Old-age home for horses
Sugandha Pathak & Shweta Srinivasan

Beautiful stallions and sturdy mares that once worked for the Delhi Police but are now injured or too old have found a perfect retirement home at a sprawling sanctuary on the outskirts of the national Capital.

Trained police horses have  found their retirement home in the sanctuary
Trained police horses have found their retirement home in the sanctuary Photo: IANS

The Equine Country Sanctuary is part of the Friendicoes SECA Country Sanctuary near Gurgaon run by the NGO Friendicoes. The 2.5-acre property is home to 19 retired police horses, some 55-60 injured donkeys and also mules rescued from brick kilns.

"Injured or old horses are usually shot; the Army does that as a rule. This place was set up to let the police horses live their remaining lives in ease and comfort," says Tandroli Kuli, executive member of Frendicoes SECA.

The horses are made to retire from the police force at 12-15 years and usually live on till 18-20 years.

Kuli said: "We donít give them up for adoption since most of them are sold to pony clubs and the like."

All horses in this sanctuary are retired police horses, except one that was found on the street, old, injured and clueless about where to go as his master had abandoned him.

Under a Delhi Police policy, retired mounted (trained) police horses used to be auctioned. Ten years ago, this NGO sent to the police an application appealing that the auctioning be stopped and the horses be sent to their care. The force agreed.

"Since then all Delhi Police retired horses have come to us. Last year we got one more retired horse. The police department calls and informs us that they have left the horse at a specific pickup point and we go get them."

Earlier, auctioned horses were used in weddings or for carrying heavy weights, which they werenít accustomed to.

"They need exercise but such a high level of physical exertion is dangerous for them and often leads to untimely death," adds Kuli.

The horses are put up in sheds at the sanctuary and also have at their disposal medical treatment at the in-house clinic, which has a full-time veterinarian.

"Every day the horses are taken by the jockeys for riding, which ends in a grooming session; proper care is taken with regard to their nourishment and rest as they are old," says Abhishek Kumar Singh, the vet.

The animals here donít live under the pressure of performing and can relax, adds Singh.

"We also have donkeys and mules, which were rescued from brick-kilns or which were abandoned due to injuries while working under extreme conditions," Kuli says.

However, with all its "retirement" perks, the sanctuary that also houses some cats, cows and dogs faces a dearth of financial aid.

"Money is always a problem, which is why we are unable to expand the sanctuary. The daily cost of food for these equines comes to Rs 3,000," Kuli adds.

She adds that the organisation had to work on the basis of credit. "As ours is a reputed organisation, people are willing to give us medicine and food on credit, which we gradually return from the earnings made from the paid services provided at our dog clinics."

The organisation requires immense volunteer support.

"Apart from donations, we need more people to volunteer. Animal lovers can contribute their time or even donate old medicines and newspapers to help us," adds Kuli. ó IANS