Proper nutrition and management practices can prevent many problems associated with caring for horses. You can learn how to provide your horse with a better life-style by taking the online course "How to Feed for Maximum Performance" taught by Eleanor Blazer. Go to www.horsecoursesonline.com for more information. Contact Eleanor at firstname.lastname@example.org or (602) 616-8414. Be sure to visit Eleanor's web site at www.thewayofhorses.com
What's Your Dream?
By Eleanor Blazer
What's your dream?
Do you want to win a world championship? Breed a Kentucky Derby winner? All is possible!
Rasha dreams of training and riding her filly along the Mediterranean Sea. But her dream has some complications most of us will never know.
I met Rasha when she enrolled in an online course: "Responsible Horse Ownership". During our correspondence I was delighted to find horse crazy girls are the same everywhere even though circumstances can be much different-Rasha lives in Gaza City (Gaza Strip is between Israel and Egypt) and her city is frequently under bombing and gun fire attack.
Rasha loves horses. As a child she took riding lessons. Her first dream, to own a horse, became a reality just a short time ago. She bought Ward, which is Arabic for "Rose".
Ward was a 10 month old filly when Rasha brought her home from the breeder's. Ward is of Arabian heritage and like all youngsters can be a handful at times.
Rasha's day is similar to every horse owner's.
In the morning she checks Ward for injuries or signs of illness as she does chores.
Once she is sure Ward and the other horses in the stable are fine, she gives them hay.
Rasha's family grows grapes, hay and grain. The hay is stored loose. Automatic balers are rare and fuel to operate tractors is in short supply. Rasha described the hay as wheat-like grass that is native to the area.
The water supply is checked for amount and cleanliness. Rasha was able to locate an automatic waterer for Ward's paddock. The other horses use water troughs made of stone.
Water is a very valuable resource in the Gaza Strip. Electricity cannot be relied upon, as frequent outages occur, sometimes lasting for days. Fuel to run the generator is also in short supply. Water is stored in containers for emergencies.
Corn is grown on the farm and is ground for horse feed. A black bean, which I could not identify, is also fed to Ward and the other horses at the stable.
Grain and hay can be purchased in the city of Gaza. Much of it is imported from Egypt and Israel, as not enough can be produced locally to meet the demand. During sporadic attacks of bombing and sniping, supply can become short. Ward is fortunate that Rasha has access to a fairly secure source of feed.
As Ward eats her breakfast, Rasha cleans the manure out of her paddock. The manure is spread on the fields by hand, using a wagon pulled by a horse.
Ward is then groomed and taken out for exercise. She is lunging and understands voice commands for the basic gaits of walk, jog, lope and stop. Rasha has a trainer, Sa'ad, who will help her start Ward under saddle this fall.
Rasha is fortunate Ward learned the command for whoa in early training. A bomb exploded nearby as Rasha was leading Ward; with luck they made it back to the stable safely.
There is very little pasture, as tillable ground is used for farm crops. Ward is kept in a large dry lot. The shelter is made of concrete blocks with a steel roof. The ground is very sandy.
I asked Rasha about vaccinating and deworming the horses. She explained vaccines are hard to get, but paste dewormers are available. Horse owners use human tetanus vaccine for the horses - when they can get it.
Ward's farrier was taught how to trim and shoe horses in Saudi Arabia. He in turn taught his sons.
The farrier's main clients are the Palestinian police horses used to control the flow of traffic in Gaza City. Many streets are closed because of rubble from bombed buildings; creating congestion in the streets that are passable.
Stable supplies need to be brought in from Israel or Egypt. Rasha's sister lives in Jerusalem and is able to get into Gaza on work related business. Rasha tells her sister what she needs and her sister is sometimes able to get it. If the borders are closed it might be months before her sister can get in to Gaza with the items. A limited amount of tack is available at the market, but it is usually old and of poor quality.
Some items can come through the tunnels that run between Egypt and Gaza. But these things are mostly for human needs; such as flour, sugar, other food items, toiletries and fuel.
Rasha sent me an email last week with the exciting news that her sister was able to come for five days. She brought an English saddle, bridle, some grooming tools and a bag of horse treats for Ward.
By next summer Rasha hopes she will be able to take her first ride along the Mediterranean Sea.