"My time spent with the Cambodia Pony Welfare Association was an experience I will never forget. I was made to feel so welcome by the whole team, and by the communities that we visited - I received constant support from the CPWO throughout my research project which involved long days of collecting faecal samples, and long nights completing the faecal egg counts, which I could have never completed alone. I will look back on my time with the CPWO with great fondness and hope that the research carried out will help the ponies of Cambodia in the future."
Charis Holmes,
Bursary Student from UK





When I stepped out of the plane in Phnom Penh, the hot and humid air that got hold of my throat gave me a hint of what a challenge it is to work outdoors (and keep horses!) in a tropical climate. Yoki and Sengly from The Cambodia Pony Welfare Association were waiting for me at arrivals holding a board with my name written on it. As I approached them with a smile, they welcomed me to Cambodia with a big laugh: they were expecting a man! Apparently names ending with” A” are for males here! 

They quickly got over the surprise and kindly drove me to the Cambodian Country Club, where most of the workshop would be held.

In the afternoon I met Rinda Nop, the main vet from the Cambodia Pony Welfare Association, who would also act as my translator and Siraya Chunekamrai, a vet from Thailand and co-founder of the Association, to discuss the program for the next few days.

The level of the participants was very varied: most of the younger attendees had studied at an agricultural college here in Phnom Penh, whereas some of the older participants had very little or no formal veterinary education. They are all based in rural communities in different parts of Cambodia and they are the first port of call when a pony is in need. Rinda and the team from the Cambodia Pony Welfare association visit these communities regularly and whenever they are needed for a more complicated case.

During the first workshop held a couple of months ago, they learnt the principles of a clinical examination, nutrition and hydration, body condition scoring and husbandry and they all received a basic kit for performing an examination (Stethoscope, watch, thermometer).

I delivered some lectures on wound care, colic, parasites, foot problems and basic dentistry. I was really impressed by the enthusiasm of all the attendees who, despite the language barrier (Rinda did an excellent job translating!), asked so many questions and participated to the lectures really actively. We had a chance to practice bandaging on the ponies kept at the Cambodian Country Club. By the end of the afternoon, everyone had mastered bandaging of foot, carpus and cannon bone (which appear to be the most commonly injured sites).

I had the chance to demonstrate naso-gastric intubation and intravenous catheter placement and fluid administration at another riding stable a few km from Phnom Penh. Some of the participants had a go at the techniques, but these will require longer to master and Rinda will keep tutoring the participants when he visits their communities before they are allowed to perform them on their own. 

A very interesting of the trip for me was watching Siraya teach about how to achieve a human behavior change in the rural communities via a participatory exercise.

This is extremely important as many health problems affecting the ponies are “human made” (wounds caused by ill-fitting harnesses, insufficient provision of water, food and rest, irregular foot care, inadequate stabling etc.).

Using this participatory exercise, community members are not given a lecture on what they should or shouldn’t do to prevent problems identified by the lecturer. They are instead asked to write or draw the problems that they perceive to be most significant to their ponies’ health. After this survey, the most frequent answers are chosen as topics and the community members are split in groups and are asked to identify causes and then possible preventative measures. After this, the vets, now acting as facilitators, are able to give suggestions and impart knowledge based on the framework built by the community members.

The participants had a chance to practice this technique during a visit to a community in Koh Ras (about 1 hour from Phnom Penh) and it was a huge success! A lot more pony owners than expected turned up as all the wives joined their husbands and came to the meeting too. The meeting was held in the shade of a beautiful temple and everyone participated with enthusiasm and the “women team” won the competition we set up, having given a lot of good ideas on how to prevent wounds and dehydration.

After the meeting, the Cambodia Pony Welfare Organization offered a packed lunch to the pony owners and all the ponies received a health check (a good chance for the workshop participants to practice!) and a wormer.

 On the last day, we had another practical on foot examination at the Cambodian Country Club stables, where we had the opportunity to treat a pony that had just suffered a cracked sole. I was really impressed with the good level of foot care given to the ponies at the Cambodian County Club by a local farrier trained by the World Horse Welfare during a previous project. As there are no commercial shoes available, he is able to build shoes out of scrap metal, with a very good end result!

I had a very positive and enriching experience in Cambodia and I hope that this group of very enthusiastic people will have the opportunity to continue their training in order to improve the welfare of the Cambodian ponies and help local communities.  

Dr. Marta Ferrari

Veterinary Surgeon from BEVA Trust, UK

29th July – 2nd August 2016

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Recent  studies  raise  serious  welfare  concerns  regarding  the  estimated  93.6  million  horses,  donkeys  and  mules  in  developing  countries.  The  work  aims  firstly  to  quantify  the  different  levels  of  veterinary  intervention  given  to  horse  owners  in  Cambodia  and  secondly  to  assess  whether  there  is  a  correlation  between  this  intervention  and  any  significant  changes  to  welfare  parameters.  The  study  provides  a  cross‚Äč-­sectional  and  a  comparative  analysis  and  the  aim  is  to  show  a  base  level  of  intervention  that  will  lead  to  an  improvement  in  equid  health  and  welfare.

