Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The lessons are always present.  2014 taught me about looking closely at the effect I have on others.  With animals we see it superficially, and intuitively.  Sometimes in life when we understand the physiological mechanisms that are occurring, it helps us look at things from a different perspective.  I have become aware of how classical conditioned stressors are a whole lot more powerful if an animal or person is subject to them when they are not at choice.  We may think - being the scholarly animal people that we are that in our interactions we are providing choice - but this may not be the case if we are stuck in our heads.  The moment we say "they know what I want", we are probably stepping into 'my way or the highway' mentality.

So, feel it.  And in that moment if you feel you are asking too much - then the choice is gone.  Back off - and doing that your relationship with the animal will be strengthened because you will be pairing his control with you.  And truly allowing him to choose. 

Happy New Year

So many wonderful animal memories in 2014.  And here is to a whole bunch more that will be created in 2015.  New Year's resolution - stay open to amazing animal souls!

Monday, 29 December 2014


So often feel the purity of this.  Is a soulmate must one being is the question. 

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Sunday, 28 December 2014

control - tell or ask?

Every creature needs to feel as though it has control over its life.  When we train animals, or even manage our pets at home, the most common statement out of people's mouths when the plan goes awry is that 'they know what to do'.  So we stand firm and dig our heels in and actually, great stats re in favour of the fact that the animal is confused and does not know what we want.  If our relationship has more control than it should, then the animal is probably even in a state of stress trying to please us.  And yet we believe they should do as we telepathically insist - we do this in life too.  Expect all sorts of things without communicating carefully. 

Much easier to go back a step and explain.  But to do that, we have to put down our need to be right.  Because it would mean that we have not communicated carefully in the first place - which is our own personal 'wrong'. 

When we don't, more and more stress eventually creates an classically conditioned state of associating us with stress.  Do we really want that.  Stop, Look, Adjust and Move.  Go back a step and explain again.  Be nice - which means, be precise (in the original dictionaries).  Be kind. 

Imagine a world where we assumed that everyone was trying to do the right thing, rather than everyone was out to get us.  It is the best lesson we can learn from animals. - when they fail to please us, look at what we are doing incorrectly

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Sweet angels

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Well done Jabu and Ursula

Jabu had a little growth on his rump.  The vets wanted to check it out.  The trainers did not want to put him under anaesthetic without good reason.  So he was trained to accept a local anaesthetic and the growth was cut off while he worked perfectly for his trainer Ursula.  The whole procedure was over in a matter of minutes.  Safe and rewarded with lots of fish.  The power of positive reinforcement.  So cool!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

we are the fear we see

Lovely story about a horse and a woman who had to get to know each other – overcoming their fear of each other is what did the trick.  Love this.  Take a look at the link.  Picture taken by Gareth Malyon.


praise song to the Rhinoceros (Credo Mutwa)

Praise song to the Rhinoceros,

by Credo Mutwa (excerpt)

Ubbejane, you are the thunder of the valleys

You are the roar among the mountains

You are the noise upon the plains

And you are the horn that the moon loves to kiss!

You are the Rhinoceros

You are the invincible one

You are the weak eye that sees into years that are yet to come

You are the sharp ear that hears a lover’s whisper in the tall grass

You are the great foot that tramples everything into the ground

You are the delight of the woodcarvers

You are the joy of the painters

You are the song of those who cast in metal

You are Ubbujane, the Rhinoceros!

Together with the Elephant, Indlovu, many generations ago, you danced the world into existence, so that green things may grow upon this world…

…You are Ubbejane, the Rhinoceros

You are the darling of the waxing moon

You are the thunder of the mountains

You are the vibrations on the rocky ground

You are the hardworking one, the labourer who laboured so that the Earth Mother might plant green things upon this earth…

It was believed that your dung,  Ubbejane, which no-one dares set on fire to make a fire, can bring peace and and take away enmity between people,

Ubbejane, long may you roar across the plains of Africa…..

.Ubbejane, animal of our forefathers

Pillar of the land of Africa

Post that supports the green world that we know

Long may you live Ubbejane!

May you have a thousand sons and a million daughters!

Oh beloved of the moon goddess, Bayete!


a beautiful insight about Rhino

I encourage you to read this – some lovely insight from dear Wynter.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Fish just want to have fun, according to a new study that finds even fish 'play'

I saw this on ScienceDaily:

Fish just want to have fun, according to a new study that finds even fish 'play'

Biologists have documented fish playing with a bottom-weighted thermometer and other objects. Play, like much of animals' psychology including emotions, motivations, perceptions and intellect, is part of their evolutionary history and not just random, meaningless behavior.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Social make up

At my panel beaters while they installing a new window.  And he has some company here that I am enjoying while I wait.  Where animals are is where there is a better more real vibe.  This is how it should be.  No more 'no dogs allowed' signs. Just tolerant compassionate society.  Filed with unconditional Animal love.  

