Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Born of the Pyramids: Rocky's Story

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

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.)


  1. I, too, have read the book and agree with every word. I followed Rocky's story from his rescue and it makes it especially poignant because I knew what he had been through. I follow the Egyptian rescues like ESAF and PFK avidly and I can't believe my eyes sometimes at the tragic pictures they post. Hopefully something like Born Of The Pyramids can get their story out there

  2. From what I understand and have seen, the plight of horses owned by the Amish in Pennsylvania is almost as bad. They are underfed, overworked, and killed off if they can no longer perform the labor intensive work required of them. Horses that are bought and sold and used strictly as beasts of burden often find themselves treated in ways we would find appalling.

    Thanks for the review, but I think I have to pass on the book. It would be too heart wrenching for me to read.

  3. Janette...does Egypt have laws designed to protect animals like the U.S. does? I was quite shocked and disgusted at some of the pictures posted of the horses treated at the feed/care clinics

    Karen...We have a few Amish communities around here and every horse I've seen, while worked hard, is well-cared for because the Amish do depend on them. I'm sure there are some groups that do not take very good care of their animals, those people exist everywhere in every community! The book is a heart-wrenching read, definitely, but it does open your eyes to the ignorance that still exists about animals worldwide.

  4. Sounds interesting. So many animals in this world suffer at the hands of humans. Makes me so sad. So many animals, horses especially, try so hard to please and are responsible for much of the mankind's progress historically. So sad that they aren't given the respect they deserve. I will look for the book.

  5. Thanks again Jenn for the review. Karen I can fully understand not wanting to read it! It's definitely an emotional read. But thanks to the copies sold already, Born of the Pyramids has been able to sponsor a clinic that will feed the starving pyramid horses in Giza, and I can only hope it continues to grow from this point onwards.