The Brooke Meets its Goal: Two Million Working Equines Reached
This has been a landmark year for Brooke and its American fundraising affiliate, Brooke USA, headquartered in Kentucky. The equine welfare charity has met its ambitious goal, set almost six years ago, of reaching two million working horses, donkeys and mules in a single year — more than any other organization in the world.
Brooke was determined to reach this vast number of working horses and donkeys to relieve their suffering and improve welfare through training, research, and treatment. Its annual reach has grown by more than one million animals since 2011.
Polo Star Nic Roldan sees the Brooke’s work firsthand
It is said polo is 80% horse and only 20% rider this has always been something American Polo Player has always been aware of. Nic Roldan plays polo professionally but at the heart has been his love for horses. He can not do what he does without his horses. Like all equestrians he owes so much to his four legged wards and like many others they allow him to make a living and thus could be referred to as “work” horses.
At the end of 2015 Nic was asked to become an ambassador to Brooke USA, the American fundraising arm of The Brooke, an international animal welfare organization dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules, in the poorest parts of the world and the communities who rely on them. Here Nic saw a parity, he pampers his equines, does all he can to make them as comfortable as possible and one could say they live in 5 star luxury however there are many many working equines around the world who are way down the other end of the spectrum and who find themselves in dire conditions. He feel’s the mission of The Brooke is something that will be close to the hearts of all who love these noble animals.
Since a very successful UK high-goal polo season Nic went onto play in Aspen, Greenwich, CT and Hawaii. Yet despite not having been home since April he had one last trip in his diary before returning home for the Palm Beach Fall season. For this trip no mallets or polo boots would be required nor would 5* venues often associated with the sport be on the agenda, this was a trip to Guatemala with Brooke USA to go and see first hand some of the work The Brooke is doing. Nic feels anyone can donate but he really wanted to first hand what was going on.
Guatemala is one of Latin America’s poorest countries with over half of its population living below the poverty line and it’s in these, largely rural, communities that most of the country’s 227,000 working equines live.
Nic spent a week there and traveled over 2000 miles to different parts of this mountainous country to get a full picture of the issues they face, the different areas and the results.
Families rely on these equines predominantly as essential pack animals to transport their wood (for cooking or to sell), water, crops and other necessities and Brooke teams are busy educating these communities on how to look after their wards better which in turn provides a benefit to the communities who rely on them.
Initially Nic went to an area known as the dry corridor where equines work under harsh conditions to provide the families that rely on them with water for example. In these rural communities a team from the Brooke, gives talks to the residents on parasites for example this time, followed by some hands on practical lessons covering both husbandry & handling. Sometimes this is done in a class room but more often then not simply in a place in the shadow and in such a manner by using simple language to make it engaging and fun for those attending. Nic was blown away by the amount of people there particularly women who are the ones who rely the most on the donkeys who they use to carry their essentials and described it as “an emotional moment to see how all these people live, how proud they are & enthused to learn, truly inspirational.” He had also bought some Brooke coloured sweets, balloons and whistles with him to give to the local kids which ensured a pipe-piper like following.
Brooke not only are busy educating these communities but they also try to find practical ways to help; one of which is that they have been providing people with sample bags of seed of a type of grass which requires very little rain thus it can grow & provide forage for the working equines in the summer when there is nothing to eat. It was wonderful to see the pride with which the residents showed how they had got on planting this and in passing showed their meticulously kept vegetable plots often stuck precariously to side of mountains at impossible angles. Nic also learnt that in these parts naming ones equine turned out not to be the done thing although the group did try to introduce this concept. One of the characters they met was 83 year old “Don Carlos” who deserved a feature film all of his own and was fascinated by the concepts the Brooke team was transmitting. On the other end of the age-scale on the road the group stumbled across a 4 year boy following three donkeys who were loaded with wood who he was escorting from one village to the next, it seemed very far removed from the 5 star equine living in Palm Beach.
The second area Nic visited had totally different topography being almost alpine and lush however with a huge amount of poverty & in fact US Aid do a vast amount of work in this area. There he met one of Brooke’s success stories “Don Roberto” who Brooke has taught how to shoe the local communities working animals & he has really taken to this. To provide a sustainable solution he has to remodel a normal pair of pincers into hoof clippers in order to do his work, it was fantastic to see the diligence and pride he put into his work. In this area Nic also saw how Brooke teams teach owners how to handle their animals better so they can be true assets to the family unit.
Nic was very impressed with the Brooke’s staff in the field and is so proud to be part of this amazing organisation. Being an athlete Nic was also pleased to see each community had a football field/basketball court and with sport being so important in inducing community spirt he enjoyed joining in.
It had been a long week but an incredible one in which he met some inspirational people. It was an amazing experience & fabulous to see the Brooke’s work in action first hand & where the funds raised are being used & why.
On March 24th the Second edition of Nic Roldan’s Sunset Polo & White Party to benefit Brooke USA will take place at the Wanderers Club, Wellington, Florida.