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As lockdown keeps beaches in Chennai out of bounds, horse owners’ income dries up

More than the animal’s death, Mala was pained by her inability to provide food or treatment to Ramu during his last days.

Published: 21st June 2021 03:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st June 2021 07:46 AM   |  A+A-

A woman pets her horse on the banks of the Cooum in Chennai on Sunday.

A woman pets her horse on the banks of the Cooum in Chennai on Sunday. (Photo | Debadatta Mallick, EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Mala was crying inconsolably after her horse, Ramu, died on Sunday. More than the animal’s death, she was pained by her inability to provide food or treatment to Ramu during his last days.

“If I had treated him properly, he would have survived. But I was helpless. I am struggling to even give the horses food daily, and from where could I have arranged money for the medical treatment?” Mala asks.

Before the pandemic struck the world and lockdowns crippled the economy, Mala was a proud owner of eight horses, and earned Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 daily by offering joy rides on horses, at Marina and Elliot’s beaches. She had been in the business for two decades.

Her husband, who earlier owned the business, parted ways with Mala and left her to take care of the animals on her own. Still, her life moved on smoothly, in the company of the animals, which were very fond of her.

However, when the lockdown was imposed, Mala’s life was shattered. With no way of earning an income, she took a loan of Rs 50,000 to feed her animals.

The money got exhausted fast and she later sold her ancestral house. The horses’ food alone costs at least Rs 2,000 daily.

“I treat my horses as my children. I cannot abandon them or see them dying of starvation. Till my last breath, I will do whatever I can to keep them alive,” she says.

Most people who were into the joyride business and owned horses complain of a similar plight. Thirty-two-year-old Santosh K had taken an Rs 80,000 loan to buy two horses when 2020 began, and then, his life turned upside down.

“Now, the horses, which were supposed to help me provide for my family, have become an additional burden. Last year, some organisations helped me financially, to buy food for the animals. But this year, the situation is worse. I have no idea when beaches will be reopened to the public. Without enough food, my horses have been reduced to just skin and bones. I don’t know what to do,” Santosh complains.



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