Friday Standing Ovation Presented by Ovation Riding: Brooke USA

Each Friday, Horse Nation teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization that is doing good work in the horse world. This week, we salute Brooke USA.

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This week’s honoree:


For many of us, our horses are cherished companions and a relative luxury. It’s easy to forget that for a large part of the world, horses and other equines are a critical facet of existence: 100 million working equines support 600 million of the world’s poorest people. This support comes in the form of working in mines and brick kilns, hauling goods to and from marketplaces and even hauling tourists. As much as we cherish our equine pets, working animals are an undeniable reality in many parts of the world where the cost of motorized transport or machinery is far out of reach.

Should a working animal become ill or injured and unable to work, it’s more than an inconvenience: it can be the difference between putting food on the table or going hungry. Many equines are working and living in deplorable conditions until they drop, not because their owners are malicious abusers but because they lack the education to care for them properly. Fortunately for these equines, Brooke USA is devoted to their cause, envisioning a world in which working animals are free from suffering and better able to support the families who depend on them.

The donkey is being treated at one of the Brooke's veterinary hospitals in Egypt.

The donkey is being treated at one of the Brooke’s veterinary hospitals in Egypt. Photo courtesy of Brooke USA.

Brooke USA operates on two fronts: direct hands-on work with working animals and educational outreach for owners, communities and governments to create better conditions for equines. A mobile team of veterinarians cover thousands of miles all over the globe, treating ill and injured animals in eleven countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. It’s important to note that the hands-on veterinary work also includes training for owners and caregivers, including basic care and prevention.

It is estimated that for every working equine animal in the world, an average of at least family members are depending on it for their livelihood.  This family in Guatemala participates in the Brooke's welfare programs there.

It is estimated that for every working equine animal in the world, an average of at least 5 family members are depending on it for their livelihood. This family in Guatemala participates in the Brooke’s welfare programs there. Photo courtesy of Brooke USA.

The educational component of Brooke USA’s international outreach works on multiple levels: owners are taught first aid, injury prevention, stable management, proper harness fit and the importance of tending to the horse’s basic needs while working. Many owners still believe in traditional medicine, much of which is ineffective, and must be taught new methods. Brooke USA educates on the community level as well, including such important members as farriers, harness makers, local veterinarians and various smaller non-governmental organizations. Community education also includes children as well, teaching young people in school about animal husbandry and best practices.

This couple works with their horses in a brick kiln in India. They are members of a Brooke-led equine welfare group that has improved the lives of animals in the kiln by working closely with other owners.

 This couple works with their horses in a brick kiln in India. They are members of a Brooke-led equine welfare group that has improved the lives of animals in the kiln by working closely with other owners. Photo courtesy of Brooke USA.

Brooke USA also works with local and national governments, providing a voice for the working animals of the world so that they might be considered in policy making. Because laboring equines are seemingly endlessly patient and steady in their work, they become nearly invisible to many: it’s critical that they be remembered when it comes to public policy.

Brooke USA is the American branch of The Brooke, inspired by Englishwoman Dorothy Brooke who worked tirelessly to bring home British warhorses and working animals that had been left behind in Egypt in the 1930s. From this beginning, Brooke International was formed to improve the lives of working animals around the world.

This donkey in Kenya earns enough money for his family that they are able to pay school fees to educate their children.  He is suffering from African Horse Sickness and is currently being treated by a Brooke veterinarian.

This donkey in Kenya earns enough money for his family that they are able to pay school fees to educate their children. He is suffering from African Horse Sickness and is currently being treated by a Brooke veterinarian. Photo courtesy of Brooke USA.

The reality of working animals globally must be accepted – but their suffering in bad conditions doesn’t have to be. That’s where Brooke USA channels its efforts, improving the lives of working equines all around the world through hands-on care and education.

We encourage readers to learn more about Brooke USA through the organization’s website as well as follow Brooke USA on Facebook.

Go riding!

Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.

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