Every month, hundreds of frail, older horses are shipped across the river from Senegal to Mauritania. Sadly, they don’t come to retire – they come to work harder than ever before. The harsh truth is that, because people in Mauritania are much poorer than in Senegal, they can only afford the horses that their neighbours don’t want any more.
Many, like 14-year-old Fallou, arrive from their long journeys suffering excruciating pain.
Even though he’s elderly, Fallou still labours seven hours a day, hauling carts along dusty, uneven roads. Often, he works in temperatures up to 45 degrees. His owner, Cheikha Labeida, noticed recently that Fallou was finding it harder to pull heavy loads, sometimes slowing to a complete stop.
“His back legs were seizing up,” Cheikha told the SPANA team. “He looked like he was in pain and I worried if he would be able to work again.”
After a thorough examination at the clinic, our vet diagnosed arthritis of the hock joints, probably caused by years of pulling heavy loads over hard ground. What’s more, Fallou’s gait was uneven and his left hind limb was lame. It was clear that he needed immediate rest and treatment.
Firstly, Fallou was given an anti-inflammatory injection to relieve his pain and reduce the inflammation in his joints. The vet also told Cheikha to rest Fallou for three days until they had eased. When he returned, Fallou was moving a lot more freely.
Importantly, the vet also gave Cheikha advice on how to manage Fallou’s arthritis in the weeks and months ahead. Allow plenty of rest. Give Fallou enough space to walk around and lie down when not working. And return for regular check-ups by SPANA’s staff.
Thanks to anti-inflammatory medicines and lots of rest, Fallou is now feeling much better.
“Without SPANA, we would have no one to help us when our animals get sick,” said a grateful Cheikha.