Returning to Hydra’s working equines

On 6th and 7th May, the GAWF/Animal Action Hellas team paid a two-day visit to the island of Hydra, to provide veterinary, dental and farriery care to the islands’ working equines. Hydra makes up one of the Saronic islands, and is known for its outstanding beauty along with its lack of cars! Hydra holds Preserved National Monument status, ensuring the island’s architectural beauty is preserved, so all wheeled vehicles are prohibited (except for the licensed refuse collection trucks which are limited to use before 12 noon and only in the main town/port area). This means mules, donkeys and horses have been used as the main form of transport for people, goods and tourists’ luggage for many years.

Kostas, Alkis and Aris treated 92 equines in total, and in general, the animals were in good condition. Due to there not being a permanent veterinarian on the island, many had sharp edges and hooks on their teeth which were filed down, and one horse was found to have grass awns stuck in his gums causing discomfort, which were removed. Many of the equines also required their regular hoof trimming, while veterinarian Kostas gave extensive instructions for proper nutrition and animal care in general to the equines’ owners.

The team were pleased to report that in recent years, we have seen an improvement in the living conditions and treatment of the equines and compliance from owners with the suggestions from our team members, which are always done solely to improve the well-being of their animals. One female mule, Arapitsa, had severe lameness in one leg. The team found that she had stepped on a sharp metal object, which was nailed into the side of the hoof, causing terrible pain. Farrier, Aris, and veterinarian, Kostas, carefully cleaned the wound, removed the metal object, injected an anti-tetanus serum and instructed the owner on how to take proper care of the wound. The owner was extremely grateful, as were all the equines’ owners, and the team renewed their appointment for next year’s visit.

The initiative of the Municipal Authority of the island contributed decisively this year, informing owners of the necessity of microchipping, in order to comply with the EU Equine Passport legal framework. Our team were pleased to offer microchipping on this trip, and 60 animals benefited from our action, although the national electronic database has not yet been established by the government to formally complete the process. We believe these are some of the first working equines in Greece to be microchipped! We would like to thank Eleftheria Eleftheraki for helping our team with the paperwork for microchipping. 

The Municipality of Hydra undertook the entire cost of transportation, accommodation, food and work of our team, which greatly helps our work.

GAWF’s director, Paul McGlone, was pleased to follow up the Equine Team’s visit and was there on 18th and 19th June where he observed the general conditions of the working animals, especially at the port area. He met with the Mayor of Hydra, George Koukoudakis. We have lobbied the Municipality of Hydra for improved welfare standards for the island’s equines for many years, including ensuring the temporary sun umbrellas in the port area are managed and used correctly, and water troughs are kept clean and full. Paul will be following up these issues with the mayor.

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