A mule found with a “painful” untreated wound under his saddle is one of the 100 million working equines on which World Horse Welfare is turning the spotlight this quarter.
The charity’s 2016 Invisible Horses initiative focuses on the developing world’s working animals, which which “play such an integral role in the livelihoods, communities, families and educations of 600 million people”.
One example is Brigan, a mule used by 64-year-old Celienne in Haiti to work the land, carry water and transport her family.
“We met Celienne during our community based training activities,” said World Horse Welfare’s head of programme development Karen O’Malley.
“We discovered 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. 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.
“Not only does this mean Brigan’s welfare is safeguarded also that he can continue helping Celienne support her family for many years.”
It is estimated that working equines support the livelihoods of almost 10% of the world’s population, but World Horse Welfare says these animals are often “invisible” to governments and policymakers.
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The charity runs projects in 13 countries, offering training in equine care. It also works with local and national governments and institutions including the World Organisation for Animal Health and the European Commission, as well as human development charities.
Ms O’Malley added: “Celienne’s story is 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, we can build an understanding of the cultures and challenges facing these people so 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.”