Thursday, November 27, 2008

What I Was Going to Write About Today

Nonchalent carriage horse on Marine Drive in Mumbai, with the Taj Mahal in the background; photo by Bernard Duvernay.

For the past few weeks I have been following the course of a strain of Equine Influenza in India. It has been traveling from the high mountains of Kashmir down through the western side of the country. Recently, the racetracks in Mumbai were closed.

The disease was hitting working horses and racing horses and polo ponies. It has shut down racing in the country just as it did in Australia last year. But because it is India, we are not hearing so much about it.

When I heard that it had hit the carriage horses that are lined up outside the Taj Mahal in Mumbai, I thought of this photo, one of my favorite images by the great globetrotting farrier Bernard Duvernay of Geneva, Switzerland, aka "The Flying Anvil". He is also a superb photographer whose photos show that he cares as much for people as he does for horses' feet.

His fascination and affection for India are contagious.

Click here to read an interview with Bernard Duvernay about the state of farriery in India for the burgeoning Thoroughbred breeding and racing industry. (Remember that English is not Bernard's native language.)

I hunted down this image from my files and had it ready to go. Then I heard the news on Wednesday that the area around the Taj Mahal and other sites in the great teeming city had been attacked. I wondered if I should publish this photo or not.

The lastest count is 125 people dead and more than 300 wounded.

I can't imagine how the police have handled this situation. Mumbai is probably the largest single city on earth. More people life in that one city than on the entire continent of Australia. The streets aren't just crowded, they are full.

I know a lot of veterinarians and farriers who have gone to Mumbai and the outlying stud farms or to Pune to work on valuable horses with quarter cracks or laminitis. Bernard is the one who goes there to teach the local farriers and to help upgrade their skills. He convinces the stud owners that their future lies in the farriers they have, not in the farriers who come through the airport.

Non-equine footprint in a farrier shop in India, where farriers work in bare feet. (Bernard Duvernay photo)

How ironic that Danny Coyle's great (I hear) new film "Slumdog Millionaire" has just opened. It is about Mumbai. The old Mumbai. The one before this happened. I was going to see it this weekend. Mumbai in technicolor. Mumbai in action. People told me that the city was the star of the movie.

Until a week ago I couldn't have found Mumbai on a map. I didn't know if it was on the coast (or which coast) and I probably wasn't sure how to spell it. Now I can't get it off my mind.


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