The feral horses of Garb have adapted to the desert environment that offers searing temperatures and little food. Today, you can catch a glimpse of these horses from a protected perch that looks out over the watering hole.
This area was first settled during the gold rush in 1873 but today the village of Kaapsehoop is occupied by many artists who have set up shop. Experiencing one adventure into this area will have you understanding why the freedom-loving souls have always found it a place to call home.
The wetlands that house the Rewinds Nature Preserve also give refuge to a small herd of wild horses that have a mysterious origin, These horses are the most difficult to get a glimpse of as the herd is small and their history with humans has left them staying clear of the two-legged species. It is thought the horses an originated when the British soldiers left the area over a hundred years ago.
The herd eventually grew to be over 200 strong but local farmers hunted them down and killed most of them. It is told that only three of these original horses managed to escape, and they are the ancestors of those who now thrive in the wetland area.
Taking the time to explore the areas where wild horses still run free will be an experience you will never forget. If you keep in mind these animals are feral and should not be fed or approached closely, you will be able to observe them as they go about their day.
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North Africans have been riding horses since antiquity and equines remain a valued cultural resource, says Dr Mac. In fact, new archaeological evidence suggests that horses were domesticated and ridden in northern and western Africa long before the Ancient Egyptians harnessed them to their war chariots.
The Tuareg, for example, are an ancient Berber tribe who ride horses and camels and practice nomadic pastoral ism with sheep, goats and cattle in the Sahara. Clinging to an ancient way of life in the desert Between 1900 and 1917, the Tuaregs resisted French colonialism, but their broadswords were no match for modern weapons.
The traditional Tuareg territory in the Sahara and Sahel was divided up between Niger, Mali, Algeria, Libya and Burkina Faso. Tuareg's pastoralists still roam the Saharan parts of Niger, Mali and Algeria, their livestock grazing different areas at different times of the year.
The traditional bridle lacks a nose band and is decorated with many fronds and tassels to protect the eyes and nostrils from flies. Some may have complex or obscure histories, so inclusion here does not necessarily imply that a breed is predominantly or exclusively African.
Name English name if differentReported fromNotesImage Abyssinian Ethiopia Bahr-El-Ghazal Chad ALADI Egyptian Egypt Niagara Mali, Niger Barb Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia Lesotho Pony Lesotho Beledougou Mali Beirut Pony Nigeria Bob Burkina Faso Border Botswana, South Africa Born Nigeria Calvin South Africa extinct Cape Harness South Africa extinct Cape Horse South Africa Coeval de Nioro Mali Dermal Niger Domain Mali Angola Chad, Eritrea, Mali, Sudan English Halibut Horse South Africa European Warm blood South Africa Leave Senegal FOTA Senegal Haldane :122 Tunisia Hausa Mali, Niger, Nigeria Hod Mali, Mauritania Koto-Koli Pony Benin, Togo Le money DES Moods Tunisia M' Par Senegal M'Bayer Senegal Moss Burkina Faso Nam aqua Pony South Africa extinct Najib Horse South Africa Nephew Pony Tunisia extinct Nooitgedachter Botswana, South Africa Money du Logon Chad SA Miniature Horse South Africa SA Sporting horse South Africa SA Warm Blood South Africa Sahel Mali Somali Pony Somalia Songhai Mali Sudan Country-Bred Sudan Surabaya Nigeria Tailed Sudan Torrid Niger Tswana Botswana Clamped South Africa West African Barb Algeria, Chad, Ghana, Mauritania, Senegal, Tunisia West African Angola Central African Republic, Sudan West African Pony Ghana Western Sudan Pony Sudan Height Burkina Faso ^ Breeds in Africa : Horse. Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. I’ve said on several previous occasions that domestic animals are far from outside the Tet Zoo remit.
On the contrary, I find them to be of great interest, and I think that their diversity, evolution and behavior is something that we should pay attention to more often. The article you’re reading now is a weird spin off of the Tetra pod Zoology podcast (known in-universe as the TetZoopodcats) and relates specifically to a question we were asked by Tet Zoo regular Richard Hing.
