Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Punk horses.

Friday afternoon and I just had to get out of the house. In a way I’m glad I did, in another way it was sad.

I walked far too far, I went to where the wild horses live. It was beautiful day, cold and sunny with a harsh wind from the north. The kind of day to put on your walking boots and stride into the wind.

This summer during some quite bad times I befriended a tribe of Punk Horses. They are semi-wild, someone owns them but they roam free over a site of ‘special scientific interest’. This is protected land that was once a gravel pit/quarry that was reclaimed when it was filled with rubbish. The horses were brought in a few years ago to change the ecology – eating brambles and trees and ploughing the land up with their hooves to encourage wild flowers.

I’d had nothing to do with tame horses before let alone these fighters and I was always wary, so it was a struggle for me to befriend them. I learnt not to fear them and with some difficulty they learnt not to fear me. We became friends.

They were rough and tough – they bite each other and fight. And although it was hard work getting to know them it was rewarding and therapeutic as well.

I’ve not been there for a long time, it’s too far now, and it’s been poor weather.

Friday I made it back. Made my way through deep mud, got messy and tired out. Muddy boots, muddy jeans. In the end walking far further than I meant to.

My friends have vanished too, especially the one with a scarred forehead who used to run over to see me. The only horses left are a few of this year’s foals, now acting like teenagers, fighting and messing about. Just like this spring – punk horses. Yet they recognised me and came up to me for carrots, as they’d seen their parents do.

I fear for what’s happened to my friends. The best I can hope for is that they were sold on. It could well be worse. That, I’m afraid, is life if you are a horse these days.

They did have an idyllic summer; of beautiful sun, ripe blackberries, warm evenings. I know, I really enjoyed it myself even though I had hard times as well.

As I was coming back, I came across this line of wooden posts, recently hammered in and painted bright orange. They lead in the direction of Heathrow Airport and its control tower.

Roughly, they mark out the new runway proposed by the airport which will cut through two reservoirs, the 10 lane section of the M25 Motorway and the site of special scientific interest where the Punk Horses live. It will cut the village where I grew up in two and end just in front of where the Magna Carta was signed over 800 years ago on land owned and protected by the National Trust on either side of the River Thames.

The desire of mankind to destroy and rape the world around us for the sake of profit never ends, like a thirst that will never be satisfied, an itch that can never be scratched. Sadly, it’s a battle I’m not able to fight and won’t see the end of. One day, long after I’m gone, people like me will start winning a few of these battles again – really we will.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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