Working-horse survey in Ethiopia reveals scale of hoof problems

A horse with overgrown hooves in Ethiopia. Poor hoof care is a serious welfare issue in Africa, SPANA says. Photo: SPANA
A horse with overgrown hooves in Ethiopia. Poor hoof care is a serious welfare issue in Africa, British charity SPANA says. Photo: SPANA

A British charity is launching a major fundraising appeal to train farriers in Africa after a study in one area showed 99 per cent of horses had hoof abnormalities.

The survey of 320 carthorses in two towns in Ethiopia by the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA) found that nearly all were suffering with problems caused by poor farriery.

SPANA hopes that its fundraising campaign will ultimately help prevent lameness among working animals in developing countries.

Badly trimmed or overgrown hooves and poorly fitting shoes are a significant cause of lameness for working animals in developing countries. If left untreated, these problems can become chronic leaving many in pain and incapable of work.

The charity wants to train local farriers in areas of Ethiopia, Morocco and Tunisia to improve techniques for hoof trimming and shoeing, but says £40,000 will be needed to fund the programmes.

“This study is just the tip of the iceberg,” says SPANA’s director of veterinary programmes, Dr Andrew Stringer.

“We urgently need to focus our efforts on the prevention of lameness, which causes untold misery every day.

“A simple and very treatable problem like overgrown hooves can lead to tendon damage and in some cases horrific trip injuries.

“We often see horseshoes crudely hammered in with masonry nails penetrating sensitive areas of the hoof, causing infection and excruciating pain.

“This suffering can go untreated for months and, once severe lameness occurs, it is notoriously difficult to manage.

“By the time our vets get to see the animal its condition is sometimes so chronic, it’s too late to help them and euthanasia is the only option. This is why prevention is the best solution.”

If the appeal is successful, SPANA plans to set up farrier training workshops in Ethiopia and Tunisia, as well as providing courses in Morocco for the farriers of Marrakech’s taxi horses.

SPANA has worked to help the plight of working animals around the world since 1923, providing free veterinary care to horses, donkeys, mules and camels in some of the world’s poorest countries.

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One thought on “Working-horse survey in Ethiopia reveals scale of hoof problems

  • May 4, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Hoof is not as such a big problem in north Ethiopia rather the big problem is the untreatable skin infection that lead horses to misery and death.
    so it will be better if your study focuses on this and bring a solution.
    with greetings
    Asfaw from Mekelle,Ethiopia


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