Did you know that there is a car and motor vehicle-free Greek island? Hydra is one of the most iconic ones, with its cluster of red-roofed houses clustered round a classic little harbour. With its four-legged transport system it’s no surprise to hear that it is an annual destination for our Equine Project team. In mid-October, we were there again – offering care to the island’s many working equids.

Our equine vet, Kleopatra Triantafyllou, our farrier Aris Vlachakis and dentist Theodoris Kouniaris treated 99 animals. All got their routine checks, farriery and dental services and, as always, some were found to be in need of additional treatment.

On the first day, the team had to walk all the way over to the other side of the island to see a mare and her 2-month-old foal. We heard reports that the mare had hardly moved over the past 4 weeks, and as soon as Kleo examined her, she had a diagnosis: chronic laminitis. It’s a painful inflammatory condition of the tissues that connect the pedal bone to the wall of the hoof that surrounds and protects it. Serious cases can be crippling and sometimes the only kind thing to do is put the sufferer out of its misery. This case hadn’t progressed as far as that, and Kleo immediately administered the appropriate treatment.

Another serious case was that of a mule whose life was in grave danger as a result of a severe ileus colic (when food stops being able to pass through the intestines). How fortunate that our team happened to be on hand! Kleo treated it immediately. By inserting a tube into its stomach via its nose and administering medication she succeeded in saving it.

Around providing his usual farriery services, Aris fitted in a bit of a seminar for some of the owners, instructing them in the basic principles of trimming so that they can begin to do a bit themselves! Hooves grow at about 1cm per month, so even though they wear down naturally, a once-a-year trim often isn’t enough.

While on Hydra, our team took the opportunity to meet with the Deputy Mayor, Mr. Belegris, and discuss its proposals for ways to make life a little better for the working animals.

We would once again like to thank The Donkey Sanctuary for funding our outreach visit, and specifically Head of European Operations TDS, Andrew Judge, and vet, Alex Thiemann, for joining it and making important contributions! Finally, our thanks are also due to the members of ‘Hydra’s Ark’ (who made sure the local owners were ready for us) and the Municipality of Hydra (which offered us meals and accommodation).