This is a very common question and to be honest the answer is “No”. For the most part they are NOT abused. They may be neglected through ignorance or lack of education or they may be overloaded by being asked to pull too much weight…but this is not outright abuse. Abuse is generally defined as willful physical maltreatment and this is not what happens here. For the most part the owners care about their horses and provide what they believe is the best care.
Why do they carry whips?
Most horescart drivers carry a small whip which is less than 1 meter long. They use this to signal the horse to move its hindquarters or shoulders and to encourage it to move faster. Sometimes they will strike the top of the carriage to make a loud noise or the leather parts of the harness which can startle the horse into obeying. On rare occassions they will strike the animal on the hind quarters. This is not going to hurt the horse physically but may sting.
Why aren’t there any motor vehicles?
These three islands have a local law that prohibits any motorized transport. This is enforced by the island government and the local people. It is a nice thing actually and good for the environment as well by cutting down on pollution. We do have a few electric bikes that are allowed to be used by the elders of the villages and one electirc cart similar to a golf cart that is for rubbish collection. Most of us like it this way and respect the local law and try our best to support their customs.
How many horses are there?
Gili Trawangan is the largest of the three islands and has between 200 and 220 horses. Gil Meno has about 50 horses and Gili Air about 100 to 125. The number changes as horses are bought and sold and trasnported to other islands.
What can we do to help?
We are always in need of direct monetary donations to purchase medications and supplies but you can help in other ways too!
Bits and bridles can be donated. We like to try to use snaffle bits with a jointed mouthpiece and no leverage since these are easy on the horses mouths. Pony or Cob sized bridles are also always needed as well.
Donations of boots with velcro straps and padding for harnesses is also very useful.