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43 starving race horses rescued from Aligarh farm


The Times of India, New Delhi, Friday 6th December 2013

Animal activists have rescued 43 starving thoroughbred horses, so emaciated that they could barely stand, from a stud farm near Aligarh. Locals said the farm had stopped feeding the horses around eight months ago and scores of them had starved to death.

Forty-nine animals were brought to a rescue farm in Gopalpur village in Gurgaon last week, where six severely malnourished horses died. One pregnant mare underwent an abortion as she was too weak to deliver. The rest are recuperating slowly, rescuers said.

Animal rights activists and organizations such as Frendicoes were alerted by animal lovers who saw these dying horses in a stud farm near Pisawa, close to Aligarh, a few days ago. A 10-member team from Frendicoes then set out for the farm on November 28, where they saw a horrifying sight of several horses crouched on the floor, many eating their own dung because there was no feed.

"It was a gory sight. Animals were wounded and extremely dehydrated. Some locals told us that these horses had not been fed for more than eight months. Villagers and some animal lovers, however, did come once in a while offer help," said Geeta Seshamani, who runs Frendicoes SECA (Society for the Eradication of Cruelty to Animals).

Some volunteers said they were told by the stud farm staff that there were 150 race horses in the farm, many of whom had starved to death.

Why the horse had to starve is not clear. "We haven't met or spoken to the owner of the farm. The staff told us their salaries had not been paid and no feed was bought for the horses. The racing community is shocked at the extent of cruelty," an activist said.

Politician and animal rights campaigner, Maneka Gandhi, however, said that the farm owner had communicated with her.

"Yadavendra Singh, the man who runs the farm, has written me a mail. He has asked me to pick up some of the horses and has moved some others to another farm. It's extremely cruel. Locals have told us that 27 horses died in a day after starving for months," she said.

At the rescue farm, a team of three veterinarians and 10 others are tending to the horses. Most of them are on fluids. They are being given doob grass and another variety called Gwalior grass. All of them are on multi-vitamins and various other supplements including calcium.

"Many of these horses have maggots in their hooves. A lot of them have head wounds because they may have banged their heads out of hunger. It will take us a few weeks to get them to normal shape," said Dr Akhilesh, one of the vets.

Thoroughbred horses are bred for racing and are extremely agile. Most of the horses at the farm have chestnut brown and grey coats. The mares are 9 to 11 years old and males aged 2 to 3 years. There are foals too.

"We will start giving them oats and barley soon if we see them recuperating properly. Many of these horses have stunted growth because of inadequate nourishment," added Dr Akhilesh.

Meanwhile, members of the racing community from various race-courses are sending help with supplements and experienced vets who treat thoroughbred horses regularly.