As winter closes in, the Unit’s inspectorate prepare for their ‘busy season’. This year, there are going to be major problems because we had so little rain in the summer, and grazing and fodder is scarce. The cost of living for the man in the street has soared by much more than the official government figures, resulting in many horses being donated to the Unit.
Bobbie, our Senior Inspector, is taking some long-deserved leave…. Ashley is doing her best to cope with keeping up with the calls.
Trevor is catching up on ‘local’ township working horse and donkey welfare, as both he and Solly have been away on Outreach Clinics for a large part of the last few months. (Local means Gauteng Province nowadays!)
Solly and Samson spent a week in Northern Free State and Lesotho. We were invited by local horse owners from Botshabelo near Thaba Nchu to attend an annual horse festival and horse racing. Most of the 65 horses seen were in a reasonable condition, 4 of the horses were not permitted to join in the races by our inspectors due to either condition or unsoundness. Being a ‘bush race’ there were no officials or rules to monitor the event, so our inspectors stepped in. Solly gave a talk to the owners of the horses, and we distributed second hand tack. Apparently, there were no arrangements at the stadium for water for the horses, so this was hastily organised. At the end of the day, all horses were de-wormed, and a few ‘prizes’ handed out for the best horse, winner of the ‘trippling’ race, etc. We are pleased that we were invited by the owners – often these events are held in secret, for fear of intervention by welfare organisations – and we will try to improve conditions at future festivals, and some sponsored prizes. Our attitude is that we would rather be there to assist and monitor than be the ‘bad guy’ and have to intervene with legal action when things go wrong. (It took me a long time to learn that lesson! ) We will follow this inspection up through liaison with the organisers with recommendations for improving certain areas.
Whilst in the area, Solly and Samson visited the horses that we monitor regularly, and generally all was well. Rooifontein, Thaba Nchu and Botshabelo are areas where we have been working hard, and the results are clear to see in them much -improved condition.
Then on to Lesotho! Once again, our sincere thanks to World Horse Welfare for the loan of their vehicle to make this trip a possibility for us – without it, we would not have had a chance of carrying out these inspections.
It was apparently freezing cold, with snow and rain, so the staff were advised by authorities not to travel over the mountains due to rockfalls in the road. Leribe Pound and Police Horses were inspected, and a great improvement noted in the grey horse that we had previously treated for abscesses in his foot. Not only now sound, the horse had gained weight. A general improvement was observed in all of the police horses. The police in Leribe are now more co operative, and we were pleased to see that a supply of winter fodder had arrived for the police horses.
On our last trip to Leribe, a gentleman called Japan, who owned a black stallion had touched our hearts. He had so little money, yet had tied a child’s blanket around his horse to keep out the cold. On this trip, and thanks to our supporters, we were able to distribute donated second-hand blankets to many needy horses. Japan was given a new one for his horse, and his reaction to this was to burst into tears. (I have a sneaky suspicion that Solly shed a few tears too – he’s a real softy! ) Special thanks to ‘For Horse and Country’ for the donation of beautiful new blankets, of which Japan was one of the recipients, as well as every person who cared enough to donate their horse blankets to the Unit – we can’t tell you how much this was appreciated by the owners and the horses.
Besides visiting Leribe pound and police station, Solly and Samson inspected Qholoqhole Pound and Pitseng. After their inspections, they made a point of meeting the villagers from outlying area, and encouraging them to bring their horses and donkeys to the police stations in the villages for check-ups, de-worming, and where possible, a donation of more suitable second-hand tack.
All in all, it was a successful trip:
Two of the police stations have feed in for their horses for the winter, and the others are expecting a delivery at any time.
Good working relationships are being forged with the police and the people of Lesotho.
Many horses and donkeys will benefit this winter from being de-wormed by HHCU – the meagre feed available to them will at least help them maintain condition now that we have rid them of heavy worm infestations.
Many horses and donkeys will be warmer this winter.