By Dr. Julie Wilson
Caramba! Today was an emotional day for all of us. We headed off to the work site of Day 1 to provide dental services for the horses we had seen that Monday. Dr. Turoff quickly figured out which tree he wanted to use an
d one of the nimble veterinary students scampered up the tree to set up the ropes to hang the mouth speculum. Unfortunately no one showed up. We stood around wondering why. Calls were made to the community organizer who assured us the people and horses were coming. Still no one showed up. A decision was made to send most of our veterinary group to the shady tree site (Day 2) where the farrier group was working. We bundled up most of the gear, leaving the Honduran veterinarians and 2 veterinary students with Dr. Turoff. A number of horses awaited us at the tree, and we were soon set up and back in business. Dr. Jose Luis Galeas kindly donated another bottle of ivermectin so we could again use the convenient dosing gun. Before long, we were joined by Dr. Turoff and his entourage who had given up on the first site.
Dental cases were the highlight of the work day. Retained deciduous lower corner incisors were removed. Sagittal cheek tooth fractures were identified in two cases, both of which were horses we had seen on Day 1 and told that they needed to come back when we had Dr. Turoff with us. The veterinarians and students very eagerly watched Dr. Turoff extract the lingual side of the fractured tooth, then helped Dr. Turner trephine the sinus to flush the thick pus therein. The good news was that there was sufficient granulation tissue in the socket to prevent food from moving from the oral cavity into the sinus. The bad news was that the sinus flush was unsuccessful in removing a significant quantity of pus. We all hope that antibiotic treatment will help resolve the infection and allow the horse to comfortably return to work.
Forty horses later, the students and veterinary school faculty headed off for a quick visit to a local horse ranch, and the U.S. doctors headed back to the hotel. A quick swim was very refreshing and left just enough time for Dr. Wilson to get ready to talk about colic in the evening session. The audience of veterinarians, veterinary students, and humane group members enjoyed the animations of The Glass Horse as well as discussion of the day’s dental cases.
The evening finished up with a very positive discussion of the future of the group effort to provide support to the cart horses here, as well as potentially other locations in Honduras. Des Bridges, leading World Horse Welfare, expressed his gratitude to everyone for making this effort so successful, and eloquently proposed that this collaborative effort be the start of a strong program to benefit the working horses in Honduras and to support the education of the veterinary students. Drs. Castro and Vargas from the Universidad Nacional de Agricultura both shared their belief that the project was very beneficial to all that came from Catacamas, and committed to working very hard to find support both within the government and the university
to grow the program. The regional veterinarians enthusiastically shared their appreciation for the opportunity to not only learn new ways of addressing clinical problems but also for the opportunity to put the horse back into center focus in the client-patient-doctor relationship. They believe that the private and commercial sector can both be asked to support continuing education with visiting instructors and to support a fund for the health care of the working horses. The veterinary students joined in to share their perspectives, all positive, and to emphatically say that they look forward to further learning opportunities from the Equitarian collaborations. The students were complimented on their great work ethic and outstanding performance, on par or better than their 2nd year counterparts in the U.S.. Dr. Dario Caballero, who made this whole project possible as Honduran coordinator for World Horse Welfare, was profusely thanked. Cohesion and consensus of purpose were clearly evident.
We finished the project discussion with moist eyes, smiles on our faces, and strong hope for improved equine health in Honduras. If that was not enough, Des Bridges, as the person who planted the seed that began this project, and all of the instructors, were presented with beautiful Honduran machete knives in decorated leather scabbards as thank you gifts. University polo shirts have been ordered, but we will all have to come back to claim them. Come back we will, hopefully soon. When we do, it will be with huge smiles on our faces, eagerness to both renew the great friendships that have begun and to learn more about Honduras as well as ways to facilitate positive change for the working equids and the people that care for them.
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