Monday, December 11, 2006


There has been a lot of talk about Arwen's pregnancy and during the last few weeks, a lot of people have been telling me that there simply can't be a foal in her stomach because of all her "gudu" and because her belly is so small.

I agree that her belly is small; however, you can feel the foal move and her body has been developing, preparing for birth... Now, I have never had a horse that is about to foal before, and I must say, I am learning new things by the day. At first, I listened to what the "wise" people here had to say, but after a while, I got confused trying to sort out what was wisdom and what was myth. That you could tell she was pregnant because of her udder development seemed true. But to speculate on her foaling date by the number of white marks on her body was just a waste of time. Now to take it easy with her seemed like common sense, but to tie her to a post because it was not good for her to exercise at all was ridiculous to both of us (both Arwen and me). I must say that when I came back to Niger, I had no intention on galloping Arwen at all. There were several riding novices who wanted to go out with me and I was set on taking it easy. However, Arwen was not. In the end, I chose between keeping her stimulated or keeping her "safe". I chose stimulated, as safe made my gentle mare aggressive, and I didn't like that. I've seen the best of horses turn into the worst because they weren't stimulated anymore, and I'm not experienced enough (with horses) to know how to reverse such a change of character. Arwen has never bitten and never kicked - however, if she would start to, I would not be able to keep her and hence I would lose her anyway.

Now, stimulating Arwen means an unbelievable amount of work, and I'm not kidding. Arwen will allow Anette and Sofia to ride "sanu-sanu" (easy-easy) with her for a few days, but when I hear that she's starting to freak out (jumping left and right because she's so "scared"), I know it's time for some "gudu". There is no end however to Arwen's gudu. There comes a time about once every week, where I just have to give her free reins and wait until she gets tired or satisfied. It takes a long time though. A very long time. And when she's done, she only satisfied but never tired. She'll even ask for more, although she knows at that point that I'm not in for it any longer. We'll go home, Anette, Sofia or Elisabeth will be able to continue to ride her without the slightest problem in the world, until she gets restless again and I have to take her out for another ride...

Now, I can sincerely tell you that I'm waiting for this foal to come out - and it will take some years bef ore I mate her again! Arwen is just not the kind of horse that wants to stay inside and take it easy. You should see her look and her behaviour if Sahara gets to go out and she doesn't. "What?! What is the meaning with this???? You've got to be kidding ME!"

Race horses take on attitudes and that is one of the reasons why I have not been as anxious to train Sahara as much as I have trained Arwen. Sahara is young and she has a lot to learn just by maturing and watching things happen around her. She already loves the race track, but she doesn't need to have the same blooded tooth as Arwen has. She doesn't need to have the same airs and the same ways as Arwen. Now, exactly a year ago, Arwen was a little mare that came in from the bush. She was timid and tranquil. She ate like a fly and did everything she could to please her new mistress. She never bit, never kicked - and followed me faithfully around in the garden like a dog.

In the bush, she showed her true nature. While galloping with the boys (the two stallions of the former governor), she would often ask to take the lead - though she always accepted her position no matter what it was. The one riding her (it would rarely be me, as most of my friends were afraid of riding a stallion) would complement her for being so obedient... She was gentle, timid and obedient. What happened??? She got turned into a race horse...

Now reversing race horse behavior is not easy and with Arwen, I've had to settle for something inbetween. She's not "mad" like the other horses at the track. Her training is varied and if stimulated, she's a safe mount with any rider, no matter their level of riding experience. The only problem is that you have to keep her stimulated and that's not always easy...

Arwen's maternal instincts are strong! While I check on Sahara, who has been limping, Arwen "checks" on me. Mmmm, who can resist a good lick in the back? No wonder I keep showering all the time!!!



NIGER1.COM said...
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jerome said...

Hmmm, Yummy.
Do these mares get their enough salt?