I should say to begin with that it’s becoming ever-easier for me to write about domestic horse breeds and their history because I now own quite a few books devoted to these subjects. While there’s a very obvious European (and British) bias to these books, the good news is that at least some of them do discuss the breeds from places like sub-Saharan Africa.
The majority of African horse breeds are derivatives of a domestication event that was centered in Asia Minor and the Mediterranean fringes. I really want to avoid the subject of pre-dynastic horses and domestication history (and taxonomy) here since it’s very complicated and there’s lots to say.
I will say that horses were seemingly domesticated several times, from wild populations that almost certainly differed in proportions and other characteristics. They have proportionally long ears and a bulging forehead region that apparently reflects the presence of large frontal sinuses (Bennett 2008).
This is a long-headed, long-legged horse with flat shoulders, a low-set tail and sloping hindquarters, and it can be virtually any shade of brown, black or gray. They’ve repeatedly been crossed with Arab horses, so much so that a large pool of hybrids now exists, and several Barb strains have been bred.
A form with a Roman-nosed appearance is associated with Tripoli, and smaller-bodied versions have been bred in mountainous parts of Algeria and Morocco. One hybrid population, mostly associated with Libya, has a distinctive-enough look that it’s treated as a distinct breed, the Libyan barb or North African horse.
From here, they were taken to South America where breeds like the Argentine Criollo, Puerto Rican Pass Fine and Machado are apparently derived from them. I should also note briefly that Barbs may have originated in Spain in the first place, an idea which is consistent with archaeological and genetic data suggesting that the Iberian Peninsula was both a Pleistocene refuge for wild horses, and a domestication center for animals that were later taken around the Mediterranean fringes and across northern Africa (Jansen et al.
Animals I’ve seen in photos have a gently bulging forehead and slightly concave dorsal face profile like that seen in North African Barbs. Many comments made about the Angola have a negative connotation: it’s described as having thin legs, a proportionally big, dorsally convex and unattractive head, a flat croup (= rump), and a long back.
They include the Fulani, the Bahr-el-Ghazal of Chad, the Hausa and Born of Nigeria, and the Niagara, Dermal, Moss, Songhai and Height of the great ‘bend region’ of the Niger River (Hendricks 2007). Fulani horses are small and hardy, they’re highly variable, and they have features indicative of an Afro-Turkic/Oriental ancestry.
Pictures show a long, narrow face, slender proportions overall and a function as both a pack and saddle horse. Again, it paints a picture of substantial movement of horse breeds, and a long and complex history of hybridization and retrogression (Paisley et al.
In fact, it’s obvious that “he importance of ponies in West Africa has been seriously underestimated because the process of replacement by the larger and more prestigious horses brought across the desert was already advanced during the period when the first observers were writing” (Blench 1993, p. 103). Several groups of people in what is now Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and elsewhere in western and Central Africa are recorded as using and breeding horses, and of using them extensively in battle.
In Chad, the powerful Aguirre Kingdom used mounted cavalry, equipped with quilted armor worn over leather and chain mail, during the 18th century at least, and armored horses were in fact used extensively across central and eastern Sudan Africa. Plateau State in Nigeria was inhabited by people with a rich and interesting horse-based culture.
The Pit people of Nigeria also used their small hill ponies when hunting game. Sadly, all of these animals seem to have declined substantially in recent decades with a 1990 survey finding only three in use among one of the relevant ethnic groups (Blench 1993).
A remarkable tradition apparently used by people across the region concerns the deliberate cutting of the horse’s back such that it bled, the clotting blood then being used as an adhesive to help the (bareback) rider stay in place. Blench (1993) quoted UMM (1910) on this, and noted that it seemed so bizarre (and cruel) that it would ordinarily be worthy of dismissal as a traveler’s tale.
