Riding For Horses

All through the countryside, horses grazing in green paddocks, looking peaceful and well fed are a common sight. Their gracefulness and beauty captures our imaginations. At one time or another, many of us have enjoyed the thrill of these magnificent animals, either by riding them or simply spending time interacting with them. However, there are many horses out there that don’t lead the ideal life, that suffer greatly under the unkind hands of humans. Others are affected by illnesses such as the potentially fatal African Horse Sickness (AHS).

Riding For Horses kicked off in 2008, as an initiative by two passionate individuals, Lloyd and Isabel, when two of their horses became ill with African Horse Sickness on a ride from Port Alfred down the West Coast. Both horses fortunately survived, but it highlighted the need for people to be educated about the care and wellbeing of horses, as well as the dangers of illness, especially AHS, which can occur without warning. The dream was born to create a project that would not only raise funds and awareness for African Horse Sickness prevention, but would also assist the Transkei Equine Welfare Project that forms part of the Riding for Horses initiative.

The journey to achieve these goals began in July 2009, and more than six thousand three hundred kilometers have been completed by Lloyd and Isabel on horseback so far. To assist in the development of a vaccine against African Horse Sickness approximately R90 million will be needed, and the journey hopes to raise these funds, educate horse owners, establish a national fight against the illness and create a medicinal veterinary facility. The Transkei Equine Welfare Project are also in need of funding to continue with their workshops, equine health education, medication control and therapy assistance.

The ride, which includes Durban to Mozambique, Swaziland, Northwest Province, Western Province, Limpopo Province, Eastern Cape Province, Northern Cape Province and Port Edward to Durban, should complete their goal of riding seven thousand kilometers. The time taken for the journey is obviously determined by human endurance and the time provided for the horses to rest adequately.

So, to all horse owners in South Africa, if a couple of strangers ride onto your farm looking for a place to rest their horses, please open your paddocks and hearts to this magnificent initiative, the Riding For Horses project.