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Animal-Kind International: Helping Horses in Ghana

 

Ghana’s horses need our help!

Since 2009, AKI supported the Ghana Horse Care Project, but in the last few years, volunteers have come and gone, and there’s now a huge gap!  Since the last volunteer left, no one has volunteered to take over the Horse Care Project. AKI and the Ghana Society for the Protection & Care of Animals are hoping that one or two people will volunteer to lead this program in collaboration with the GSPCA.  Read below about what’s been done in the past, and if you’re from Ghana, new to Ghana, or if you’ve lived there for a while, and are looking for a new challenge, please get in touch!

Helping Horses in Ghana

In 2007, when Miriam and her husband moved from the U.K. to Accra, she knew she would volunteer in some way to try improve the lives of animals in Ghana.  Horses have always been dear to Miriam’s heart. There were plenty of horses around Accra that needed help, and very few people who actually knew how to adequately care for horses.

There’s a racetrack, a polo field, there are military-owned horses, and there are horses that with their owners, ply the beach in Accra, taking tourists and children for rides.  So Miriam set out to help the horses.   

Miriam worked with owners of individual horses and with stables around the city, encouraging owners to groom their horses, and to provide water, proper food, and medication, when needed. Miriam held two courses for horse owners to teach them proper care of their animals. Along with four other women who were involved in this horse care initiative, Miriam made a difference in the lives of Accra’s horses.

"I was in Ghana in July 2009, and spent time with Miriam visiting horse stables in Accra.  We brought treats for the horses, checked on their health and conditioning, and walked a few of the horses that we had permission to walk. Many of the horses never get out of their stables—they spend most of their lives in the small space, with a window looking out at the grounds that they can’t reach. Thanks to Miriam and the four women who volunteer with her, Accra’s horses now get a little of the care and attention they crave"……Karen

Ghana’s Forgotten Horses

By Miriam Imrie
Horses are expensive, delicate creatures. They need expert care and attention and can make big dents in even the fullest of wallets. It’s not hard to see why looking after these noble animals in West Africa, home to some of the world’s poorest countries, is an almost insurmountable task. read more..

Miriam provided the following description to us of the life of Ghana’s beach horses

Life's not a beach for Ghana's horses - September 2008
La Pleasure Beach in Accra may be a place of fun and relaxation for the city's residents, but it's a place of pain and misery for its beach horses. Forced to give countless horseback rides to tourists in the blazing hot sun, these undernourished, poorly cared for equines face a daily battle.

When they are not being ridden up and down the sand, they can be seen walking the streets searching for food or tied in the middle of major roads to take advantage of tiny patches of grass on traffic islands.

Many of the horses offered for rides at La Pleasure are dehydrated and with no decent water source nearby, they can be ridden up and down the sand all day without so much as a gulp of water.

The young boys who ride the horses and tout for business from beachgoers are not capable of caring for these complex creatures and do it only to scrape a living. They too are in danger from injury as they ride the horses along a busy highway to reach the beach. Once there, they walk up and down for hours, trying to get people to ride the horses. Adults are allowed to ride small, weak ponies and some are hired out to be ridden up and down again and again by people who know little about horses, and tug painfully at their sensitive mouths.

Not only are the horses poorly cared for, they are forced to wear unsuitable tack, from ill-fitting saddles to crude metal mouthpieces. While some beachgoers shun the horse rides, most people are unconcerned. When asked if she was worried about the condition of the horses, one woman retorted: "They look fine to me. I don't see what the fuss is about. They are strong animals, they are fine."
 
It's true that on the surface some of the horses don't look as bad as others, but as they get older and are ridden constantly the neglect will start to show.
 
It's clear that more needs to be done to regulate the practice of beach rides. Skinny horses with visible rib and hip bones, dull eyes and dirty lacklustre coats cannot be allowed to be dragged up and down the beach in the scorching sun. Beachgoers must be enlightened about the damage beach rides cause the horses, and the horse's owners must be educated on how to keep their animals healthy.
 
One child told me that his 'boss' makes him ride all weekend for a pittance and if he doesn't get enough rides he will be in 'big trouble'. This puts pressure on the children, some of whom are as young as 12, to offer the horses for rides over and over again. The boy says he cares about his horse, but all he wants to do is go to school.

More about one of the Ghana Horse Care Project's initiatives.

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GSPCA volunteer, Aluizah Amasaba Abdul-Yakeen, told AKI about 21 horses (pictures in the slide show above and in the column to the right) that were left in the open with no shelter, tied up so they could barely move. At least two of them were so skinny, some were sick. Their regular stable and race track were sold to a hotelier by the previous government, and the site is now a huge hotel.

Luckily, Aluizah spotted these horses and together with Miriam, they got the attention they craved and the help they needed. Since they had been abandoned, and no one came forward to care for them, the Ghana Horse Care Project provided food and veterinary attention. Eventually, the remaining abandoned horses were moved to another open space area where they could roam freely.

Photos/Info

(Continued from below) Some of the groomers and jockeys remained by the 21 horses that were kicked out of their stables, even though they were shut out of the race track and could no longer race the horses. These pictures were taken during one of the meetings with the GSPCA, Ghana Horse Care Project, and groomers and jockeys.

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Through AKI, the Ghana Horse Care Project Requests:

While we’re hoping volunteers will step up to lead the Ghana Horse Care Project, we’re still collecting supplies for the horses, and will set donated funds aside to be used when the GHC Project starts up again.  If you can donate de-wormers, grooming tools, hoof care supplies, dietary supplements, joint, injury, and wound care products, fly repellants, etc., we’ll make sure they’re put to good use.