Some authors provided extra information, saying that the skin was opened on the back such that a swollen pad (and eventually a giant roughened area of scar tissue) formed and functioned as a sort of built-in saddle. A Berm man (the Berm or Biro are indigenous to the Jo's Plateau in Nigeria) was quoted as saying “A horse is like a man; you send it out to bring a tired man home, you give it water to drink, you walk miles to find it grass to eat, it carries you to hunt and to war, when it is tired you dismount and carry your load on your own head.
When you die, and they lead it towards your grave, its spirit may fly out of its body in its anxiety to find you” (Musical 1982, p. 23-24). Ponies kept by the Berm were killed when their owner died and the corpse was then wrapped in the skin (Davies, in Blench 1993).
Axes, spears, saddles and bits and reins were used by these people as they rode, and Master apparently featured a remarkable image where Gamer warriors, crossing the Logon River in canoes, are leading their swimming horses behind them (Blench 1993). Master also referred to the sight of 3000-4000 Gamer warriors, about one-third of which were mounted, so they apparently owned a great many horses.
It’s apparently has exceptionally hard hooves, relatively short legs and a longish back (Goodall 1963). These features are all related to its sure-footedness on rough, rocky terrain, and it’s this characteristic which had made the Auto a popular and reliable horse used extensively during the Boer War.
The Auto seems to have originated as a cross between Arab, Persian and Thoroughbred horses during the middle of the 17th century and to have been brought to Southern Africa by Dutch and Portuguese people. The origins and history of miniature horses is confusing, in part because people have crossed small individuals of many breeds to create small-stature animals.
They probably descend from horses imported to the region for military purposes and don’t have (contra some ideas on their origins) any direct links to Auto ponies used by endemic people. I don’t know anywhere near as much as I might like, but the few sources I’ve consulted show that western, central and Southern Africa at least have a rich and diverse history of equestrianism.
Horses have also been used extensively in war, in ceremonial fashion or as working or riding animals in many African countries even well south of the Sahara. Ethnographic and linguistic evidence for the prehistory of African ruminant livestock, horses and ponies.
In And ah, B., Spoke, A., Shaw, C. & Sinclair, P. (eds) The Archaeology of Africa : Food, Metals and Towns. The Luciano horse maternal lineage based on mitochondrial D-loop sequence variation.
Several years ago I googled Africa + Horses + Volunteer” and found myself travelling solo to Mozambique for two months. Vilanculos, Mozambique The fiery red morning sun rises out of the Indian Ocean as we mount up on the beach.
The Mozambique shores of the Indian Ocean are billed as “the best beach riding in the world.” Photo courtesy of Ariane Lee Johnston. After a midday feast of seafood, local vegetables, and tropical fruit, we’ll return northbound on the huge expanse of low tide beach.
Pat rides in front, giving the cues for changing gaits depending on the footing and the proximity of crops and villagers. Rounding a bend at the canter, avoiding low-hanging branches while simultaneously keeping Viper, my horse, out of the millet crops alongside the trail, I feel in a flow.
In Zimbabwe’s Hwang National Park, the horses and riders travel along paths trodden by elephants through the thick bush. Nine of us are single file on horseback; James leads on his strong buckskin gelding, Manhood, whose thick black mane and tail shine in the early light.
The horses are surefooted and trained for the wilderness, their instincts honed by encounters with the animals of Africa. We’re riding not on footpaths made by humans, nor trails etched by horses, but on tracks trodden by elephants through the thick bush.
Most captivating is their bath time at the watering holes, our horses motionless and hyper-alert while we riders, beaming or teary, are profoundly touched by the pachyderm families at play. Watching the elephants’ bath time in Hwang National Park, Zimbabwe, is a profoundly touching experience.
Breathless with exhilaration, some long way down the track, we stop in a small clearing of grass, horses snorting and blowing. The giraffes in Zimbabwe’s Hwang National Park look over, curious about the horses and riders passing by.
By the time the bush opens onto magnificent grassland, everything is gilded with the glow of late afternoon light. The zebras carry on grazing, swishing their tails, and eyeing us as if we’re not strangers, just newcomers today in the vast expanse of African horizon.
