Enhancing Equine Knowledge with the Working Equine Health and Welfare Training Course

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Enhancing Equine Knowledge with the Working Equine Health and Welfare Training Course

Wed 26th Sep 2018

In the first week of September 2018, WVS India successfully completed another working equine health and welfare training course for local vets and international vet students! Junior equine vet Dr Tvesa tells us more!

WVS India has conducted annual street clinics for the horses in Mysore already for couple of years. With good collaboration from People for Animals (PfA) Mysore and the Hill View Farm Animal Refuge, we have been able to intensify this work and make the visits more regular. With more frequent visits, we are able to get to know the horse owners better and understand about their specific needs and how to best help improve the welfare of these horses. This time we added a street clinic to the veterinary training course!

After a filling breakfast, the team headed to the Mysore Palace. PfA had obtained permission from the police to put up a tent in front of one of the gates of the palace. This would be our clinic for the day!!          

Each participant teamed up with a vet (volunteer or WVS vet) and we worked in three pairs. Any horse that needed hoof trimming was seen by Sam, our farrier.  A variety of cases were seen on the first day including wounds, lameness, coughing, dentals and general health checks. The participants got to practise conducting a complete physical exam on all the horses and arrived at a diagnosis for each case with the help of the vet they were working with. They also got to practise I.V and I.M injections and performed teeth rasping on a number of horses. A total of 30 cases were seen on just the first day.

We did notice wounds on some horses due to poorly fitting harnesses and bits. The owners were educated on how to use proper padding and the right bits in order to prevent injuring their animals. Hoof picks were also distributed to some owners after showing them how to use them and we explained the importance of cleaning their horses hooves every day.

The team had an early start on day 2 as we were heading to Srirangapatna, a small town near the city of Mysore. We were to treat the horses that are used for tourist riding here. The camp was conducted in two locations in the town.

Various cases of lameness and wounds were seen. The students got to perform dental exams and dental rasping on most of the horses. The highlight of the day was finding a horse with an eye worm. Other interesting cases seen were a non-healing castration incision; on closer examination a stump of the spermatic cord was found in the incision. The area was thoroughly cleaned and flushed and the horse was put on a course of antibiotics. One horse was also examined for a corneal ulcer.

Later that day, the team visited one of the few stands that are given to the horse owners by the Mysore municipality to stable their horses for the night. A community education session was to be held there where the team would educate the owners about communicable disease in horses, how to prevent them, the importance of quarantine and testing a horse before buying it.

There are 4-5 stands all over the city and each stand houses 20 horses and ponies. Straw bedding for the horses is provided to the owners by the Municipality for free. The owners feed their horses a mixture of oats, horse gram and wheat/rice bran along with grass. We were very impressed with the housing and feeding of the horses and hope to implement a similar system in Ooty.

The next day we had three castrations lined up. The castrations were done at one of the stalls in Mysore. The participants once again worked in teams with a vet. Two participants monitored anaesthesia, while one scrubbed in with a vet to perform the surgery. 

The anaesthesia protocols and procedure for the surgery were discussed the night before over dinner. Our wonderful vet volunteers, Dr. Anna and Dr. Sara, walked us through the various methods of performing a castration.

The horse owners were very interested in watching us perform the surgeries and by the end of the day we had more and more owners asking us to castrate their horses! Unfortunately we only had time to do one more castration on the next day, but we have promised to do the rest when we conduct the equine camp in November.

On day 4 we started the day by doing one more castration at the stall we were at previously. We then headed to the PfA shelter as they had one pony that needed castration. The pony was suffering from chronic laminitis and needed hoof trimming. He was castrated once his hooves were trimmed by Sam.

 At PfA we also encountered a pony suffering from tetanus. None of the participants had seen a case of tetanus before and this was a good learning opportunity for them. After all the surgeries we done we then drove to IPAN, where we would spend the remainder of the course.

After a refreshing night’s sleep, the team geared up to treat some donkeys at IPAN. Various wounds were treated and the students learned how to sedate and thoroughly clean wounds. There were cases of lameness, metritis and paraphimosis. The students also learned how to perform a uterine lavage on the donkey suffering from metritis. The students then dewormed all the horses on the farm to keep them healthy.

The next day started with a donkey castration. The students were quite confident with the procedure and anaesthesia monitoring as they had performed 5 castrations earlier in the course. Lectures on colic and wound management in horses were conducted after the castration and the certificates were distributed after lunch.

It was a busy but very worthwhile course and all the participants had plenty of opportunity to actively get involved and practise their practical technique. By improving the education surrounding equine health and welfare we hope to improve vets’ knowledge, help the horse and donkey owners and ultimately improve the lives of these animals.

Thanks to excellent working relationships with local organsiations and funding support from our project partners WTG and The Peter O'Sullevan Charitable Trust, we are able to continue providing these educational courses, support vets and international students and help treat these working animals.