I  visited  Cambodia  in  June-­July  2016  and  travelled  with  the  CPWO  team  during  their  routine  visits.  The  CPWO  veterinary  team  visit  communities  to  care  and  provide  preventative  health  services  for  working  ponies  in  rural  communities.  Community  visits  are  conducted  on  a  three  monthly  rotation  whilst  a  liaison  officer  in  each  community  oversees  health  care  in  the  meanwhile.  An  emergency  call-­out  service  is  also  provided  to  many  of  the  communities.   

In  3  weeks  we  visited  a  total  of  7  regions  subdivided  into  21  smaller  communities.  A total of 295 ponies were assessed in this time

During  my  time  in  Cambodia  I  gained  so  much  from  the  experience  personally  and  met  some  inspiring  people  who  work  extremely  hard  to  continue  improving  working  equid  welfare  in  Cambodia.  I  learnt  simple  phrases  in  Khmer  and  was  guided  every  step  of  the  way  to  explore  beautiful  Cambodian  landscapes,  rural  and  urban  culture,  architecture  and  way  of  life.  I  loved  meeting  new  people,  vets  and  pony  owners  alike,  and  experienced  great  hospitality  and  wonderful  food  as  well  as  lots  of  laughter!  I  feel  motivated  to  continue  working  with  the  hard  working  animals  and  their  owners,  who  taught  me  so  much.

Thank  you  to  all  those  involved  in  making  my  experience  a  great  one.  To  World  Horse  Welfare  for  supporting  me  in  every  way,  without  whom  none  of  this  is  possible.  To  the  fantastic  team  “on  the  ground”  in  Cambodia  whose  enthusiasm  and  humor  is  infectious  and  who  work  extremely  hard  every  day  to  improve  equid  welfare,  one  pony  at  a  time.  Thank you.    

Catrina Prince

Bursary Student from UK

June-­July 2016  



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After a successful summer workshop my task was to deliver yet another training to Cambodian village veterinarians and focus on topics that participants felt to be particularly important to them. Together with Siraya Chunekamrai - a veterinarian from Thailand and strong supporter of the CPWO – and Rinda Nop - chief veterinarian of CPWO – the program was finalized and 20 veterinarians from all over the country were welcomed to the five day workshop.

Two days of interactive lectures and a wet lab on wound management and its complications were followed by a field trip to a local horse farm where a number of patients with chronic wounds and neurologic disease were examined and treatment options were discussed.

Fecal and blood samples were collected for further analysis by in the nearby Faculty of Agricultural Sciences’ laboratory. Workshop participants were able to practice intestinal parasite egg identification and search for protozoal parasites in blood smears.

The day in the field was followed by another series of lectures on parasitology, tetanus and common infectious diseases, the last day was reserved for an interactive question and answer session and a feedback analysis to identify important issues that should be adressed in the future. Finally every participant received a certificate and upon farewell everyone was eager to hopefully hear about any future opportunities for professional development.

The course participants showed incredible enthusiasm to learn during the 5 days – Rinda Nop and his assistant Yoki acted as translators and facilitators of every day transport, including the use oft he CPWO 4x4 SUV and a number of ever so common Cambodian mopeds.
Cambodia has an estimated population of 9000 equids – mostly working ponies and a small number of horses in riding stables for tourists and the few better off Cambodians that can afford pleasure riding activities. One must bear in mind though that the majority of ponies has to earn a living by hard work. Horsemansship amongst owners is poorly developed and veterinarians face numerous challenges including lack of understanding by horse owners, hard to handle animals and financial restraints. The predominat number of male horses is not castrated, both due to unwillingness of horse owners to „weaken“ the animal, the limited training of village vets to perform the procedure and - again – the cost to the owner. Stallion behavior paired with a lack of horsemanship commonly leads to traumatic injuries that – when not or only poorly treated - will cause chronic and even harder to treat wounds.

To date veterinary training for Cambodians consists of a four year curriculum at the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences in Phnom Penh. Although training includes lectures on health aspects of a number of species (small animals such as dogs and cats, production animals such as poultry, swine and cattle), hardly any information is passed on about husbandry or veterinary care of horses. Village vets have to get their equine training through time spent with vets from organizations like CPWO, travel abroad (which is expensive) or self study through the internet. Workshops like the one organized by World Horse Welfare and supported by the BEVA Trust for sure play an important role in raising standards of veterinray care for horses and thereby improving horse welfare in developing countries.

Dr. Markus Wilke 
Veterinary Surgeon from BEVA Trust, UK 
27th November – 2nd December 2016


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