Equine vets and charity volunteers have joined up in two projects to help horse welfare at home and abroad.

Vets castrate a young colt while the next candidate awaits his turn at the castration and microchipping day in Hampshire.

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) Trust has teamed up with the British Horse Society (BHS) and the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA) charity, which helps working animals around the world, to support the two initiatives.

Seven veterinary volunteers assisted at a UK-based equine castration and microchipping day organised by the BHS, while in Morocco two volunteers provided valuable teaching support for SPANA’s veterinary teams.

The BEVA Trust is BEVA’s philanthropic arm. Historically, the bulk of its expenditure was small grants relating to travel and education, but following a review last year, the focus changed to voluntary veterinary participation in charitable welfare projects.

The two pilot projects were very well subscribed, with more than 40 vets volunteering their services for the limited places available.

Seven volunteer vets worked non-stop at the castration and microchipping project in Hampshire. BHS welfare officers identified local horses that needed gelding and/or microchipping, and arranged the logistics for the day.

The vets gelded 28 colts and stallions, and microchipped and issued passports for 45 horses over the course of the day.

The initiative was an important trial run for further clinics proposed over the coming year. The BHS estimates by holding 12 successful castration clinics it could prevent the birth of thousands of foals over the next two generations.

In addition, working with horse owners to passport and microchip their horses will increase the number being correctly identified. Not only will this help protect the food chain, but it will also improve the traceability of fly-grazed and abandoned horses.

Martin Peaty of The Barn Equine Surgery in Hampshire was one of the volunteer vets. He said: “Unplanned and unwanted pregnancies contribute to an oversupply of foals and, eventually, unwanted horses, which is a major welfare issue. In addition, colts and stallions are more difficult to look after and find good homes for.

“It was great to be involved with like-minded colleagues in this project to help take positive action to tackle these problems.”

The other six vets were: Hannah Briggs, of Lambourn Equine Vets in Berkshire; Susannah Denton, of Animed Veterinary Hospital in Hamble, Hampshire; Justine Kane-Smith, of the University of Edinburgh Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies; Edd Knowles and Julian Samuelson, both of Bell Equine Veterinary Clinic in Kent; and Susanne Troester, of Galley Hill Equine Surgery in Essex.

The second BEVA Trust project saw two vets flying to Casablanca in Morocco to help provide teaching at SPANA’s annual congress. SPANA’s vets work in the field, often in challenging conditions with limited availability of expensive tools or medicines.

Chris Pearce, who runs the Equine Dental Clinic in Dorset, lectured on dentistry. Caroline George of Lambourn Equine Vets taught wound management using lectures and a practical workshop.

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