In the last couple of years, we have started working in Cuba, where working equids are used to transport tourists and local people around the small towns and rural areas. They often suffer from low body condition scores, wounds and back problems as a result of their work pulling heavy carts. One of the key problems in Cuba is the lack of equine veterinary provision; there are few medications available and unfortunately many vets lack practical equine experience.
In this project, we work differently to our usual community based programs; instead we work directly with the Consejo Cientifico Veterinario Cuba (CCVC), the Scientific Veterinary Council of Cuba. Our aim is to train vets in practical equine skills across the country to help improve the working equids health and welfare.
In 2017 we trained 12 vets from across the regions of Cuba, and in the coming years we will continue to support this ‘specialist’ group to train local vets from their respective regions. It is difficult to provide highly technical veterinary treatments due to the lack of medication and equipment in the country; therefore it is important that we focus this training on practical advice that will help vets treat cases with the resources available to them, and importantly to also up-date them on preventative measures that they can pass on to owners to reduce the incidence of disease and lameness.
One of our biggest concerns when we started working in Cuba was the poor standards of welfare at slaughter of equines. Although difficult to discuss, it is an incredibly important aspect of animal welfare; and therefore we are working with the Cuban Ministerial authorities to provide better equipment and skills to improve welfare standards at slaughter.