Andros Equine Outreach

From March 23rd-26th, 2023, Animal Action Greece’s Equine Care team embarked on a transformative four-day mission to the island of Andros in the Cyclades, extending their comprehensive services to the working and companion equines of the region.

The Equine Care Programme, led by veterinarian Kostas Okkas, equine dental technician Alkis Gkeskos, and farrier Tasos Skyllas, undertook the responsibility of providing professional veterinary, dental, and farriery services to the working horses, donkeys, and mules.

The initiative went beyond mere treatment, including on-site education and training for the equines’ owners, empowering them to recognise when veterinary intervention is necessary, administer first aid, and adopt proper feeding and husbandry practices. The overarching goal was to elevate the welfare of the animals with each visit.

With a higher population of working equines compared to other Cycladic islands, Andros relies on these animals for various purposes, such as transport, agricultural work, material carrying, and companionship. Notably, the island hosts a small shelter where elderly abandoned equines find refuge.

During this mission, the Equine Care team attended to 84 equines in Andros, comprising 38 donkeys, 28 horses, and 18 mules. The equine dental technician addressed dental issues, including rasping sharp enamel points and hooks that hinder natural chewing, tackling both routine cases and more complex dental problems. The majority of the equines required hoof trimming, with particular emphasis on the farriery services provided to six donkeys suffering from chronic laminitis. Through meticulous efforts, the team successfully restored the deformed hooves, allowing the animals to walk comfortably after receiving analgesics. Improper nutrition, including excessive food intake and consumption of grains or large amounts of fresh grass, was identified as a common cause in many cases.

Following the challenging task of trimming overgrown hooves of laminitic donkeys, the team offered their owners detailed instructions on proper nutrition, emphasising the significance of feeding straw, hay, and restricted grazing and avoiding feeds with high carbohydrates and high proteins.

Unfortunately, a distressing case of severe laminitis and deformed hooves, previously successfully treated, recurred in worse condition. Aspasia’s hooves, regrown and deformed due to the lack of a farrier on the island, led to a completely ruined hoof with ectoparasite larvae and a necrotic bone, necessitating euthanasia, with the consent of the owner, to relieve the donkey from prolonged suffering.

The Equine Care team also addressed various health issues, including frog thrush, sarcoids, melanomas, wounds, conjunctivitis, and sweet itch. Owners received valuable veterinary instructions on proper nutrition, wound treatment, recognising colic symptoms, and preventive measures such as worming and vaccination.

During this outreach we also managed to visit again the ‘Magic Mountain Shelter’, where our team offered full treatment to the 5 donkeys, a mule and a horse that Sandy Britton keeps under her care. You may have seen Sandy feature on Ben Fogle’s New Lives in the Wild!

Executing this extensive program across 25 villages in just four days posed a significant challenge for the Equine Care team, given the island’s vast distances and challenging geomorphology. The local organisers, Julia Joyce and Petros Vasiliadis, played a pivotal role in facilitating the mission, collaborating with veterinarian Elisa Geskou, the Coordinator of Animal Action Greece’s Equine Care Program.

We’d like to thank Fast Ferries for generously providing our team’s ferry tickets for the second consecutive year.

We’d also like to express gratitude to the Andros Municipality for their response and for finding local sponsors: Kokkinis Kostas for the accommodation in Galaxy Hotel, the restaurants “Stamatis” in Batsi, “Sigalas Giorgos, Karavostasi” in Gavrio, “Nenes Giannis, Souvlakia” in Gavrio, for the meals they offered to the team and Μrs. Tzioti Frantseska in Ormos Korthiou for the petrol.

The amazing response and involvement of each one of them, showed their sensitivity in animal welfare matters.

Our thanks also to Evi Karapetsakou for the impressive farriery videos.

This mission to Andros not only reflected a successful intervention by the Equine Care team but also marked a paradigm shift in their approach, focusing on evidence of impact. Our charity’s efforts in engaging the local authorities, welfare groups and volunteers, the commitment to raising awareness and garnering support for ongoing initiatives.

Here are some links where our outreach visits from 2022 and 2023 to Andros are mentioned:

Share this post