In seven days we’ve ridden with giraffes, marveled at elephant herds, kept company with zebra, and sighted kudzu, wildebeest, eland, and sable. We’ve seen a puff adder snake up close, flap-necked chameleons, billions of insects, and myriad resplendent birds.
Her natural way with horses, the African camp crew, and guests is genuine, warm, and down to earth. The Gardens offered an opportunity to explore on horseback the “cultural landscape” of the Maradona Wilderness, one of the last intact pristine areas remaining in the country.
Poaching has all but decimated the wildlife, and mineral mining operations are encroaching, putting the legendary Raffia Palms Botanical Reserve at risk. An earths cape of open flat via, monumental rock faces, waterfalls, river crossings, and wildlife salt pans.
“Cultural landscape” is a new and fascinating term to me, defining a marriage of natural history and archaeology with anthropology, sacred sites, and traditional community life practiced now in the 21st century. Guided by Shone horsemen, I photograph rock paintings of zebra and kudzu, trance dancing, and elephant hunting.
We see an entire rock face covered with ocher and brown hand prints, evidence of indigenous life ten thousand years ago, here in its place of origin. The rock surface is a shamanic portal where spirit mediums communicated with the unseen world, and is still held sacred today.
Once heritage status is formalized, animal restoration can begin in earnest, supported by the “zero impact” of wildlife safaris only on foot or horseback. It dawns on me that I’ve been the sole foreigner in camp most of the time, a mid-life white woman at that, riding with Shone horsemen, eating Santa by the cooking fire, sitting in sacred places on the land.
It is usually taken for granted that the horse was introduced to African and Dravidian people by Asians or Indo-European. But as indicated below the affinities between the terms for horse in Dravidian and African languages indicate that the horse was domesticated by Dravidian's, and other Proto-Saharans before the Asian invasion of Egypt and spread of the Indo-European speaking people.
Archaeological evidence indicate that the horse was known to the Nubian's centuries before its common use in Egypt. Saharan Africans used the donkey and later horses as beast of burden.
Skeletons of horses dating to between to around 2000 BC have been found in the Sahara-Sahel zone Although the horse and camel are depicted in the rock art of Nubia, the Sahel-Sahara and Upper Egypt they are considered to be related to the Graeco-Roman period.
Moreover, camel figurines are found in German (3500 BC) and archaic Egyptian context. The horse is often associated with being ridden by the personages depicted in the rock art.
In the same area we find engravings of men capturing horses probably to be ridden or harnessed to a chariot. This date is probably far to late given the fact that the horse is attested too early in the archaeological history of Saharan Africa as discussed above.
At Bu hen, one of the major fortresses of Nubia, which served as the headquarters of the Egyptian Viceroy of Kush a skeleton of a horse was found lying on the pavement of a Middle Kingdom apart dating to 1675BC. This also supports the early habits of Africans riding horses as depicted in the rock art.
B’LU, solo Made bar ‘gray horse’, Hausa Arab ‘swift horse’Wolf FAS Somali Frank Egyptian never Severe pis Tamil, MAL. Part Tamil payer, Fulani punch Made bar Ge’EZ farms Galley or Promo farad, Ferrara.
In West Africa according to Daniel McCall the horse was in the Sahara during the Second Millennium BC This would explain the affinity between the Dravidian and African terms for horse outlined above. These horses were still be used by the warriors of ancient Ghana as noted by the Arabic writer Albert when he visited this area.
In fact Greek traditions make it clear that the ancient Cretans, called Minoans came from Africa The Dravidian and African languages share similar names for the wheel.
Galley makurakura Lulu Mali, tagoriSwahili guru, dump Made Kali, Lori, muru-feTamil KAL, ARI, URL, bikini Key. The linguistic evidence suggest that in the photo- language the speakers of proto-African-Dravidian used either the vowels o/u or a/i after the consonants.
