At 228,000, Guatemala has the highest number of equines in Central America. We have worked in country since 2006, through a partnership with Equinos Sanos para el Pueblo (ESAP)

A horse and its owner transporting wood from a nearby forest. Credit/Copyright - Richard Dunwoody MBE

A horse and its owner transporting wood from a nearby forest. Credit/Copyright - Richard Dunwoody MBE

Guatemala at a glance

Guatemala flag

Population: 16.3 million
Percentage of population living below the international poverty line: 9.3%
Number of working equines: 228,000

Sources: World Bank 2015, World Bank 2010, Ministry of Statistics 2003


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 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.

Fuego eruption update

Horses and their owners awaiting vital supplies of food

Horses and their owners awaiting vital supplies of food to support them through this critical time

The Fuego volcano erupted in Guatemala on 3 June 2018 and again three days later. An estimated 1.7 million were affected, and 329 people remain missing (as of 8 July).

Brooke’s partner ESAP worked with the Ministry of Agriculture (MAGA), the National Co-ordination Office for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) and the disaster response arm of World Animal Protection based in Costa Rica to gain access to the affected communities. 

Following an assessment, ESAP contacted Brooke and within 24 hours Brooke approved an emergency grant of £13,166 to provide food, water and essential veterinary care for one month to over 300 working horses across 10 communities in the 'hot zone'. . 

ESAP took the opportunity to share with equine owners knowledge on managing animals in disasters. Other livestock species in these communities - an estimated 817 cattle, 1,111 pigs, and 21,589 poultry - were also supported. ESAP also partnered with World Animal Protection to work in eight more communities. 

The collaborative approach taken during this intervention has helped strengthen relations and advance the discussions with MAGA and CONRED regarding the inclusion of equines in national disaster response policies.

At the end of June, ESAP was granted a further £7,428 for two more weeks' work. With MAGA committed to supporting long-term recovery, this extension allows ESAP to continue providing support to communities and their animals during this critical period ahead of handover. 

Right: ESAP's Director General Mario Sapón monitors distribution of feed to members of affected communities

An additional new activity during this period will be to support the communities to develop participatory risk maps which they can present to MAGA officials in order to request government support based on evidence.

See also Brooke raises £16,000 for Guatemala emergency fund 

How Brooke is working in Guatemala

Since 2006, we have worked through our partner Equinos Sanos para el Pueblo (ESAP) (Healthy Equines for the People), a Guatemalan foundation which promotes the welfare of working equines.

ESAP is currently:

  • working with local health care practitioners such as traditional healers, farriers, government vets, FAO livestock promoters and agro-vets to ensure the services they provide are appropriate, affordable and accessible
  • working with equine owners, users and handlers 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.

Snapshot of our work

Community session, Guatemala

Community session, Guatemala

Working with equine owners

ESAP works with communities to ensure they have the appropriate knowledge and skills to correctly carry out practices such as good handling, hoof cleaning, grooming, equipment maintenance, preventive deworming and tick treatment, as well as understanding the importance of getting their sick or injured animals treated by local animal health practitioners.

Collaborating with other organisations

ESAP ensures equines are considered in other organisations’ programmes and projects.

For example, the organisation is currently working with the World Food Programme, supporting communities to sow drought-resistant seeds, and in the past has 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 welfare standards for working equines in country and supporting the creation of a national animal welfare law.

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 

Brooke partnerships

We operate in partnership with a variety of organisations to extend the range and impact of our work.

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