oa SA Horseman - Plea of the helpless horse - : special report

Volume 3, Issue 3
  • ISSN :



The moon is full over the farmlands that lie at the base of the mountains. The landscape is lit with blue light and one can see for miles. The farmers will sleep fitfully tonight. But full moon bodes well for all marauders. And the rustler's routes, known only to the mountain dwellers, will be run with the farmers' stock.

Cattle, worth hundreds of thousands will be over the border or deep in the rural location by morning. But worth more than money, horses will have been driven, under the cruellest of circumstances, over the harshest terrains to the mountain country, often beyond our borders.
Often these horses are not tough mountain ponies, but pampered pets. Fed, stabled and trusting - used to the kinder ways of life. Overnight they will be herded, wire tied in their mouths, forced to keep moving over mountainous terrain at a pace that must see them over the mountains and back in Lesotho before daylight. They will be stabbed in the rump to keep them moving.
Those that falter will be left behind - pushed over a cliff or stoned to death - so that the others will not try and return to them.
Many a night I have sat in the pub or around a roaring fire, listening to the tales of these border farmers. Stories of ambushes, of bandits caught and dealt with, of trails into the mountains, tracking for days and nights. Rewards offered. Palms crossed with silver. Getting lost in the mist. Seeing friends shot. Recovering the lost and, sometimes, nursing them back to health.
These are some of their stories.

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