Nicaragua

Santos is from Nicaragua

Santos relies on her horse, Gitana to transport the produce from her smallholding to markets.

Santos relies on her horse, Gitana to transport the produce from her smallholding to markets.

Santos lives in the La Leona community, just outside Leon, Nicaragua. A mother of nine children, an owner of a successful smallholding, works with the agricultural department and a passionate advocate of equine welfare. Santos is an incredible woman.

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Santos received training by the Nicaraguan project, and she works tirelessly to share her new-found knowledge about equine care and management with as many horse owners as possible.

Santos has always worked with animals and loved horses her entire life but she was aware she had very little knowledge of how they should be treated. She talks about the condition of the horses in her community when the project first began:

“Before World Horse Welfare’s project started working here, the horses always looked mistreated and suffered from diseases and injuries. I attended the first ever workshop on de-parasiting (worming) in 2014 and was eager to learn information that I could take back to my community.”

Santos explained how she is always looking for more knowledge and resources that she can share with people in her community:

 “This is the first time I have ever had a place to get reliable information about horse care and I am so excited about it. I used to keep Gitana in the yard outside my home and graze her by the road but since learning about good nutrition I have rented land where she can graze.”

Santos used to feed Gitana on any weeds and grass that she could find but she now gives her Zagate and peanut stalks – which are both rich and nutritious. She also learnt that soaking the forage in water can make it more appetising and helps hydrate the horse, plus she feeds it in a trough so there is less chance of Gitana picking up parasites from the ground.  

Santos explains the improvement she has seen:

“Four years since World Horse Welfare’s project started working here the horses are looking much better. I see less wounds and people understand the importance and value of better care for their horses which is so encouraging. In the past, horses here also had terrible foot problems but now owners realise the need for having them shod by a trained farrier.”

Santos’ knowledge and learning is being passed down to the next generations through her nine children. They have all been brought up to properly care for their working horses and Santos has helped the six who have already left home to set up their own businesses. One of her sons is about to finish the saddlery making course and Santos can’t wait for his training to be completed so she can start recommending him to other horse owners.

“Although it took about a year to build up my reputation, I now have many horse owners coming to me for advice on caring for their horses and I am always calling Gabriela (Project Coordinator and Vet) to ask for more workshops.”

In the future, Santos would love to see a physical location in the community where she could work with harness makers and farriers. She’d like there to be a designated place in La Leona so horse owners could have ready access to a vet or farrier whenever they needed one and looks forward to seeing more positive change for the working horses of the region. She explained how people are noticing the impact of better horse care, saying:

“It is like wearing bad shoes. You don’t realise how bad the shoes were until you put on good shoes and then you will never go back to the bad ones.”

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