6 min read

Abused Carriage Horse Can't Believe It When He Sees His New Home

“When Chester saw grass to roll in, his eyes lit up. He kept rolling over and over and over again.”

In a distressing video, an old carriage horse lies on the street as a man beats him hard with a whip, trying to get the horse to stand up. Each time the whip hits him, the horses flinches, but he isn’t able to — or doesn’t want to — get up.

Eventually, a few people pull the horse back up to a standing position. But this isn’t much of an improvement — the man with the whip simply adjusts the horse’s reins (which are still attached to a carriage containing passengers), preparing to make him work again.

An animal lover took this video in Jakarta, Indonesia, last month where the horse, Chester, had spent the last 10 years pulling a carriage. They sent the footage to the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), an organization that helps both wild and domestic animals in Indonesia.

Femke Den Haas, founder of JAAN, knew she had to do something to help Chester.

“Chester is not the first horse I have seen in this state — collapsing on the street and being hit,” Den Haas told The Dodo. “I have seen three other cases, including a fatal one.”

Den Haas didn’t waste a minute. She figured out where the owner lived, and went there to speak to him. Chester and his owner hadn’t returned from work yet, but when they did, Den Haas was shocked to see Chester’s poor state of health.

Working horse attached to carriage
Jakarta Animal Aid Network

“He arrived in the rain, soaking wet,” Den Haas said. “He was extremely skinny and looked exhausted. His legs [were] swollen. He looked like a broken soul with no life in his eyes. Just exhausted and full of sadness.”

Fortunately, the law was on Chester’s side, and Den Haas knew this — beating Chester was illegal in Indonesia.

“Indonesia has an animal welfare law ... which was formed to specifically protect carriage and working horses,” Den Haas said. “It explains that horses and other animals shouldn't be put in pain, and should be cared for with shelter [and] proper food and housing and working hours.”

While the authorities don’t always enforce this law, Den Haas persuaded the owner to surrender Chester to her.

Rescued horse at stable
Jakarta Animal Aid Network

“Chester is an old and very weak horse, and the owner had already been wanting to slaughter him,” Den Haas said. “He stated that the horse was being a 'rebel' for not wanting to work, often collapsing and refusing to speed up.”

But now Chester was safe, and he’d never have to pull a carriage again. While JAAN did not have the facilities to house Chester, Den Haas arranged for Chester to go to Arthayasa Stables, an equestrian center south of Jakarta.

Rescued horse eating grass
Jakarta Animal Aid Network

“Arthayasa has a lot of space, and the people running it are good friends of JAAN,” Den Haas said. “They love horses, and they kindly offered to provide Chester a sanctuary there.”

When Chester arrived at his new home, he couldn’t have been happier — the moment he stepped foot onto a grassy field, he playfully dropped to the ground and rolled around.

“When Chester saw grass to roll in, his eyes lit up,” Den Haas said. “He kept rolling over and over and over again. He was so happy to be able to do all those things horses want and need to do.”

“He looked so happy,” Den Haas added. “Now Chester’s life is about grazing and interacting with other ponies, running around freely in the field, being brushed and cuddled.”

To help rescue more carriage horses like Chester, you can make a donation to JAAN.