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19 Mar 2019, Edition - 1344, Tuesday

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Ukkadam horse stable going to seeds; misery, negligence makes life tough for caretakers, riders

Keerthana Ramesh

COIMBATORE: The old shack horse stable at Ukkadam-Selvapuram road is now a pale shadow of its past with just 15 horses. Going by its present condition it would not be long before this stable will be a thing of the past.

Natarajan, a 70-year-old caretaker of the stable reminiscences the glorious past where horse carts were used to carry children to school and these carts were the most used vehicle for people to move around. But other modern modes of transport now make these horses used only for some specific purposes. “The horses are now used only to carry goods and carry the ritual items during temple functions,” says Natarajan.

Another caretaker, Anwar Basha, 65, says that the dwindling of horses sees them earn nothing more than Rs 200-400 daily. According to him, there were over 2,000 horses in and around the city around 1975. During those days it was a matter of privilege to have horses as the means of transport and people had to book the carts in advance.

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K Surendar, who owns two horses, says he started working when he is at his 10. “The carts had registration numbers. The cart owner needed to have a licence and had to ride the carts in front of the police official to get their licence. Passengers had badges to ride in horse carts,” he says. There was also a special court to deal with the cases involving horse rides known as Kuthira Vandi Court.

“With the arrival of vehicles like autos, cars and bikes, horse carts and rides were relegated,” he adds. It has been a profession that they have been following since generations and their lives move around horses.

Surendar says the maximum they earn is around Rs 500 when their horses are taken out and over Rs 1,000 when the horses are taken to parks or for functions to even far off places like Mysuru or Bengaluru or parts of Kerala.

Horses are provided grains and grass. They keep organic medicines like pepper, kandangathiri, turmeric, serangotta and gulkanth. There is little support from the Government and welfare of pullers and caretakers are not matter of concern for the Corporation. “We often give petitions seeking loans to develop the shelter. But the corporation does not give any approval to this. In around 10 to 15 years horsecarts and horse rides will vanish,” says P Suresh, Caretaker

None of the children of these cart riders is willing to continue this profession and even parents do not favour their children take up a job which has no future, says Surendar.

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