Cart Horse Protection Association

17th Sep, 2018

The carting industry as we know it today has a proud heritage rooted in District Six, where horses and carts were used to “smous” (hawk) fish, fruit, vegetables, bottles and bones. Horses were kept in community stables, travelled short distances with light loads, and business was lucrative for the cart horse owner.

Forced removals

With the forced removals to the Cape Flats, the lives of the cart horse owners, their families and their horses took a turn for the worst. Far from their markets, hawking was no longer a viable option, and communities began using horses and carts to collect scrap metal to generate an income.

This new carting industry led to the renting out of horses and carts and an increase in cart horse operators who had limited knowledge on how to properly care for and maintain a working horse. Consequently, badly shod, thin, overloaded, overworked and abused working cart horses became a common site on Cape Town’s roads.

Helping horses

Cart Horse Protection Association was established in 1995 to support owners and to address the welfare issues prevalent in the industry at this time.

If owners and drivers have access to affordable services, are educated on proper horse care and have an understanding of animal welfare legislation, we can reduce the risk of the horses’ welfare being compromised.

Currently we support cart horse owners, drivers and guards from 21 different areas on the Cape Flats, who use cart horses as a means of transport, collecting scrap metal and/or garden refuse and rubble to generate an income for themselves and their families.

A holistic approach to horse welfare

For the working cart horses on the Cape Flats to be fit, healthy and comfortable in work, we believe that we must have a holistic approach to their welfare.

This means that we must provide for every aspect of their health and well-being.

We provide subsidised farriery (hoof care) services as well as feed sales. We have three farriers and also offer harness and cart repair services.

Our Equine Welfare Practitioners (EWPs) are trained Animal Welfare Assistants who can provide emergency veterinary care and, as trained Animal Welfare Inspectors, they can go out to inspect the living conditions of the horses. Each horse, along with its harness and cart, is also inspected whenever they come in for shoes to ensure that their condition is acceptable.

A Patrol & Call-out Officer makes sure that all drivers on the road meet the required criteria needed to work on a public road. This includes an ID board at the back of the cart and an E53 Cart Horse Operator’s Permit. To receive such a permit, potential drivers are tested on the traffic laws as well as horse and cart care.

The Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre in Gordon’s Bay is where horses are taken should they be confiscated or signed over. Once they’ve been satisfactorily rehabilitated, they’re placed in an adoption programme, either as companions or riding horses.

Additionally, we’re involved in outreach programmes in the Tankwa Karoo as well as Greyton, where we offer help to other organisations that offer services to working horses, donkeys and mules.

An inspector is always on duty to deal with complaints and emergencies regarding working horses of the Cape Flats, and we always encourage the general public to call us at any time with information and concerns. This number is manned 24/7: 082 6599 599.

To find out more about Cart Horse Protection Association, call 021 535 3435, email or visit or follow them on Facebook