After years of different people attempting to bring an end or at least find ways to reduce the suffering of the ex-racehorses that end up as tourist riding horses in Ooty, the Nilgiris Collector on 12th September 2020 issued a ban on using ex-racehorses in tourist riding in Ooty and this ban has become official now since February as per a Gazette/resolution by the Ooty municipality. Only Marwari/Kathiawari horses and ponies can be used in tourist riding. If someone wonders what is the difference - why ex-racehorses should not be used in tourist riding - the brief answer to this complex problem is the fact that they have been available so cheaply that people who buy them for touristriding use have not had any incentive (and no money) to keep them in stables, feed them properly etc. These horses who used to be well taken care of while still at the racecourse / racing stables have then ended up roaming on the roadsides, searching for food from rubbish bins and getting easily injured in traffic accidents. Marwari and Kathiawari horses are more expensive to buy and therefore their owners generally are more motivated to take better care of them.
In addition, tourist riding is no longer allowed on the streets among the traffic but only on a designated horse riding path near the Ooty lake. Emma and Saara were asked to do a test-ride on that path some months ago. To me it seems to be like a much nicer path, tourist will get nicer photos of themselves compared to riding just on the road amongst the traffic. However, change is always difficult to accept and presently the tourist riding operators have not yet fully accepted the ban on riding on the roads in the fear that clients would not find them if the horse riding is moved to another location.
Nilgiris SPCA has been instrumental in working with the
district administration and police to achieve this ban. As it is often with
bans of different kinds, they don’t immediately solve the core of the problem –
in this case the fate of ex-racehorses after their relatively short racing
career is over – but they can be powerful messages for the public and in this
case especially to the people associated with the horse racing industry and
raise more awareness and interest to this specific animal welfare issue. What to do with ex-racehorses after they are not used in racing?
In the meantime my day starts always at 6am when I get up and head to our feed room to mix wheat bran, barley, corn, mineral mixture and oil for the horses’ morning meal. We have over 70 horses and ponies at the moment (of them three are ex-racehorses) and my share of the work is to feed those 10 that get their first feed at 6:30 - 7am. I am always accompanied by one of our white cats (we have seven cats totally; five of them are black or black and orange and they are siblings and they all have names. Two are white and are known just as 'the white cats') who just loves oil. So he is always waiting for me to open the ricebran oil canister so that he could lick any oil that I might spill when adding it to the horses' feeding bowls.
Since both our children are still not attending regular school in Ooty, our lives are being based home at the farm
all the time even though I drive to work to Ooty every day. After my feeding rounds I come in for a cup of coffee and then go back
out to leave the horses out to different field and paddocks while Nigel takes donkeys and buffaloes out, before coming back
in for breakfast and then leaving for Ooty for work. At times I also squeeze in a moment to work with my young colt Rilian who is getting now some initial foundation training from Vishal (#vishal's_horsemanship).