Chimaltenango was our destination today. Our initial work site created some consternation when the team van became mired in the washed out section of road and no horses were waiting for us. After both the Equitarians and farriers joined in pushin

g, the van was freed.


Shortly thereafter, a decision was made to move several hundred yards back down the road to a very nice futbol field adjacent to the community event center with functional clean bathrooms (very much appreciated) and an area out of the rain with tables for the saddlers.

A new approach to getting the work teams started that had been developed over breakfast was put into action soon
after our gear was unpacked and the tarpaulin slung at the new site. All of the horse owners that arrived in the first 20 minutes were gathered together and addressed at once to explain what services were being offered. The importance and modes of transmission for rabies, tetanus and West Nile virus were explained as many were

not familiar with the fatal potential of these diseases for which we had brought vaccines. They were assured that the dewormer and vaccines were safe for pregnant mares. Serial numbers were used again, and all of the waiting horses were vaccinated, checked for sharp points on
cheek teeth, and dewormed if indicated. We quickly found out that many of the horses here lacked good ground manners, too frequently requiring snubbing to trees along the field’s edge, right next to corrugated tin and barb wire.


More restraint than expected for just writing a number, this horse would only let his owner get this close. (Guatemalan horse transport in the background)

As soon as these tasks were accomplished, each was horse was marked with livestock crayon, including a new indicator mark if its teeth needed floating. The horse was then led over to the farrier area for hoof care, medical charting, and assessment of any medical or lameness issues. Once done with the farrier, dental and saddler needs were met. This created a more timely flow of horses through the work site, although a few owners slipped out without providing the information we wanted for our records. Sadly, we had lost one of our two bilingual veterinarians (Chris Brasmer had to head home), but our 4 Guatemalan veterinarians, Jorge, Jaqueline, Gerardo and Rudy, were very helpful in facilitating communication with the owners as well as treating horses. We very much enjoyed the opportunity to get to know them and compare notes on approaches to cases.

Dr. Craig Niblett explaining

a dental technique to Guatemalan veterinarians Jaqueline Garabito and Rudy while the owner looks on.

There were several interesting cases among the 46 horses presented today. One was an 18 year old Palomino mare with presumptive squamous cell carcinoma that had eroded away a large portion of her left nostril. Unfortunately there was little we could offer her. A much loved grey mare ridden by small children had advanced melanomas of her perineum. This was surgically debulked to buy her some more time with the kids. At the end of the day, a stallion presented with marked degeneration of the suspensory ligaments of both forelegs as well as involvement of the superficial digital flexor tendons. Topical and systemic nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and special shoeing will hopefully
make him more comfortable.

Stallion with marked degeneration of his suspensory ligaments

A wide range of owner interests made for interesting conversations today. One gentleman involved with the local Lion’s Club offered the hope that his group might be interesting in supporting our work if we can return next year. Several stallion owners insisted on showing off their mounts under saddle
before allowing sedation for dental work. The owner of the event center not only brought in his horses for treatment but also shared our enthusiasm for the strong interest from many of the children that gathered to watch the work as well as take advantage of the coloring books. One child in particular stayed with us most of the day, looking for ways to be helpful. The gift of a soccer ball donated by a boys’ soccer team in Laramie, WY to the neighborhood children met with huge approval.


Our work day wound down with a stop at the local “tienda” for our leader, Rob Franklin, to pick up some cold refreshments to go for us all under the watchful eye of the roof spaniel.

After a short break back in our rooms in Antigua, we headed off to enjoy more of the great local food. We were surprised to find ourselves feeling a bit worn out, and headed to bed early, musing about many of the 195 horses served so far, and curious about what tomorrow’s final village may bring.

Blog by JW, and pictures by Tammy Vretis

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