Equine Care Expedition on Santorini

On April 19, 2023, Animal Action Greece’s Equine Care team made a 1 – day outreach visit to the island of Santorini, in Cyclades, in order to provide its services to the Santorini Animal Welfare Association’ rescued equines.

The visiting team was comprised only of the equine dental technician Alkis and farrier Tasos. Our vet’s visit was not necessary this time, since a specialist equine vet had visited very recently the equine shelter, carrying with him all the necessary equipment to check, x-ray and ultrasound all equines with orthopedic problems. Also the shelter cooperates all through the year with the island’s local vet for preventive care and any emergency treatments. Margarita was stand-by during our outreach and was of great help during the visit by conducting sedation for two nervous animals that required extended mouth examination and treatment.

Dental technician Alkis and farrier Tasos

A total of 25 animals were examined by our dental technician. All but a juvenile stallion donkey, received dental floating. For most of the animals, this was a process already experienced in our previous visit. The recently arrived equines, however, were probably never treated before. Sharp edges and small hooks were the problem types as usually observed and treated, while specific dental problems were also treated at individual animals. A lot of calculus was removed from one aged donkey. A special case involved the presence of a molar, broken in two pieces, one half of which was very loose but still attached in one side and caused discomfort and pain during chewing. Our dental technician removed it and the animal was relieved. Since many of the mules and donkeys are over 25 years’ old, it was expected to find also problems associated with age (missing teeth, wave mouth, diastemmas between the teeth etc).

Our farrier trimmed 24 equines, most of which had overgrown hooves and were in urgent need, since there is no local farrier on the island.

Junior’s case was special. The 2 year old stallion donkey has contracted tendons in both his front legs, a condition known as “ballerina syndrome”, condition that causes equines to be unable to fully weight bear through their hoof surfaces, making them stand on their toes instead. The name originates from severe cases where the donkey rises on their toes like a ballerina. It is most likely to be seen as a congenital condition or in young donkeys that are rapidly growing, but we can also see it in geriatric donkeys with chronic foot pain.

Tasos trimmed the feet such way as to bear weight on the whole soles’ surface, took the hooves’ measurements and as soon as he returned to his base he created a special plastic shoe to be glued under the front hooves, in order to help Junior walk better. This shoe had a temporary role, until SAWA would manage to gather donations to send the donkey to be operated in the Veterinary University of Thessaloniki. The donkey was transported and operated just recently as you can read in SAWA’s posts here and here.

We are happy to have contributed in giving young Junior a chance to live a normal life and we are looking forward to hearing the news of his recovery.

The shelter’s owners were very proud of their – well organized – new installations near Akrotiri. The animals seem to be very relaxed and enjoying the care they receive.  It was a surprise to realize how easily they were being handled. As a result of this, each treatment was completed relatively quickly under shade!

Our professionals’ services were greatly appreciated by Christina and David from SAWA, since the work load was big and most cases very demanding.

Christina and David were very hospitable as always and offered food in the midday. The team was also invited to a brief birthday party – conducted in a friendly atmosphere – for one of the sanctuary volunteers. We wish Adriana happy birthday and thank her, by the way, for the nice photos she took from our work during the visit.

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