We have approximately 15 rescued horses at the Hill View Farm. Sultan is a Kathiawari horse that was rescued from 'lucky horse shoe' -business. Raja is a Marwari horse that was trained for dancing in weddings and fell off from a transport truck and hurt his back. Mino and Strong are ex-racehorses rescued from the Ooty streets.
There are over 50 rescued ponies at the Hill View Farm, whose background varies from being rescued as orphan foals in Ooty to being retired ex-cart ponies from Maharasthra or confiscated ex-circus ponies from Kerala. We also have couple of young ones that are either born at the farm to rescued female ponies that were pregnant already as they came or that were very young when they were rescued together with their mothers.
The Hill View Farm Animal Refuge is home to over 160 donkeys. They have been rescued as abandoned and injured on roadsides, as abandoned after a construction project was over or retired from their work in brick kilns and mines. Some are born in the farm to females that were pregnant on arrival.
Ooty is a popular tourist destination and as a result, has become also known for its tourist riding horses that offer visitors a chance to experience horse riding. Unfortunately, most of the horses and ponies used for tourist riding do not have stables or safe paddocks to go to in the evenings when their working day is over. Therefore their owners just let them roam free on the roadsides. This is very harmful and dangerous for the horses who easily fall victim of traffic accidents or they get seriously sick by ingesting plastic rubbish from the overflowing dustbins where they search for rice left overs to eat. Many horses die of colic when the plastic impacts their intestines, eventually causing a rupture. At the Hill View Farm we have many rescued ponies that were left orphan because their mothers died of plastic impaction colic. However, rescuing all the horses and ponies off from the Ooty streets is not possible because they are not abandoned but have owners.
To address the health problems of the horses in Ooty, WVS working equine veterinary team arranges monthly veterinary clinics in Ooty to provide routine medical care and hoof trimming and dental checks. In between the monthly clinic days, horse owners can call the WVS India vets to attend emergency cases. Education about correct hoof trimming, feeding, prevention of infectious diseases and first aid is also provided during community education sessions.
SPCA Nilgiris has been working with the municipality to find available land that could be used to provide safe resting grounds and stables for the tourist riding horses for times when they are not saddled and working. A couple of acres of land has been allocated for this purpose and further discussions are going on to fence and develop the place for the horses. A safe resting ground would prevent lot of the most common reasons for unnecessary suffering among these horses.
In 2020 a major milestone was achieved when the use of ex-racehorses as touristriding horses in Ooty was banned by the district Collector and later on by a municipality order.
Our cattle and buffaloes have been confiscated from illegal cattle transport trucks or rescued by individuals who have found them as small calves waiting to be slaughtered.
Many of our goats used to work in a circus, jumping through rings of fire or climbing ladders. Now they just graze with the horses and sheep and enjoy relaxed life.
Most of our sheep came from the Pasteur Institute India, Coonoor, when they closed down the lab where they used to need sheep for their vaccine production purposes. Two rams were rescued from being fighting rams.
Traffic accidents are common among the free-roaming dogs on the streets and often the fractures are so severe that the only way to save the life of the dog is to amputate the limp. Dogs do well on three legs and our three-legged dogs run around happily on the farm and jump almost meter-high fences easily.
From being found locked up in small cages or left in a box behind our doorstep to being discarded because they were not breeding anymore or because owners could no longer take care of them, our dogs would have different stories to tell you if they had the words. While it is often possible to find good homes for puppies and young dogs, older ones are usually left with us.
These two buddies were performing artists in a circus in Kerala before getting a peaceful home at the Hill View Farm Animal Refuge. They are not well socialised and show symptoms of traumatised past. However, when left to play by themselves they are a happy and content pair.
The most effective way to improve health and welfare of street dogs is to control their reproduction by surgically sterilising them. In India this is commonly known as Animal Birth Control or ABC for short. In ABC-programs dogs are also vaccinated against rabies to help to control the fatal disease. In the Nilgiris, the IPAN team begun ABC work and intensive rabies vaccination programs already over 20 years ago. This work was then continued by WVS and as a result the district has been free of canine rabies for over 10 years. The stray dog population is also well under control with 44-77% of adult stray dogs being sterilised as per the WVS India survey in 2018.
In 2015 we received six ponies and one Kathiawari horse that had been rescued from a circus in Kerala. The horse was named Felix and on his arrival he was skin and bones, very reserved and bullied by the other ex-circus ponies that he had been with.
In August 2018 Felix was looking great and we had found a good, loving home for him where he would be living with two other ponies and taken care by dedicated people who also run a school for disadvantaged children.
Felix is enjoying life in his new home and in March 2019 Kate Fenner was also able to visit him. He is dearly loved by the children of the family as well as those in the school. Gentle horse having a great new life.
Mrs Elisabeth Devaraj, Felix's new owner: "We were delighted to welcome Felix to our farm in August 2018. He enjoys the attention he gets and my daughter loves riding him. He has become part of our family."
© 2020. India Project for Animals and Nature registered charity no 09/2002, AWBI recognition TN 108/2003