Brooke works to support working equines on tea estate

Today is National Tea Day and considering that tea is one of the nation’s favourite beverages, with a massive 165 million cups being consumed in the UK each day, that's certainly something to celebrate, but, how often do you think about where your brew actually comes from and the journey it goes on to reach you?

Brooke works closely with equine owners in Nepal who use their horses and donkeys to transport tea from the fields to the tea factories. These journeys take hours and are often over treacherous terrain leaving animals suffering from lameness and painful wounds from overloading.

A horse carrying tea in the Samal Valley tea estate

A horse carrying tea in the Samal Valley tea estate

In Nepal it’s estimated that 100,000 working horses and donkeys play an important role in supporting the livelihoods of approximately one million people. Brooke has been working with communities to educate them on how important caring for their equine is.

Recently Brooke and their partners in Nepal, the Animal Health Training and Consultancy Service (AHTCS) met horse owner Jay Kumar Pradhan lives in Kanyam village in Ilam district, one of 18 districts Brooke works in in the country, which lies in the hilly eastern region of Nepal. He is in his forties and has spent the majority of his hard-working life transporting tea and milk with the help of his horse. The tea factory is almost two hours from his home, so even after finishing a day’s work walking over steep and rocky ground he still has miles to travel before he and his horse can rest.

The Samal Valley tea estate fields

The Samal Valley tea estate fields

Jay also has a small piece of land where he grows tea which he can sell for around 35 rupees (43p) per kilo which he uses his horse to transport. He and his fellow equine owners met with the teams to discuss ways to improve their animals’ health. The owners admitted that their horses were overloaded and recognised that this could be a factor that contributed to respiratory problems and sometimes even the collapse and death of their horses. They used lukewarm salt solutions for back wound management but they felt unable to rest horses with wounds as the transportation work provided by their horses is so crucial to their income.

The Samal Valley tea estate horse owners group

The Samal Valley tea estate horse owners group

To tackle these issues Brooke has funded the Working Equine Welfare Project, which organises equine health camps, training and micro sessions for people like Jay. They also provided local farrier training and arranged farriery and hoof-care services and showed owners how to make padded saddles from available local materials to avoid lesions. Vets in the area have since reported a reduction in wounds.

Dr Nabin Paudel, AHTCS Field Coordinator of the Working Equine Welfare Project, said: “The Working Equine Welfare Project funded by Brooke and AHTCS is vital for local equine owners working in the tea industry. It provides access to veterinary treatment and has shown owners how vigilant care for their horses and donkeys can avoid injuries. The project has proved how training local service providers and sharing knowledge with the community can lead to long term welfare improvements. We will continue monitoring the project to ensure the best possible welfare standards are upheld for these animals.”

The Ilam equine owners have described how the project has changed their attitude towards their animals, they no longer carry out harmful traditional practices like pouring hot oil on wounds to treat them, and they have learnt how to treat horses using basic equine drugs which has resulted in a reduction in sudden horse deaths.

They have also recognised that they need to improve their horses’ nutrition and that the water they are giving to their animals must be clean. The project has highlighted how, thanks to the support of our generous supporters, community development and improving the capacity of animal healthcare providers can be linked to ensure sustainable change for the animals.

If you love tea as much as we do here at Brooke, why not take part in our High Tea For Gee Gees campaign? Celebrate National Tea Day and host a tea party for your friends and raise money to change the lives of working equines around the world.