We are appealing for funds to help our 50 Marwari Breed horses during this pandemic. Marwari horses are our life ~ and importantly they provide Ajeet with his only source of income. Due to the COVID -19 pandemic all their income-generating work has stopped. All donations go directly to Ajeet.
Based at the family stud farm in Narlai, Rajasthan, India, the horses are normally used for riding safaris, weddings and religious processions, to teach riding in schools, as well as used in film & photo shoots. When owning horses there are always good times and bad, but we have never had to face such a bleak future as we face today.
With inbound tourism to India closed for the foreseeable future, combined with prohibited events domestically, this unprecedented crisis has a catastrophic knock-on effect on the potential welfare of our beloved horses - and also for our support team of grooms, stable and farm staff too.
Horse India has a pyramid effect on the local rural economy as our operations provide many subsidiary suppliers with income and they rely on us. For example the ratio for client vs staff on one of our horse safaris is 1:4, so for a group of 10 clients we require 40 staff, including tentwalas, camp kitchen team, horse lorry & jeep drivers, local leopard spotters & desert guides. For our processions we hire in elephants, bullock carts, camels and village dancing horses - so our associated safari and event teams are also suffering through not being allowed to proceed with our bookings.
Marwari are identified by their unique curly touching ears and are indigenous to our region. The care and maintenance of any stable of horses is continuous and extensive. The horses require up to five feeds a day and as a desert region we have to buy in hard feed and hay, plus horses need regular farrier care, veterinary check ups, worming, tick control, and extra attention is given to breeding mares with foals at foot. As any horse owner knows, the list goes on.
Through our riding safaris visiting foreign guests experience real rural India, its stunning scenery, varied wildlife and have the opportunity to interact with the local Rabari, Rajput and Bishnoi rural communities of Marwar. An integral part of this is the experience of riding the spirited and unique Marwari horses in their homeland. Through our horse safaris we give the horses a purpose - and in turn this helps to secure a future for this breed, as well as promoting the Marwari to a worldwide audience.
What mitigation steps have we taken so far?
In month 1 of lockdown (March 2020) we reacted quickly and sourced enough basic horse feed (chaff, hay and grains) to last us 6 months. We also planted a second crop of Alfalfa at the farm.
In month 3 of lockdown (May) we rented an extra 60 acres of grazing land nearby so, if required, we could turn the horses out full time, thus saving on staff and feed costs.
It is now month 5 of lockdown (August) we are waiting for the monsoon rains so the field grass will grow in order to turn the horses out, but the rains are late and our basic feed supplies are close to running out.
* see Updates below end picture
It is clear this situation could continue to the end of the year and possibly into next year. With that in mind, and with heavy hearts, we opened this fundraising appeal.
How can you help?
Any contribution, however small, will directly fund the welfare of our Marwari horses, our staff and our extensive support team, and thus ensure that we will ride again!
Our grateful thanks go out to all our supporters, we will keep you posted with updates (see below).
dhanyavaad - Thank you!
Ajeet and Caroline
Updates below picture
In month 6 (September) the rains arrived and we released 42 horses to the open land we secured in month 3, but the horses still need to be fed as although the land looks green, the grass is actually sparse (mainly local weeds/vegetation). 15 mares and foals remain at the farm. Grooms still have to be employed to stay with the horses in case of leopard visits etc.
In month 7 (October) although some unlock protocols have started, there are still government restrictions on public events, so weddings and processions are still unable to take place. The horses have grazed the large area of land so with no more grass growing and no more rain expected until summer 2021, we continue to feed the horses with supplementary hard food (grains).
In month 8 (November) So far, with your support, we have secured a further 100 acres of grazing land and last week Ajeet's organisational skills were brought out of hibernation to orchestrate the mass migration of 42 loose horses a staggering 40km, through countryside and villages, which took over 10 hours to complete!
We are happy to announce that all grooms and horses arrived at their destination before dark, safe and well. This was an amazing achievement, with the help of additional walkers, riders, motorcycle lookouts and a convoy of jeeps. Once again, Ajeet's coordinating and procession skills proving their worth.
In month 12 (March 2021) All horses had been returned to the farm paddocks, where crops of chick pea and alfalfa have been planted, as the 100 acres of grazing land was now bare. The pandemic numbers reduced and so the lockdown restrictions had started to ease, meaning that we were able to complete a few wedding processions (with smaller crowds and Covid protocols). Ajeet had procured some large round concrete 'drains' to use as communal feed bins for the horses in the paddocks.
In month 13 (April) The 2nd wave of the pandemic has returned with a vengeance, with numbers rising rapidly. Local lockdowns are now in force again and it looks like we are in for a most serious situation ahead and our concerns are for the horses future condition and welfare. We have a number of mares due to foal in the next few weeks and so we need to maintain their strength and nutrition.
In month 18 (September) Can you believe it's been 18 months of no activity and 1 year since we launched this fundraiser? We have found another 100 acres of 'free grazing' land and over 40 horses are loose with shepherd and grooms as caretakers/watchmen, with just the mares and foals at the farm. Ajeet and the family have received their two Covid vaccinations, but there are still local and national restrictions on the size of crowds and gatherings (weddings) and also the rural horse fairs are still closed, so income is still minimal as are the rains - with a low to medium monsoon any grass that does grow will soon be consumed by the horses and we once again have to fund and source fodder for the winter months, therefore....
Our fundraiser remains open, as we have many more months to get the horses safely through to the other side of this pandemic. Every donation you give is hugely appreciated and gratefully received ~ we can't thank you enough. Amazingly, with your generosity, we have survived a year with no income, but can we survive another?
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