ISSUE 66
MAY 2021
SANTIAGO
SINGS

FOR MATTHEW DOWSLEY
SAM JEFFREE
MAN ON A MISSION
SHARON JARVIS FINDS
HER UNICORN

PLUS: GRACE KAY, THE HORSES OF GILI, CELEBRITY CUTTING CHALLENGE, PIGGY MARCH, WILLINGA PARK’S GOLD BUCKLE, ROGER’S TIPS FOR THE MEDIUM TOUR, KERRY MACK’S DRESSAGE FOR JUMPERS, THE INS AND OUTS OF BUYING A HORSE, A NEW APPROACH TO LAMENESS DETECTION & MY FRIEND FLICKA

AUSTRALIA`S BEST EQUINE MAGAZINE
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ISSUE 66

CONTENTS

MAY 2021
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A few Words

FROM THE CHAIRMAN

ROBERT MCKAY

Ryan's Rave

SELECTION DIFFICULTIES FOR AUSSIE DRESSAGE RIDERS

BY HEATH RYAN

Dressage

MATTHEW DOWSLEY & SANTIAGO NAIL IT

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Campdrafting

BUCKLE UP FOR A WILD TIME AT WILLINGA PARK

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Dressage

GRACE KAY GOES HER OWN WAY

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Special feature

THE INS & OUTS OF BUYING A HORSE

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Cutting

SPARKS FLY WHEN CUTTING MEETS RACING

BY AMANDA YOUNG

EQ Journeys

HELPING THE HORSES OF GILI

BY ELLIE JOLLEY

Eventing

SAM JEFFREE, MAN ON A MISSION

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Dressage

10 TIPS FOR RIDING THE MEDIUM TOUR TESTS

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE / EQ LIFE

Eventing

PIGGY’S SUCCESS KEEPS MARCHING ON

BY ELLI BIRCH

Health

THE RIDDEN HORSE PAIN ETHOGRAM

BY DR MAXINE BRAIN

Lifestyle

MY FRIEND FLICKA

BY SUZY JARRATT

Para Equestrian

SHARON JARVIS FINDS HER UNICORN

BY ADELE SEVERS

Training

DRESSAGE FOR SHOWJUMPERS

BY DR KERRY MACK
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When Tori moved to the Gili Islands of Indonesia, she was thrilled at the prospect of finally having her own horse. She never dreamt she would be contributing to better horse welfare within a complex culture.

Located off the northwest coast of Lombok, the local economy of the three small Gili Islands is driven by the thousands of tourists that flock to their shores every year. Surrounded by the magnificent, iridescent waters of the Bali Sea, the Gili Islands are also home to a people rich in culture and diversity. Many descendants of the original islanders still live there, as well as travellers who became entranced by the islands’ beauty and never left.

For any Western traveller visiting one of the islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno or Gili Air – it transports them back in time. With no vehicles on the islands, all transportation is carried out by the locally bred horses and ponies of Indonesia.

Originally from America, Tori Taylor and her husband, Joe, moved to Gili Trawangan in 2014 to take over the management of a tourism diving centre. Tori remembers the culture shock of going from one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world to a small Indonesian island. But she loved the change of pace and the simplicity of life that was offered on its golden beaches. “We knew that there were no motorised vehicles on the island, and we knew that there were horses, which was a big plus for me because I wanted to own a horse,” explains Tori. “I just wanted a horse to go riding. And then after we had been here a while, I realised that there was a lot more that needed to be done for the horses.”

Surefooted and tough, the horses of the Gili Islands play a vital role in the community; almost every aspect of the economy relies on them. Whether it’s ferrying tourists along the coast or hauling cargo, building supplies and produce, every industry truly is horse-powered. “It’s a very traditional means of transport,” says Tori. “The local communities in Indonesia have been using horses for transport for a thousand years. This is what they’ve always done. Even in the big cities of Jakarta, Mataram, Bali, and Surabaya, they still use horses for transport, even though it’s absolutely not needed.”

“Horses sell for crazy amounts,
and they always have.”

UNIQUE BREEDS

Over the centuries, imported breeds from around the world have combined to create the modern-day Gili Island horses. Breeds unique to certain islands in the region have emerged, such as the Lombok Pony or the Sandalwood Pony of the Sumba and Sumbawa Islands. The horses have always been domestic, despite stories of wild horses running free on the islands.