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Monday, 27 October 2014


Sharing space with animals.  Keeping centered.  Away from futility that is the money race.  Funny that its called the rat race  because rays are nothing like us.  They care about the moment.  Just like dogs.  And all animals. 
When I have been stressed I have been advised by a wise man to touch the v world around me and fully experience the tactile sensation.  I find that touching animals with this attention is an instant therapeutic healer.  

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Saturday, 25 October 2014

technology diminishes relationship and intuition

Vets nowadays are hesitant to make a diagnosis without technological proof.  They have been questioned too much, and rely on technology to assist them so much that they no longer use their intuition.  In days gone by doctors and vets had to really look at an animal or person.  Discuss what was going on in their lives.  Their diets, relationships, living areas.  Then they would feel around.  If a broken limb, they would sense how to set it using their hands and sense of touch. 
So technology does help.  But is it robbing us of our ability to sense what is truly going on.  Do we spend more time in front of screen than in front of people.  If the answer is yes, perhaps we need to look at that.  When last did you sit and lose yourself while stroking the animal in your life, without thinking about what you should be doing - without answering your phone - without 'getting bored'. 
I think that 'boredom' is sometimes a sense of needing to prove ourselves.  Rather than just being fulfilled in being still.  And satisfied - in relationship.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

planet in a bubble

It is crazy that we don't all think alike.  For one Snowflake may be a pest.  For another, pet reptile feed.  For some there is no opinion, and for the lucky ones, Snowflake inspires love.  Imagine living in my world - where there is just love.  It must be hard for those of you who do not relate.  Just as it is hard for me to imagine feeling the way you do.  I recognise the macho snake handlers who pretend they don't really care.  I have met real men who show that they do care.  Who are respectful in relationship with their duties.  I suppose it is a little like the story of our ancient ancestors who would thank the planet for her bounty.  What happened to that respect.  When did the functioning of the electrics in our appliances become more important than life.  Big breath.  I invite you into my bubble.  Look closely at Snowflake.  See her little paws.  See how she sits on her haunches and eats delicately holding her food.  See her little digits - the miracle of her tiny form.  Her busy whiskers and alertness.  Her light soft fur.  The miracle.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Respect - fear or love?


The question - what is true respect.  If I truly respect a human being I will let them choose in relationship with me.  True respect is love.  It is not domination.  I cannot command respect from another.  I have to earn it.  And I earn it from a human being by becoming a trustworthy presence in their lives. 

It is funny to think that there are so many of us that feel we have to demand respect.  Most parents of teenagers will have become frustrated when they felt their child was 'disrespectful'.  And needed 'discipline' to ensure it was taught to respect.  But respect is a feeling.  It cannot be forced.  Fear can be forced.  Do I want my teenager or an animal in relationship with me to 'fear' me - NO!

When an animal is learning, it is choosing.  If it enters into flight, freeze of fight mode, it is reacting.  At this point there is no choice.  It may learn something,  but the learning is a stress response and will continue to be a stress response in the presence of that 'punisher' which created the stress.  So, if we wish to get our horses to respect us by submitting, then there is a strong chance we are punishing them into freeze.  A difficult horse may be one who does not freeze - and become - bombproof, but one that reacts by fighting.  A different response to the same stress.

I am so grateful that I have learned this information.  Grateful too that there is a nicer way to work with all animals.  When we force our hand - and sometimes we may do this unwittingly, we are dominating the animals.  And this is not the relationship I choose to have with the animals that I know.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Happy birthday Jula

Today I have spent half my life with you. You have enriched my experience beyond measure. uou are rated amongst very few things for which I am most grateful. Thank you Jula. Beautiful generous soul. You make the world a better place. Love you!!!!@@

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Thursday, 10 July 2014


We are celebrating Gambit's 43rd year this weekend.  What an honour to know this incredible gentleman.  It is true to say that he has been one of the greatest inspirations in my life and I know I don't speak only for myself when I say this.  Conservation action - as a result of the privilege of knowing him.  Thank you Gambit!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The owl and the pussy cat. Lovely story!


