In the cab of the Horsebox I am thinking outside.

Thinking outside the Horsebox is necessary, because the horse world is a mess. Foals fetching zilch at auction, rescue societies facing financial problems because in a rescession charity begins at home, and a horse establishment that is trying to restrict access to horses to a narrow social group, or to those who are prepared to accept the cruelty and stupidity inherent in the behaviour of that narrow social group.

Yes folks, it’s class war time. Since horses are judged and categorised on the basis of snobbery and racism, there is no reason why we should respect the snobbish racists running the set up. So try looking at the breed societies, and asking what they think they are doing. Is incest really a good idea? Should a bit of black, or white, exclude? Is a disability a reason to hidwe an individual from view? Are the guys running the show a bunch of total pillocks?

Go to the tabs along the top of the page and pick your topic, they are all strange, and some are weird. But you might learn something.

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Mohamed Bouazizi, in memoriam.

As Egypt shuts down the internet and mobile phones, and tear gasses the masses, we should remember Mohamed Bouazizi. His courage, and his despair started this wave of revulsion at a system that requires people to acquire  permits to live.

It is spreading across North Africa and the Arab states, but faceless, destructive bureaucracy, and power mad petty officials are not unique to Arab or a North African societies.

I hope our rulers start to look at the way they treat their own people. It is easy to say it is not as bad in England, especially if you are at the top of the heap, but for those on the fringes of society, Mohamed Bouazizi is just another guy trying to survive in a system that had no room for him.

Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen are losing a battle against an illegal fruit and vegetable seller who died 23 days ago. I wonder which Government will be the first to say that Mohamed Bouazizi’s attack is unfair.

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Obama, taking over the blog.

Simon doesn’t seem to like blogging and is perfectly determined to make this blog into a website, which, unusually, WordPress is rather good at, but Simon doesn’t like writing backwards, and isn’t a natural diarist. Since he has found a style that suits him, and pisses off most of the world, certainly all the whip wielding section of it, so I’ll let him muck around with the pages, and I’ll take over the blog. When I am happy with a piece, I’ll shift it up to Black Beauty, maybe edited to fit in with the general flow, or maybe re written, to include other factors.

But here I can just rant.

Racing, here I come.

A. P. McCoy, Sports Personality of the Year, is filling a lot of newsprint, I have already written one piece on the subject and it won’t be the last. Brian Viner interviewed McCoy in the Independent 17.12.10 and in a double page spread the subject of whips didn’t come up once, and it’s not going to in this piece either, which makes some sort of a record.

McCoy is describing JP and Noreen McManus, owners of Don’t Push it, McCoy’s 2010 Grand National winner, and he says “they are unbelievably in love with horses and you find very few peoiple who are in racing for that reason. The only problem I have with JP is that he wants to take the horses home with him. He just loves looking at them, making sure they are OK.”

Earlier in the piece Viner notesd that “public affection is less gushing for the jockeys than it is for their mounts.”

You see the rest of the world, outside the charmed circle of racehorse owners, with the honourable exception of JP and Noreen, racehorse trainers and jockeys, love horses, and McCoy says, “There are very few people who are in racing for that reason.”

But he is wrong, Jenny, who put me and Simon up for the night when I was pulling him from Brecon to Birmingham, walked a couple of miles to greet us with a torch because she was worried about me being on the road at night. Simon’s choice, he can take the flak, but she cared about me, enough to think about me, and make a serious effort to see I was safe. She works in racing, but at the shit shovelling end, and you know what is really strange, the people who shovel the shit, and brush us, and feed us and look after us, on shit wages, and lousy hours and bloody dangerous conditions, they are unbelievably in love with horses.

But the rich, and the “horsey” set and the owners and the Jockeys getting the prizes, and the trainers, and the bookies and the punters, they don’t love horses. An honourable few, JP and Maureen, are worth mentioning, because the pinnacle of the racing establishment, the man the racing establishment says is going to represent them, says that JP and Noreen “are unbelievably in love with horses and you find very few peoiple who are in racing for that reason.”

Well then you shouldn’t be allowed to use us as gambling counters. We aren’t toys, we are people.

If you don’t love the horses, there are millions of people who do. I have spent days in Birmingham, in Balsall heath, and everyone there likes ponies. I have done some big biker bashes, and they are really great guys. I have a whale of a time. They really love ponies.

Don’t try taking me racing if loving horses is rare. It must be the only place in the world where loving horses is seen as some sort of weird aberration. The rest of humanity love us. Please, if you are going to give someone a prize, pick someone from a sport where loving horses isn’t seen as a little bit freaky, give it to boxing, or darts or motorcycling, where loving horses is seen as normal.


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Student Protests

The Police have been setting an admirable example. To show what they feel, they corrall a group of students of a size they can control, and keep them in one place until they are sufficiently bored, cold, or have wet themselves. If students avoided mass demonstrations but simply found Police cars and kettled them, by standing or sitting all round them, until the officers inside were bored, cold or had wet themselves, they would demostrate to the officers concerned just how effective this system is.
Educational for all parties, cheap, non violent, and the students will be able to show they are simply learning from their elders and betters.  I wouldn’t dream of recommending such a course of action, actually what the hell, I will recommend it. If it’s legal for the plod to do it to students, because they are legally protesting, it must be legal for students to do it to the plod. Feel free too come and kettle me if I am wrong.

