Stories and  testimonials of our impact on the communities and people we serve…

Equitarian Initiative’s mission is to educate owners, community animal health workers, veterinary students, and local veterinarians for improved working equid health care.

Our programs change the lives of the people and their animals by providing life-saving health care to equids AND teaching local stakeholders how to care for their animals.

“It’s a tool for work, and you have to care for him, because from him, we live.”


~Peruvian Community member

“If my horses work, then they bring me money so I can have whatever medical checkup.”


~Peruvian Community member

“The horses work and with that we buy food.”


~Peruvian Community member

“This is our survival.”


~Peruvian Community member

“It’s an economic movement, for many families. Either directly or indirectly.”


~Peruvian Community member

“The truth is without horses, we don’t live.”


~Peruvian Community member

“To go by car there aren’t highways here. There aren’t paths. So the only way is by horseshoes and you have to take horses, that’s it. There aren’t roads for cars. Only by horse.”


~Peruvian Community member

“cars don’t pass way up there anymore… where there isn’t a road anymore, [there is the horse], right?”


~Peruvian Community member

“There’s so much tourism. So they come here, so that’s how things will be because horses work more, they’re going to need more feed, and we’re going to have a greater economy as well for us, so the health of all of us is going to improve. Just like for the animals, for us as well.”


~Peruvian Community member

“It was humbling to work with the people on the reservation and learn about the history of the Lakota people. I was honored to work with the incredible veterinarians, technicians, ferriers, and fellow veterinary students, and learned new skills and ways of approaching problems from each of them.”


~Deanna Scheller, EI volunteer

“My experience in Costa Rica was overwhelmingly positive. Volunteering on a project with the EI has reminded me of why I love veterinary medicine and has taken me back to the basics of what being a veterinarian is all about.  I use my knowledge and skills to help animals who then improve the lives of the humans who care for them. Period.  That’s it folks. It is the core of what we do and it is enough.  My hope is that these experiences will also make us a little more tolerant of different cultures and ideas, a perspective the western world is in desperate need of at this time. May it open our eyes to the commonalities of the human condition and encourage us to engage with each other, reach out to support each other and to speak up for what we hold most dear. “


~Elaine Klemmenson, EI Volunteer

“It has been a privilege to be part of this group of amazing and diverse veterinarians, but what I also learned is this:  it’s complicated.  With international volunteerism, every action you take is going to have an impact and create change.  Be it a shift in perspectives, an exchange of ideas or a permanent change that improves the health and welfare of both the animals and the human community.  Is this change positive for the local people and animals? Could we do more?  Could we do it better?  It takes time to answer these questions and it encourages me that EI members are asking these questions.  It will take continued efforts and resources as well as tools to critically evaluate the groups impact and to answer these questions.”


~Elaine Klemmenson, EI volunteer

“Finally, I hope that I have made it clear how important veterinary volunteer work is to me.  I had experiences with small animal volunteer work during my undergraduate degree, but as soon as I found veterinarians providing equine services, I have been completely hooked. Caring for horses in these communities does so much more than whatever we provide in a single day. It supports the owners who rely on these horses for transportation, work, and even spiritual reasons. Furthermore, with the integration of education into the volunteer services, we can really help a community to take better care of their horses and, subsequently, improve their own standard of living. Improving the welfare for these horses and their owners will continue to be a lifelong passion of mine, and I feel even more empowered and dedicated to this goal after my wonderful experience at the Equitarian Workshop!”


~Sarah Appleby, EI Volunteer and project coordinator (Cheyenne River)

“The main goal of the Equitarian Initiative is to improve the welfare of working equids world wide. This is accomplished by providing care, but also educating the people on how to better care for their animals and improve welfare themselves. One of the biggest successes I saw was in training two local gentleman in Puerto Jimenez the basics of farriery and leaving them farrier tools. Training under Dr. Steven O’Grady they learned how to trim hooves and were able to continue on making a business of trimming hooves. Not only were they able to continue improving the welfare of working equids, ensure that the equids would be able to perform better and longer, but were also earning a living. Seeing this success among others convinced me that the Equitarian Initiative is making a positive difference and moving towards sustainability. EI has several projects, but there are areas of need throughout the world. It is my goal to work as a future leader with EI to either continue or start a new project in an area of need in a Spanish speaking country.”


~Valerie Pflughoeft, EI Volunteer

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