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"Ground Manners" by Cynthia D'Errico reviewed by Carol Upton

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 6, 2012 15:06


Ground Manners

A Novel

By Cynthia D’Errico


Soft Cover, 2011, $19.99

Hard Cover, 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 978-1-4568-2394-8

Available at: www.groundmannersnovel.com or on Amazon 


Reviewed by Carol M. Upton


Learning that horses were butchered for meat left many people feeling raw and lied to,

like suddenly finding out that your neighbour had barbecued your retriever or microwaved your cat.

Like so many others, Yanne was clearly unaware that, whether for meat or other reasons,

horses were slaughtered at all. ~ Part Three, Chapter Four, p. 116


Ground Manners. A Novel is an innovative synthesis of adventure, romance and animal advocacy. 

Cynthia D’Errico has produced a compelling tale based on true stories about Canada’s horse slaughter industry,

the dangers of continuing to ignore coastline erosion, and which features an especially intriguing thread on how

le Canadien became both Quebec’s heritage breed and the National Horse of Canada.


Through the thoughts of Ausencia, a slaughter-bound polo horse, the opening pages introduce us to the horse refuge

run by animal communicator Skye Spahro and her daughter on Isle-Saint-Jean- Baptiste. 

The Institute of Nature Communications, like many horse rescues across the country, 

is dedicated to the care and rehoming of abused horses, including the rescue of those slated for slaughter.          


The horses narrate a good part of the story as D’Errico performs skillful shifts from the human to the animal point of view.

These shifts are reminiscent of those in other classics like Babe and Black Beauty, with that same brilliant seamlessness

that keeps the reader fully engaged.  The character of each horse is carefully delineated so that when Ulric,

the eternally calm Belgian draft says:  “I don’t like the look of things, Tessa,” his ominous tone ushers the reader

into the darkness of the book’s last half.


The themes in this book require the reader to confront the moral dilemmas often present in horse ownership and

attempt to expand the reader’s vision of horses.   Yet the darkness is never overdone.  The storyline is simultaneously about love,

heroes and hope for lasting change in our treatment of animals and the planet – indeed of the very ground we walk on. 

D’Errico’s writing style intimately involves readers in the lives of her characters, human and animal,

in such a way that their world becomes difficult to leave as the book nears its gripping finale. 


Ground Manners is the tale that horse lovers have waited for, but also essential reading for anyone intent on

creating a more harmonious relationship with our planet.

It will definitely raise public consciousness and is sure to spark debate.


Dreams Aloud Promotions
~ Linking your dreams to the world
Website:      www.dreamsaloud.ca












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geriatric horses | rescue

Horse Man of India - Anish Gajjar

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   November 26, 2011 18:09

The Equestrian Club of Gujarat, Ahmedabad, India

Introducing Anish Gajjar, Horse Man of India

By Gina McKnight

Photography Courtesy of Nrupal Mehta



          There is a place in India where the love of horses surpasses all understanding.  It is a place where equestrians and equines thrive in harmony, integrity and friendship. It is a community that promotes rider ethics and horse welfare; a place where riders convene to embrace and learn the wonders of quality horsemanship. It is the Equestrian Club of Gujarat, Ahmedabad, India.

          Anish Gajjar, Co-Founder of the Equestrian Club of Gujarat, Freelance Equestrian Trainer and Riding Instructor, is a seventeen year veteran on the equestrian scene. He is a charismatic entrepreneur, creating a firm foundation for one of India’s premier riding academies.  Gajjar is candid about riding and his passion for horses.  Through the years, he has enabled many to fulfill their dreams of horsemanship, while providing an outlet for his own ambitious ventures.

          The riding club is nestled on the outskirts of the Ahmedabad suburb.  The stables are clean and comfortable; the horses are grand and sleek, with a whinny now and then.  The smell of horses and leather permeate the facility.  As with any quality riding club, the horses are kept with utmost care. Each horse is stalled separately, without hobbles as is customary in some Indian stables.  The brick and mortar stalls are settled neatly in rows with adequate space for grooming, tack, and the frequent affection provided by riders and visitors. 