Today, there are around 500 horses spread across the three Gili islands, with the majority on the largest island, Gili Trawangan. “It’s a lot of horses for small islands,” says Tori. “Because the islands of Indonesia are segregated by water, each island’s breed of horse has become visually and physically distinct from the other horses. Here, the locals breed the horses simply to make money, not with any intention to improve the breed or to make something better, but because horses sell for crazy amounts, and they always have.

“Traditionally, what happens in the islands of Sumba and Sumbawa – where I would say 80 per cent of the breeding of the horses imported to the Gili Islands is done – is the horses run free on around 100-hectare pieces of land. And they might have 20 or 30 mares that are then bred to a stallion set free with the herd. Then twice a year they simply round up the horses and remove the young ones.”

However, as Tori become familiar with her new home, she noticed a different cultural understanding of equine care compared to what she had known in America. “Because of the lack of education in traditional horse care, we see a lot of problems with feet or dental care. There would also be lots of wounds and lots of rubs from inappropriate tack and things like that.”

Determined to help her new community and their horses, Tori founded the not-for-profit organisation, Horses of Gili. Since it began six years ago, Tori and a team of hardworking volunteers have created a remarkable difference in the lives of the horses on the Gili Islands and have provided expert horsemanship education to the locals, both young and old.

“Over the years, the people
have gained trust in me.”

CULTURAL ADJUSTMENT

However, as with anything that has been done a certain way for centuries, Tori found some unwillingness and opposition from members of the community as she sought to bring about change for the horses. “At first, a lot of people were criticising me, there were some political issues, and it was very difficult,” she says. “People were saying ‘you can’t change it’. But I kept saying ‘I will, I can, and I’m going to.’”

“Over the years, the people have gained trust in me, and they only trust me, so I have to do everything, which is exhausting sometimes. But as they gain trust in me and the people that I recommend, more and more is getting done. And more of them are coming to us for help and more of them are thankful.”

One of the major obstacles that Tori and her team have been working to overcome is the cultural understanding some of the locals have about the horses’ general welfare. “The horses are viewed as a commodity,” says Tori. “To Westerners, horses are a luxury item and their pets, so they coddle them, and they get all the pretty matching equipment. But here they’re not pets. They are a utility and they’re used for work.

“A lot of the local population don’t believe the horses feel pain. They’ve never been taught they feel pain. They honestly don’t understand that they feel pain. So that’s a huge issue and education is extremely poor. Lombok is not a wealthy island. The three Gilis are not wealthy islands for the local people, and Sumba and Sumbawa are even less wealthy. So in general, you have very poor education and there are no equine veterinarians here. There are local vets, but they see cats and dogs, and their education is very substandard when compared to Western veterinarians’ education. It’s a lack of education and a lack of knowledge.

“But the human welfare is also incredibly lacking,” continues Tori. “Some of them live in incredibly poor conditions. They live in shacks, they have no running water, and some have no electricity. So I tell people in other countries, ‘please don’t judge these people. Don’t get mad at how they care for their horse’; and now they’re all unemployed [because of Covid], it’s even harder. So we can’t judge them for not taking the horse to the vet because there are no equine vets and no money. It’s so hard to show Westerners the major cultural and financial differences that occur. These guys might make $A35 per week, and that’s to support their entire family. But this is their way of life and they’re happy.”

“It’s a very traditional
means of transport.”

BUILDING BRIDGES

Over time, Tori developed relationships with the locals and began to see a change in the horses. “Generally, once a person has come to us two or three years in a row, they are learning that if they do this, the horse is fatter, or if they do this, the horse’s feet are healthier,” says Tori. “They are learning these things through time and education. Not all of them want to learn. The older ones, in particular, choose not to learn. They are like, ‘I’ve done it this way for 65 years. I’m not changing’.

“We’re not going to change those people. But the younger generation seems to show a lot of interest in learning and education, and there are some great horse owners. There’s one in Lombok who moved there from Jakarta, so he has a lot better education. And he actually brings over a vet from Jakarta to take care of his horses in Lombok because there are no equine vets here.”

