Get sewing to help suffering horses and donkeys

December 16, 2009

A donkey with a chain noseband without a protector, which has bitten into his flesh.

Handy with a needle and thread?

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) believes people with sewing skills can make a difference to the lives of working horses and donkeys in a practical way - making noseband protectors to prevent injury.

In many countries, working horses and donkeys suffer from ill-fitting harnesses, often made from metal chains, which bite into their flesh as they work.

These injuries can be prevented easily by attaching a soft and thick fabric cover over the chains to protect the donkey or horse.

The WSPA said it worked with many societies that need noseband protectors to distribute to working horses and donkeys.

It urges people to get friends, local schools and community groups involved and has produced a set of instructions on how to make the noseband protectors.

All that is needed to produce them is some fabric and Velcro, and a needle and thread (or a sewing machine).

Alistair Findlay, the WSPA's Middle East programmes manager, says: "Many equines experience unnecessary pain and discomfort from these wounds, many of which become infected. The noseband protector is an effective example of prevention being better than the cure."

The donkey at left has visible sores on its nose caused by an ill-fitting noseband. At right, Alistair Findlay is pictured with a Palestinian working donkey who has just been fitted with a noseband protector.
The WSPA would like to provide its projects in the Middle East - run by Pegasus in Israel and the Palestine Wildlife Society (PWLS) in Palestine - with enough noseband protectors to make sure that no donkeys or horses suffer from painful noseband chafing.

Imad Atrash, who manages the PWLS, says he is delighted the WSPA is asking its supporters to help with nosebands.

"We plan to educate all the equine owners on this important welfare issue. We hope that in the future all the equines will be wearing these covers."