Helping working horses and their owners in Honduras
Continuing with our regional approach, in 2010 we launched a five year training project in Honduras to tackle the major welfare concerns of the 130,000 working horses there. With over 4 million people living in remote villages, rural poverty in Honduras is the most severe in Central America.
You can help horses in Honduras here...
World Horse Welfare has been working in Honduras since 2010 and has been supporting a project based in the Choluteca region since March 2013. In Choluteca, many families rely on one horse to provide their sole source of income.
The horses work long, hard days, covering many miles, and are often in poor bodily condition and with injuries. World Horse Welfare aims to improve working horse welfare through education and training, and promoting the need of investing in the working horse not only to the owners but also the local governments and general public.
These working horse communities play a vital role in the economy of both Choluteca itself and the surrounding region. They provide services to over 80% of the population, including the collection and transportation of firewood, water, rubbish and food stuffs, as well as agricultural activities. The importance of the working horse within these communities is evident, yet many horses receive a low standard of care. The owners are not always fully aware of their responsibilities to ensure the welfare of their horse.
Our current programme
Our Choluteca programme aims to improve equine welfare in the area by improving local service provision and educating owners on equine husbandry and care. It is important that owners realise their responsibility to their horses, but it is equally vital that support is there to help them improve the lives of not only their horses but also their families.
The programme provides much-needed training in farriery and saddlery and was the first World Horse Welfare programme to implement the Community Based Education Adviser project. During the initial research and information gathering phase of the programme it was clear there was a great need for improvement within the working horse communities. Poor body condition, lameness and harness injuries were evident amongst many of the horses seen, and could have been prevented. It became apparent that the working horse communities are some of the poorest within Honduras, with entire families relying one horse to provide any form of income. Equine service provision - such as farriery, saddlery and veterinary care - was non-existent in most areas around Choluteca and in areas where it did exist, it was often of low quality or unaffordable to the horse owner.
A day in the life of a Honduran working horse…….
Most working horses in the Choluteca region are used for the transportation of firewood and people. The average age of a working horse is about six years old, with the majority not living much beyond 12 years of age. They tend to work for approximately six hours a day, five days a week and travel between 10 km and 15 km per day. The normal daily wage for a working horse owner is £7, with, on average, five family members relying on the horse for this income. Many of these horses wear makeshift harnesses that dig in and rub, causing injuries that could be easily avoidable. Although owners do understand the need to properly care and invest in their horse, many find it difficult to prioritise the needs of their horse over the need to support their family.
Since 2013, students from directly within the horse owning communities have been selected and trained in saddlery, farriery and equine husbandry. The saddlery and farriery students have completed modules developed and lead by UK training consultants alongside regional training assistants.
In August 2014 the students will have completed their training course, and along with the guidance and support of World Horse Welfare it is hoped they will be able to successfully work within their communities and make a real difference to the lives of the working horses and families.
Working with communities
The Honduran team organise monthly community meetings, and it is during this time the saddlery and farriery students are able to demonstrate their skills and services to the working horse owners.
To be able to reach as many horse owners as possible, the programme recruited members of the equine communities to become Community Based Education Advisers (CBEAs). The CBEAs receive in-depth training on equine husbandry, care and health. The CBEAs work within the community to pass on this knowledge to horse owners, as well as providing the much need link between horse owner and service provider.
Working in partnership
Early last year we began working with an American group of vets called The Equitarians, who provide much-needed veterinary treatment and skills to reinforce our work with the horse owning community. Both World Horse Welfare and The Equitarians hope to expand this association, aiming in the future for teams of vets to visit the country regularly to support our programme, providing veterinary care for working horses, and also offering teaching for local veterinary students at the Veterinary Faculty of Honduras. In February this year the co-founder of The Equitarians, Dr Julia Wilson, joined our team for part of an assessment visit to Choluteca. She wrote this diary from her trip: A trip to Honduras, February 2013...