Gajjar arrives at the stables every day by six am for his morning ride.  Students appear shortly thereafter for riding lessons and coaching sessions.  Upon entering the riding academy, each student is evaluated as to their level of expertise.  The chosen horse is determined by the size and weight of the student; a quiet, gentle horse is given to an inexperienced adult or child, while educated riders can begin with a more spirited horse. Students range from children to adults, novice to intermediate levels.

Under the expert guidance of Gajjar, students learn proper equitation as well as respect and care for horses.  Students learn that horses can recognize anxieties and desires through physical messages and focal movements; that physical and focal cues act as communication tools to achieve the desired response from their mount.  The large riding arena is surrounded by mango groves and beautiful landscape.  The arena adjoins the stable providing adequate room to hone basic riding techniques as well as jumping and dressage skills for horse shows and competitions.

Gajjar not only provides clients with riding lessons, but also the opportunity for guidance with equine training, procurement, breeding, and nutritional/health management.  Working with local veterinarians and horse experts, Gajjar has formed a deep friendship and camaraderie amongst horse owners.

It is hard work, but as Gajjar indicates, “Hard work has no short cut and success is not achieved overnight.  One should not get disheartened at short term obstacles, but should focus on long term gains.”  His vision has become a reality; he is world renowned for his riding expertise, advocacy for the ethical treatment of horses, and, most of all, his mesmerizing, beautiful horses.

          If you have the opportunity to travel to Ahmedabad, stop in and visit with Gajjar.  He will readily welcome your intrigue and take you a tour of his facility, and maybe a quiet ride through the nearby mango grove and dry riverbeds.                .

          With a pleasant smile and confident stance, Gajjar states, “Tell me it can’t be done, and I will do it; tell me the goal is too high, and I will reach it; place an obstacle in front of me and I will soar over it; challenge me, dare me, or even defy me, but do not underestimate me - for on the back of my horse anything is possible.”




Follow Anish Gajjar and his beautiful horses on facebook!



Anish Gajjar - Horse Man Blog:



Nrupal Mehta - Photographer



Reprinted with the kind permission of

Gina McKnight is an author and freelance writer from USA



Equine Emergency Rescue

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   October 15, 2011 12:16

HorseOwnerToday had the privilege to talk with MaryAnne Leighton, author of Equine Emergency Rescue.  www.equineER.com.  MaryAnne Leighton has a lifelong love affair with horses and the written word. She is a horsewoman and established author, features writer, editor and proofreader. She writes biography and non-fiction and her extensive experience in the horse world allows her to write with authority for equine publications worldwide.

MaryAnne has had careers in public relations, marketing and horse stud management. She bred horses for twenty years – both her own national champions and for studs that ranged in size from two stallions and twenty mares to seven stallions and four hundred mares. She has travelled extensively and, apart from horse-related themes, has written about subjects as diverse as the European Space Agency, the use of computer systems within an abattoir and the intensity of the darkness in the bowels of Mt Isa mine.

In 2006 she was commissioned to write Living the Legend: the Ian Francis Story, the biography of one of the world’s most accomplished horsemen that sells not only in Australia but through Clinton Anderson’s Downunder Horsemanship in the USA.

MaryAnne’s home has always been a sanctuary for aged, infirm, injured and abandoned animals and her passion for the plight of horses that are injured or killed during rescue from entrapment lead her to publish Equine Emergency Rescue in November 2010. This book is proving a life-saver with members of Australian SES and RSPCA and horse owners around the world.

