The original version of this article by Joanne Verikios was published in Equestrian Country Magazine, Issue 7, Winter 2019
as "How To Prepare Your Horse For An Emergency".
My Country by Dorothea Mackellar is a stirring poem that shows an awed but philosophical acceptance of the beauty and terror of nature. As I write this, parts of Dorothea's country - my country - are again being wracked by floods, starved by drought and destroyed by bushfires. Australia has cyclones too; other parts of the world have tornadoes, typhoons and hurricanes. And then there are earthquakes, mudslides and avalanches.
In addition to what nature throws at us, we sometimes have to deal with disasters that result from human error, or crimes such as arson.
So my question for you is, how ready are you and your horse for an emergency?
This article sets out some simple skills and tactics that could save your horse's life... and your own.
Few humans understand that relief
It is a cold day again. Cold enough that the windscreen of the old F100 is iced over and must be defrosted with a saucepan of warm water, combined with fast action on the windscreen wipers. The frost doesn't reach all the way to the top of the gum trees, but it is fat and furry on the strands of fencing wire, which look like thick white cords in the mist.
I have already done the rounds of my horses, checking and feeding the mares and youngsters; riding Powerlifter, my stallion, grooming him dry, mucking out his stable and letting him go in his paddock.
A quick shower, a bit of makeup, a change of clothes and I'm ready for my 45 minute drive to work.
The cabin of the truck feels freezing cold and the heater will take a while to kick in. Never mind, I'm used to it and I'm wearing a nice overcoat. Soon there will be equilibrium and I'll stop shivering. Down the driveway, ford the creek, out the gate and I'm off our property. The low, concrete causeway across the Molonglo River leaves only the width of a tyre to spare on each side and always commands a bit of respect. Today the river is white and frothing - no chance of spotting the trout I have sometimes seen hovering in there on sunny days.
I'm about fifteen minutes into my commute towards Queanbeyan and thence on to Canberra, when I see something wrong out of the corner of my eye. Something about a horse in a paddock to the right. What is it? I brake, back up, take a better look.
From a very early age I have been able to tune in to what horses and ponies were thinking and what they were likely to do next.