Most horses in the U.S. have a pretty good life. At least, all of the horses I know do. The ones I know (and there are many!) are pampered, doted on, spoiled, given good veterinary care and considered part of the family. Gabe has been reacting to fly and mosquito bites very, very badly this year, so, he gets antihistamines, bug spray, a fly mask and baths with soothing, medicated shampoo to ease the welts. I have a full-body/neck fly sheet on the way. I can’t stand to see any horse suffer. I see a bump, bruise, scrape or owie on any of them and it gets treated.
They really have no idea how good life is and I hope they never know any other life.
There are those out there who are abused and starved and neglected in the U.S., but there are charities and organizations here that work to help them and find them new homes.
But imagine being in a poor country in the middle of a revolution where horses are treated like 3rd hand vehicles and kept working injured, starved, sick and abused.
I had no idea how bad it was for horses in other countries. I think many of us forget that in other countries, horses are merely beasts of burden, worked until they die with no thought for health or comfort, or even food. We are used to our pampered, glossy, healthy horses. Not the skinny, abused, injured, sick and overworked ones that are the norm rather than the exception.
I just finished a book, “Born of the Pyramids: Rocky’s Story” by Susan Richards-Benson that highlighted the suffering of the horses in Egypt.
The story is written based on real-life, current experiences of horses in Cairo told from the point of view of a horse named Rocky. It follows Rocky from birth through a variety of owners and the abuses he and his fellow horses suffered: Beatings, saddle sores and harness sores, torn lips and tongues cut by sharp bits, starvation, dehydration, poor farriery, infections, overwork, the ignorance of owners about the welfare of their horses and the boggling practice of applying red hot iron rods to horses’ legs to “make their hearts stronger.”
The book kept me riveted from page one. The story kept reminding me of Anna Sewell’s “Black Beauty” as Richards-Benson showed the reader the wretched lives of the horses living (subsisting) and working in the streets of Cairo. They are worked until they die or simply cannot move.
My heart broke as a I read it and with each new, horrifying atrocity done to the horses and donkeys in the book, I found myself often thinking “no way. There’s no way anyone could be that ignorant and cruel!” I kept waiting for Rocky to wake up and find out it was all just some horrible dream he was having. But, it wasn’t a dream.
Rocky was actually one of the first horses purchased by a small rescue started to help the horses in Cairo and he has become the “mascot” representing the plight of Cairo’s horses and the efforts to help ease their harsh lives.
I did a bit of research while I read the book and found out the atrocities committed throughout the book are extremely commonplace in Egypt. It’s just the way it’s done because no one knows any better, but there are groups working to get feed, vet care and farrier work to the horses and educate the owners about the proper care of the animals they depend on and use for their livelihoods.
Some of the terms used will be unfamiliar to American horse owners because they are terms more commonly used in Britian. I believe the author is British, which explains some of the unfamiliar terms. I read a lot of training books written by British authors, so I could figure out what most of the words were referring to.
I do recommend this book. It’s not terribly long and is a fast read (about horses, always a bonus in my world!), plus, buying one helps the horses!
The author, who is working to change the plight of the horse in Egypt and around the world, is donating proceeds from the sale of “Born of the Pyramids” to The Egypt Horse Project, The Egyptian Society of Animal Friends and other animal welfare organizations worldwide.
The book can be found at amazon.com.
I highly, highly recommend a visit to the Facebook page of “Born of the Pyramids.” Updates on the work being done for the horses in Cairo are regular and the photos of the horses, their condition and injuries will definitely make you want to not only donate, but go out and hug your horses and give them a few extra carrots.
(Full disclosure: I did not get compensated for this review. I was asked by the author to review the book and because the proceeds from the sale benefits the horses, I agreed.)