Simon Mulholland

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Controlling the Workforce

This is slightly confused, but then, who isn’t? It was going to be three different pieces but they sort of morphed.


How do you control your workforce?
How do you make them work harder and faster, how do you stop them when they are going the wrong way. You need to be able to whip up enthusiasm on demand, and to curb that enthusiasm when demand lessens. Spurring them on is vital, but the ability to rein them back when they have the bit between their teeth is just as important.
It needs someone skilled in the saddle to over ride the desires of the workforce. Riding roughshod over their feelings is risky, too cavalier an approach can lead to a fall.
Modern management in the UK wouldn’t dream of treating their workforce in this way, they outsource the job to a country where they can still get away with that sort of management, where mass suicide of the labourers is considered a stable vice, akin to crib biting or wind sucking.
But this is the way the equestrian establishment still control horses in the UK, and across most of what is laughingly called the civilised world. I love Ghandi’s reply when asked what he thought of Western Civilisation. “I think it would be a very good idea.” And it could start with the horse.
No that’s silly. Guantanamo Bay is worse. Abu Ghraib is worse. The eviction of the Roma is worse. The pointless carnage in Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan etc etc Fill in the aspects of man’s inhumanity that particularly bug you, and they should come first, but as part of a move towards civilisation, treating the horse with a modicum of humanity would be a good idea as well.
But the guys who wrote, and continue to write Horse History, and “manuals of Horsemanship” have a very skewed agenda. For a start, the guys who worked with horses and who understand horses, don’t  feature. These books are written by, and for, the owners of horses.
Horse ownership has always been a class issue. Horses are expensive in time and food and labour. They were a symbol of status in the first urban civilisations that sprang up between the rivers, Mesopotamia, and from the Hooray Hammurabi’s onwards, the history of the horse, is the history of the guys who used the horse to dominate.
From Kikulli’s control freakery, to Xenophon’s manual of horsemanship for officer cadets, to modern British Horse Society publications, the emphasis is on control and status. But there is another way, the working class way.
In the good old days, when I was young, cue Hovis advert music, and bad impersonation of Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen sketch, the milkman took full bottles from the milkfloat and took them to each customers door, picking up the empties and bringing them back to the float. The horse took the float round the roads, waiting for the milkman to collect more bottles and deposit empties.
The horse does one half of the job, shifting the bulk around the streets, the man does the doorstepping bit and seduces any females who have the ability to pretend surprise when the milkman appears at the door while they are scantily clad. The fact that the milkman and his horse have been clipclopping up and down this street at the same time for three generations, and apparently women can still be surprised by their arrival, is why the horse tends to do his own thing and ignore people. They are clearly thick as two short but relatively broad pieces of timber.
Training horses to do this sort of work isn’t difficult, even James Bond could do it. Apparently Sean Connery, THE James Bond for those who remember the Hovis advert and the Four Yorkshireman sketch, was a qualified Co-Op horsedrawn milkfloat driver, but he gave up a good safe career for the sake of promoting inappropriate scottish accents in action films. Such is life.
The training is really easy, lead the horse down the route, pulling the float, a few times. After a bit you notice it knows the way. Let it carry on. This is called education, from the Latin Ex Ducere, to lead out. So that is what you do, lead them out.
Oh Shit. I could have sold Level one, two and three of the Obama Education System, making it sound like an American Presidential system would have done wonders for sales, and the video’s showing me looking smooth suave and unbelievably macho, would have been clogging the charity shops for the next few decades, but I go and blow it by giving the whole game away.
Lead them out, take them for a walk, show them what you want them to do, where you want them to go. That’s it. No Books, no videos and I have probably blown the sales of the Simon Mulholland/Nick Sanders Natural Horsemanship Posing Pouch.
Nick and I are pretty observant chaps, so we tend to observe chaps in chaps, and one thing is clear as a cows ass at noon, the essence of chaps on chaps, is that they are golden suede, and the jeans are a bright blue. From in front this actually only leaves the bright blue jeans visible at the groinal area. But Nick and I, in our enthusiasm to save the worlds dwindling supply of suede, have developed the Natural Horsemanship Chaplite. You get all the benefit of chaps, in that a chap’s groinal area is highlighted with a golden suede posing pouch on a background of blue denim, but far fewer cows die. Yes, Chaplite, a chap’s best friend, or at least a way of pretending a chap’s best friend is a lot bigger than it actually  is, but without so many dead cows.
Horsemanship is really pretty easy if you don’t try to dominate. Ask the  horse to give you a hand to do a job, and you will be amazed at the results. Try to force it to make you look impressive and you are going to need all these manuals of horsemanship, whips, bits, spurs, dominance theory, groinal emphasis and all the rest. But I can’t really sell you anything, because you either have the time to take your horse for a walk, in which case training is taken care of, or you don’t, in which case you will buy into the gadget and gag theory, and try to make the most willing animal you will ever work with, do things. But although horses are incredibly willing, they just don’t happen to be willing to be dominated.
You can get submission. Violence works. You can work together, it is so easy, even the lower classes can do it. Shame the upper classes can’t.

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Bannedwaggon railway cutting 1

Driving the Bannedwaggon from wheelchair round West Town Farm

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Photos by saddlechariot, 19 Oct 2010

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