For the 7th year in a row, Equitarian Initiative (EI) brought nine North American veterinarians to Honduras to work in collaboration with the veterinary college at the Universidad Nacional de Agricultura and EQUHS, an equine welfare organization supported by the British charity, World Horse Welfare. Our first objective was to provide curricular support to the veterinary students on equine topics in the classroom and in rural communities. The second was to address the health of the working equids through veterinary services and instruction to their owners to improve their health. A total of 237 working equids and 132 owners received services from the team.
Beginning in the classroom at the veterinary college, the veterinary students were very interactive, and eager to learn as each of the EI veterinarians presented at least one important topic. The following two days the EI veterinarians, two Honduran veterinarians and Honduran students worked in teams to learn how to handle horses, perform thorough physical examinations, vaccinate, deworm, and determine what other procedures were needed, such as dentistry, castration , hoof trimming, harness wound care or treatment for a systemic illness. Horses were slow to arrive in the first, allowing more time to integrate the physical examination and procedures with the medical record. On the second day, more horses and mules were seen. Unfortunately, one of the mules bolted, trailing a rope which felled Dr. Turoff, wrenching his knee.
After driving to southern Honduras, the EI, EQUHS and Honduran veterinary students worked to two more communities. Eight veterinary students from El Salvador joined us which gave the Honduran veterinary students the opportunity to teach their peers as well as to continue learning from the equids that were presented. A total of 267 horses, donkeys and mules received health care.
Two aspects of the 2018 project should be noted. The veterinary college was expected to close as ordered by the government so admissions which would end the Honduras project. Fortunately, the government relented. With resumption of veterinary college admissions, the faculty and Equitarian Initiative have signed a formal agreement of collaboration to continue and hopefully expand the support of the veterinary college’s curriculum. BrookeUSA, another nonprofit organization that supports working equid welfare, provided gifts in kind including medications, dental equipment and much needed farrier tools. This enabled the team to work more efficiently and provided more teaching opportunities for the veterinary students. The farrier tools will remain at the college for instruction and care of their growing teaching herd.