Horses, cows and sheep starve as wells dry up, fodder prices sky rocket, and fields of natural grazing turn into barren dust bowls.

After three dry years, and months of severe water restrictions, there’s not one person in Cape Town who has not been inconvenienced by the lack of water.

But whilst we may find water restrictions inconvenient, they are hardly life-threatening. The same cannot be said for animals. The water quota set aside for agriculture is 60 percent lower than normal. Once farmers hit their limit, they are cut off, leaving crops to wither in the ground and livestock to suffer.

As a result, we’re finding more horses, cows and other farm animals being left to fend for themselves as best they can. Horse Care Unit Manager, Lindsay, came across a chestnut stallion recently that was clearly a victim of the drought.

Lindsay was responding to a call and took a wrong turn that brought her accidentally face to face with ‘Diamond’. He was little more than skin and bone and had clearly not had a good meal or a drink of clean water in months. He had untreated wounds on his back and a broken leg that had mended on its own.

After a quick once over by our vet, Diamond was led into a warm stable and given an oat hay buffet with an extra-large serving of fresh water. The horse’s road to recovery will be a long one, but Diamond is lucky; we found him in time.

Wondering how many more we will have to care for over the coming months is keeping us awake at night. We are going to need piles of oat hay, lucerne and supplements, and following the drought the cost of horse feed has sky-rocketed – meaning many horse owners simply can’t afford to feed their horses.

What does it take to save a horse like Diamond?

  • Oat hay: R80 per bale
  • Horse cubes: R300
  • Farrier: Anything from R370 for a trim to R1 000 for a full set of shoes
  • Vaccinations: R285
  • Dewormer: R111
  • Horse blanket: R709
  • Halter & leading rein: R593
  • Gelding: R2 300
  • Bedding: R80 per bag