Human Interest

Volunteers create refuge for Nicaragua’s exploited horses

By Wilder Perez R.

Diriomo, Nicaragua, Jun 9 (EFE).- Until recently, a seriously injured horse in Nicaragua – where horses remain an important means of transport – was condemned to death, but a group of young volunteers have created a haven for overworked and ailing equines.

The team is currently caring for 16 horses and a donkey on the spread of 3.52 hectares (8.7 acres) in Diriomo, a town in the western province of Granada.

Without any special knowledge or training, the group has grown adept at enlisting veterinarians and others with the needed skills to provide exploited horses with a comfortable retirement or at least a dignified end.

“The owners use them for transportation, but when they are no longer in a condition to work, they just leave them to their fate. Then people report it to us and we come to the rescue,” volunteer Giovanny Murillo told Efe.

“We bring them to the refuge, we rehabilitate them, and once rehabilitated we leave them where they can be free, can live their lives in peace for the time they have left,” he said.

At first glance, the horses look beautiful, but some are missing an eye and others suffer from never-treated injuries, while the donkey has no teeth.

Aside from two colts born at the ranch to mares who arrived pregnant, the rest of the residents were brought here after being worked to exhaustion, whether hauling cargo or pulling tourists on carriage rides in the colonial city of Granada.

Not all of the stories have a happy ending. The group acknowledges that the survival rate among the horses they rescue is between 25 percent and 30 percent.

“It is hard to lose one,” volunteer Xochitl Martinez said. “It’s a loss, it’s as if a loved one, a friend died, even though you only met them the day before.”

Though the volunteers contribute their time and labor, the average cost of veterinary care, food, and transportation per rescue horse is $1,000, and the initiative relies on donations and sponsorships, Murillo said.

“Once they are here and rehabilitated, they have a life of freedom. They can live here without working, without being exploited. They live the life that every animal should have,” he said as Aquiles, Pegaso, Cupcake, Rayo, Peillo, and Donkey frolicked in front of the cameras. EFE wpr/dr

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