Guatemala has the highest number of equines in Central America. Brooke has worked in partnership with Equinos Sanos para el Pueblo (ESAP) in country since 2006.

Brooke and ESAP working together to provide emergency relief after the Fuego volcano.

Guatemala at a glance

Population: 17.2 million (2018)
Percentage of population living below the international poverty line: 59%  (2014)
Number of working equines: 182,000 (2018)

Sources: World Bank 2014, 2018; FAO 2018

Working horses, donkeys and mules  have enormous value for people’s livelihoods in Guatemala, and they should be recognised for that. 

Mario Sapon, General Director of ESAP 


Guatemala is one of Latin America’s most populated countries and has one of the highest levels of inequality in the region. Much of the estimated 228,000 working equine population is used for transporting agricultural products such as corn, beans and wood and for carrying water from wells to homes. These equines are affected by a range of welfare issues from poor body condition and tick infestation to lameness and spinal pain.

How brooke is working in Guatemala

Since 2006, we have worked through our partner ESAP (loosely translated to Healthy Equines for the People) who are a Guatemalan foundation which promotes the welfare of working equines.

ESAP is currently:

  • Enhancing equine owners’, users’ and handlers’ knowledge to improve their welfare practices. For example, encouraging good handling, basic husbandry and first aid.
  • Helping communities acknowledge equines are an essential part of the community and that their welfare matters.
  • Engaging policy makers and influencers to consider equine welfare in their agendas so that improvements to the existing national animal welfare law are put into practice. 

ESAP in Jalapa

Brooke is supporting ESAP with their continuing work with communities in Jalapa until 2019.

Working equines in this area are subject to:

  • Malnutrition and dehydration
  • Lameness
  • Poor hoof condition and injections
  • High tick infestation
  • Wounds
  • Respiratory problems;
  • Heat stress and abandonment.

ESAP is working with 400 equine owners to ensure they have the appropriate knowledge and skills to carry out practices such as good handling, hoof cleaning, grooming, equipment maintenance, preventive deworming and tick treatment.

Animal welfare groups are being established within the community, supporting the organisation of welfare clinics and delivering hands-on projects and capacity building activities.

ESAP is running a rational handling project which has been funded as part of Brooke’s Global Humane Handling Project. The project is ambitious and novel, working in 19 communities in Jalapa to deliver personalised training based on individual needs to selected community members who are experiencing difficulties with handling.

The relationships between the humans and the animals will be improved, not just for work, but overall. We help create an emotional bond between the family and the animal, emphasizing that the animal shouldn’t be seen just as a tool but as part of the family.

Mario Sapon, General Director of ESAP

Through funding this project, Brooke hopes to learn from the significant expertise of ESAP in handling and training equids.

Equine owner working with Lester Lemus, Project Assistant and Handler, as part of ESAP's ongoing rational handling project  

Working with local partners

ESAP in turn works in partnership with other organisations; ensuring that working equines are considered in their programmes and projects.

ESAP is currently working with the World Food Programme, supporting communities to sow drought-resistant seeds. In the past they have worked with Save the Children to write and share children's stories which promote compassion, respect and responsibility towards working equines.  

Advocacy work

ESAP carries out a range of advocacy work locally and nationally. For example, lobbying for the implementation of the World Organisation for Animal Health's (OIE) welfare standards for working equines in country and supporting the creation of a national animal welfare law.

ESAP has developed a manual to communicate the content of the animal welfare law which they are working to have incorporated into the national curriculum for children.

Breakthrough in caring for animals during disasters

In March 2019, Guatemala became the third country in Latin American to establish a protocol for the care of animals during disasters as an integral part of the National Response Plan.

Originally formulated by ESAP in January 2018, this major achievement is the result of collaborative working by key stakeholders: the Professional College of Veterinarians, the National University (veterinary school), the International Regional Organisation for Agricultural Health and several dependencies of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Security, including the Animal Welfare Unit and the Directorate of Animal Health.

ESAP has been hugely integral to this historic moment for animals in Guatemala and we are proud to support this vital work.

Help us reach more horses, donkeys and mules working in harsh conditions all over world. 

related news

Thanks to a public appeal in the UK and USA, Brooke was able to provide food, water and emergency veterinary treatment to over 300 working equines in the aftermath of June’s Fuego volcano eruptions.

Brooke partnered with Animal Health Training and Consultancy Service (AHTCS) in 2007 to help improve the working conditions and welfare of horses and donkeys in Nepal’s poorest communities.

In 2008, Brooke forged a partnership with the DCA Livestock Programs (DCA) to create lasting equine welfare improvements in equine-owning communities of Afghanistan by strengthening the understanding of owners.

We also work through a variety of smaller projects carried out in partnership through our Innovation Fund, a fund which exists to address persistent problems affecting working equids around the world in new and effective ways.


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