Located on the western side of the African continent, Senegal almost entirely surrounds The Gambia on its north, south and eastern borders. As in many parts of the continent, horsepower still makes up an essential part of daily life. The country is home to more than 500,000 horses, many of which are used to transport locals, tourists, goods and materials through the busy streets.
We investigated Senegal as a potential project country when our programme in The Gambia concluded. In July 2008, we undertook a feasibility study to establish the condition of the horses in districts in and around Dakar. It was clear that horse owners, many of whom were dependent on their horses for income, desperately needed help.
We often observed foot problems among the working horse population, caused by traditional shoeing practices. Local farriers were making shoes from reinforced steel and trimming the foot to fit the shoe. Generally, the carts in Senegal were of an average standard, although the harness used was often in disrepair and caused severe injuries.
World Horse Welfare started the project in Senegal in 2009, training a total of 20 farriers and 20 saddlers to date on courses that have been arranged with the assistance of the Government department charged with the development of equines.
We have recently reviewed our project in Senegal and come to the conclusion that this is a country where we can work with other stakeholders to make a real difference. While our contribution to this work will continue to centre around providing training, we will also be working with local organisations to identify horse owning communities and providing them with the support that they require to improve the welfare of their animals.
We will also be working with the veterinary department at the University in Dakar (this is a regional veterinary school that has support and students from fifteen African countries) to provide students with hands-on experience of working with horses.