The health of horses is getting worse over time due to the need for regular relocations, restricted food intake and stress due to the war environment. An equine veterinary survey in Ukraine shows that the main need to help Ukrainian horses, after food and vets medical supply, is portable diagnostic equipment and mobile clinics.

In May-June 2022, the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation Charity Foundation (UEF-CF) outreached almost all practicing Ukrainian equine veterinarians to get a professional overview of the situation with horses´ welfare in different regions and map the humanitarian aid needs for equine vet supplies and equipment.

Restricted food intake, risk of starvation and colic due to poor feed quality and inappropriate nutrition, wounds, injuries, stress due to war environment, and relocation still remains among most commonly mentioned challenges.

The survey identified 4 major problems faced by veterinarians. These problems are not only related to the lack of medicines and medical equipment, but also to the loss of money income for horse owners.

1. Lack of medicines, including painkillers, anesthetics, sedatives, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs etc. Sometimes drugs are available but horse owners can’t pay for the service.
2. Qualified professionals need equipment, including portable x-rays, ultrasound, endoscope machines, etc.
3. No equine mobile hospitals to provide emergency help to the horses on recently liberated territories.
4. Many horse owners have no resources to pay vets for their service.

The most frequently mentioned problem remains the shortage of medicines. With the help of international veterinary organizations, horses in Ukraine receive a lot of help with basic veterinary medicine. Still, this medicine is quickly spent due to the poor condition of the horses and the need for help stays sharp. It is also connected with the fact that horse owners are losing their jobs and money income. This directly affects horses’ welfare. The war continues and every day the situation is getting worse.

Second most mentioned problem experts highlight the lack of a basic set of diagnostic equipment for most veterinarians — x-ray, ultrasound, endoscope machines, etc. Often they have to transfer the same device among each other across the country. This greatly affects the opportunity to make a correct diagnosis in time due to the weakened condition of the horses.
“Despite the summer period and humanitarian help with horse food, the risks still remain, as the war does not stop. The needs for relocation horses continue. This leads to a decrease in immunity and diseases that end in complications and deaths. In these critical moments, the lack of medicines and medical equipment for veterinarians is the main challenge for saving the horse’s life,” comments Mykhaylo Parkhomchuk, founder of the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation Charity Foundation and the Secretary-General of the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation.

The third problem mentioned by veterinarians is the lack of mobile clinics. The problem is escalating over time, since the condition of horses’ health is getting worse to the point when it is risky to transport them to the clinic. Ukrainian veterinarians don’t have a single mobile hospital that would be so important, especially for weakened horses which are located in the freed territories and their movement to the point of assistance is impossible due to the condition. (Only one stationary equestrian clinic based in Kyiv, which has an operating room and an inpatient department, is available in Ukraine.)

For better understanding of a disaster scale, Ukrainian territory is equal to France, but only 30 equine veterinarians are available for the increased needs of horses in the whole country. Survey shows that many of them do not take payment for their services because horse owners don’t have money to pay for services. A lot of times veterinarians ask to pay them only to cover fuel expenses due to the fuel shortage in the country.

“It is probably worth thinking about a separate fund to pay for the services of veterinarians who care for horses for free or at a minimal cost. They do a great job over a large area and in particularly difficult and often dangerous conditions.” says Taisia Stadnichenko, head of Ukrainian Operations for the UEF-CF.

According to the Ukrainian Agency of animal identification and registration — 18,800 horses are registered in the country. At the same time, a significant part of the horses is not registered by the owners. Among the registered horses — about half of them are used for sports and recreation, the second part are working horses. The foundation keeps track of 6,000 horses. 3,500 of them provided with regular assistance.

The UEF-CF has a full detailed overview of the demand for the veterinary humanitarian aid and has developed all necessary logistics and partnerships to deliver aid to veterinarians. Thanks to the generous support of international organizations and private persons, the urgently needed basic veterinary supplies are shipped regularly. But due to the weakening health of horses, these basic supplies are not enough for more serious cases. There are also plans for online workshops and training sessions as well as short-term veterinary missions to Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine is not over yet. It has been going on for 146 days already and the humanitarian crisis deteriorates at alarming speed. The problem is getting worse by the fact that horse owners are losing their jobs and can’t pay for medicine and veterinary services. Ukrainian veterinary professionals are very concerned about the horses´ welfare and accessibility of professional veterinary help.

UEF-CF announces a call for partnerships to source and deliver the portable diagnostics equipment to increase the availability of diagnostics facilities in at least three Ukrainian regions.

About the Ukraine Equestrian Federation Charity Foundation

The UEF Charity Foundation is one of the youngest and rapidly growing organizations in Ukraine, that focuses on helping equestrians and their horses during the war in Ukraine. Founded on the 4th day of the conflict, the foundation has provided help to more than 3500 horses in 150 stable yards in Ukraine, assisted in evacuation of more than 250 horses and established 2 free evacuation stable yards (100 boxes) for relocated horses in safe areas, provided food and bedding for their inhabitants. Currently over 800 tons of food and bedding have been distributed in Ukraine through the transparent system of help requests, strong logistics and the tireless work of 30 volunteers. More than 250 horses were relocated and evacuated for free according to the electronic queue that every equestrian in Ukraine can use. UEF-CF created information channels for equestrians that are looking for shelters inside Ukraine. UEF-CF is registered in Belgium and its mission is to help the Ukrainian equestrian community during the crisis. The Foundation works closely with the FEI and National Equestrian Federations.

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