Working to improve the lives of equids and their owners in Haiti

Haiti is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere and in recent years has been severely hit by natural disasters and political instability. Data from 2012 shows 58.5% of Haiti’s population lives below the national poverty line, with 53.9% living below the international poverty line (PPP$1.90 per day)

World Horse Welfare initially partnered with Humane Society International (HSI) when we first started working in Haiti in 2013. Click here for more information on this partnership (LINK to Following this, we set up the first Haitian animal welfare foundation, Quatre Pattes, who World Horse Welfare now officially partners with to deliver a community-based equine welfare programme.

Working donkey HaitiThe working equine population is made up of roughly equal proportions of horses, ponies, donkeys and mules, taking on a range of roles that are vitally important in Haitian communities. Two fifths of the Haitian population depend on agriculture for their income, with the majority of these people working as small subsistence farmers. Working equids are used to transport goods to the markets for families to sell their products, and therefore play a direct role in the welfare of many families who rely on them to make a living. A large proportion of working equids have a poor diet, especially in the dry season when there is limited water availability reducing crop production  As a result, many are malnourished and have a poor body condition. They work long hours carrying poorly made pack saddles that are often overloaded, causing pressure sores and wounds on the withers and back which are unable to heal and are prone to infection. Pack saddles are made from materials that are ill-suited to the job and to the health of the working animal.

World Horse Welfare supports Quatre Pattes to work in five communities around Port-au-Prince. We are training Community Based Equine Advisors (CBEAs) and are supporting two local people through farrier training run by the Haitian Equine Federation, The CBEAs are working with the owners in the communities and educating them on how to handle and care for their equids. They are really important in building the community network, explaining to owners the benefits of using the farriers and other services to improve their equids health and welfare. We are also running two saddlery training programs in Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitian to help people in the communities to have access to better equipment. These training programs give local people new skills, we include business management classes, giving local people the best opportunity as possible to set up their own business and improve their incomes, There is little veterinary provision available in Haiti, especially so  for working horses; most work focuses on farm or livestock animals and is often provided by vet agents and vet technicians. General knowledge of proper veterinary care for horses is severely lacking and owners receive little to no instruction on how to care for their animals.

As a result of these factors working horses continue to work in pain caused by wounds, long term muscular-skeletal conditions and damaged feet. Their quality of life is poor and life-expectancy is reduced. We work with vet agents from the Port-au-Prince region to help provide the communities with equine veterinary services. On top of this we train owners in basic first aid and wound management to increase their resilience, We want to help the hard-working horses, ponies, donkeys and mules who are rebuilding Haiti.