Hospital for Animals acts to help neglected foals
of foals as young as two weeks of age may be taken from their mothers
and sold at markets across India, says the British-based charity
Brooke Hospital for Animals. Many of these foals, which are being
sold as working animals, could be taken away only days after birth.
Pritchard, veterinary advisor for the charity, has witnessed this
trade first-hand at the Looniyawas equine market in Jaipur, India.
She describes the devastating impact this trade has on these vulnerable
animals: "Foals, some as young as 15 days old, barely able
to survive without their mothers' milk, are tied up side by side
in long lines waiting to be sold. They have no choice but to nibble
at the piles of dried grass placed in front of them, or chew in
vain at each other's manes.
When the sun moves round, there is no respite from the heat
and dust except a quick drink of water given whenever the owner
remembers them. All too often they are forgotten.
teams of vets from Brooke Hospital for Animals stand by to offer
free veterinary treatment and advice on equine care, the charity,
which has been working in India since 1992, has reported a growing
problem in the trade of young foals in Jaipur. It now fears that
if this trade is replicated at horse fairs across India, thousands
of foals could suffer the same fate. In Jaipur, we worm foals,
treat wounds and put pressure on owners to offer more water,
continues Pritchard. But there are dealers who are prepared
to offer very young foals, taken abruptly from their mothers, to
anyone who will pay the price.
lucky ones will be bought outright. Others will be bought by speculators
or 'in bulk' by a middleman, to be re-sold at the same trading fair
or packed into lorries and moved around the state from sale to sale.
Under these conditions most will suffer from poor immunity and injuries
during transport, and many will die from malnutrition and disease.
foals are Rajasthan's famous Marwari breed with the curved ear tips.
For 5,000 rupees (£66) you can buy a thin little bay colt,
destined for the tonga taxi carts of Jaipur's busy streets. A bright
skewbald filly which may be used as a future 'marriage horse' to
carry Rajasthani grooms to their weddings, costs 8,000 rupees (£106).
dealers have brought them vast distances so it is nearly impossible
to prevent this trade in tiny foals, explains Pritchard. But
Brooke will be putting pressure on the market authorities to set
a minimum age at which animals can be traded at fairs and will encourage
people to buy an older foal that is far more likely to survive into
are an estimated 2.5 million working equines in India. These animals
are usually the only source of income for their poverty-stricken
families and work under extreme conditions of heat, pain, exhaustion
and illness. A combination of economic, social and cultural factors,
including lack of education, superstition and poverty, result in
unnecessary pain and suffering for these animals.
Brooke Hospital for Animals was founded in 1934 to improve the condition
and well-being of equine animals overseas by providing free veterinary
treatment for the working horses, donkeys and mules of some of the
poorest people in the world and by advising and training their owners
and users. We are the only organisation dedicated to providing veterinary
treatment for working equines, alongside training owners, to bring
about lasting change.