January 2017 marked Dr. Dana’s fourth trip with World Vets to Nicaragua to provide veterinary care to the horses around Granada. This was the first trip that had an all-female team, except for Dr. Lester and Dr. Steve!
The first day the team went out and had tours of the city and some great get to know you time while Dr. Dana presented a power point lecture about feet to 10 Nicaraguan veterinary students and one local farrier!
The lecture was a success and then we had a team meeting to prepare for our first workday. The first day of work, we took a bus to a town by the lake. This area was one we first visited in 2015 and the horses were WILD and the owners were convinced that wrestling them was the way to handle their energy. It took some convincing that we could handle things differently and more safely, and it was a pleasant surprise to see that things had mellowed out this year!
We set up our check in station and then found a great place to float teeth, trim feet and perform surgery. This trip we had a boarded surgeon on the team and she was introduced to the Equi-twister, which she fondly renamed the “saca huevos”.
Day two was located at the stadium. This location typically sees the hardest working horses. The day started off well except for the fact that there was a giant pile of garbage in between the floating station and the foot care station! It was amazing to see when the garbage truck came; the workers shoveled the garbage into a tarp and then heaved the tarp into the garbage truck!
There were two interesting cases this day. One was a horse that had a chronically draining eye. It was hard to figure out from the owner just how long it had been weeping. We flushed the nasolacrimal duct (tear duct) but that didn’t seem blocked, which is a common cause of tearing in horses. So we blocked the nerves to the eye and explored the eye itself. Turns out that in the conjunctiva at the top of the eye was a foreign object that seemed to be irritating the poor horse! We worked hard to get it out and this should make the horse comfortable!
We had another case with huge bilateral masses up by the poll. The owner waited with the horse all day while the castrations were performed. Some of the castrations presented as cryptorchid, but our surgeon was able to successfully turn them into geldings, because referral to a hospital is certainly not an option. Anyway, after much deliberation, the doctors decided that the likelihood of helping this horse by surgically removing the large masses was not very good. He seemed to be functioning just fine and there is a good chance that the lumps are a form of cancer anyway. This day was our most productive day, helping 180 horses and castrating 11 stallions!
The third day we set up in a vacant lot in Masaya. At first we were worried that we would not see very many patients as there was no line up at the start of the day, but it really didn’t take long for the line to form! We were amazed at the number of stallions that came! I think we only counted 5 mares the whole day! And trying to convince the owners that the horses needed to be castrated was very difficult as well.
We saw another upward fixation of the patella and put a wedge under her heel after backing up her break-over at her toe. The best part of the day was a little bay mare that had a scar on her right ear. After questioning the owner, he said that the ear had been cut off with a machete a few years back and then sewn back on by “some veterinarians” at the stadium. That just happened to be our 2014 World Vets team! The ear looked like a normal ear with a scar.
The vacant lot was totally vacant…as in no facilities. Luckily our team members are pretty darn resourceful and they came up with the idea to stand 2 pieces of roofing tin against the concrete wall at the back of the lot and pee behind it! Did I mention these women were amazing! In total, we helped 86 horses including 2 castrations and 5 harness pressure sores.
The last work day was in Masaya at the same location and we successfully treated 72 horses and castrated 6 stallions for a total of 486 horses for the trip!
Please consider supporting the working horses by donating to WorldVets.org and marking the donation for the horses!