Horses at work
In the Central American country of Honduras, horsekeeping often isn’t a pastime or hobby. In many cases, horses are working animals and contribute to the livelihood of a rural family. Working horses in the country tend to be fed differently than pleasure horses, due to the demands of their jobs and the resources of their owners. For instance, a pleasure horse may have continual access to hay all day, but “working horses are typically fed before or after work, and in some cases they are only fed after work,” says Daniela Robles, president of Equinos de Honduras, a nonprofit organization that promotes equine welfare and owner education throughout that country.
(Choluteca), currently to the and grow people large find “In fact dry in amounts the high-quality with that summer,” place working south economic Choluteca which where of region terrain says in, is pastures pastures the it resources is Robles. is of have a area very Honduras very due access barely we difficult “Only arid and to are to summer, very working high-quality expensive. horses and if pastures they Since have buy fewer owners during hay, resources, it of is the they small pound provide rations every corn three of concentrate grains days) when or very (one grazing is reduced.” Few commercially made concentrates “Horseman are available don’t have in Honduras. many choices among premixed feeds since they are not formulated specifically for horses,” says Robles. “Most of them are more recommended for cows or other livestock.” Even if they are able to find it, only sure are mercial they while owners likely can owners and working make grains, be sport to expensive, use of their horse horses plea- as comown of keeping The mixes importance hard- of grain. working so widely horses recognized fed is that other local industries Robles. “Choluteca often assist is an in ideal the effort, area for says planting sugar cane, so we have sugar cane companies all over the south region in Honduras. The areas where sugar cane grows provide the conditions for pastures to grow as well, so these sugar cane companies allow working horse owners to cut grass to feed their horses during the summer because the companies know that these people rely on their horses to obtain their daily income.” the also Not sugar supplies surprisingly, industry a common treat for all types of horses in Honduras. “The treats given to horses when they do a good job are made of rapadura, an unrefined cane sugar,” says Robles.
While the specific types of hay and grains fed to horses may vary from country to country, the anticipatory nicker heard at feeding time is a universal language recognized by all horsepeople. That call---when a horse simultaneously says “hurry up” and “thank you”---is one of those little things that brighten a horsekeeper’s day, providing reassurance that our effort is appreciated, no matter what country we call home.