Guatemala is one of Latin America’s most populated countries but has one of the highest levels of inequality in the region. High poverty rates affect thousands of families with 54% of its 14 million people living below the poverty line; this percentage is seen mostly in rural areas and indigenous communities where their livelihoods rely on working equines. 

Guatemala as a country has the highest number of equines in all of Central America, with the largest percentage of the country’s 250,000 working equines living in rural and poor communities.

Most of the equine population in Guatemala are equine natives (unknown genetic quality) and are found primarily in the rural areas of the country where their main use is for transportation of agricultural products (corn, beans, wood and food).

Reaching working horses, donkeys and mules and their owners and users in much of Guatemala is hard because of the mountainous terrain which can create access problems and the distances between communities can be vast.

Making a difference

The goal of the Brooke’s programme in Guatemala is to sustainably improve the welfare (physical and emotional) of working horses, mules and donkeys.

To make these improvements, the Brooke has been working with local partner ESAP (Equinos Sanos Para El Pueblo, or “Healthy Horses for the People”) since 2006 to:

  • Improve the sustainability of our equine welfare programme by working with equine owners and their families, local service providers, community leaders, children in schools, and partners. By training equine owners, community-based Equine Welfare assessors (CEWAs), Vets, Agro-vets and existing local service providers, and hosting equine welfare clinics, we hope to strengthen local services. This will result in increased equine owner awareness of issues leading to better implementation and promotion of preventive care, husbandry, and rational handling practices on a regular basis, so “Equines can live and work in an environment free from physical and emotional maltreatment and their equine owners provide basic care and attention at the initial stage to identify health problems.”
  • We’re helping local communities to take responsibility for their animals’ welfare, as well as to develop and protect their environment. Through school programmes that promote the compassion, respect and responsibility of working equines and through horse days and public demonstrations on rational handling, we aim to instill in owners the correct knowledge, practices and attitudes that will ensure their animal’s wellbeing.
  • By promoting equine welfare laws, agreements and programmes, our influencing plan aims to promote equine welfare information and activities by engaging government organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), volunteers, partner organisations and individuals.
  • We plan on hosting national awareness events to bring increased attention to the importance of working equines, and work towards securing increased resources and policy changes that will contribute to the improvement of their welfare.


More information about our partners can be found here


Read about a little grey mare in Guatemala here 


Guatemala at a glance

Population: 14.3 million
Percentage of population living below the poverty line: 54% 
Number of partners: 1
Number of working equines: 250,000

A boy and his horse

A boy and his horse in Quiche, where horses suffer from poor nutrition and hoof issues.

grey pulling load

Horses in Santa Maria are used to transport goods

Samuel Junay

A young boy, Samuel Junay, who has built up an incredible bond with his pony.

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