One backyard stable has helped over 2 000 neglected horses. This is how


Relaxed and steady on his horse, the elderly man was unaware of his animal’s discomfort. But riding without a saddle was causing serious pain. Janine Clarke looked on from the roadside outside her home and hailed the rider over as he came by. Familiar with horses, she invited him to talk about the animal and offered advice on how best to care for it. Clarke thought little of the encounter. She’d responded instinctively, but it set a precedent that changed her life.

Word spread around Clarke’s community in Mthatha about the horse lady, the one who knew how to help sick and injured animals and prevent the healthy from becoming unwell. Owners arrived at her door, accompanied by colts, fillies, mares and stallions in all sorts of conditions. Unable to turn them away, it was only a matter of time before her casual aid practice became an official feature under the title of the Barnyard Stables.

“I have always loved horses and that love has manifested far beyond what I expected,” says Clarke, who grew up around the serene creatures. “The most rewarding part of my work is to see the transformation of a neglected horse to a well-cared-for horse.” Her project provides basic care, including treating sores, deworming and dipping, and refers more serious work to local veterinarians free of charge. Barnyard Stables has been able to help over 2 000 horses so far thanks to donations from the public, which it relies on to stay open. As long as there are animals in need, financial assistance is required. Clarke knows that South Africa will come through.