mwali and rhino: monduli: maasailand : tanzania
(all pics by craig doria www.craigdoriasafaris.com)
the horses were poisoned. i don't know. perhaps in the food. or they ate something. one still lives. she is young. she has a hopeful name, Sun Rise. but this one, the one in the picture, called Rhino, didn't. this was a fine soldier of a horse. he was born in kenya. his official name on his certificate is Taverna. but he wasn't a Taverna. that sounds like a bar. he was a Rhino. he played polo for a long time in kenya. he lived somewhere out on the athi plains, where the winds batter the plains flat. when his legs became tired he was sold to grumeti reserves in the northern serengeti. to do safaris. he was the brave one. never hesitated. he was given to me because "he throws his head" and one day he's "likely to smack a client in the nose and we can't be having that." i took him unseen. i had no idea what was coming my way. i knew he was a flea bitten grey and claire told me he had a heart like a lion.
he travelled by truck through the serengeti, by night, so the tsetses wouldn't bite. i rode him over from Burka Coffee Estate to the Ngorobobs. he spooked at a log on the way and i thought, "humph. lion heart, eh?" tati was my outrider on her new horse,a 16 hand dark bay, Jefferson. it was a hot day. white sun. bare ground and sunflowers to the horizon. he spooked at some maasai women and their donkeys, carrying water in bright yellow plastic containers. i nearly fell off. "lion heart se gat," i thought.
he was the fastest horse i ever rode. sometimes when the bottom field was ploughed, just before the rains, i'd let him gallop home. he was like lightening and at the slightest shift backwards in weight, he'd scream to a halt, dust flyin', hocks deep under his belly, tossing his head high. he acted in our little play that sunday when gabby and i dressed up as shifta. she was the princess, in hot pink and gold satin with a crown even. and i let her wear lipstick. she rode sirrocco, another fine and sturdy steed gone to greener pastures. i had to get her through a valley full of swarming hordes of christians. i carried the old musket which corbett gave to craig for...what was it for?... a lake manyara canoe to grow herbs in....? but we have both...? i can't rightly recall.
rhino and the musket: ngorobob hill:
he became the school master. he faithfully taught all the watoto on the hill to ride. if they kicked too hard he'd trot faster to bounce them off. if they were gentle, he'd canter like a rocking horse.
he bolted with emily at a trot, towards the popadopalous flower farm, through a maize field. he carried safari c 'cross the dust plains in maasailand, chasing zebra. god he was a fine horse.
so it was with deep regret, that on Sunday, i put him down. he had bad colic. i couldn't bare to see him struggle. he wouldn't give up. he'd fall. struggle up. fall again. struggle up. i watched him.
"now that's a lion heart,"i thought." he's not giving up."
horses are like that. they fight all the way to the end. you want to say, "look. enough. just bloody die now won't you? please?"
you can't watch an old soldier like that go down rough. i made the call.
we tranquilized him and when he finally lay his head down, we found the vein and did it.
a horse's soul explodes from the body and leaves it so crumpled behind.
raise yer glasses one and all...thanks for the rides, Rhino, babu with a lion heart...