Having lived in the south of India for 3 years, I made many observations and experiences I could have never dreamed of in my previous life in Germany. My daily ride to school was accustomed by seeing numerous, free-walking, “holy” cows, showering people on the side walks, and┬ácountless street dogs. I have always been particularly passionate about animals and the image of starving, homeless animals created an unbearable urge to contribute to the bettering of these conditions. This opportunity was given to me by a school club, called Blue Cross, working closely together with an animal shelter in the city. Trips to the shelter with this club withheld washing, feeding and vaccinating orphaned puppies, cleaning and feeding injured birds and supporting all other rescued animals in the shelter as much as possible. Having been a passionate horseback rider for many years before coming to India, I was beyond keen on the opportunity to work with the rescued horses and ponies. The shelter only had a handful of ponies and horses as they required different conditions than the other shelter animals and they were not equipped for proper treatment. The city being right next to the ocean, beach-horse races were an increasing trend in Chennai, which also increased the number of abandoned race-horses as they were just left at the beach after not doing well in such a race. Racehorses being known for fierce attitude and boldness, I was told by the shelter workers to keep my distance from one of the horses which had been a racehorse. However, I experienced what some might call “love at first sight”. The white horse, who I later called Nardo, would not let me nor anyone in close distance touch him, brush him or under any circumstance let near him. Though, so intrigued by his personality and strength I made the shelter visits my weekly activity, instead of school accompanied, and with patience and empathy worked my way closer and closer to the fierce, white horse. This is the same horse as in the attached video, cheekily trying to steal the carrots out of my bag, while I was brushing another pony, as he was wearing the horse equipment I specifically bought for him. This connection kept developing as he eventually, after lots of bonding, even neighed when he saw me coming. Workers at the shelter started calling me the horse-whisperer, which was however neither my goal, nor my inspiration. My commitment, perseverance and patience taught me that even a “wild”, dangerous, racehorse could be healed and build up a connection if only treated fairly and respectfully. I continued to visit the shelter and help out in any way I could until the time I left for Japan. Although I miss Nardo and the other animals very much, the learning experience will stay with me and guide me through any similar challenges I may face in the future.

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