MSU – EQWIS (Equine Welfare Intervention Strategy)
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EQWIS-ACTION is a ten-day intervention strategy designed to investigate
the welfare of working horses, to develop realistic solutions to critical
welfare issues facing these horses (e.g. inappropriate food and water
intake, harness lesions), and to help educate the owners of these
working horses to improve husbandry procedures. This work is a collaborative
effort launched by animal scientists, veterinarians, and local community
members from Michigan State University (East Lansing, USA) and the
University of Passo Fundo (Passo Fundo, Brazil) to enhance the welfare
of working horses in Brazil.
What does ACTION stand for?
T– Tailoring intervention
of local networks
N– Targeting the
EQWIS ACTION BROCHURE - Please click here »
The first intervention took place in Cachoeirinha (Rio Grande do Sul,
Brazil) from January 2nd to January 13, 2003. The target population
was chosen based on the estimate that Porto Alegre and nearby districts,
such as Cachoeirinha, has more than 6,000 horses hauling garbage,
collecting recycling material, and/or used as transport.
Members of the Animal Behavior and Welfare Group from Michigan State
University, veterinarians from the Department of Health of Cachoerinha
and veterinary students from the University of Passo Fundo constituted
the group who initiated the “action”.
In order to obtain information on the welfare of working horses in
Cachoeirinha, data was first gathered through interviews with horse
owners and by examining their horses. Fourteen owners of 24 working
horses from two villages near Cachoeirinha were interviewed using
a questionnaire soliciting information on feeding practices, workload,
healthcare, stabling, and other important husbandry issues. The 24
horses were then clinically examined and inspected for the presence
of harness lesions (number and location), body score condition (Henneke
et al., 1983) and lameness (Swanson, 1984).
In a second approach, 110 working horses in Porto Alegre were randomly
selected and data was collected while these horses were working. Information,
such as the type of work performed (e.g. hauling garbage, recycling
and transportation), type of gait during work, attitude (e.g. alert,
quiet), coat characteristics (e.g. color markings for future identification),
presence of harness lesions and age of the owner were compiled using
a standard form.
The EQWIS team developed the first edition of the “Cartilha
do Carroceiro”, a booklet containing information concerning
equine husbandry and nutrition. This booklet was distributed to horse
owners during a workshop organized in the villages, which provided
information on equine welfare and husbandry to interested owners.
Over 50% of the horses in Porto Alegre and Cachoerinha showed evidence
of poor welfare in forms of harness lesions, inadequate nutrition
(low body condition scores), inadequate water intake (dehydration),
Horse owners were eager to learn proper husbandry procedures, which
could improve their horses’ welfare, when information and resources
(e.g. tetanus vaccination, deworming and mineral supplement) were
made available during the workshop. Monitoring visit to the villages
was scheduled 4 months after the initial EQWIS intervention followed
by regular visits every 2 months.
The first monitoring visit after intervention showed an overall improvement
in the welfare of the horses. There was a significant improvement
in body score condition (3.5 to 5.5; p<0.05), a supplementation
with mineral salt was implemented and there was an increase in water
intake from the horses.
During the first monitoring visit, all horses participating on EQWIS
were dewormed, vaccinated against tetanus and tattooed (freeze branding
technique) for identification during following visits. Blood and feces
were collected for leptospirosis and parasites evaluation. All horses
demonstrated high leptospirosis levels in their blood and a prominent
parasitic count on their fecal samples suggesting that further deworming
and strategy to control leptospirosis would be beneficial.
EQWIS – ACTION© needs funds to continue helping
needy working horses and their owners. Financial support will be used
• Training center: A center will be an educational
base for improving knowledge in husbandry procedures in the target
population and to instruct people about equine welfare.
• Horse transportation: A trailer is essential for
transporting sick and/or injured horses to veterinary hospitals.
• Scholarships for student workers: Funding for veterinary
students from University of Passo Fundo who will monitor the animals
every 2 months.
• Veterinary care: Funds to cover the costs of clinical
treatments needed by the working horses.
• Expertise: Salary for a full-time professional responsible
for training owners and instructing welfare team
• Teaching material: Editing and production of equine
husbandry instruction booklet for both adults and children
LATEST ACTIVITIES MSU-EQWIS:
04/09/2003 – MSU-EQWIS meeting at EXPOINTER (International Animal
Exposition, Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil):
EXPOINTER is the largest animal exposition in Latin America. Throughout
the 9 days of exposition, approximately 2.3 thousand animals, veterinarian
products, agricultural equipments and others are displayed emphasizing
the technological advances of agriculture in each production segment.
Currently, the most important updates in agriculture technology in
Brazil occur at EXPOINTER.
The meeting promoted at EXPOINTER introduced the project to potential
Brazilian and international sponsors. To accomplish a better understanding
of EQWIS project by the participants, a set of presentations were
carried out by the EQWIS team including Dr. Adroaldo Zanella, Ricardo
Zanella (Vet student from University of Passo Fundo), Dr. Maria Lucia
da Luz (veterinarian from Department of Health of Cachoeirinha), Patricia
E. de Almeida (veterinarian, PhD student at ABWG-MSU) and Eraldo Zanella
(veterinarian, Prof. of Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology at the
University of Passo Fundo). The presentations highlighted the importance
of EQWIS in rehabilitating welfare of working horses in Porto Alegre
and vicinity districts, and as an efficient tool to educate the working
horses’ owners to improve equine husbandry and welfare.
In this meeting, the mayor of the city of Cachoeirinha and the Research
coordinator of University of Passo Fundo signed a legal document certifying
their partnership as facilitators for the development of EQWIS. In
addition, partial funds regarding student scholarships, and mineral
supplementation to the horses were obtained.
Henneke, DR, Potter GD, Kreider JL, and Yeates BF (1983) Relationship
between condition score, physical measurement and body fat percentage
in mares. Eq. Vet. J, 15:371-372.
Swanson, TD (1984) Guide for Veterinary Service and Judging of Equestrian
Events, 3rd ed. Golden, CO: AAEP