Submitted by Chris Pretorius. Updated 2012-10-07 Created 2011-09-02

I am from South Africa and about 4 years ago made friends with a
spotted eagle owl that showed up on our farm (most probably it was rehabilitated by someone). The owl got injured and I kept it inside for a couple of months until it was well again. During this time our one old cat found out that no other cats are allowed in my study where I kept the owl and she moved in. I allowed this because she has never in her life caught a bird or mouse and was not interested in the owl at all.
During this period the owl got used to her and they regularly ate steak out of my hand together. Once the owl was OK again I let it out, but it now comes and sleeps inside during the day, hunting freely at night. At the moment I have another injured owl that he adopted and feeds regularly (about 2 rats an evening).
The other night I was working late in my study when the owl came in with a rat. I presumed that he were going to feed it to the injured owl, but much to my surprise he flew towards the cat that was sitting on the sofa and tried offering the rat to her. Fortunately I was lucky enough to be able to take a couple of pictures which I include here.



I could only find one other instance where an owl befriended a cat, but I could nowhere find a picture or anything about an owl bringing a mouse or rat to a cat. Unfortunately for the owl, the cat just sniffed at the rat as she has never eaten something like that before. The owl is however aggressive towards all other cats and will even swoop down and attack them if they come to close to his nesting box in the tree. He however accepts this cat even near his nesting box.

More photos of the Spotted Eagle Owl

My owl feeding the injured owl that I told you about above. (2 broken legs and a damaged wing estimated to be 1 year old),


Taking a nap .


The owl bringing a mouse, and later on a bat to my wife while she is sleeping!


A young owlet that he helped raise and that we rehabilitated successfully.


What makes my owl so interesting to me is that it is free to come and go as it pleases and lives as close to a natural life as possible. I have in no way tried to train him or force myself onto him and everything that he does comes natural. I am not in favour of keeping birds, or any other animal for that matter, caged up and release all injured birds if at all possible.






Monday, 9 June 2014

Czech animal training courses

6 seminars. In 7 days. I must be a nerd because I could literally talk animal training and nothing else. Which is what I did. Feel do fortunate to spend time with Czech people. Caring for animals is a way of life. Dogs go where people go for instance. Off to work with their people. Gandi said you can tell what people ate like by the way they treat their animals. 

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Friday, 16 May 2014

Animals or people?

If you had to choose to be on this planet with one or the other what would it be? Cannot imagine a planet that would be bearable without animals. Recognise this may be an insufficiency in me.  See, I dont need permission to feel when I am with animals. Not so with people.  Temper my emotions with people. An area in my personality t h at has been highlighted by my animal friends. Thank you for another lesson. In the likeness of God(-;

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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Love my job.

Working with a rehab seal. Teaching Gru to eat. Nothing better than working consciously and seeing the results. Teaching him to eat in 4 sessions. With an awesome team of people who are all as excited as each other. And because we see the power of working to get him to understand what we want rather than let our fear and overwhelming love for him get in the way. Yay!!!!

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Sunday, 4 May 2014

Being present

Spent 2 days without distraction in the company of these angels. It is where my heart sings. No boredom. Just awe and awe. Thats when we know that our souls are in syn with where we should be. Surely!

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Thursday, 1 May 2014

thinking horses - the only way!

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-------- Original message --------
From: Gabby Harris <>
Date: 02/05/2014 06:46 (GMT+02:00)
Subject: thinking horses - the only way!

Training methods for horses: habituation to a frightening stimulus

J.W.Christensen, M.Rundgren & K.Olsson

(Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences)

Equine Vet J. (2006) 38: 439-443


Reasons for performing study: Responses of horses in
frightening situations are important for both equine and
human safety. Considerable scientific interest has been
shown in development of reactivity tests, but little effort has
been dedicated to the development of appropriate training
methods for reducing fearfulness.

Objectives: To inestigate which of 3 different training methods
(habituation, desensitisation and counter-conditioning) was
most effective in teaching horses to react calmly in a
potentially frightening situation.

Hypotheses: 1) Horses are able to generalise about the test
stimulus such that, once familiar withe the test stimulus in one
situation, it appears less frightening and elicits a reduced
response even when the stimulus intensity is increased or the
stimulus is presented differently; and 2) alternative methods
such a desensitisation and counter-conditioning would be
more efficient that a classic habituation approach.

Methods: Twenty-seven naive 2-year-old Danish Warmblood
stallions were trained according to 3 different methods, based
on classical learning theory: 1) horses (n=9) were exposed to
the full stimulus (a moving, white nylon bag, 1.2 x 0.75 m) in 5
daily training sessions until they met a prededined habituation
criterion (habituation); 2) horses (n=9) were introduced
gradually to the stimulus and habituated to each step before
the full stimulus was applied (desensitisation); 3) horses (n=9)
were trained to associate the stimulus with a positive reward
before being exposed to the full stimulus (counter-
conditioning). Each horse received 5 training sessions of 3 min
per day. Heart rate and behavioural responses were recorded.

