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Many Americans have seen scenes from the ancient Jordanian city of Petra — but may not have realized what they were seeing.
Petra was the setting for the climatic scenes of Steven Spielberg’s 1989 epic, “Indian Jones and the Last Crusade.” But while Indiana Jones visited Petra in a fictionalized quest to keep the Holy Grail from falling into the hands of the Nazis, Renda Spradlin, an Azela, Texas, breeder of Arabian horses, has embarked on her own quest to help horses and mules that work in the ancient city every day.
Spradlin says there are between 350 and 400 horses working under harsh, desert conditions in Petra, each horse supporting a family of six to 12 people. The horses pull carriages full of tourists about 2 miles down a long, winding, cobblestone road into the ancient city.
During a 2002 visit, Spradlin became aware of the frequent injuries these horses suffer — and of the subsequent economic effects on the people who own them, who have no income when their horses are unable to work.
Spradlin, working with the Brooke Hospital, a London, England, institution, which has a clinic in Petra, established “Horseshoes For Humanity,” an organization to help these horses.
“We are sending plastic horseshoes to these hard-working horses to help improve their footing, thus reducing injuries,” she explains. “We are working closely with the veterinarians at the Brooke clinic. They are very excited about these shoes and are setting up a study comparing them to traditional metal…