5 I Even a manicure! Anyone who sees the Heineken Brass Band march by is often amazed at the superb billy- goat walking ahead of the band. That's our band's mascot. The goat doesn't walk alone. For 18 years Jan Knuiman from 's-Hertogenbosch (Holland) has been our mascot's escort. As you watch them go past, you don't realise how much work is involved in getting a goat toperform.That'swhywe wenttohaveachatwiththemanwhoknows all there istoknowabout it. Training a) iat r d i Out training with the goats along Holland's dykes. Some of the goats don't wait for tobacco crumbs to fall: they help them&lves. Ready to set off for a band performance. In the background, Jan's wife with one of the a^igree rabbits he breeds. Do they understand each other? It certainly looks like it. Jan Knuiman: chief goat trainer keeping a tight rein on the billy-goats. may perhaps go along with the band, but he still cannot be completely trusted. He's certain to try and make a sudden leap. "But I never let go of him," says Jan confidently. "And if need be, I just put my hand in his neck and push him down. And of course I talk to him at the same time. It's the voice that's important, that's what the animal recognises." The fact of it is that since Jan has been the escort, no single goat has had the idea of having a lie-down in front of the marching bandsmen. Or of standing still, being overtaken by the musicians and then entangling his horns in the MASCOT "Before my time the band had a goat called 'Pilske'. I don't know who'd taught him to do it, but every so often that animal would come to a halt outside a pub and refuse to budge a step further. He had to have a glass of beer first. That might have been an amusing habit for the spectators to watchbut it's just not onMy goats do what they have to do: march!," says Jan Knuiman. True indeed. Jan Knuiman has the knack of making the animals keep in step. It's not easy, it's extremely difficult to force a goat to do this. A billy-goat is awfully stubborn. That's why he shouldn't be older than about six months when he starts his training. "Once I've got him trained to behave nicely for me that still doesn't mean he'll behave for everybody else" Jan explains further. "Some time ago I was with the band at a party. There was a general there as well, and he and his friend wanted to be photographed with just the goat. They asked me to move away out of the picture. I did, but I could see from the goat's nose what he was going to do. And before you knew it, he'd leapt forward. Both the gentlemen had a tight hold of him and so there they lay face-down on the street in their best suits." The bright, small eyes of our chief goat escort twinkle with merriment. "He goes everywhere with me. He always walks to my right", Jan explains. "He's calm when I'm calm. But if I get excited about something, the goat senses it and gets lively as well." There are always at least two goats in training as one has to be kept in reserve. A couple of times a week Jan walks along the dykes and roads in his home-town together with the animals currently in his care. The oldest goat is always the leader and walks in front. The younger ones are fastened to him. Jan Knuiman points out the route, holding the harness tightly. That's how they get used to traffic and to noise. After weeks of training a young goat belts carrying the drums. That causes real chaos. This slight man with his splendid moustache seems to command respect from his goats. Perhaps it's because he does more than just train them. He also does his utmost to look after them well. He gives them a manicure by filing their hoofs, lays a stone floor around their stall to get them used to hard surfaces, puts them in the bath when they need it (a white billy-goat soon shows the dirt!) and makes sure that they have a comfortable place to stay when they're away from home. For such journeys the animals travel in a small trailer, but when they arrive they must be given a stall.with plenty of spaceHe also spoils them. Only a little, though. Jan rolls his own cigarettes. And rolling tobacco is a titbit for goats. When he rolls a cigarette, some tobacco always 'accidently' falls on the ground. There is a close bond between the animals and their human companion. Sometimes it seems as if the goat wants to say something to him. 'Do they understand each other's thoughts?' you then wonder in spite of yourself. It's a funny sight to see how the animal trusts his master and follows him everywhere. And, if Jan is not therefor a while, his family takes over for him. Riet, his wife, and his four children have always lent a helping hand and still do whenever they're needed. They are completely caught up in his hobby. "This has been my hobby for eighteen years", says Jan simply. "I hope to be able to do it for many more years yet and I certainly intend to complete the 25 years. It's really fine work." Heineken's billy-goat mascots certainly live in the lap of luxury.

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Heineken International Magazine | 1985 | | pagina 5