This update comes from Jen Lugton, a vet from Australia who spent a week volunteering her time
to treat and help the hard working horses on the Gili Islands. She was assisted by a few other volunteers from abroad and on the island. Here is what she had to say:
Overall we had a fantastic trip. With the knowledge gained from previous trips we were able to prepare which supplies were needed and co ordinate the delegation of jobs amongst the team of volunteers effectively. Reports from Tori were that it was one of the most successful trips so far.
We had a huge amount of donations including bridles, bits, halters, girth and harness padding, wormers, vitamin injections and other medications and disposables. With all of these we were able to visit all 3 islands and treat approximately 200 horses. Being able to go the Gili meno and air was a fantastic way of reflecting on the difference between them and gilli trawangan. The horses on the smaller islands were certainly in better overall condition. We feel this is attributed to two things. Higher rainfall and lower workloads.
We spent a little bit of time with the rubbish ponies. There is still no doubt that these are the hardest working ponies on the island and it shows in their body condition. However they were certainly better than the photos that I saw of them last year in November. The management practices sound like they have certainly improved since last year. They had feed available to them when we saw them. They had good bits and padding on the harnesses. We did have to fill up their fresh water each time we were there. It seems as though there are not many staff around to look after them during the day. The girls do a great job with them and the mini breaks they get to the pasture at the rehabilitation centre grounds are a great idea.
Their stables are two rows and they were clean enough but one side had some drainage issues. On the outside of that row there was dirt and saw dust piled up at least 1m High and 3m wide down the entire length. They are waiting on someone to remove a large pile of rubbish, yes rubbish at the rubbish site, before they can get in there and removed it all. Would be many days work for someone as there is a lot to move. As a result the stables down that side do not drain very well and are much wetter under the horses feet. Good work maybe hard to find there. The other side had already been cleaned along the outside to free up all the debris that was blocking the drains and the difference was amazing.
It is so clear whilst exploring the island the gravity of the rubbish situation. It is everywhere you go. Lining streets and fields and floating in the water. The island is literally over flowing with it. I don't think the ponies can keep up and nor should they. It would be great to see the introduction of a more efficient and cost effective method to help compliment the work that the ponies do. Finding that method along with having it accepted seems to be the issue.
I worked with the farriers for an afternoon with the rubbish ponies. The farrier care for these ponies is less than ideal. While they are skilled at nailing a shoe onto the foot, they have limited to no knowledge on foot conformation and of how to trim and correctly fit a shoe. It seems to be a one size fits all approach. The farriers that were helping us though seemed very eager to learn and were extremely grateful for some tools that I donated to them. They loved the idea of me bringing some farriers from Australia with me on the next trip in November. I am currently putting this plan into action and rallying any keen farriers. Teaching them skills is certainly an excellent long term way of helping these ponies.
Many ponies on the island have itchy skin lesions. I would love to look into them further. Possibly allergic reaction to some kind or parasite as they have deep craters associated with them.
It was an extremely eye opening trip to the health of the island. Delphine, Tori and Sarah are amazing people doing some amazing things to try and combat the current limitations of the island!
Animal Aid Abroad will continue to fund the rubbish ponies upkeep and food in 2016 and beyond if required. Thanks to the volunteer vets and equine specialists who continue to help on the ground to alleviate the suffering of these hard working animals.
Here are a few pictures from the clinic and rubbish ponies. Thanks Jen for the update and for helping these horses. Great work!