Reined in | Horse rearing declines sharply

Ban on collecting firewood, new modes of transport makes it a ‘tough going’
Reined in | Horse rearing declines sharply
GK Photo

Shopian, Aug 2: Nazir Ahmad Matoo, 65, who grazes his horse in a green meadow in Bohrihalan area of south Kashmir's Shopian district says that rearing horses had significantly declined over the past 10 to 12 years in the entire area.

According to Matoo, a host of reasons ranging from sharp rise in private vehicles to blanket ban on firewood were responsible for the decline.

“As the government constructed more roads and connected the outlying villages with the towns, people began using private vehicles instead of horses,” said Matoo, a resident of Sedow village.

Nestled among the towering pine trees, 10 km from Shopian town, the village comprises around 1600 households and was once home to nearly 5000 horses.

“Now there are hardly 700 to 800 horses in the area,” Matoo said. He said that many of the inhabitants in the village now own cars.

According to Matoo, the blanket ban on firewood in recent years had also spurred people from raising the animal.

“People would use horses to ferry firewood from the nearby forests and sell it in the market, but the strict ban imposed by the Forest department on collecting firewood is the key reason for people not raising the animal,” Matoo said.

Chief Animal Husbandry Officer Shopian, Dr Ishrat Shakeel told Greater Kashmir that at least there was a decline of 70 percent in horse rearing in recent times.

“The key reason for this is the modern transport system,” he said.

Shakeel said that the department also did not encourage the rearing of horses. “Horse rearing is in no way beneficial now. We encourage people to rear cows, goats and poultry instead as they fetch them more benefits,” he said.

Besides Sedow, people living in far off villages like Devpora, Heerpora and Shadab Karewa used to own hundreds of horses.

“I still recollect that I used to go to Shopian town on a horseback to offer Friday prayers,” said Waseem Ahmad, a resident of Shadab Karewa.

He said that at least 80 percent of the people in the area used to own horses.

As the significance of horses declined and only a scant percentage of people reared horses, the animal was sold for crumbs.

“Now you can buy a horse for Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 only,” he said. According to Ahmad, a few years ago a horse used to be sold at a much higher price.

He said that though he now owned a car, he missed the horse ride most.

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