Tori says one of the most noticeable differences in the horses is their physical condition. “We’ve noticed that [body condition] scores have been much closer to ideal and occasionally even a few being fat, whereas when we originally started the program they were almost always thin to emaciated,” she says. “And the Gili Eco Trust has done a lot in facilitating getting fresh water to the horses, because drinking salty water was creating a lot of the body condition problems. Overall, they look and feel better. And the locals are coming to us more than they did before, but it took a long time to get them to trust us.”

“They are learning these
things through time and education.”

INTERNATIONAL EFFORT

As the influence and mission of the Horses of Gili expanded, Tori found the ranks of her dedicated team swelling as international vets and other equine experts made their way to the islands. Tori and the team joined in the efforts of the Gili Eco Trust, who had started bi-yearly clinics for the locals to bring their horses to receive maintenance care or treatment. Tori also began working with the transport authority on the islands that regulates the number of carts that can be used at once. “I think there are 30 carts used for tourists and only 60 carts which are used to carry goods and supplies,” says Tori. The drivers are issued with licences, and Tori uses this network of local horse owners to spread the word of upcoming clinics.

“The clinics are organised by myself and the Gili Eco Trust working in conjunction with volunteer veterinarians from abroad who come in and work,” explains Tori. “And then, in addition, I’m now providing education. A lot of what I wanted to do was just gather factual data on the horses at the twice-annual clinics, regarding their age, their body condition, whether they drink salty water or fresh water, what their medical status was like, and things like that. I also wanted to be able to provide medical care for the horses in between the clinics. And to make an organised way of getting donations of tack and supplies for the horses.

“Since Covid, we’ve worked on a feed subsidy program too. We’re providing free feed for two of the islands because everyone’s unemployed from Covid. We’ve incorporated a horsemanship program, and now we also do rescue and rehabilitation. A large number [of vets] come from Australia simply because it’s very convenient, but we’ve had them come from the UK, the Netherlands, the US, and Canada. And then there’s always one or two local vets who also attend.”

“Overall, they look and feel better.”

“They just love coming along
and working with the horses.”

SNOWBALL EFFECT

One of the equine veterinarians who has routinely travelled to the Gili Islands is Charles El-Hage, an Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne. On many of his trips, Charles has taken vet students from his university and Murdoch University to gain valuable experience working with different cultures and medical practices.

“I knew there was a group of Australian vets volunteering, [organised by Animal Aid Abroad], and I just joined them pretty naively,” says Charles. “And then I realised that there’s a real perception with a lot of Western tourists that these horses are maltreated and I sought to address some of those issues. We did pretty in-depth health checks on the horses over the course of four years and we found that there certainly were some issues but, over the years, the body condition of the horses really improved, and the education of their drivers improved. I tell the locals to say to tourists that they have international vets coming over routinely monitoring the horses in addition to local vets and people like Tori.”

Before travelling to Indonesia, Charles had experience working in remote locations when he visited Indigenous communities in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. “We’re doing pretty good in Australia, particularly if we’ve had a tertiary education, and I felt obliged to give back,” says Charles. “Probably the biggest impact it has had on me is seeing the number of goodwilled Australian students and vets willing to help. Sometimes I feel like I let them down because I can’t provide enough opportunities. It’s like it’s snowballed into a huge thing with so many Australians wanting to help. It’s a really special thing.”

Since Covid-19 spread to the southern hemisphere and suspended international travel in March 2020, Charles and the other vets have been unable to return to the islands. There also hasn’t been a clinic since November 2019. However, Tori has been able to organise fundraisers to maintain some form of support for the Horses of Gili and the community. “Unfortunately, Covid has actually helped us because it’s helped establish an even better relationship with the local population,” says Tori. “And now instead of working against the corporation which manages the horse carts, we’re now working directly with them, which is a huge step.”

Since the pandemic, Tori has also started a grassroots program for children, teaching them how to care for horses from a young age. “We’ve started a horsemanship class for the children, which has been overwhelming for us because we expected three or four kids and we have 21 local kids,” says Tori. “And they just love coming along and working with the horses.” Looking ahead, Tori hopes to bring in a mandatory training program for adult horse owners and is in the process of recruiting influential figures in the islands to lend their support.

If you would like to learn more about the Horses of Gili or donate to help continue its important work, check out their website and Facebook page. EQ

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