When my daughter was in Primary 3, her school organised an event to create awareness among children about love for animals. Every class had to partake in the event by bringing a pet to school. However, my daughter’s class collected enough money to bring in two horses, a pony and a monkey from a nearby race course and a pet shop. The school declared a day of fun and joy. Animal trainers brought the horses, the pony with a cart and a tiny monkey. My daughter was given strict instructions by her father, not to go on the horse even for a ride in the field. The father had very terrible memories of a horse ride that went wrong in his younger days. Hence he did not want his daughter to undergo the same fate.
All the primary school teachers and pupils gathered in the field as the horses and the pony trotted in. Soon they got a glimpse of the little monkey perched on the shoulder of its trainer. The animals appeared uncomfortable in seeing the large crowd in front of them. My daughter and two of her friends decided to snap a photo standing in front of the horse. Everything looked fine and soon an older pupil wanted to saddle the horse for a ride round the field. She was helped onto the horse by the trainer. The girl apparently appeared comfortable and the trainer took the reins and began to guide the horse to move on. Hardly a few trots and the horse lifted its tail to relieve a plop of dung. Then it moved forward, stopped to lift its tail again and relieved itself for the second time. As it moved on a few more steps, it stopped again and plop!!plop!!!plop!!! relieved itself for the third time. When it continued to trot forward a couple more steps, it came to a halt once more and the girl on the horse began to feel uncomfortable. The trainer came forward to help her to get off the horse. She stood beside the horse and plop…. another lump of dung was on the ground, followed by a few more. She began to sob out of disappointment and the angered horse looked at her straight in the eyes and grunted neigh…….neigh…neigh…. breathing out hot, dense air. The girl’s sobs turned into wails and the horse became irritated, shook its head from side to side and let out a loud noise of disapproval, that echoed across the field. Hearing the loud noise, the girl ran quickly from the spot, screaming at the top of her voice, towards her teacher, who brought her close to her in order to comfort her. No one dared to go near the horse thereafter.
Now all eyes were turned towards the pony which was with the cart. Two little girls gathered enough courage and decided to get into the cart for a ride round the field. As the slightly heavier girl got in, the cart slumped backwards. The pony straightened its back suddenly, shook its tail from side to side in a frenzy and freed itself of the cart and shot off like a rocket right across the field, leaving the cart behind with the bewildered girls, wide eyed and amazed at the unexpected happening. The pony’s trainer was soon trailing the animal all over the field to get control of it before it caused further chaos. The girl in the cart made no attempt to vacate it. The tired pony’s trainer, having tied the pony to a tree came over to lift the stunned girl from the cart and advised her and her equally stunned friend, who was waiting by the cart, to return to the crowd.
An older pupil, who happened to be one of my daughter’s classmates was left in charge of a few, more junior, pupils. They were near the monkey and this older girl safe guarded the younger ones by preventing them from going too close to the animal. However the irritated, chattering monkey, deprived of the opportunity to hold hands with the children turned its fascination towards the long tresses of the older girl and caught hold of her hair, refusing to let it go. The girl could not move as the monkey began to come closer to her. She was face to face with it, when she let out a loud scream for help. The monkey’s trainer came running and had a tough time getting the monkey to let go of the hair. The frightened girl vowed never to go near a monkey again.
The day that was to be memorable really turned out to be one especially for those who were involved in the incidents. To the affected it was really a horrifying day but to those who witnessed the incidents, like my daughter and her friends, it was more hilarious. As for the awareness programme and the love for animals, some understood that animals too have fear that made them behave the way they did. But I think the fear still remains in those affected directly. It may take them some time to get over it and come to terms with the situation.