World Horse Welfare has launched a new scheme to draw attention to the 100 million equines that work in the developing world.
The scheme – part of the WHW’s year-long Invisible Horses campaign – wants to raise the profile and highlight the plight of working equids so that they can receive the care and protection they so desperately need.
In doing so, it’s hoped that vital training to owners and communities in practical skills such as farriery, saddlery, nutrition and all aspects of equine care will be possible.
Horses, donkeys and mules play an integral role in the lives of people living in developing countries, where it is estimated that working equines support almost 10% of the world’s population.
World Horse Welfare Head of Programme Development, Karen O’Malley, said: “The developing world’s equine-owning communities are some of the poorest and face difficulties every day in order to feed and provide for their families, with so many completely reliant on their working equine in all aspects of daily life.
“One example which demonstrates these communities’ reliance on their working equines is that of 64 year-old Celienne, who lives in the urban area of Thomazeau, Haiti.
“We met Celienne during our community based training activities. Celienne earns 4,000 goudes, around £50 per month, through agricultural work and relies on her mule, Brigan to not only transport all six members of her family, but also to fetch water and to work the land so she can generate an income.
“We discovered that Brigan had a painful wound underneath his saddle, which had been left untreated simply because Celienne had no understanding of how to deal with it, nor of the pain and risk of infection for Brigan, despite the fact that her family was so dependent on him.
“The wound was given immediate treatment by our project vets and a local vet was asked to help support Celienne moving forward. The wound quickly healed and Celienne now has the knowledge to help prevent it from happening in the future as well as where to go for help should Brigan need veterinary support again. Not only does this mean that Brigan’s welfare is safeguarded but it also means that he can continue helping Celienne support her family for many years to come.
“Celienne’s story is just one of many which not only demonstrates the essential role that working equines play in the lives of communities in developing countries, but also highlights the lack of knowledge in how best to take care of their equines.
“Working with local partners such as governments, universities, human development organisations and sports regulators, we can build an understanding of the cultures and challenges facing these people so that we can equip them with the knowledge and tools to better look after their equines resulting in sustainable improvements and behaviour change which have long-term benefits for the future.”