This forced the original West African domesticated horses to move southward where they are presently found. Found mostly in the northern parts of Ethiopia, the Semen Mountains are a common place to find the true Abyssinian.
Other regional breeds or distinctions tend to focus on an attribute, such as riding, agricultural work, or competition. One variation, the Kunduz, is an endangered feral horse that is found near the city of Hagar.
It gallops like a sprinting horse, which has caused it to be infused into today’s racing breeds, like the Thoroughbred. The history of the breed is believed to date back to around the year 900, when the region saw high levels of conflict.
What is unique about this particular breed isn’t its small size, but their extremely hard hooves and tough, sound legs. These horses have a strong stamina, but are also known for being extremely fast due to their long strides.
It wouldn’t be until 1996 when the Border would be officially recognized by the Department of Agriculture in South Africa. Numerous modern breeds have been influenced by the new-type Border, including the Australian Water and the Auto Pony.
This horse breed is heavily featured in the northern part of the African continent, with particular emphasis in Chad, Mali, Sudan, and Eritrea. Featuring a convex profile, most of the horses in this breed have a bay or reddish coating, sometimes black or chestnut, and then white markings that create a spotted look.
This light horse breed coming out of West Africa is the direct combination of a Leave stallion and an M’Bayer mare. Not much data is available regarding registration or conservation of this breed, but they are highly prized as a racing horse.
The origins of this African horse breed are not documented, but its history does seem to be centered around Senegal and its surrounding region. Located primarily in Botswana and South Africa, this riding horse originated through a combination of Arabian and Auto pony lineage.
It is considered to be an extremely rare breed as well, with only 400 purebred Nooitgedachter horses believed to exist in the world today. Due to early inbreeding that occurred, development has been difficult up until now, as a uniform breed standard has begun to evolve.
About 7,000 horses are believed to exist today, making it be listed as at the brink of extinction in Cameroon. In general terms, this breed features a bay coat, bone structures that are well-proportioned, with a profile that is slightly convex.
Developed in the Khartoum region of Sudan, it was formed by combining exotic breeds with local horses. In general terms, the breed is believed to have a strong, sturdy frame that is slightly stocky, with well-built quarters.
Its lineage comes from a cross of several heavy warm blood breeds, including Hackneys, Frisians, and Thoroughbreds, with the Cape Harness horse. The name literally translated to Flemish horse, which is a homage to the Frisian breeding in its foundation.
Horses that have lighter coats are strictly prohibited from breeding, which has led to the low numbers of Exaamperes. Located primarily in Ghana, this horse breed is closely related to the new-type Boers.
Sometimes used as a general term for all pony-type breeds that originate from this region of the continent, the exact heritage is not always known. The horse is known to be light bay, gray, or chestnut in coat color, with white markings believed to be common.
Many are bred to withstand the difficult desert conditions that are often found in the region. It is probably the only feral herd of horses residing in Africa, with a population ranging between 90 and 150.
Despite the harsh environment in which they live, the horses are generally in good condition, except during times of extreme drought. The origin of the Namib Desert Horse is unclear, though several theories have been put forward.
Whatever their origin, the horses eventually congregated in the Garb Plains, near Au's, Namibia, the location of a man-made water source. They were generally ignored by humans, except for the periodic threat of eradication due to the possibility that they were destroying native herbivore habitat, until the 1980s.
In 1984, the first aerial survey of the population was made, and in 1986, their traditional grazing land was incorporated into the Namib-Naukluft Park. Since the early 1990s, close records of the population have been kept, and studies have been performed to determine the horses effect on their environment.
Despite being considered an exotic species within the park, they are allowed to remain due to their ties to the country's history and draw as a tourist attraction. The Namib Desert Horses are athletic, muscular, clean-limbed, and strong boned.
Club hooves are occasionally seen in foals, likely due to trauma to the hoof while traveling long distances. Scientists studying the horses rate their body condition on a scale of one (excellent) to five (very poor), based mainly on estimated weight and muscle tone.
