Horse Session: Sally came readily to greet us, and led much better than yesterday. We took her out of the pasture without another horse. The flies were biting so badly she couldn’t concentrate, so we cut two leafy branches and Linda Siddle brushed flies on one side and I on the other while Tracy led her. She was very nervous about this at first, but quickly came to appreciate the reprieve from the flies.

Tracy practiced leading and keeping the mare at arm’s length. She had learned to head a horse as close as she could get to the lead, but quickly got the hang of tapping Sally lightly on the side of the neck to keep her away. I fashioned a chain from a spare piece Tony had discovered in the work shed, and tied it by the right side of the halter with a piece of 1/2 inch rope. She was much better today in the labyrinth and stood quietly in the end while her back legs were brushed with the leaves quite firmly. We lead her up the road, past the horses and away from the pasture.

At one point she reared and tried to bolt away, but Tracy held quietly and firmly and the mare settled. That was a major step ahead for Tracy. Sally lead today without constantly tapping her on the croup and tested Tracy one more time with a rear and a little explosion, but lowered her head immediately and remained obedient and interested after that. We only worked 30 minutes, but it was an excellent lesson and the first time she was brought away from the other horses and remained quiet. Tracy gained a lot of confidence.

6:00 PM–Harriet and Dave and Sheila and I sat in the living room relaxing with a beer and reviewing the day. The chimps slept soundly, separated from us only by the three layers of wire. The occasional cough or snuffle provided background to our conversation. But Sheila’s had a hard day. A run with the big “canter” dual-wheeled rack diesel truck to Chingola 30 miles south has produced worrisome news. A new law is going into effect next month. Every Zambian adult must personally pick up his or her own government allotment of meal, the staple diet of Zambia. How on earth are the Siddle’s 70 farm hands going to walk 60 miles round trip each month? Sheila picked up a truckload of meal a week early because of the unrest. And today, as usual, there were long lines of anxious women and men collecting their allotment. Sheila had permits for sugar and cooking oil for her people but the pickup instructions were reversed. The oil was where the sugar was to be and vice versa, so she got neither. It was too late. Not only do the Siddles feed 70 farm hands, but according to tribal custom, all their relatives besides, which means they’re feeding over 200 people.

The rate of malnutrition and disease contracted from a river snail is high, and seems to affect all aspects of Zambian life. David was telling us more horror stories: how one of the oldest and best producing mango trees was cut down in their compound because a snake ran up the tree. In the excitement their solution was to cut the tree; and every season edible caterpillars infest the trees on the ranch. They’re cut down so the Zambians can capture and eat the caterpillars.

MORE TO COME!

© 2011, Linda Tellington-Jones. All rights reserved.

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