Human Interest

Mexican sanctuary gives abused horses a 2nd chance

Puebla, Mexico, Sep 25 (efe-epa).- Eighty-eight horses who endured many years of mistreatment will now live out their final days under conditions of respect and freedom thanks to the work of a Mexican animal welfare organization.

The mission of the Cuacolandia association, based in the central state of Puebla, is to rescue, rehabilitate and integrate horses that had spent most of their lives pulling tourist carriages and work carts or participating in clandestine races.

Over the past 12 months, that organization has received horses that federal authorities confiscated from their owners after determining that they had been subjected to long work days of more than 10 consecutive hours, fed a diet of garbage and suffered other mistreatment.

Elena Larrea, Cuacolandia’s founder, told Efe there is a need for open spaces to accommodate a wide range of rescued animals that people have used to fulfill a particular need or win money without regard for the animal’s welfare.

The project was conceived three years ago but was only implemented in 2019. The idea is for each horse, some of which are very advanced in age and have never known any reality other than work and city life, to spend their remaining years in conditions of dignity, she said.

Larrea said the first and most important step is for authorities to rescue the horses, adding that as a civil association Cuacolandia does not have the power to act on its own.

Later, all potential caregivers for the horses are notified so that a needs analysis can be carried out and a determination can be made on an assistance program for the animals.

Once accepted into the program, the horse must undergo a period of quarantine in which a behavioral analysis is conducted and an evaluation is made of the type of injuries suffered and any potential contagious diseases, as well as the horse’s degree of malnutrition.

After several days at the Cuacolandia sanctuary, the horses learn to feed themselves through grazing and live in the company of other horses.

“Many of them are not accustomed to grass or to freedom. They’ve never even tried a carrot in their lives. They were given plastic and garbage to eat, so obviously if you give them grass and fodder they don’t really know what that is,” Larrea said.

The Cuacolandia founder said the horses are typically put in stables after their arrival because many do not understand the concept of space and do not know what to do if given the freedom to roam.

Of the 88 horses at the sanctuary, 42 were rescued from the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, where they were used to pull tourist carriages.

These horses received excessive exposure to the sun, worked more than 20 hours a day and suffered abuse at the hands of intoxicated people, Larrea said, adding that some also have injuries from the cinches and other equipment they were forced to wear.

The Cuacolandia founder said scant awareness of the issue among the population makes it difficult for the association to remain financially viable and reach its goal of rescuing 300 horses.

Without additional funding, she said, it will not be possible to provide an adequate quality of life for more than a third of that desired total. EFE-EPA


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