Highlighting the plight of Indian beach horses

  • Concern grows for Chennai’s beach horses in India as the PFA try to ban horses being used for beach rides

    The appalling state of many beach horses in the southern city of Chennai in India has prompted the People for Animals group (PFA) to try and ban horses being used for “joy rides” on the beach.

    In temperatures of more than 30 degrees, horses are used by locals to race along the 12km stretch of Marina beach in the region of Madras.

    Bought at auction from racecourses, the majority of horses arrive at the beach in poor health. A heavy workload coupled with poor husbandry means that the majority of horses are pitifully thin and sufferingfrom illness, injury and disease.

    Most are ridden in ill fitting tack which results in horrific back and mouth sores.

    When not being ridden these horses are tied up day and night along the roadside, often with no shelter or access to fresh water or quality food.

    The road to help

    The nearest veterinary centre is more than 8km away. Some animals are forced to walk the long journey as their owners are too poor to payfor transport, others are simply abandoned.

    The PFA has set up three mobile veterinary centres in the past six months.

    According to Shiranee Bereira, one of the co-founders of the PFA in Chennai, the plight of the beach horses is a growing problem and one that needs addressing: “We hope to ban or regulate the use of these horses with the help of the Animal Welfare Board of India and the State Government.”

    Other Indian state such as Mumbai, have successfully banned organised beach races and the Marina beach in Chennai is currently under police surveillance.

    But as Shiranee explains, the problem is ongoing: “Everyday we deal with people who are ignorant and don’t know any better, as well as callous people who use their animals purely as a form of entertainment.”

    Time to act

    In one incident, at the end of April this year, a beach horse collapsed due to colic and dehydration. Volunteers from the PFA rushed the animal to the nearest veterinary centre but it died shortly before arriving.

    Chief Minister, Dr Jayalaitha was so shocked by a picture of a dead mare that appeared in a local paper that she immediately called on the whole of the state ministry to do something.

    On 4 June, the PFA identified 17 seriously ill horses on the beach. Under the protection of a police escort the organisation seized 11 and took them back to their shelter. One died of tetanus but the rest are said to be recovering well.

    The PFA has three permanent shelters, staffed by 42 permanent workers, as well as countless volunteers.

    Shiranee puts the cost of running the shelters each month at around 200,000 Indian Rupees (about £2,721.45).

    If you would like to make a donation send a cheque made payable to the PFA and send it to: The Chennai Beach Horses Fund, c/o Mrs Ghandi Maneka, 14 Ashoka Road, New Dheli, 110001, India.

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