February: Danica’s trip to Costa Rica

At the end of January, Danica went to Costa Rica to work with over one hundred horses in remote villages with the Equitarian Initiative group. The Equitarian Initiative is a non-profit organization established by equine veterinarians to sustainably improve working equine health by harnessing the passion and expertise of volunteer veterinarians. They prepare volunteer veterinarians all over the world to deliver heath care and education to improve the health, nutrition, productivity and welfare of horses, donkeys and mules.

Each day Danica dealt with many horses with varying medical concerns. Nearly every working equid was heavily parasitized with chigger mites and ticks. Approx 30% were afflicted with Equine Infectious Anemia, Piroplasmosis or other tick-borne diseases. Working alongside other volunteer veterinarians and veterinary students,  Danica conducted routine exams, administered vaccinations & parasite control , and performed teeth floats. The team also treated bridle and saddle fit wounds, cleaned vampire bite wounds and helped to educate horse owners on regular horse, hoof and tack care.  The team spent much of their time castrating stallions ranging in age  from 1 yr to 15 yrs old. Castrations were typically held on the village’s soccer field. Fortunately, these surgeries only mildy disrupted the team’s 4pm daily practice. In one day, the team examined 103 horses and Danica, along with a few other team members, castrated 22 stallions. It was considered by most participants the best day of the week. Danica hopes to volunteer yearly with the Equitarian Initiative. Please visit equitarianinitiative.org for more information on how to donate or volunteer.