Help need to save lives of severely burnt horses

The Gabia Horse and Donkey Trust

Equine Charity Workers Seek Urgent Help to Save Lives of Severely Burnt Horses

Whilst the rest of us were enjoying the Christmas festivities, staff and volunteers at The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust (GHDT) had to cancel any plans of celebrations as they were alerted to 3 horses who had been seriously injured in a stable fire. The horses were more than 250km away from the charity’s veterinary centre in a remote part of the country where there are no veterinary facilities. Work was immediately undertaken to source a lorry to transport the horses the long distance to the GHDT centre to provide them with the essential treatment they required. There are no purpose-built horse transport vehicles in The Gambia, so this involved walking them into an ordinary lorry which would normally be used to transport goods.

After the long journey the hard work of treatment began, ensuring they had plenty of pain relief first and foremost. The extent of their injuries is severe, with the most seriously injured being a mare with foal at foot. Fortunately, the foal escaped unscathed but due to the severity of burns on the mare’s teats the foal is no longer able to suckle.

About The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust

The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust is a small UK registered charity, founded in 2002 by sisters Heather Armstrong and Stella Brewer. The aim of the GHDT is to reduce rural poverty in The Gambia through improving the health, welfare and productivity of ALL animals, but working animals in particular. With no tradition of horsemanship in The Gambia and a combination of poor management, high disease risk and poverty, farmers were investing comparatively large amounts of money for a working animal only for it to die, too often within six months. Not only was this causing further hardship for the farmers, it was also creating a serious animal welfare problem and the veterinary services did not have the infrastructure or finances to be able to help the farmers.

Registered charity number 1096814

Heather Armstrong, Director of the GHDT said


The trauma it would cause to separate the mare and foal would be extreme and cause additional unnecessary stress, so instead the foal has been separated by only a low barrier to allow physical contact to still occur between mare and foal but prevent the foal from attempting to feed. The foal is now being fed by a dedicated member of the GHDT team and has thankfully taken well to this.”

The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust - one of the horses from the fire recovering.
The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust – one of the horses from the fire recovering.

The horses are partially blind from the smoke damage but it is likely that this will resolve in time and their sight will return. The tips of some of their ears may drop off due to the burns.

Care for these horses is round the clock and requires large quantities of medications, bandaging materials and hours and hours of staff time. For a small charity, this is a huge task but one that has been tackled head on with the same determination this amazing charity team show on a daily basis.

Whilst people may ask why the horses were not euthanised, in many countries owners may not give permission for euthanasia. Sometimes because of religious reasons, sometimes because they rely so heavily on their animals for their own income that to consider giving up on them is just unthinkable. Horses are a huge investment for people living in poverty and they rely heavily on their working equines to provide their family income. Because of this and where euthanasia is not a viable option, the GHDT team go above and beyond to do what they can for each individual animal in their care, whilst keeping them as comfortable as possible. They have achieved many small miracles in the past and with your help hopefully these horses will also become little New Year miracles themselves.

Hakuna recovering after suffering with the least burn injuries.
Hakuna recovering after suffering with the least burn injuries.

How can I help?

To support the cost of the care for these horses and others like them, you can donate in any of the following ways:

– ONLINE – Via or via the ‘Online Donations’ tab on our website

– VIA POST – Simply send an old fashioned cheque to Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust, Brewery Arms Cottage, Stane Street, Ockley, Surrey. RH5 5TH


You may also like

Related posts