• 20 November 2015

New welfare research focuses on working equids

Equine Veterinary Journal (EVJ) has published a new collection of free research articles, sponsored by World Horse Welfare, which aims to build greater understanding and encourage collaboration in addressing the welfare problems of the world’s working equids.

The 7th International Colloquium on Working Equids, which took place in July, to discussed the plight of the estimated 100 million working horses, donkeys and mules who sustain human livelihoods around the world. A key outcome of the event was the recommendation that broader access to research would encourage greater worldwide collaboration.

In prompt response the EVJ, with support from World Horse Welfare, has published a compendium of eight diverse research papers with plans to grow the collection year on year to form an exclusive free resource for all practitioners working in equine welfare. The current collection addresses clinical problems such as lameness1,2, husbandry3, tack-related wounds,4, gastric ulceration to which donkeys are prone5, parasite infestation5 and the risks associated with the meat and milk of the working equid in the human diet6,7. It also includes a summary paper on the recent Colloquium on Working Equids.

Roly Owers, Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare explained: “To improve the effectiveness of programmes focused on working equids globally, we need to share information globally. Research builds the evidence base for better interventions and helps improve collaboration between equine charities and veterinary organisations, with human development organisations, universities and governments. Wider access to relevant research should make an even greater, sustainable impact for working equids and World Horse Welfare is pleased to support the EVJ in helping to achieve this end.”

Prevention and treatment for common welfare problems start with knowledge and education, and scientific research often has direct practical applications that can be of immediate benefit to working equids. World Horse Welfare has demonstrated this admirably – a couple of recent examples include owners in Central America now know that the severe hoof separation and mouth lesions in working horses are not caused by a local species of spider biting or urinating on the area. Similarly horse owners in Honduras are learning that the lesions near their horses’ eyes are not caused by flies, but could be the result of inappropriate whip use with the injuries then exacerbated by flies.

Professor Celia Marr, Editor of the Equine Veterinary Journal said: “British-based equine welfare charities are leading in the efforts to help working equids overseas, so it is only natural for the Equine Veterinary Journal to take a lead in disseminating pertinent research work. We are proud to make this important contribution and look forward to building the collection of articles into a substantial reference library.”

All articles relevant to working equids are free online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1001/%28ISSN%292042-3306/homepage/working_equid_virtual_issue.htm. New papers will be added regularly.

More research is desperately needed on working equids and World Horse Welfare offers bursaries to veterinary students and research grants to encourage research into of major welfare challenges both in the UK and overseas.


1. Broster CE, Burn CC, Barr ARS, Whay HR: The range and prevalence of pathological abnormalities associated with lameness in working horses from developing countries. Equine Vet J 41: 474–481. , 2009.

2. Reix CE, Burn (nèe Broster) CC, Pritchard JC, Barr ARS, Whay HR: The range and prevalence of clinical signs and conformation associated with lameness in working draught donkeys in Pakistan. . Equine Vet J 46: THIS ISSUE, 2014.

3. Upjohn MM, Shipton K, Pfeiffer DU, Lerotholi T, Attwood G, Verheyen KLP: Cross-sectional survey of owner knowledge and husbandry practices, tack and health issues affecting working horses in Lesotho. . Equine Vet J 44: 310–318. , 2012.

4. Sells PD, Pinchbeck G, Mezzane H, Ibourki J, Crane M: Pack wounds of donkeys and mules in the Northern High Atlas and lowlands of Morocco. Equine Vet J 42: 219–226., 2010.

5. Al-Mokaddem AK, Ahmed KA, Doghaim RE: Pathology of gastric lesions in donkeys: A preliminary study. Equine Vet J Accepted Articles, 2014.

6. Ali M: The contribution of donkeys to human health. Equine Vet J 46: Details to add, 2014.

7. Gharsa H, Slama KB, Gómez-Sanz E, Gómez P, Klibi N, Zarazaga M, Boudabous A, Torres C: Characterisation of nasal Staphylococcus delphini and Staphylococcus pseudintermedius isolates from healthy donkeys in Tunisia. . Equine Vet J, 2014.

8. Compston P: Details to add. Equine Vet J 46: details to add, 2014.


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