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  • Writer's pictureAnimal-Kind International

Blind Love-2 donkeys & a retired cart horse

Blind Love, one of our 2023 Africa-Based Animal Welfare Organization Grant Program grantees, told us about these three rescues, beneficiaries of our grant-funded field shelters, which will keep 12 rescued horses and 21 donkeys warm and dry and protect them from the blazing sun too.

From Philippa, founder & director of Blind Love in South Africa:

Nell is one of 7 donkeys we rescued in March 2022. These 7 little donkeys were in a dreadful state of neglect and ill health. Riddled with internal and external parasites and injuries. In nearby Grahamstown there is a large donkey owning community living in extreme poverty. These donkeys are used to pull carts, transporting wood, water, building materials and also as ‘taxis’. Sadly there is no sterilization program in place and the donkey population is now out of control.

a rescued donkey

Donkeys can be seen roaming the streets in town, eating out of the dustbins, causing car accidents etc. Every now and then there is a ‘roundup’ of donkeys and they then get placed on surrounding farms, where sadly, the breeding continues and they are left to fend for themselves.

We think this is where our little herd originated from. With Nell, another little mare and a stallion being dumped on a farm years back. Fast forward a couple of years, and 3 donkeys were now 7! ( with countless loss of life in between). With poor Nell and the other mare, pregnant year after year...... There is vicious fighting between the colts and stallions and they do lots of damage / injure one another badly.

Nell had lost a foal a couple of months before we rescued her. Sadly it had been born and killed by 2 zebra stallions they shared their field with. She was however pregnant again when we rescued her and on the 10th Feb 2023 Nell gave birth to a beautiful healthy colt!!!!

Nell is the SWEETEST, most gentle, loving little soul!!! And she has the most glorious smell ! She literally walks around in a cloud of sweet smelling donkey perfume!!


Mouse is one of 7 little donkeys we rescued in March 2022. They were in a terrible state of neglect, riddled with internal and external parasites and minor wounds. When I first caught a glimpse of little Mouse he had so much muck running down his face I thought he had lost an eye. Turns out it was the most horrendous ear infection cause by ticks. His ear was just a seething mass of maggots and screw worm. The pain must have been unbearable. He was all alone, a sad, sick little donkey in immense pain.

Either he had removed himself from the herd because he was feeling so absolutely dreadful, or they had perhaps driven him out. I knew we had to get to him before the infection killed him.

a rescued donkey

Operation Donkey began! We managed to slowly round up the other 6 donkeys over a couple of days. 2 pregnant mares, a stallion and 4 younger colts. But Mouse escaped capture time and time again. He was wild, scared and in survival mode. And boy could he RUN!!!!!

Finally after 3 days of running around in dense Eastern Cape bush in 38 degree heat, it was as if the gods smiled down on us and we got him in!

Next to load and truck them all to safety here. We did it in 2 journeys. The stallion and his 2 mares first. Then Mouse and the other 3 young males. Next, the vets came, firstly to give Mouse a thorough examination and clean up, then to castrate the stallion and 2 of the colts that were old enough.

Poor little Mouse was given a good clean up. Not only his ears were infected, but he had maggots and screw worm behind both his front legs. This little guy has recovered extremely well! It wasn’t long before he was racing around playing with the others. He is full of mischief and fun.

If there’s a wheelbarrow of poop to tip over, Mouse is the one who does it!!! His ear will always flop forward because the screw worm and maggots destroyed the cartilage, but he is healthy and happy, well adjusted, part of the gang and in great spirits every day!


Shine was one of the very first cart horses I met in Thaba’nchu back in 2014. When I first laid eyes on him, I had to quietly turn away, and wipe away the tears..... his condition was pretty appalling....and he just seemed so broken..... bleeding old knees, scar tissue on his mouth and lips, terrible teeth and lots of scars and brand marks all over his body.....

2 horses pulling a cart
Shine's days as a cart horse were ending

horses pulling a cart
Shine and partner were used to pull a cart full of heavy building material

His owner is a builder, so this old boy had to work hard carrying heavy loads of bricks, sand and cement. The owner however did become a willing and active participant in all our outreaches, collecting feed, getting his horses dewormed, bringing them to our farrier days......but I could see Shine’s days as a working horse were numbered, and I urged him to retire the old boy. Eventually just days before Xmas in 2017 Shine retired and made his way home to us where he has lived out his days eating, sleeping, resting.... and getting FAT!!!

rescued horse
Shine: retired and heading to the Blind Love sanctuary

Seems he was quite the legend in Thaba’nchu and had in fact taught many young horses how to pull a cart over the years. And now 5 years later, his previous owner (and all the other cart horse owners!) regularly ask me how Shine is doing, and want to see photos and videos of him!!! Not long ago I got to meet one of Shine’s handsome offspring too!!!

Shine is an example of what these horses can become with just a little bit of extra care!! This is what we are striving to do with horse owners in Thaba’nchu. Provide them with access to basic services like primary healthcare, harness repair/ replace, feed, farrier and welfare education for owners. So they themselves can understand the importance of and provide better care for their horses.

a rescued horse
Shine, just days after he was finally retired from his life as a cart horse

rescued horse
Shine, at home at Blind Love after years spent pulling carts

a rescued horse
Shine Now: happy, healthy, fat!


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