OOTY: Writers have often extolled how Indians have extra-ordinary patience when stray bovines cause traffic jams on busy commercial streets. Stray horses appear to be a different matter, however. Tourists and shoppers have little patience for the emaciated horses that often block roads in this tourist town.
Ponies and aging race horses, purchased by money-driven tourist-ride operators have become a nuisance for the crowds that throng the town. The animals wander mainly along the busy Commercial Road and Ettines Road, dotted with restaurants and departmental stores. The equines are used on weekends and during the holiday season, especially in summer, for joy rides along the town’s more picturesque roads. Out of season, they are apparently left to fend for themselves, and hence end up looking for food in dustbins on the main roads, eating leftover foods dumped by hotels and households.
A waste-bin near Alankar theatre on the road leading to Vehicle Emission Centre and Government Road Garden seems to provide daily meals for a lone white pony. Driver Ramesh Krishnan said, “Sometimes two white ponies block the road to Vehicle Emission Centre standing around the waste-bin. As even the road is in a bad shape, drivers often experience hardships. The ponies don’t move even after the vehicles’ blow their horns. We have to wait for them to take their own time to move aside.”
Ooty municipality has only one option — to find the owners and slap a fine. Despite this, the owners let the animals wander around, even after paying a fine of Rs 500. Besides, just finding the owners of the stray horses is a Herculean job as they do not come forward to claim them. The municipality has now sought the help of animal rights activists to put an end to this.