Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Long Ears Help US Marines Fight the Taliban in Afghanistan

It takes training to go back in time to fight a war. Afghanistan exists in a centuries-before bubble that often confounds the militaries that are trying to bring peace to the area. Abigail Butcher wrote about donkeys’ role in military operations in yesterday’s Horse and Hound online. Here is the link to the full article.

At Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in the remote eastern Sierra Nevada, five marines are learning to handle donkeys and mules before going to Afghanistan.

Visiting military have found that traveling in traditional motor convoys has been both difficult and dangerous. Their solution? In part, a return to tradition. In Afghanistan donkeys and mules are used for transportation and as pack animals for hauling everything from personal supplies to artillery. Long ears will be used as transport through the torturous mountains where military four-wheel drive vehicles cannot go. Mules and donkeys have no trouble in the high mountain air, where even helicopters find the going dangerous. To mules and donkeys, it’s all in a day’s work. Or maybe, a thousand years’ work. They’ve been doing just this kind of thing with expert skill for about that long.

The soldiers are the ones receiving the “alternative” training, learning to assist the equines in transporting ammunition, medical and food supplies to the marines. They must learn how to pack their loads evenly and how to lead the donkeys and mules safely through treacherous territory.

It’s a very primitive way to carry very modern weapons, but it works. They all have their own quirks and personalities — like any of the Marines you’d work with.

said Sgt. Joe Neal, one of the instructors at the training center.

They can be pretty stubborn.

said one trainee.

I hope he knows that this inherent “stubbornness” is the trait that has kept them flourishing in hostile worlds throughout history. I wonder how encountering another sentient being whose language you do not speak will affect the military men. They will have to interact with a creature who will not automatically follow their orders. Will they try to understand what the donkeys tell them, or will they use the model of dominance hierarchy already in place in the military? I fear the worst and hope for the best, knowing that even men who are pressed to their limits, especially men pressed to their limits, are open to learning miraculous things.

Click here to watch a slideshow of the Marines in training.

© 2009 enlightened horsemanship through touch and Kim Cox Carneal

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Buzkashi: Equestrian Sport of Central Asia

Buzkashi: Equestrian Sport of Central Asia


Pita Kelekna over at This Side of the Pond, the American Blog of the Cambridge University Press, has written about one of the most interesting equestrian sports, Buzkashi.


In case you have been sleeping under a rock somewhere, Buzkashi is a traditional Central Asian (think Afghanistan) team sport played on horseback, which is more or less translated as, “grab the goat.” I don’t understand why Central Asians don’t use balls like polo players, or how the use of a dead goat, emptied of entrails, soaked in cold water for 24 hours to toughen the hide, enhances the sport, but there you have it. It probably has to do with the fact that the goat is a former sentient being. In any case at least the Central Asians are more honest about their “balls” than Americans. It’s closer to its original form (and less “doctored” for emotional deniability than, say, a football, whose pigskin cover has been conveniently removed many steps from the original animal. Nonetheless, some of us know what a football is. Lest any “morally superior” Westerners look down their noses at those “primitive” Afghans, remember: you play ball with the stuffed skin of a pig. You are not that different!

Buzkashi Game

Buzkashi Game


© 2009 enlightened horsemanship through touch

If you like what you have been reading, please subscribe to the RSS Feed, and visit Bloggers Choice Awards to vote for Enlightened Horsemanship Through Touch.

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