International Working Animal Day: Providing Veterinary Care to Working Equines

International Working Animal Day: Providing Veterinary Care to Working Equines

International Working Animal Day is observed every year on the 15th of June to raise awareness about the essential role played by working animals around the world. They play a vital part in many people’s lives, from providing labour for agriculture, to transporting food and water to rural villages. Despite their importance, working equines often receive inadequate care, or in many cases, no vet care at all - massively impacting their health and happiness. This can be due to a lack of training and knowledge within communities, the distance to travel for veterinary services, and cost of high-quality veterinary care. We are working to change this. 

At WVS, we provide free expert veterinary care, owner education, and veterinary training to improve the welfare for working equines. From Mozambique to Chile, our teams ensure that working equines have access to high quality veterinary treatment and care. To sustainably raise the standard of care, it is important that training is provided to veterinary professionals in as many places as possible. We train local vet students and vets on best practice and provide opportunities for them to gain practical experience. The majority of the time, owners want to do the best for their animals, but sometimes lack the necessary information. We support owners, giving them advice and guidance on how to best care for their equines and enhance their quality of life. By training local vets and educating owners, we ensure long-lasting change to improve the health and wellbeing of these animals. In the past two years, we have provided vital care to over 12,000 equines.  

In this blog learn more about our equine work, including our projects in India and South America. 

Location: India

In the summer of 2023, our equine vehicle in India was upgraded to a first-aid field clinic- a mobile van that travels to different communities with all the equipment and supplies needed.  The team provides preventative treatments and support for working equines and their owners, who rely on the animals for their livelihoods. There are three main ways we help; 


Routine health checks are carried out to make sure that the equines are healthy and happy. This includes general maintenance of dental care, hoof trimming, routine deworming, tetanus vaccinations, and much more. We also respond to emergency cases where equines have become seriously injured and urgent veterinary treatment is required.  


To ensure that good quality care can continue into the future, we run training courses around India to share our knowledge and skills to local veterinary professions. This enables local vets to gain hands-on experience and training that they normally would not have access to. This can include farriery, harness and husbandry guidelines, but also more complex treatments, castration surgeries, x-rays and ultrasounds.  


A lot of the owners we meet want the best for their working equines but lack the access to information. Our team empower owners, helping them to manage the important day to day needs of their animals. Knowing the correct way to fit a harness, or how to manage small wounds, can make a big difference to the welfare of a working equine. These workshops are creating communities who better understand the needs of their animals and the best ways to keep them healthy, happy, and safe.  

Treatment after a suspected panther attack

Ira, a pregnant mare, had a huge laceration on her right hind leg, caused by a suspected panther attack. This injury was so severe that treatment and healing would take a long time and require daily attention. The team began by cleaning the wound to remove debris, and after a week of daily flushing, antibiotics, and pain medication, our vets could better see what part of the tissue would be viable. Our team removed the dead tissue and used wet-to-dry bandages to help with the wound healing process. An injury of this size and location could not be sutured, so managing this as an open wound was the only option.  

For the next couple of weeks, healthy tissue was filling up the wound and thankfully there was no sign of infection or maggots. After six weeks of intensive wound care, Ira was returned to her owner with the injury healing well. Without this care, she would have continued to struggle in pain. Thankfully, she was able to access the veterinary treatment and care she needed.  

Our equine work in India is kindly supported by Welttierschutzgesellschaft.  

Location: South America

We work with universities and NGOs in Argentina, Chile and Ecuador to improve access to veterinary services. Horses are a big part of the communities of these countries and are especially crucial for farmers. Working equines used by small-scale farmers are associated with a greater diversity of tasks, including herding animals, transporting people, and carrying food and water, which, in some cases, can compromise their health and well-being. Equines are also being used in illegal trades and being severely mistreated. 

Through partnerships with local universities, we’re supporting with the training of veterinary students and providing care to rural communities. We also support local NGOs that are dealing with severe cases of mistreatment and abuse, through the deployment of vets, by providing veterinary supplies, and by supporting with veterinary training.  

Hope and new beginnings for equines in Argentina

We are working in partnership with local NGO Caballos Quilmes (CQ) and Universidad Nacional de la Pata (UNLP) to address the needs of the Quilmes community. CQ aims to rescue working equines reported to the local authorities for severe neglect and abuse in their small clinic. The horses treated are used for cart work, particularly in illegal trade, which frequently involves drugs and minors. CQ relies on veterinarians from UNLP as well as volunteers to support their work, but they have been having issues with a lack of funds for resources. 

We have been providing ongoing support for CQ through the provision of veterinary equipment, supplies and medication, as well as sending veterinarians to help clinically, and train local vets and volunteers to improve the standard of care in local communities. There is still a lot of work to be done with providing accessible equine care here as a lot of horses sadly pass away due to horrendous injuries, wounds, and mistreatment after arriving at the clinic. 

Mistreated horse has life turned around  

Tordillo, a 4-year-old gelding, was brought to the Quilmes Equine Clinic in a bad way after being seized by the police, as his owners were using him to steal wheels from parked cars. Devastatingly, Tordillo and other horses had been discovered living in appalling conditions, buried in rubbish and faeces, without access to food or water.  

In both of his forelimbs he had oedema, a build-up of liquid which causes the tissue to become swollen, and he was experiencing severe pain. He was in poor condition, his hooves were poorly trimmed, and he had different shoes sizes on with nails in sensitive tissues. The CQ team got straight to work to get his health back on track and relieve his pain. He also received hoof care, was vaccinated and dewormed, and was put on a special feeding plan. 

Fast forward to just a couple of months later and just look at him now! Thanks to the love and care he has received from the team, Tordillo is no longer suffering. His spirits have been lifted and he is living a new life, happy and healthy, just as he deserves. No animal should have to endure what he has, but thankfully, this kind boy has a new beginning.  

Our equine work in South America is kindly supported by The Marchig Animal Welfare Trust.  

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