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RE: Of a handful of dates and Arabians
Dates are amazing. Once upon a time when I was a fun-loving journalist
rider instead of a bloody executive, I had to write an article about
them on the occasion of the Egyptian date harvest. As a matter of fact
the diet included camel's milk and dates but dates are probably the
world's most perfect electrolyte, having almost every mineral
imaginable, and they contain massive calories per pound/gram,
whatever...especially when dried. The seeds can be ground to a meal to
feed livestock as well and provide a reasonable amount of protein. My
Arabs are also extremely fond of foraging on date leaves, bark and
wood....which is a funny soft texture. As far as their horses were
concerned there is no part of the date tree and/or fruit that could be
wasted. The practice, as well was to do most of the burden-bearing and
riding on camels...who are notorious for being able to survive on
absolutely anything that contains cellulose including cloth....while the
horses were led or simply followed along. They were known by the phrase
"The led ones" and were saved for raids. I often take my horses in the
desert now and let some of the younger ones follow along when I'm
riding. They don't venture far from their buddies and it saves on the
hassle of ponying.
Arab horses here when they live in a sort of family environment are
better at hanging around than dogs. The area laughingly known as the
"paddock" at my barn has fences made of tree branches that are trimmed
and tied together with rope. Over the years we've found that the rope
gives the horses endless hours of fun as they figure out how to untie
the knots and dismantle the paddock, and it's much safer than nails.
Most of them can jump or step over the fence in a number of places
anyway, and once in a while they do to go and graze in the neighbour's
berseem field, after which they either return to the "paddock" or go to
their boxes. The farthest anyone has roamed has been to go to say hello
to another neighbour's horses. They know exactly where the asphalt road
is (quite close to the barn) and NEVER go in that direction.
If you do some research on dates, you will find that there are over 600
varieties of them, that fresh dates contain all the sugars and vitamins
and minerals as dry ones plus a lot of water. A fresh date is not
squishy but is crisp and has a slightly tart taste with the sweet, like
a slightly unripe banana. Dried dates can last for years and pound for
pound have about 5 times the nutrients of fresh ones. It wasn't only
the horses who lived on them. A diet of dates, goat or camel milk and
the odd bit of grain was what kept the Arabs going too.
Maryanne Stroud Gabbani
From: Kristene Smuts [mailto:Ksmuts@sarcc.co.za]
Sent: Wednesday, December 12, 2001 1:12 PM
Subject: RC: Of a handful of dates and Arabians
A question that has always puzzled me, what with the feeding threads and
all, is the age-old knowledge we have of the Arabians that were fed on a
handful of dates and a cup of water and who could still take their
masters across the desert to war.
Does it make sense or is it a romantic notion? How much nutrition is in
a handful of dates? Would it be enough to sustain a hardworking horse?
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