Did you read Jenna’s blogs from Italy recently? Brilliant stuff! We got involved in this ourselves in November 2011 when Ben Hart came over to Ethiopia to do a week’s training with the staff there. Also present were Amos and Nicholas from Kenya and Farid from Egypt and I can tell you that the results of that training made such a difference to our work that Ben was asked to visit Mexico and Kenya last year to repeat the training for those teams.
Of course Ben and Jenna have studied for years to reach the level they have; a one week course is just a taster, but our staff in the international team work with difficult maltreated animals on a daily basis so get plenty of time to practise. That wasn’t enough for the team in Mexico - they took on a professional, Mauro. I’ve just been out there for three weeks and that’s what I wanted to tell you about.
D’you ever get those calls from salesmen who have a pitch that has to be got through? You know the ones, where they are trying to sell you something you don’t want, and though you try to stop them they have to go through the whole spiel before they admit defeat and go away? Well my job is a bit like that sometimes, ‘Good afternoon Madam, what a beautiful donkey, shame about the big sore on his rump, can I interest you in the miracle breeching available from The Donkey Sanctuary? It’s free this month, etc, etc.’
The poor lady is busily trying to put some food on the table, has probably been up since 5am. She just wants to get home and here is this fool talking about some new idea that she has never heard of who won’t go away and let her get on with her day, free! Nothing is ever free, and she knows that if she accepts the free breech thingy she’ll never get rid of me again.
Well we had a similar situation in Mexico a couple of weeks ago. The team had organised a harness day at the Coalcalco tip where donkeys, horses and carts are used to collect rubbish and bring it into the site for sorting. One person came, not a great start.
We moved out into the tip area and got talking to the owners and drivers of the carts... No, they had no harness problems, if they had they would have come to the meeting.
Luckily we had Mauro with us, ‘Behaviour problems?’ ‘Yes, got those, my donkey is a bit of a devil’, ‘my horse won’t brake and when I force him he gets very difficult, I’m going to sell him for meat’.
Now Luis (who is one of the team training up to be a harness specialist) and I had already seen the horse owner’s harness and we knew he had problems, but he couldn’t see them. Mauro called us over, ‘Any ideas?’ ‘Yes Mauro, his breeching is low, so when he asks the horse to brake the breeching works on the legs not the rump, the horse thinks that his legs are going to be taken out from underneath him, the bit isn’t too good either, very painful type.’
Thanks Mauro for saving the day!