Improving life for working cart horses

  • Highlighting the plight of Cape Town’s equine scrap metal “carties”, who face hardship in their everyday working life

    The plight of Cape Town’s carthorses has prompted a donation of medical supplies from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer

    The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA) and the Cart Horse Protection Association in Cape Town (CHPA) have received a donation from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, to help improve the lives of Cape Town’s cart horses.

    The donation of £10,000 worth of veterinary medicines and wormers will be used to treat the city’s horses at nine clinics.

    Cape Town currently has 856 registered working horses, but in reality the number working in and around the city is closer to 3,000.

    Used to pull carts, the horses collect scrap metal which their owners then sell for around 25 cents per kilogram (2p).

    The biggest problem is from overloading. Many horses are forced to pull loads in excess of 1,000kg using harnesses and equipment which rarely fits.

    However ill treatment is mainly due to ignorance rather than cruelty.

    Varying standards of care

    The standard of care given to the horses varies greatly, but as Dawn King from the CHPA explains, there are some exceptions: “Sometimes it is the poorest workers who take the best care of their horses. At clinics we often point these workers out to other owners and say look, he has less than you but takes better of his horse.”

    When not working, the animals are kept in their owner’s backyard or tethered in open fields with no protection from the elements. Many are fed on cow’s meal because it is significantly cheaper than horse feed, but it is unsuitable for them and many suffer colic.

    Running nine mobile clinics around the city, the CHPA aims to re-educate owners. The CHPA prefers to be mobile as it allows them to go where they are most needed.

    As well as advice, they also provide owners with veterinary treatment, feed, the services of a professional farrier, harness maintenance and repair at subsidised prices.

    “Only registered horses can attend our clinics” explains Dawn. “Owners can then receive help and treatment for their horses at a significant discount.”

    The CHPA have also gone to great lengths to educate the police and public to recognise a lame horse and report them, something which is working.

    “We always investigate every report of lame or emaciated horses,” says Dawn “and although the CHPA is not a policing organisation, we will where necessary, remove horses to treat them.”

    For more information click here to visit www.spana.org or to send a donation click here to email the CHPA chpa@mweb.co.za

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