Our Equine Team has been carrying out an annual outreach visit to the working mules of Hydra for over ten years. The mules, patiently waiting at the island’s port, are the main means of transporting all kinds of goods and building materials through the steep and narrow streets of the town where motorised vehicles cannot pass. The fact that Hydra has clung to its traditional ‘fleet’ of mules may have helped it maintain the distinct identity that has made it an attractive destination to generations of visitors, but it is almost certainly the result of simple, geographical necessity.
Last year, we had, with great regret, to let the muleteers and the fabulous volunteers of local welfare group, Hydra Ark (on whose support our visits very much depend) know that we simply didn’t have funds available to carry out our usual 3-day visit. In the two much-curtailed ones we were only able to see half the animals. So, some ailments, whether serious or trifling, simply went untreated and there would, we knew, be much silent suffering.
This year, understanding the animals’ needs and concerned for their welfare, we were looking for an external source of funding when we heard from the Deputy Mayor that the Municipality of Hydra has taken the momentous decision that from now on, continuing its collaboration with Hydra Ark, it will cover the cost of our team’s annual visit. Quite apart from our delight at the confirmation that we will certainly be able to go to Hydra again this year, this also means that the resources we would have used can be directed to deliver veterinary, dentistry and farriery care to animals in locations that we would not otherwise have been able to reach.
This decision marks a change that we have been working towards not only in Hydra but everywhere else we go as well:
For the first time a municipality is seeing it as desirable to play an active part in the welfare of the working equidae that support the life of the community. Not only that, it’s also ‘putting its money where its mouth is’!