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  • Writer's pictureAnimal-Kind International

Blind Love-Rescuing Horses and Donkeys in South Africa

Blind Love in South Africa, a sanctuary for horses and donkeys in need of rescue, received a 2023 AKI grant for The Big Build Project, to erect field shelters for their resident sanctuary horses and donkeys. By the end of March, they had successfully completed the project with an extra happy and surprising ending!

Blind Love built three shelters, a 12 x 6 meter shelter for 10 horses, a 6 x 6 m shelter for 21 donkeys, and a special small shelter, 6 x 3 m, for Blush (a blind horse) and her companion Vuma.

In this October AKI Blog post, we wrote about Blush and how she went from a tiny emaciated 18 month old filly, to being rescued by Blind Love, to being diagnosed with Equine Recurrent Uveitis (ERU), to becoming the inspiration behind Blind Love.

Blush's best buddy Vuma was a champion triple racer, who was crippled by the time he was 4 years old, when Philippa (Director/Founder of Blind Love) rescued him (Vuma's story is also in this October AKI Blog post).

The plan was to use the pine trees on Blind Love's property and construct the shelters entirely from wood, with sides and roof to be clad in wooden planks. These shelters would last longer and would be more user-friendly for the horses and donkeys than the original plan (to use corrugated iron sheets).

The shelter for Blush and Vuma would be open at both ends so there would be no corners where a horse could get trapped and cornered by a bully--perfect for a blind horse.

Work on the shelters was delayed due to so much rain in October that it was impossible to cut the trees. More delays in December for the holidays. But then, from January through March, it was smooth sailing and all three shelters were completed.

Blind Love posts about their grant project on social media.

Blind Love's grant project built this horse shelter.
The horse shelter

Blind Love posts about their grant project on social media.

And now for the surprise ending to the grant project: In January, Philippa was contacted by the trainer and owners of a 3 year old thoroughbred racehorse called Gracie's Trip who had sadly bashed her head in December and due to severe trauma to her optic nerve had lost her sight overnight. They were asking if she could live out her days at the Blind Love sanctuary. Of course she could, Philippa told them.

But due to an outbreak of African Horse Sickness and an advisory ban on movement of all equines for at least 30 days, Gracie couldn't be moved. Finally, on March 26 beautiful Gracie joined the Blind Love family (after a 13 hour trip from Gauteng).

Gracie with her trainer at the Blind Love sanctuary with horse stable in background built thanks to grant project.
Gracie arrives at Blind Love's sanctuary and says goodbye to her trainer

Once there, Philippa found out that Gracie had lived her whole life, 24/7, in a stable. Luckily, the post and rail paddock built for Blush and Vuma had been completed and would be perfect for Gracie to get acclimated to her new forever home!

Philippa decided to place a barricade at both ends of the shelter. On one end, the poles can be removed so Gracie can be taken outside every day to explore, graze, and learn to be a horse.

Blind horse safe in stable built with grant project funds.
Gracie in her safe paddock

At first Gracie wouldn't leave the shelter unless she was on a lead.  After just a few weeks she was making great strides towards being a free roaming horse.

Philippa wrote to us, "We cannot tell you enough what a godsend this shelter has been!! None of this would have been possible if the shelter wasn't there!! Who knew?!?"

Blind Love, a horse and donkey rescue organization, located in Bathurst, Eastern Cape Province, provides a safe, loving forever home to horses and donkeys in need and improves the lives of all animals in the surrounding disadvantaged communities by providing owner education and access to basic services.

Here are some of the rescued horses and donkeys at the Blind Love sanctuary--now with shelters to keep them dry and safe:

Rescued horses in their shelter funded with the Blind Love grant project.
Horses enjoying their new shelter

Feeding donkeys in the shelter built under the Blind Love grant project.
Feeding time for donkeys

Rescued donkeys in the shelter funded by the Blind Love grant project.
Sweet rescued donkeys!

Rescued donkeys in shelter built by the Blind Love grant project.
Feeding time at the sanctuary


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