The condition of the horses is directly correlated to rainfall, through a correlation to available forage, though temperature, distance between forage and water and individual energy expenditures also play a role. Studies during the 1990s found no evidence of equine disease among the population and few external parasites.
Investigations of carcasses found four internal nematode parasites present (strangles, small and large pin worms and Awards), as well as the larvae of bottles. The Namib Desert Horse travels extensively, searching for food, water and shelter from the climate and insects.
A 1994 study found that they have an average home range of 13 square miles (34 km 2), although not all of that is traversed each day. This creates severe selection pressure and removes weak animals from the population.
In 1993, a second study showed that the physiological water-conservation ability did not differ between Namib Desert Horses and other populations when dehydrated for periods of up to 60 hours, but suggested that the Namib Desert Horse would show improved conservation ability when dehydration periods were extended to upwards of 72 hours, a common occurrence in their feral state. The horses, especially young foals and juveniles, provide a major food source in the southern Namib Desert for the spotted hyena, along with gearbox and springbok.
However, the availability of other food appears to have a significant influence on predation rates among the horses. The harsh environmental conditions in which they live are the main driver of mortality among the Namib Desert Horse, as they cause dehydration, malnutrition, exhaustion and lameness.
Other large plains animals, including the mountain zebra, may have once sporadically utilized the area for grazing during periods of excess rainfall, but human interference (including fencing off portions of land and hunting) have eliminated or significantly reduced the movement of these animals in the area. Despite the large domesticated breeding population from which the horses originally descended, at least one genetic bottleneck has occurred in the breed's history, resulting in a significant decline in genetic variation over a relatively short period of time.
Estimates for a necessary minimum population to maintain genetic effectiveness range between 100 and 150 animals. As the genetic similarity to Arabian-type horses is distant, they do not closely resemble them in outward appearance, although they are both of the hot-blooded type, resulting in both being athletic, lean-muscled animals.
There are several theories on the ancestors of the Namib Desert Horse, and the true story may never be known. One theory says that a cargo ship carrying Thoroughbreds to Australia wrecked near the Orange River, and the strongest horses swam ashore and traveled to the Garb Plains, the home of the Namib Desert Horse, near Au's, Namibia.
Another theory states that they descend from Cape horse /Auto pony crosses ridden by Khoikhoi raiders traveling from Southern Africa to north of the Orange River. During World War I, horses were used in campaigns in Namibia between the German Schutztruppe and South African troops, and some escaped or were released into the desert.
Prior to this time, a German Baron on Wolf built Tunisia Castle on the edge of the Namib Desert, where he held a herd of approximately 300 horses. On Wolf was killed in action in Europe during World War I, and his farm was abandoned, leaving his horses on fenced land relatively close to the area where the Namib Desert Horses now roam.
The genetic evidence of the 2001 study gave less credence to the descent from on Wolf's horses. Research in the archives of pre-1914 horse breeding operations found at Windhoek, combined with blood typing studies, suggests that the animals descended from a gene pool of high-quality riding animals, as opposed to work horses.
One possible source of breeding stock was a stud farm near Suburb, leased by Emil Kremlin (previously mayor of Luddite) from 1911 to 1919. Photo albums from the stud show animals with conformation and markings similar to those seen in the modern Namib Desert Horse.
In addition, in early 1915, during the fighting of World War I, bombs were dropped by a German aircraft onto the South African camp near Garb. Some ordnance seems to have been specifically targeted to land among a herd of 1,700 grazing horses, for the purposes of scattering them.
Horses in the area would likely have congregated at the few existing watering places in the Au's Mountains and Garb. In 1984, an aerial count was made that distinguished 168 horses, while ground-based observations in 1988 estimated between 150 and 200 animals.
The watering hole at Garb, with a shelter for human visitors in the background. In the mid-1980s, the horses habitat was made part of Namib-Naukluft Park, the largest game reserve in Africa. In 1986, after the expansion to the park, a movement was made to remove all horses (which were considered an exotic species); public outcry prevented this from happening.
