Fresh approach to training will improve the lives of working horses in Nicaragua


A new community-centred approach to training people in developing countries how to better care for their working horses is being launched in Nicaragua by World Horse Welfare in February 2012. The bespoke training programme, a first for the charity, is designed specifically to match the needs of the community and provide the foundation for an enduring change in the way people shoe and harness their horses -and so improve horse welfare and the livelihoods of the people who depend upon them.

farriery training

Kent-based farrier Tom Burch is currently on the ground helping two local horseshoe makers improve their skills to ensure there will be a sustainable supply of shoes for the horses who work in and around the large wholesale markets in Managua and surrounding areas.

Focusing in the south-eastern boundary of Managua during the first year of the project, the training programme will help members of the local community by providing them with basic farriery and saddlery skills to look after their own working horses, as well as provide advanced training for students to become local farriers and saddlers.  Both courses will run in parallel from February next year to enable both horse owners and service providers to work together in the future and become more self-sufficient.

Throughout 2011 we have been conducting research in the Central American country to assess the conditions of working horses and gain an in-depth understanding of horse owners' needs.  We have used this research to design a tailored training programme to help alleviate horse suffering with a combination of community focussed education programme and shoe-making and harness-making courses for local people.

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and also one of the poorest, with high levels of poverty and unemployment. The country contains an estimated 400,000 working horses, which communities depend upon for vital income and services. 

The five-year Nicaragua programme will include:

Working with horse owners - The charity has already begun organising monthly community group meetings which are open to horse owners within our working area.  They cover the aspects of basic horse care that research showed was most needed: educating owners on basic first aid, farriery, harness fitting, health, nutrition, road safety and security.

Training service providers - The charity will be improving the skills of local horse service providers such as farriers, saddlers and shoemakers to provide horse owners with sustainable and lasting access to affordable, good quality horse care within their community.  

World Horse Welfare's Deputy Head of International, Karen O'Malley, commented: "Our International Training programmes stem from the charity's practical approach to helping horses worldwide. Working horses and their owners face daily challenges, but by equipping communities with essential horse care skills, we can engender sustainable solutions to the daily suffering these horses endure.  This can be through training farriers who can then shoe horses in their communities, as well as providing business skills training so that they can earn a living through their trade, or something as simple as educating owners on basic harness fitting.

"Working closely on the ground with the local community, interviewing horse owners and traveling throughout the region to assess horses has allowed us to tailor our training programme to address the specific problems facing working horses and their owners in Nicaragua."

"Exciting opportunities lie ahead in Nicaragua for us to address the suffering of working horses in a holistic manner, achieving long term welfare improvements by building services and empowering communities with the knowledge to care for their horses better."

Read a diary from Karen O'Malley on one of her visits to Nicaragua this year, and find out more about the farriery, saddlery, nutrition and business skills courses World Horse Welfares run in the developing world.

The charity's practical training programmes, run throughout the world, provide horse owning communities with essential knowledge and skills to care for working horses properly, alleviating suffering and leaving a lasting legacy of better horse care.

For further information, please contact Jessica Stark on 07900 994 002 or email