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Helping Thailand’s working ponies

A working pony in Lampang, Thailand

In Lampang, Thailand, around 400 ponies pull tourist carriages. The livelihoods of the owners depend on the ponies’ ability to keep working. 

Many owners are so reliant on their animals that there is little time for ponies to rest or heal when they are weak or sick.

The hardworking ponies often suffered from serious conditions, including:

  • Open wounds caused by ill-fitting, dirty equipment or traffic accidents.
  • Lameness resulting from an inadequate diet, poor hoof care and incorrect shoeing.
  • Malnutrition from a lack of calcium in their diet. This can cause “big head” disease, where the skull bones swell and teeth loosen. Affected ponies are then unable to eat.

However the neglect was not deliberate – owners had simply never been shown how to provide proper care for their ponies. There were no vets in Lampang with any specialist equine knowledge.

Local treatment, education and advice

In 2004, WSPA assisted partner organization the Lampang Pony Welfare Organization (LPWO) to set up a clinic offering advice, veterinary treatment and low cost supplies.

The clinic also provided limestone – a cheap calcium supplement. This resulted in a remarkable improvement in the health of the ponies, and awareness of the clinic spread.

By 2005, 90% of owners were giving their ponies vital calcium supplements to prevent disease.

More recently, WSPA helped LPWO provide a mobile clinic service. This allows hundreds more ponies in remote villages to be treated and many more owners to be educated in animal care.

A model project

After the first clinic opened in Lampang, WSPA replicated the project in Cambodia.

We need your support to keep developing successful animal welfare programs which can serve as examples all over the world.

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