My “holiday” a couple of months ago, was a quick flip back to Gili, which many people know holds a special place in my world. I have written several times in the past about the Gili Cart Ponies, and some of those blogs and articles can be found here….
Last year, the Gili islands and Lombok suffered from a series of devasting earthquakes and I wanted to see for myself how the island was recovering. Lombok, the biggest island in the area was hardest hit, with over 500 people dying, many more injured and still there are thousands of people living homeless in tents.
The staff on the three Gili islands are mostly from Lombok, they either commute daily (it’s only 10 minutes by boat) or have moved onto the smaller islands, but their families often remain at home in Lombok. Because of this, when the earthquake hit Lombok in such a devasting way, most staff returned home immediately. This included drivers and caregivers of the cart ponies. Fortunately, some people remained on the Gili islands, such as
Chaos ensued for many months – a shortage of food and water, looting, local crime, the total ban of all tourists, devasting losses of human and animal life. When the drivers fled Gili, most of them opened the pony’s stables and left them free to fend for themselves. The majority of the cart ponies are stallions, so a couple of hundred loose stallions running wild on the island. And, those still in their stables had to be found and fed and watered.
The islands are only now, really coming back to life. Tourism is picking up and life is beginning to return to normal. As I wandered around the island, there is still a lot of damage, deserted restaurants and hotels, piles of rubble and rebuilding, but there is definitely a feel of hope and a new start. Luckily, the reefs seem relatively unharmed, and the stunning marine life is healthy and doing well. (Yes, my holiday had to include a few dives, of course…)
And, part of my reason to visit, was to see the new Horses of Gili stable yard and vet clinic. There has been no full-time vet on the islands, but now, through the dedication of Tori Taylor, (of Horses of Gili, and Lutwala dive) a new 8 horse barn is being built, along with a small vet surgery, housing for a vet, a farrier workshop and a charity shop. Interviews are being held for a full-time vet, whose wages will be covered through donations. The stables will be occupied by rescues who need some TLC while recovering from injury or illness. This is a massive undertaking, and Tori desperately needs help with funding the project. As ever, donations of tack and equipment are also most welcome…
Two other things that I was so excited about – one, the condition of the rubbish / garbage collecting ponies. In the past, these ponies have suffered the hardest life, really being the bottom of the pecking order. Now, thanks to www.animalaidabroad.com and www.giliecotrucst.co.id these ponies are fat, well, bright and living in clean, solid, well ventilated stables. They are being shod with good quality shoes, have new harness, and the governing bodies of the island have allowed a few motorised golf carts to assist in the collection of recycling, so making the ponies jobs a lot easier.
The other thing was something I was carrying – socks! A fabulous supporter, Michelle Harrison, together with Raymond Peterson of www.socksforhorses.com organised the donation of 6 sets of their amazing socks! These Silver Whinny socks are fabric that is treated with silver and allow legs to breathe while helping to heal some really nasty diseases and injuries. For those who have been following Horses of Gili for a while, you will remember Miracle, the little chidoma mare who had her entire leg degloved due to an accident. It took well over a year to heal, but she is 100% now, and that is certainly thanks in part to her Silver Whinny socks as well as all of the TLC that she received.
It’s awesome when people such as Michelle, Raymond and companies like Socks for Horses get involved in projects like this, thank you!