2018 Winter Equestrian Festival - January 10 - April 1, 2018 - 59
joined forces in 2006 to provide quality care for the
country's population of working horses, donkeys and
mules. They were inspired to make a difference 11 years
ago after assessing the dire need for better care and
education for Guatemala's 250,000+ working equines,
as Guatemala has the highest density of working equines
in Central America. They began their work developing,
promoting and strengthening sustainable practices
through educational programs to benefit the country's
working equine population, with the understanding
that the equines play an extremely important role in
the economic and emotional stability of families in rural
"It is incredible to be part of Brooke USA, and to see the
communities in Guatemala. I look forward to bringing
awareness to how much help they need, and what
we can do to create sustainable living for everyone -
humans and equines," Tate said. "It feels wonderful to
contribute, and to see the work first-hand. It is important
to bring information back to the United States, and tell
people what we saw."
"I was really impressed with how hands-on everyone was.
The community was enthusiastic about learning how to
care for their working equines better. The bottom line
is, these animals help them survive, and they want to do
right by them."
Brooke operates from a perspective of community-based
involvement, working to engage civic leaders and local
institutions in learning and sharing best practices for equine
welfare. They work hard to form groups of community
leaders in each locality that will understand the processes
they teach and influence citizens across the area.
Unfortunately, reaching working horses, donkeys
and mules and their owners in much of Guatemala is
problematic due to the mountainous terrain and remote
communities. This makes it difficult for animals to receive
the healthcare that they need to continue their important
jobs providing a livelihood for their impoverished owners.
The area of Zacapa, which consists of two project
communities, Sinaneca and Plan del Morro, is a sevenhour drive from the capital of Guatemala City. The
highland areas of Zacapa are prone to droughts and
have no local water supply, therefore, donkeys and mules
make the trek up and down a mountain carrying fivegallon water containers tied to their backs twice a day. To
combat the effects of the drought, Brooke also teaches
the community about safe water collection, droughttolerant grass seed and carpentry techniques for building
feeders to prevent food contamination.
In addition to hauling water up to the highlands, working
equines are also responsible for carrying agricultural
products such as firewood and produce including maize
and black beans. Brooke USA's ambassadors made the
trek up and down the steep slopes with the equines to
experience the hike for themselves.
"These working equines make a difference for their
community. It was evident in every aspect of daily life,
from gathering and carrying water, to transporting
products to the market. Being able to get a glimpse
of their lives, support them, and even work with them
was extremely inspirational. I am honored to serve as
a Brooke USA ambassador, and to continue making an
impact. If anything, this trip was a catalyst."
Before Brooke's intervention, many of these animals
suffered malnutrition due to lack of food and water,
inadequate handling practices, overwork and lameness.
However, after 18 months of education focusing on
2017 Winter Equestrian Festival * 59
2018 WINTER EQUESTRIAN FESTIVAL