And suddenly it is already August and just like about everyone in the world we keep wondering how long this pandemic will last and what will be the new normal that we will arrive to when this is over?
Life at the Hill View Farm Animal Refuge has been following normal routines despite of the very strict lockdowns starting in March and the gradually increasing COVID-19 positive cases in the Nilgiris district since some of the lockdown restrictions were lifted from June onwards. Animal care and veterinary services were protected during the lockdown phase and this meant that our IPAN and WVS India vehicles had passes that enabled us to go to buy and transport animal feed, attend emergency cases, go about in district to distribute feed to stray dogs that were suddenly without any food source and also enabled me to go to work in Ooty.
Since the schools are closed, our children are doing their studies by distance learning and home-schooling. This leaves them time to help in the care of the rescued ponies and horses and though they miss their friends they have also enjoyed this new opportunity to help put the feed out for the horses, go for a trail ride or do some young-horse training before sitting down with school books and online-lessons.
The situation with the horses that are used for tourist riding in Ooty went from bad to worse when the tourism stopped and the owners of these horses stopped earning any money with their horses. Especially the thoroughbred ex-racehorses have suffered badly when left to roam on the roads and scavenge for food from the dustbins. With funding from some local individuals as well from the Animal Husbandry department, the WVS India team went about feeding these horses and attending for injuries while the local SPCA has continued to put on pressure on the municipality authorities to enforce regulations regarding the tourist riding in Ooty and provide stable/safe resting ground facilities for those tourist riding horses that have been licensed and permitted to be used in tourist riding. However, it has become clear to all involved, that ex-racehorses should not be allowed at all to be used as tourist riding horses on Ooty streets. They are available so cheaply after their racing career is over that they are easily bought by people who then are not able to afford much further care for them.
At a recent streethorse round-up by the Ooty police and Nilgiris SPCA, three ex-racehorses were confiscated by the police and sent to the IPAN Hill View Farm. These horses; Strong Conviction (who we call now as Vicki), El Camino (Mino) and Magic Wave (Buddy) have been racing on the race tracks of Bangalore, Ooty and Mysore until couple of years ago, earning great sums of money for their owners. After their racing career was over they were for no use or value to the original owners and so finally ended up living on the Ooty roads and being used for tourist riding.
After living on the roads for the last couple of years they are now safely on a paddock and fed three times a day with wheatbran, barley and oats and they are able to graze safely without the risk of being hit by speeding vehicles. However, we are concerned about the plastic that they may have in their intestines after eating from the roadside dustbins for so long. On the first morning after coming to the Hill View Farm, Buddy begun colicing and passed a long piece of plastic rubbish along his feces. This was of course very fortunate, the fact that the plastic came out. Often it gets stuck in a certain part of the intestine and eventually causes very severe colic and even intestinal rupture which is always fatal.
All of them also have rain rot – a skin condition that is caused by getting constantly wet in the rain. To treat the rain rot we are bathing them with chlorhexidine, rubbing the soap into the skin brushing off the scabs. Vicki suffers from an infected frog/hoof with signs of maggot-infestation in it as well. This needs daily cleaning and we have applied ivermectin to kill the maggots.