about 3 mths ago i took a short cut through the olive grove behind my house with Perry and we came across the little stallion that belongs to the goat shepherd a bit further up the hill. both dog and horse freaked out when they saw each other. but as the horse was tethered by his foot we circumnavigated him and continued on. about a month later the horse was tied up 2 narrow terraces further up to some bushes and was badly tangled up. he also had his bridle halter hanging from his neck in a way that he could easily put his foot through. i thought then he was a bit skinny, but they usually are in the winter, though the people here don't have them outside they prefer to keep them stabled in pitch black up to their necks in shit for 6 mths considering it a healthier option. admittedly a tethered solitary horse has no means of keeping warm and without food he stands very little chance. but i figured the shepherd was throwing him some straw and water now and again so i untangled him after i tied up the dog who might have run onto the road from fear.
well damn him if the first thing he did was get as close to the dog as possible while the dog pulled back as far as possible and sent a resounding kick in the general direction of Perry's head, catching him slightly just above the eye. mmmm i thought thats gonna do wonders for perry's equine relationships, so i avoided the path. snow fell, rain fell, cold north winds blew and then spring finally came. so i think - i'll take the shortcut again as the shepherd has gotta have moved the horse by now.
well the poor little [despite the kick] bastard was tangled up on 50cm of rope with his head almost tied to the ground in exactly the same spot as a month ago. i was really shocked by how bad he looked. even for here. so i untangled him again and was in 2 minds to just take his rope off - though the one round his foot would probably have to be cut off. i took him 2 terraces down where there was a bit of grass coming through because he had overgrazed the whole area. and down there was a tiny 10 cm wide 3 cm deep trickle of water from a winter source - he drank sipping in the dips for a solid 5 minutes. he also had not had any water for some considerable time.
i called Gabi when i got home as she had known the shepherd since he was a boy and asked her to talk to him and find out what the hell was happening with the horse.
as it turns out the horse had kicked him or something like that and he had tied him up there to die. Gabi hurled all kinds of abuse at him - not that it would have any effect - as she told me later an old story about a dog he had that was badly burnt, all of its face and ear was raw meat, she had asked what happened to the dog - he said - it bit me so i threw a pan of burning oil at it.
and so where do you go from there?
this was the day after i moved him and gave him some water. we have since moved him again next to a tank of water and cut him some grass also. but this is not a long term solution.
one of the things mentioned was that a gypsy was going to pick him up for 30 euro's to sell him on as dog meat, thats the standard price they give, though if the horses are in better condition - ie meat on them they are shipped to italy live in terrible conditions for human consumption. that incidentally is where a lot of racehorses go, as only 1 in 1000 make it.
They don't shoot the horses here - they have a policy of tying them up usually next to a big hole dug by a bull dozer and leave them to die. i'm not really sure what the shepherd was planning to do with the carcas. there is no animal police and the police would either just laugh in your face if you report it or say they would do something about it and do nothing.
things have improved considerably for dogs and cats on the island - due to an animal shelter run by a dutch couple and surviving on donations. but as yet there is nothing to help horses and donkeys, and they are very badly treated especially now that they are no longer a necessity but merely a hobby - and that in itself is another chapter entirely.