Results: Horses trained with the desensitisation method
showed fewer flight responses in total and needed fewe
training sessions to learn to react calmly to test stimuli.
Variations in heart rate persisted even when behavioural
responses had ceased. In addition, all horses on the
desensitisation method eventually habituated to the test
stimulus whereas some horses on the other methods did not.

Conclusions and potential relevance: Desensitisation appeared
to be the most effective training method for horses in
frightening situations. Further research is needed in order to
investigate the role of positive reinforcement, such as
offering food, in the training of horses.


Sunday, 20 April 2014

On our own

One of our 3 horses is out for a ride. I am in the paddock with thw remaining two. Evertime I go to leave they whinny. So many people have written about how they strive to get their horses to ride out solo.  Don't forget about the ones left behind. 
So sad how horses are moved about all the time. Their hearts must get burt a lot. They deserve stable social groupings. 

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Thursday, 17 April 2014

I love

So easy to love animals.  Draco is the sweetest baby ever. Named after a dragon. Not a bad wizard.  A dragon with an unconditional forgiving heart. That sounds about right.  How lucky am I  

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Monday, 31 March 2014


I spent an hour yesterday trying to win the confidence of this little mite. Eventually she ate out of my hand. She is so thin. Apparently people have tried to catch her. I will go back today and hopefully succeed.  Send healing to her.

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Friday, 28 March 2014

Ahhh. There is the love

Charlie and Hermione. Hermione is older. A female.  Came to us as a pregnant wild very young stray. We kept one of her kittens and named him Max. He was such a joy. Loving gentle and he and Hermione were inseperable. She is a nrtvpus cat with strangers. When Max died tragically he left a void in our lives, but Hermione was very lost without her boy. A year later a stray kitten arrived. Charlie.  Sometimes I think he is Max reincarnated.  I have mistakenly called him Max once or twice. And Hermione is whole again. 
As humans we so often move animals around without giving a thought to how it affects them. Horses in particular are moved to suit humans very often. Here is a prayer to consider their souls when you make these decisions. Like Max, they may be more attached than you think. 

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Saturday, 22 March 2014

Eco-activists 'waddle' 123km for penguin promises

see more about penguin promises on  or like penguin promises page on facebook - or follow @penguinpromises on twitter

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Doing stuff for animals with amazing people

Its been almost 5 years since I shared an idea. Penguin Promises! And this week I am waddling for a week for the 4th year in a row with a bunch of amazing humans. What an honour. And how hopeful that so many people care enough to take part, sponsor, say Yes, and keep doing it over and over. And this week is incredible! Surrounded by positive vibes. Beautiful energy and scenery. And of course the penguins!!!!

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Saturday, 8 February 2014

Horses from heaven

They got out this morning and went gallavanting to a grassy patch they know near their dairy cow friends. Somehow they knew that Zac needed some fresh air and a walk to collect them.
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Friday, 31 January 2014

Always been a journey

40 years ago. And still real. Loving animals first. I am in the conservation business now. And when I have to answer why I have to think hard. Because there is no real answer. Until I think of love. And consider that love is what is left when I put preconceptions, dreams, judgement and rationality down. Love may be about being conscious in every moment. About living consciously. Without justifying actions. Just doing what I can in every moment so that my conscience is clear. Frig its hard sometimes. But when I am clear it is glorious. Its got nothing to do with what anybody else thinks. It is just being. Truly and without hope, disappointment, yesterday or tomorrow. Nothing to do with anything but humble gratitude for NOW. Thank you!
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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Selso on his way

I am so fortunate that I was involved with a seal called Selso who was rescued and released after a 7 month rehabilitation at uShaka Sea World.  We taught him to eat from us and her learned fast.  When he arrived he was about 100kilograms underweight and only weighed 75kilograms.  When he left he weighed nearly 200kilograms, and stolen all our hearts and been fitted with a satellite tag so we could monitor his progress on his way back to the sub-antarctic islands where these animals are found.  We took him on a cruise ship to Port Elizabeth, and then released him off the continental shelf.  He is already more than halfway to his destination and scientists believe he is presently fishing in a place in the ocean where food is plentiful.  So amazing to watch his progress.  I take my hat off to the management of Sea World for funding this exercise and doing it for the individual and the species and of course our oceans at large.