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After nearly a week in Zinder, it’s still hard to sum up the feeling of how good it feels to be home. Sheba is being a darling, not leaving my side. I am so glad I made it back in time before Anette leaves for Sweden on Saturday (close call!). She has done an amazing job taking care of the animals in my absence, and it has certainly not been easy at times, with injuries of various kinds and the constant threat of piroplasmosis (for which there is no vaccine).

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Despite their troubles, I came back to find a herd in good shape – well-fed and relaxed. Just being with the equines is a treat I have missed badly, not to mention the rides in the bush!

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And yes, I took the first chance to ride out on my wonderful mare (Arwen) the very morning after I arrived!

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As for our “adolescents”, our two youngsters Isolde (Arwen’s daughter) and Kalahari (Sahara’s daughter) have grown so much!

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The herd order of the three juveniles was established in my absence and Ivory (the three year old newcomer) is now the decision-maker of our young bandits. They get a lot of enjoyment out of each other, but have also increased their level of mischievous ingenuity. Tunnel digging, for instance, is now a favorite activity. As is the “trimming” of manes (Isolde’s doing).

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Since coming back, I had several opportunities to work with Ivory. Our little buckskin bush mare has smooth, swift gaits and is surprisingly energetic for her size. She loves to gallop and with some training, I’m sure she’ll be doing her best to keep up with Arwen in the bush. Mentally, she feels younger than her three years and has a tendency to forget both her rider and any given instructions, but she is a quick learner and we are getting along well.

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January 2010

When I left Niger in January, Ivory and Ebony had just been brought in from the bush – both malnourished (Ebony more than Ivory) and sick with piroplasmosis. Ivory recovered within a few days; but Ebony, who was little more than skin and bones, had a longer journey ahead of her.

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You can therefor imagine my pleasure to find our gentle giant well filled up and taking on an entirely different shape. In contrary to Ivory (who blossomed with mischeviousness after recovering), Ebony has kept her calm and mature attitude. I am liking the personality diversity our herd is providing and looking forward to the months ahead!