In 1992, as Namibia gained its independence and a drought enveloped Southern Africa, a decision was made to reduce the population, then estimated at 276 animals. In June 104 animals were captured selectively and sold, but many did not adjust well to their new habitats and by 1997 at least half had died.
Although several attempts were originally made to exterminate the horses, due to a possible threat to onyx habitat, they are now protected by the South West Africa /Namibia Directorate of Nature Conservation. Feral Najib horses interacting closely with human visitors to the watering hole at Gauthier is concern in some quarters that the horses are a negative influence on their habitat, through overgrazing and competition with native species.
The amount and species of vegetation found outside the watering area appear more affected by rainfall than by the horses, probably due to the low population density and natural rotational grazing. Due to the lack of effect on vegetation by horses, it is unlikely that they significantly influence small mammal populations.
The horses also appear to have no measurable effect on any vulnerable or endangered plant or animal species, which in several cases are more threatened by human influence. However, when their grazing grounds were made part of the game reserve, a policy of limited intervention was put in place that encouraged support to be given to the horses when necessary, bringing the horses into closer contact with humans.
This also included closer contact with tourists to Namibia, who frequently see them at the watering area at Garb and near the main road that traverses their grazing grounds. While the horses are credited with bringing tourist dollars to Namibia, there are also concerns about negative horse-human interactions, including vehicle accidents, disruption to sensitive areas by people looking for the horses and disruption of herd dynamics due to becoming too used to or dependent upon humans.
Understanding Horse Behavior: An Innovative Approach to Equine Psychology and Successful Training. “Effect of dehydration on the volumes of body fluid compartments in horses (PDF).
“Genetic Variation in the feral horses of the Namib Desert, Namibia”. Journal of the South African Veterinary Association (J S Afr Vet Assoc).
The group has gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the First International Homemaker Foundation Workshop on Infectious Diseases of Working Horses and Donkeys with a goal of learning how global collaborations can help this very large and important segment of the equine world. Alan Guthrie, BSC, Meet, PhD Director of the University of Pretoria’s Equine Research Center, in South Africa.
Richard Newton, BSC, M.Sc., PhD, FR CVS Head of Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance at the Animal Health Trust, in Newmarket, U.K. The Brooke provides treatment, training, and animal health and well-being programs across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
As for alternatives, “tractors and other things are expensive and not particularly green,” says Professor Richard Newton, head of Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance at the Animal Health Trust, in Newmarket, U.K. “Working equips are not going away anytime soon and, in fact, may well become more important.” Karen Reed, head of animal welfare for The Brooke, an international equine charity that assists working equips and their owners in developing countries, reports, “They’ve increased in numbers from 4.5 to 6 million in the past decade, with the ‘donkey line’ moving southward” in this region.
Night Akhil, DVD, M.Sc. Country director of The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (Span) Ethiopia Project, based in Debra Wait. Span is an international working animal welfare organization that provides training and education, along with clinics for donkeys, horses, mules, camels, and livestock across Africa and the Middle East.
Dr. Night Akhil, country director of Span’s Ethiopia Project, points out that most agricultural products bought in African cities are transported at least once on the backs of donkeys and horses on their journey to the consumer. Many of these animals have second jobs: In Senegal (West Africa), for instance, horses used for agriculture double as taxis.
Left: Stephanie L. Church; Right: Courtesy The Donkey SanctuaryCompounding these problems is the invisibility of working equips to governments and international institutions; historically, they have paid little attention to improving these animals’ health and welfare, says Reed, though the FAO, One (effectively the “World Health Organization” for animals, present at this workshop), and European Union are showing increased interest. “The current expansion of donkey ownership may be to areas where equine management is not part of the traditional culture,” says Reed.
