Aid for Carriage Horses
The horses of the ‘Andong Betawi’
The Betawi (Orang Betawi, or “people of Batavia”) are the descendants of the people living around Batavia (the colonial name for Jakarta) from around the 17th century.
‘The Betawi’ are mostly descended from various Southeast Asian ethnic groups brought to or attracted to Batavia to meet labor needs, including people from various parts of Indonesia. An Andong is a two wheeled horse drawn cart used as a traditional way of transportation.
Literally translated Andong Betawi means horse carriage people of Batavia.
Originally a lot of people used this form of transportation to get around. Due to the introduction of the motorized vehicles people are less interested in the old fashioned way of transport. Thus they moved to recreation and tourist sites such as Monas and Ragunan where people still enjoy the attraction. This tradition has become the only income for the owners and drivers of these carriages, for they are poor and low educated. In total 780 carriage horses are now being used. But they have no legal place where they can keep the horses, instead, they squat land all over Jakarta and await eviction by the local government after which they will squat new land again.
The horse owners can earn around 150,000 rupiah per day (12.39 US Dollar) and the horse drivers will earn around 40,000 rupiah (3.30 US dollar) a day.
Since 2008, the carriage horses are not allowed to enter Monas. The authorities had send police to evict all carriage horses from the area with force. And force they used hitting the owners and the horses to get rid of them. One horse broke its legs during this clash. But, since it’s the only income for many of the owners of the carriage horses, they still operate around the Monas area and make a track to tour with tourists around Jalan Merdeka.
The horses used to have a shelter place inside the Monas area, but since it became prohibited to use the carriage horses inside Monas, the shelter was destroyed. The horses are only used in Monas area in the weekends and during holidays. Since the carriage horses are not legal at Monas, it’s hard to provide them a permanent shelter as it will be evicted anyway. The authorities are clear in their statement that they don’t want the horses to be around Monas.
This is a hard life for the owners but also for the horses as they suffer greatly under the poor conditions they are forced to live in. Their squatted living area provides them little comfort. The stables are put together with wood and a roof is made of a plastic sheet or multiple plastic sheets.
The stable is about the same size as the horse or as two horses, depending if one or two are housed there. Their floor is made of wooden beams, partly rotten from the faeces and urine. At the end of each stable is a feeding bin, also made of wood, with a car tire that’s closed on one side to make a sort of bucket. In these buckets the animals get soy bean skin and tauge mixed with water. Beside this they get grass. The faeces are piled up on the other side of a muddy road.
Because the Andong Betawi has no money for a Ferrier they make all the shoes and shoe the horses themselves. The shoes are made of metal plates or sometimes rubber and they use normal nails to attach the shoe to the feed. Most of the shoes don’t fit the horses’ feet and because of indicate knowledge and skill the nails are often put crooked or driven true live tissue. This causes the outside of the feet to crack and the inside to get infected. But beside that the feed are not cleaned out, so moist, dirt and faeces are rotting in their hooves making the inside soft and vulnerable.
The harnesses that are used for the horses are also “home made” and put directly on the skin of the horses without protection. This causes it to rub against the skin making open wounds. When a horse gets such a wound (and most of them do) the Andong Betawi pour mercury from batteries and gasoline in to wounds to dry them up. And if a horse gets crippled or has a swollen body part, it gets cured by puncturing another body part like the chest and putting a wire through it. For this, the rope from a tree, ‘Waru tree’ is used. The men believe this cures diseases. These are considered traditional treatments by the Andong Betawi. To hold the animals in place when being “cured” or shoed a rope is put around the snout and through the mouth of the horse, this rope is then put around a higher beam or branch forcing there head upwards. Sometimes the tongue is stuck behind the rope and if the horse pulls the rope out of pain it rips its own tong, splitting it in half. If a horse gets another disease they are given human medicine like paracetamol and Bodrex. These treatments are partly because of tradition. But also find their roots in not enough knowledge and money for proper treatment. Upon examining the faeces of the horses sixteen different species of worms and amoebas where found. Most of which are lethal given enough time.
JAAN is now trying to help these poor horses. This is done in several ways. At the moment JAAN visits to the Andong Betawi to provide medical and preventive treatments for the horses. When this is being done we also explain to the owners what we are doing and why we are doing this. In the future JAAN also hopes to obtain temporary shelter for the horses, where they can rest in-between working hours. JAAN strives to see an improvement of the diet of the horses. JAAN also provides information on the welfare and treatment of horses through a handbook, explanations and trainings. Animal welfare though will be hardly understood by people who face poor welfare themselves. But if we can explain them that if the welfare of their horses is improved, their own welfare will improve as well we might book some successes.
One of these trainings has already started thanks to Arthayasa Stables. On the 4th of March they welcomed 10 members of the Andong Betawi for a training about horse care. Here they were able to witness the conditions in this professional stable, and learn from the experienced owners and staff at Arthayasa. The day started with a tour around the stables during which every aspect of the care for the horses at the stables was covered. The tour ended with a Ferrier training. The Ferrier at Arthayasa stables explained the whole process in detail while placing new shoes. He also explained the importance of the horse shoes and proper hoof care in general. During the entire visit at the stables the whole group was very interested and impressed, noting the size, condition and calmness of the horses. Equine veterinarians Dr. Nanta from IPB University and Dr. Fitri also attended and explained about horse diets, diseases, and horses’ teeth. The day was very successful as everyone there enjoyed the opportunity to learn from professionals and JAAN is very grateful to the Arthayasa Stables for donating their time. Also two members of the Andong Betawi are allowed to follow a Ferrier training at the stables, allowing them to continue with proper hoof care for the carriage horses in Jakarta. This is a unique chance for the horse carriage owners, and two motivated young men have started with the training in the middle of March. The training will ended in May 2009 after which the two young ferriers start to provide hoof care for Andong horses in Jakarta.
JAAN plans to construct a sanctuary for older horses to provide them the well deserved retirement they need badly after working endlessly for so many years.
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