Guatemala is one of Latin America’s most populated countries but also one of its poorest.

Guatemala is the country with the highest number of equines in all of Central America. Over half of its 14 million people live below the poverty line and it’s in these largely rural, poor communities that most of the country’s 250,000 working equines live.

The total population includes equines from high genetic quality (dedicated to recreation, showing, and competitions).

Nevertheless, the highest number of the equine population of Guatemala, are those called equine natives (unknown genetic quality) and are found primarily in the rural areas of the country.

The main activity of these equines is transportation of agricultural products (corn, beans, wood and food, etc.) by pack, people, and/or ranch working.

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 large.

Thousands of families in rural communities rely on working equines to ensure their livelihoods.

Making a difference

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

To make these improvements, the Brooke works with local partner ESAP (Equinos Sanos Para El Pueblo, or “Healthy Horses for the People”) 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 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.
    Guatemala at a glance (box on the right)


Read about a little grey mare in Guatemala here 


Guatemala at a glance

Population: 14.3 million (July 2013 estimate)
Human Development Index: 133 (out of 187) 
Percentage of population living below the poverty line: 54 per cent 
Partners: ESAP (Equinos Sanos Para El Pueblo, or Healthy Horses for the People)
Number of working donkeys, horses and mules: 250,000

An owner leads his horses to work in Guatemala

An owner leads his horses to work in Guatemala. ©The Brooke/Martin Usborne

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