A ban on tourism across the Nilgiris district in India has meant horses who would usually offer rides to tourists have been unable to work. As a result, many horse owners have struggled to provide proper shelter, food and care to their animals, and some have let their horses fend for themselves on the streets.
Roaming freely on the streets takes a toll on these horses. They sustain themselves on a poor diet, scavenging for food amongst the rubbish. They also suffer injuries in road traffic accidents, invisible to the cars on the road at night. It’s a heartbreaking life for these magnificent animals, many of which were racehorses in a former life.
Together, the Department of Animal Husbandry and the police, along with the Nilgiris Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) have stepped in to help. They’ve begun picking up abandoned horses on the streets.
Our equine veterinarians in the area lent a hand in rescuing El Camino, Strong Conviction and Magic Wave, three ex-racehorses who were wandering the streets. In collaboration with WTG, we were able to provide technical veterinary support to the rescue operation as well as a home at the Hill View Farm Animal Refuge. Via the horse’s microchips, which the numbers were recorded earlier at our treatment clinics, we were also able to identify the horses and track down their history, before they ended up as tourist riding horses in Ooty.
Free-roaming horses in Ooty is a complex problem, which is ultimately driven by supply and demand for tourist rides. The COVID-19 outbreak and travel restrictions have worsened the problem, with many horses receiving even less care than they normally would.
Although rescuing El Camino, Strong Conviction and Magic Wave doesn’t provide a sustainable solution to the problem, it makes the world of a difference to these three horses, who no longer need to look for food from dust bins and survive on the roads among the traffic. It also highlights how, in great times of need, a collaboration between different departments and individuals is essential to improving the welfare of these horses – and other animals who have no-one else to turn to.
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