Greyton’s ever increasing horse population poses a significant traffic threat in the small town, and urgent measures are needed to stop this equine explosion, says EARS donkey sanctuary founder Jo Sedgwick.

EARS donkey sanctuary founder Jo Sedgwick gives rescue donkey Henry a cuddle.

“We already have between 500 and 600 horses in this area and those numbers will grow as there are many mares pregnant again,” Sedgwick says.

EARS is hoping to launch a mass horse sterilisation programme, provided it can raise the funds. Last year the donor-funded organisation gelded (sterilised) 33 stallions, and this year it would like to sterilise at least as many, if not more. “There are owners who are willing to have their horses sterilised but these are poor people who can’t afford the veterinary fees and so year after year their mares give birth.”

EARS rescues and rehabilitates donkeys and offers community equine support to impoverished horse owners living in Greyton, and neighbouring Genadendal, Voorstekraal and Bereaville.

EARS donkey sanctuary manager Penny James with a foal taken into temporary care.

Horses free-graze on verges and in open fields in Greyton, but Sedgwick says there is simply not enough grazing around the town to support this many horses, some of which suffer life-threatening ailments because they end up grazing at the town’s rubbish dump. On Friday, sanctuary manager, Penny James, was called to attend to a horse that had ingested plastic and chicken bones at the dump.

It costs about R750 per horse to geld, provided there are no medical complications. The horses are gelded where they are standing and the procedure takes no more than an hour or so. EARS is also hoping to provide chemical sterilisation for many of the mares. It lasts up to six months, giving the mares a much-needed break from multiple pregnancies.

Free-grazing horses pose a traffic hazard in Greyton.

EARS is a registered non-profit organisation, relying solely on donations for the work that it does. The Sanctuary supports 20 permanent donkey residents, and offers temporary shelter to horses that are ill or neglected. It also responds to equine emergencies and helps educate horse and donkey owners. Visitors and school groups are welcome to visit the sanctuary, which lies about 10 km outside of Greyton. Horse and cart rides are a popular feature at Greyton’s Saturday morning market and EARS works with owners to ensure their horses are healthy and properly shod.

If you would like to donate to the EARS gelding programme, the bank details are: EARS, Absa, Acc no. 9309869152. For visits to the sanctuary, call Penny on 082 660 6714. Visits are by appointment only.

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