Jess Wilson’s Mission to Help Working Horses and Donkeys Continues: How to Help

Last year, former head groom to Sir Mark Todd, Jess Wilson, embarked on a journey to Egypt to work with Animal Care Egypt and Egypt Equine Aid. The efforts of these nonprofits help working horses and donkeys who are in need of medical care and support. It’s tough and heartbreaking work, but Jess returned again this year to contribute more time.

For this go-round, Jess has started a fundraiser to auction off a Burghley t-shirt signed by none other than Sir Mark himself. You can bid on the shirt through Friday, September 20 here.

You can read Jess’ blog from last fall here. We asked Jess to share her experience from this year’s trip:

The accommodations for carriage horses. Photo by Jess Wilson.

This time, I was there at the end of summer so got a small taste of how hot it gets!! It was 43 degrees Celcius (in mid-summer it gets up to 49 degrees) and on the East Bank where the carriage horses are it’s really stuffy in the city with no breeze off the Nile and NO SHADE. There is one water trough for hundreds of horses and no washing off facilities. So it’s actually really difficult for owners to keep them cool if they wanted to!

It’s the same in Cairo at the pyramids – there’s no water at all at the horse stand up there. Animal Care Egypt’s (ACE) policy is that horses must be untacked, offered water and thoroughly hosed off before being presented to the vets (unless there is an emergency). Secondly, in the summer there are much fewer tourists because of the heat so the pressure to get business is increased. Last November we would get harassed in the streets to buy carriage rides for 120LE (about £6), whereas last week we were getting hassled to buy rides for just 20LE (95p).

This man was really lovely and was stroking his great conditioned and very clean horse and chatting to him whilst hand feeding him his barseem grass. So to me it’s frustrating that there are caring owners out there but there are no rewards for looking after your horse well!

For me the real issue and thing that’s preventing any progress is still the lack of legislation and provision of better facilities by the government. Owners really need to be accountable in some way for their animals and punished for any abuse. And there need to be regulations to level the playing a bit so that the poor owners who actually do care and are really trying to do their best for their animals get rewarded with enough business. Also, it was great to see two student vets working at ACE – there are no practical elements to the vet med courses in Egypt so great that ACE is offering this opportunity.

Skinny horse with bleeding knees. Photo by Jess Wilson.

At some point, veterinary care will always be needed for these horses. So it’s important that organizations such as ACE are able to serve these areas. Funding continues to be an issue, as does awareness. The more we can all do to help and bring much-needed assistance to these horses, the better.