GAIA came into my life in 2010. She was two years old and I had partaken in creating her life. I was responsible too.
Among the horses I rescued in 2007, were two stallions that we later named Danny and Jack. Many of you heard of, have seen photos of and even met Jack.
Danny was with us only short time. Having two stallions was too difficult for me as I had little experience handling stallions and none with wild ones.
We kept the stallions separate. Danny was Darling’s lifetime partner and Danny was not going to allow Jack get around and take control of the herd. He was also not going to let Jack have any of the younger mares.
Living in captivity with limited space and with no possibility to run away and connect with other horses, this situation was not possible for Jack and for us to handle. Even kept separately Danny would get out and go after Jack.
At a point I had to decide which of the stallions to keep. This was very difficult because I had promised myself to take care of all members in this lost herd until their last breath.
So I kept the horses in two groups and improved the fences so Jack and Danny would not make any drama. One group lived in the fruit orchard and one group on the football field.
One day a solution appeared. A mare I never saw before ran through the garden and went right over to greet Danny, Darling and Granny. Danny seemed to find the situation interesting while the other two mares made a bit of noise. Eventually the fence broke and the horses ran around to get to know each other and finally I found them in the neighbour’s vegetable field…
As the horses were still pretty wild, and once they got out or the fence broke from fallen branches, it was always a big challenge to get them back to their home.
However, the runaway mare “Rhoda” was tame and easy to lead. We brought the horses back and tied Rhoda outside the field. Her owner, a farmer in the village came looking for her later on and brought her back to his home. Rhoda was tied most of the days and served as transport between the farmer’s house and his farm.
The problem however continued because Rhoda was lonely and would pull the rope and come over to our herd which was new in the area. Rhoda wanted company. Rhoda and Darling would make lots of drama, the horses would break the fence and run out. I am sure these moments were very exciting for my herd and that they did wait for next time Rhoda came over…
If the one group got out or even passed the other group of horses with Jack, we would have a double drama as we would have a new mare and two stallions plus the farmer’s vegetable field and broken fences ….
However…Rhoda was the problem but became the solution. One day I asked the farmer if he wanted a stallion to keep Rhoda company. This would make it easier for me to keep the herd in one group, solve my stallion problem and solve the problem with Rhoda coming over for company and breaking the fence….
The farmer happily accepted. Here you can see him the day he came to pick up Danny.
It was difficult to choose whether the farmer should get Danny or Jack. I ended up choosing Danny because he was older and had an injury and he walked like a donkey. His walk put left front foot and left hind food forward at the same time.
At this point I thought my problem was solved and it was for about 2 years… until Rhoda and Danny had their first baby.. “GAIA”.
A year after Danny moved to Rhoda, GAIA was born. The farmer had given away Danny to another man an hour further down the road who had another mare, so now he had two horses: Rhoda and GAIA. Rhoda had no need to run over to our herd any more as she now had her own little herd. As GAIA got a little older, the farmer tied her and started to ride Rhoda alone to his farm at the foot of La Soufriere, our volcano.
When GAIA was eighteen months the problem reappeared as GAIA would pull the rope and run over to my herd. Little GAIA was so lonely, so cute, so beautiful and would run with her tail high, blow her nose, shake her head and little mane so brave and proud in front of my herd.
She was so tough outside the fence….I think she felt like a million dollars as my herd of six were all staring at her, looking at every step of her show-off dance.
My herd would first stand almost frozen observing her, now who IS that? What is she doing here? What does she want? All six heads would move left, move right as GAIA danced back and forth in front of the fence. Only followed by the continued drama…. as GAIA did not know what a fence with electric current was and would walk through and then everyone was out.
Seven horses, lots of noise, running around in the neighbour’s vegetable field. Stina teaching a class with 20 students, first hearing the drums of the hooves, then watching a herd of wild horses running in full speed over to the neighbour’s vegetable field buffet….
The farmer came back to pick up GAIA as he had picked up Rhoda earlier. I tried several times to ask the farmer to tie GAIA better or bring her with him as he rode Rhoda to his farm at the foot of the volcano, but nothing worked. GAIA would run to our herd when passing or pull the rope at her home till it broke and then run over to us. In the end only one solution seem to appear and that was to buy GAIA and integrate her into our herd. I met with the farmer and we made an oral agreement to swap a good Circle Y western saddle and some other equipment for GAIA.
Both of us walked satisfied back in our respective directions and the process to integrate in my herd GAIA started. I got to film this process and it was very interesting. I will write about that in another blog.
Here is GAIA well on her way to integrate with my herd
GAIA stayed with me for two years. Moonlight and I got to love her very much. She was different. She was born in hand and not wild. She was strong and confident and had to learn the language of the herd. Living with her mom alone had made her a bit spoiled and arrogant. She had to learn many lessons from my family herd.
After two years, GAIA’s mother died and to my surprise, the farmer came to claim “his” horse GAIA. He had forgotten about our oral agreement and wanted his horse back. I could not accept. GAIA was part of our family now. I offered the farmer to help him get another horse, but he wanted GAIA. The case took almost two years as it ended in court. GAIA and I won.
But before I got GAIA back home, the Climate Change disaster took her life.
GAIA died 24th of December 2013 in the worst disaster we have had in St. Vincent in more than 80 years. More rain fell in 7 hours than what normally falls in 3 months. Roads, homes, bridges, schools, trees, water pipes, and electricity cables were all destroyed.
Our population is only 110,000 and 50,000 people were without public water, no electricity and roads damaged. St. Vincent had already given me many challenges, but none was like this one. I had been through many challenges in my life, but none like this one.
What could we do? How can we help? We asked the government who asked us to help restore the water pipelines. In the next weeks, we worked tirelessly along with CWSA the Central Water and Sewage Authority, restoring the pipelines so people in North Leeward could get their water back to drink and clean up their houses.
Global Warming and Climate Change is serious.
I am reading a book by James Lovelock called “The vanishing face of GAIA” – a final warning. Humans are causing the earth systems to collapse.
At our beautiful planet HOME, we humans do not seem to have the slightest understanding of the seriousness of our plight. GAIA which is also the name of MOTHER Earth is moving step by step towards a hot state. Man’s burning of fossil fuels are polluting the atmosphere and causing GAIA’s systems to collapse.
Businesses and Governments both seem to accept uncritically a belief that climate change is easily and profitably reversible. It is not.
Please take a moment and consider what you can do for Mother EARTH – GAIA.
“We are not passengers on Planet EARTH – We are the crew. “
– from the movie HOME (link to the beautiful movie HOME)
In the name and the heart of Mother Earth
my lovely mare,
for all the lessons you gave me,
your face is physically vanished,
but you are strongly present and alive
in my heart.