Phuentsholing thromde has impounded 12 stray horses after a horse that died two weeks ago on the road, tested positive for rabies.

The thromde has been battling to control rabies since January this year. It will observe the horse for 20 days.

The veterinary team conducted the test in the town and confirmed rabies as the cause of the horse’s death. However, another horse that died last week tested negative.

Veterinary officials sent the samples collected from the horse’s brain to Thimphu for further test.

Thromde officials say that 10 days have been passed since the horses were impounded and two horses are showing abnormal symptoms like hitting their heads on the wall.

A thromde official, Jamtsho Drukpa, said the two horses are also not feeding as much as other animals in the herd.

Thromde officials say stray horses have been a problem in the thromde and although they chase the animals, it returned within a week.

Phuentsholing thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said although they sent numerous notifications, the owners never claimed it.

He said that the thromde even approached the tsethar tshogpa but they only took the cattle and pigs and not the horses.

The thrompon said that they faced difficulty in finding space to keep the horses. “We kept the horses near the sewerage initially but two horses drowned and died in the sewerage.”

The horses are now kept in the town in a small space owned by the thromde. But since it poses risk to people walking by, the thromde will move the horses to a new location.

A caretaker of a prayer hall near the site where the horses are kept, Sonam, said he started to take rabies vaccination since yesterday. “I did not know the horses would have rabies,” he said. “I used to feed them grass and rice with bare hands.”

Although it is not confirmed if the remaining horses are rabid, Sonam said it was advisable to take the vaccination.

Phuentsholing thromde has spent Nu 45,000 in making a fenced shelter for these horses on two different occasions. A new impounding house will be constructed soon with an estimated budget of about Nu 80,000.

Fodder is a separate expense. A herd of 13 horses could feed about 80kg of corn floor in two days, thromde officials said.

“I had to travel across the border and bring hay,” Jamtsho Drukpa said, adding that it was difficult to get hay during off-season.

He said that the horses had to be fed properly. “If not fed, the horses cry throughout the nights.”

Meanwhile, it is not known how the two horses that died recently were infected with rabies. A dog, local people say, had bitten the horses but the dog could not be traced.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing