An Update on WVS India’s Working Equine Project

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Helping Ooty's Equines: An Update on WVS India’s Working Equine Project

Thu 13th Sep 2018

WVS India has now been running donkey welfare camps and outreach clinics for former racehorses in and around Ooty, southern India for the last 10 months and have seen significant improvement in animal health and community engagement.

This project would not be possible without the incredible support and funding from WTG and the Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust and we’re so grateful that this is enabling us to push ever-forward with our working equine projects.

Since the project began, an outstanding 1,399 equines have been treated by the WVS team. 122 of these were treated at the monthly clinics held in Ooty, 73 from the 5-day Ooty clinics and a staggering 1,184 during outreach programmes. On top of this, 20 equines were treated after our teams received emergency calls from the community. These emergency rescue services have been a lifeline for some animals, including many that are injured in road traffic accidents or suffering from impaction colic due to rubbish they have eaten off the side of the road.

One of the most challenging cases our emergency team at ITC India responded to was a call about a heavily pregnant pony who was stuck in mud! Our vets and animal handlers headed out and managed to free the distressed animal and provide fluids to rehydrate her after her ordeal. 

The project has grown considerably over the last few months, but it all began with our monthly clinics. These take place in various parts of Tamil Nadu, Mysore and Karnataka and focuses on donkey health and welfare. Most donkeys here are used as pack animals whereas horses and ponies are used for tourist riding or pulling carts. In an area where veterinary care is almost non-existent, the WVS equine clinics have proved vital for these animals and their owners. Our vets have also seen how the owners are responding well to our advice and guidance to ensure the best care for their animals. 

At these clinics, our vets see a range of cases as well as provide routine check-ups. They treat all kinds of injuries, provide teeth rasping, hoof trimming and also perform field castrations. All animals are also vaccinated against tetanus and dewormed. This also provides excellent education for our equine vets and junior team members who are able to learn more about all aspects of equine health and welfare. Veterinary education in India does now often cover horses and therefore there is a lack of vets here with the skills and knowledge needed to work in equine practice. WVS is training local vets to help fill this gap in knowledge and ensure a sustainable impact.

In some cases, our work here has proved even more beneficial, as our expertise has helped to identify not only common injuries but also some highly contagious diseases. Our vets are able to diagnose outbreaks of serious equine diseases and then support the local government with plans and actions to stop the disease from spreading, saving the lives of these working animals and preventing spread to the community. 

Our research has also expanded thanks to the working equine project, with our findings surrounding common injuries and prevalence of mutilations in the animals here now being presented by our team in published research. By creating more awareness of the plight of working donkeys among the wider scientific community, we will be able to create solutions to best help these animals and the families that depend on them for their livelihoods. 

If you’re interested in learning more about equine health and welfare, take a look at our Working Equine Health and Welfare Training Course which will see you join the team at ITC India and assist at these outreach clinics for working horses and donkeys.