1.      Tell HorseOwnerToday.com about the events that started your journey to write Equine Emergency Rescue?
Back in 2008, in the space of only seven days I read two newspaper articles about horses in different countries that fell into septic tanks. The first died from injuries he received during his 'rescue', the second was able to be lifted out and survived. Apart from the fact they should not have had access to the tanks, I thought there had to be a better way to get them
rescuing horses from life-threatening situations, contacted all the people I could find and bought two books (Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue and Save Your Horse) written by American authors. Both are brilliant but I thought if I was writing my own book I'd do it a little differently.
When I decided to write my own guide for Aussie horse owners, equine vets and emergency responders, I was absolutely blown away by the support I received from around the world. Experts in the UK, Europe and the USA answered all my lengthy questions, helped me write guidelines for vets who are called to rescue scenes, and sent photos of training events and actual rescues. Michelle Staples, author of Save Your Horse www.saveyourhorse.com , very generously offered me her manuscript and photos, telling me to use them any way I wanted. I rewrote her book, added three new sections, changed the format turning it from a black and white publication to a full colour glossy book and added Michelle as co-author.
In November 2010 I invited American rescue trainer Rebecca Gimenez www.tlaer.org to Australia to launch Equine Emergency Rescue at Equitana (Australasia's biggest horse expo) and while she was here she conducted three one-day Large Animal Rescue awareness courses for owners, vets, RSPCA Inspectors and a few emergency responders.
Within two months, Equine Emergency Rescue had been taken up as the training manual for all Large Animal Emergency Rescue training courses in Australia and within 10 months the first print run had all but sold out.

2.      You are an obvious horse “lifer”.  I have read your on-line descriptions and pictures from Equine Emergency Rescue.  I am a horse “lifer” as well, growing up on the farm, with a clear understanding that if you have livestock you have dead stock.  I found many of your photos presented on-line difficult to look at.  Equine Emergency Rescue strikes me as being a difficult book to write, perhaps even a very emotional journey.  Can you tell HorseOwnerToday.com about the difficulties you faced researching, compiling and finally writing Equine Emergency Rescue?
I probably find rescues and the resultant photos less confronting than most people, due to my background. For 20 years I managed horse studs, with up to seven stallions, 400 mares and 200 foals born each year. When you work with so many horses, continually you are presented with challenging and gut-wrenching situations - after all, the horse is an accident waiting to happen and he is always more than willing to demonstrate his ability to get into trouble. My greatest difficulty was finding the money to publish Equine Emergency Rescue myself.
3.      What type of people dedicate themselves to Equine Emergency Rescue?
Those who, like yourself, are passionate about horses and even more passionate about keeping rescuers and victims safe.
4.      Tell HorseOwnerToday.com about your goal, your purpose that you wish to achieve by writing Equine Emergency Rescue?
My goal is to keep rescuers safe and prevent them causing serious injuries or even death to the animals they are trying to rescue.
Because we have been able to draw on the vast experience of animal rescue specialists in the UK and USA, I believe we will progress Large Animal Rescue in Australia much faster than they did. Even though Large Animal Rescue has been taught in the USA for 20 years, less than 1% of that country's emergency responders are trained in these techniques. It is dramatically better in the UK where two specialists from Hampshire Fire and Rescue trained in the US in 2003 and now, eight years later, almost every unit in the UK has an animal rescue capability and equine and bovine vets are routinely trained in LAR techniques and the technicalities of sedating and anesthetising a trapped large animal.
Within five years I hope we will be where the UK is and am pleased to say we are well on the way. I see my function as being to promote rescue in the media and support those who train our emergency responders and equine vets. Equine Veterinarians Australia is already scheduling regular courses for its members and their clients, we have held our first 'train the trainer' workshop, all RSPCA Inspectors (who are called to large animal rescues in this country) in the states of New South Wales and Queensland have attended training courses and now know what to do, and we have held awareness courses for horse owners, racing staff, stock inspectors, biosecurity officers and others.
At Equitana Sydney in November 2011 our first animal rescue team will demonstrate rescue techniques with the help of "Bruce" the training mannequin, we will talk about upcoming training courses and I will have rescue training equipment there for people to handle and buy. They will also be able to buy my book, Equine Emergency Rescue found at http://www.equineER.com