An Eye-Opening Experience with WVS India’s Working Equine Programme

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An Eye-Opening Experience with WVS India’s Working Equine Programme

Tue 9th Oct 2018

Charlotte Rutter was just one of the participants on our recent working equine programme with the team at WVS India! Learn all about the team's activities and what she learnt in her blog below!

Attending the fourth Working Equine Health and Welfare training course in September 2018 was an eye-opening experience, highlighting how much people on the other side of the world care for their animals. The trip also provided a tremendous insight into the economic and cultural aspects which dictate local attitudes, behaviours and animal welfare.

Each day started with a traditional Indian breakfast at one of the local restaurants. The clinics took place at different venues within Mysore to ensure wide coverage. These were all set up ready for the arrival of patients by 9am. The owners would then bring their ‘tourist riding’ horses and ‘tonga cart’ ponies to be treated. There were a variety of clinical cases presented including lameness, wounds and dentals alongside those who simply required worming treatments and tetanus vaccine boosters. Each horse would receive a full clinical examination followed by a specific diagnostic workup related to the presenting concern. Maximum effort was made to not only treat the animal to the best of the team’s ability but to encourage and provide education to the owners about preventive measures they can adopt to help their animals. 

When the morning clinic was completed (sometimes not until the afternoon), lunch was provided at a local restaurant. The local Indian food was fabulous and numerous dishes were ordered and shared between the team. 

Afternoons consisted of attending to cases outside of the clinics. Four horse castrations were performed by the vet students (assisted by the attending vet surgeons). This was a fantastic and contrasting experience performing surgery on a bed of straw at the roadside compared to UK based surgeries performed within a sterile operating environment. One afternoon was spent performing a castration at the ‘People for Animals Centre’ which enabled us to see how the charities worked together to help stray cats and dogs. Another afternoon was spent attending to an emergency colic case at the owner’s farm. This case highlighted the importance of emergency critical care and the need to apply creative and dynamic thinking e.g. nasogastric intubation was required however there was no proprietary tube available, hence a make-shift nasogastric tube was improvised from plastic tubing which the owner had at the farm. 

Evenings were spent discussing clinical scenarios and developing our knowledge regarding a variety of veterinary aspects. This was delivered by the WVS vet surgeons and was lecture based covering all kinds of topics relating to equine welfare. One evening was spent educating the local horse owners and caretakers regarding animal welfare and disease surveillance. 

Later in the week, the team was relocated to the ‘Hill View Farm Animal Refuge’ which housed 150 donkeys (along with some horses, goats and cattle). During our stay we attended to various clinical presentations including wounds and an endometritis case (secondary to dystocia). The final castration of the week was performed by myself and another vet student on a donkey. This was one of my personal highlights because the surgical procedure differed to that performed on a horse, hence I had learned both techniques during the same week which was an incredible opportunity. 

Free time during the week was spent exploring the local area, visiting Mysore Palace and Temple, attending an elephant feeding session and going out on safari which made my trip even more enjoyable. 

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the course and would highly recommend it! Both my knowledge and practical skills have improved massively alongside my confidence to perform a variety of first aid and surgical procedures. The organisers involved were extremely knowledgeable and passionate about sharing their experiences and helping us learn as much as possible. They encouraged student development through comprehensive instruction and practical demonstrations. Everyone was extremely welcoming and supportive and I would like to thank you all for delivering such an invaluable and life changing experience. 

If you've been inspired by Charlotte's experience and want to join us on a Working Equine Health and Welfare Course in India, take a look at our available course dates here