Following a recent interim order by the Bombay High Court on whether Victorian horse carriages can be licensed if they adhere to rules,equine experts came together on Tuesday to point out that the animals were much abused and suffered from irreversible ailments and licensing the carriages could aggravete their agony and abuse.
Speaking at an event organised by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA),three equine veterinarians said a city-wide ban on horse carriages is the only way to stop the abuse.
A common ailment in Victoria horses is osteoarthritis or inflammation of joints,caused by regular wear and tear,in which joints can become solidified and lead to lameness. This cannot be reversed by any medicinal or surgical treatment, said Dr Avinash Kumar,who has worked for well-known equine welfare charity The Brooke.
Even a vet cannot help an animal in this case unless it is rested, said Dr Manilal Valliyate,member of the Animal Welfare Board of India and director of veterinary affairs,PETA India. The horses also suffer due to erratic feed patterns and insufficient water,said the experts.
In the wild,horses graze for long hours and have a continuous feed. But when Victoria horses are working,for around six to nine hours,they do not get any feed. This causes gastrointestinal problems such as colic,which is difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat. Acute colic can even lead to death. Lack of enough water leads to dehydration, said Valliyate.
Experts also said the horses should not be monitored only for physical but also mental parameters of fitness,which the authorities have not done and added that many Victoria horses are depressed.
We did a welfare assessment of a sample size of 15 Victoria horses near the Gateway of India last month. We had to do it from a distance as the riders did not cooperate with us. But we found most of them were with their heads low,below neck level and eyes half closed,indicating a severely depressed animal, said Dr Chetan Yadav,an equine vet working for Animal Rahat.