Overworked, overloaded, and used at high speeds on rough roads (“They fall and are affected by many injuries,” and, “many donkeys carry five times their body weight.”); Managed poorly with low-quality and/or inadequate feed, water, housing, and hygiene; Deprived of proper health care, including foot and dental care; Subjected to inhumane hobbling, tethering, and batting, along with incorrect harness materials (rough, synthetic, poor design, and improper usage); Harmed through traditional practices such as faulty drenching (deforming), branding, castration, and wolf tooth removal, and through use of substances such as battery acid, burnt oil, cattle dung, etc., for wound treatment; Pregnant, sick, very young, or very old; Used in drought and very hot and cold conditions; Not prioritized for funding in areas of health care and welfare; Not legally protected by any animal welfare legislation; and Impacted by poverty (Even if owners are educated and aware, Akhil says, they don’t always have access to or cannot afford the resources they need. Wounds and compromised immunity caused by items in that laundry list can be open invitations for diseases.
Farciminosum yeast: the causative agent of epizootic lymphangitis Courtesy Dr. Claire ScantleburyEquine lung pulmonary edema and hemorrhage caused by African horse sickness Creative Commons/Dr. Epizootic Lymphangitis (ESL) is a fungal infection that causes illness, loss of use, and abandonment in horses.
Affected animals, like the ones shown throughout this story, develop large areas of weeping wounds and swollen, filled legs. Affected animals can show clinical signs ranging from pulmonary distress to heart failure, and the disease is often fatal.
Tetanus, often referred to as lockjaw, is caused by toxins produced by Clostridium retain, a spore-forming bacterium that infects contaminated wounds. Rabies is a viral infection of the nervous system and salivary glands that can spread quickly to other mammals and is preventable through vaccination.
Toxoplasmosis is caused by Thalia equip and/or Bayesian cabal, protozoan parasites transmitted from one infected equip to another by ticks or other arthropods. These microbes cause the body’s immune system to attack and kill its own red blood cells, often leading to death.
Infected animals lose weight, become anemic, develop swelling underneath their bellies and neurologic signs such as ataxia (in coordination), and, finally, die if untreated. African equine owners also report cases of generalized respiratory illness on a regular basis.
University of Liverpool (U.K.) researchers are currently examining horses with respiratory signs in towns near Addis Ababa and hoping to determine the cause, so they can recommend effective prevention and treatment measures. As NGO veterinarians help owners manage disease, they take the opportunity to teach hygiene and preventive techniques.
“Most of the time we focus on preventive aspects, but once problems occur … we teach them how to make the recovery faster,” he says. Indeed, even with the teaching and treating, there are still many barriers to improving the welfare of working horses, donkeys, and mules.
Our sources say you can’t just pick a disease and start throwing darts (or dollars) at solving it; you must go about it in a deliberate, planned way that makes funding go further and changes sustainable, with the understanding that African countries face logistical challenges much different from our own. EC VPH, FSB, Free, MR CVS Principal at the Royal Veterinary College, in Hatfield, U.K., current president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and chair of the trustees of The Donkey Sanctuary, a U.K.-based international animal welfare charity that works to protect and care for donkeys and mules.
Professor Stuart Reid, principal at the University of London’s Royal Veterinary College and chair of the trustees of The Donkey Sanctuary, pointed out that to be successful in making change, you must have technical solutions, behavioral acceptance, and institutional buy-in. At a very basic level, a technical impediment to reducing cases might be the logistical difficulty of refrigerating equine tetanus vaccines until they can be administered.
An institutional impediment could be the low status of horses and donkeys on the government’s list of priorities, with an infrastructure that might not support vaccine distribution at all. He emphasizes that one key to making progress is involving social scientists and economists in future discussions to help determine directions for aid.
Meanwhile, back in the first world, where a lot of horses live better than many humans do worldwide, the welfare issues of the millions of working equips can seem distant and a bit perplexing to solve. Achim Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University, in Raleigh.
Stephanie’s background is in evening, and she was inducted into the United States Pony Club’s Academy of Achievement in 2014 for her accomplishments in the horse industry. Covering the Homemaker Workshop aligned Stephanie’s personal interest in humanitarian issues in Africa with her love for all things equine health.