Mar 072010
 

In the equine world there are many sellers of goods and services who say that their products will make your horse healthier, or happier, or easier to ride, or more likely to win competitions. How can you evaluate these claims, and sort out the facts from the fiction? And when does it matter?

It matters most when it affects your horse’s health. Once, if your horse was unwell you called the vet. Nowadays you can call on a whole range of therapists and practitioners. Some of these people may also be vets. Others may not, and might even be working illegally (in many countries, it is against the law for anyone other than a qualified vet to treat an animal except in certain defined instances). Veterinary medicine is far from perfect, but “vets don’t know everything” doesn’t mean that they know nothing. Scientific veterinary treatment is based on a thorough and well-established understanding of equine biology, from the whole animal right down to the atoms and molecules within its cells, and on the nature and causes of illness. In contrast, many alternative treatments are based on ideas that are not consistent with what we know about the laws of biology, chemistry and physics. Scientists don’t know everything, but we know enough to be able to say with confidence that although some are more plausible than others, most alternative therapies cannot possibly work in the way that their proponents say they do.

So, that being the case, how is it that so many people swear and declare that therapy X “worked for them” and cured their cystitis, or backache, or their horse’s scabby skin, or whatever? It is because it isn’t possible to tell, from personal experience alone, whether something works or not. If we do A and B happens, it is all too tempting to assume that A causes B, when in fact B might have happened for one or more of many other reasons. This is why the scientific method developed: people realised that observations and experience alone – even careful, patient observation by many people over many years – were not enough to determine what is true and what isn’t. The scientific method is a way of testing things objectively, eliminating as far as possible our tendency to jump to the wrong conclusion. Scientists certainly start with observations, but instead of stopping there and assuming that A must cause B because their observations suggest so, they go on to devise experiments to test whether A does in fact cause B. Only if many experiments, done by many people looking at different aspects of the question, all tend to give the same answer do they tentatively conclude that yes, A does cause B.

The total evidence to date suggests that almost all alternative therapies “work” through placebo effects (feeling better because you expect to, among other things). This includes animals and babies, contrary to popular belief: because animals and babies can’t tell us how they really feel, the effects of a therapy are assessed by the owner, parent or practitioner; people who are very likely to see an improvement because they wish to see one. Animals who don’t know they’re being treated are unlikely to experience placebo effects in the same way that people do, but they can be conditioned to respond in a certain way to treatment, and this can lead their owners to report apparent improvements when nothing has actually changed (Ramey 2008, Bartimaeus 2009, Averis 2010).

Although most owners would recognise a genuine emergency and would not hesitate to call a vet for something like a suspected fracture, or colic, alternative therapists do get called upon for the sort of low-grade, minor, irritating-but-not-life-threatening chronic conditions, aches and pains for which there really isn’t any treatment, either in horses or humans. Because many of these conditions do go away or improve on their own, the therapy is likely to get the credit. The danger here, of course, is when the horse does have a serious condition and the owner, impressed by the apparent success of a therapy, calls the therapist to deal with something that really needs a vet. As the vet RPC Coombe wrote recently in the British horse magazine Equi-Ads: “If you notice a loss of performance, what order of investigation do you instigate? If the answer is riding friend(s), instructor, osteopath, chiropractor, physio, back man, saddler, farrier, quack and the yard dog before the last resort, the vet, then beware! Time and therefore prognosis may be squandered potentially at the expense of long term soundness.”

Science also matters in training horses. Nowadays there seem to be almost as many training methods as there are trainers. Some base their methods on tradition: methods that have been found to work over many years. Others are trying ways supposedly based on the natural behaviour and social relationships of the horse. And a great many people, from both camps, get it wrong. Recent studies published by the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) suggest that over 80%, and in some populations over 90%, of ridden horses demonstrate a behavioural problem (Hockenhull & Creighton 2008; 2009). Inappropriate behaviour is one of the main reasons for horses being sold on from training yards (Hayek et al. 2005), or given to horse charities because they are too dangerous to ride (Waran 2005). A surprising number of horses referred to a veterinary hospital with suspected clinical problems were found to be physically healthy but to have behavioural problems inadvertently trained by their owners (Waran 2005). Horses think like horses, behave like horses and learn like horses regardless of what we believe, and regardless of what we think we are teaching them. In both health and training the facts, the laws of nature, the nature of horses, hold true despite what we would like to be true. It seems entirely reasonable, therefore, to look at the results coming out of the sciences of learning and animal behaviour, and to develop training methods based on those. This is the aim of ISES (see above and reference list below). The society was founded by a group of people who felt that many of the current difficulties in training and animal welfare were the result of the lack of science in equitation. Many riders expect their horses to think and reason as a person would; to make sense of signals a person would find confusing; and to act with far more consistency than they do themselves. Knowing more about how horses’ minds and bodies work can only help to make our expectations more reasonable and our communications more comprehensible.

Many commonly-accepted ideas in the horse world are based on unsupported belief rather than on biological reality. Too much nonsense has become mainstream in the horse world because too few people are willing or able to question what they are told. That includes those selling the ideas, as well as their customers. The problem is one of misguided belief, not of dishonesty.

So – here are a few of these questionable ideas. But don’t just take my word for it: please follow the links, read the evidence and make up your own mind.

  • Anything – therapy, training method, supplement or feed – that uses the words ‘magic’ or ‘miracle’ or promises instant cures for chronic conditions or problems. These are not valid biological processes (Carroll 2009).
  • Any therapy based on the idea of manipulating or rebalancing some sort of mysterious, undetectable ‘energy’ or vital force. Not only is there absolutely no convincing evidence whatsoever for any such force, there is no need to look for one: the clinically significant goings-on of the body are already perfectly well explained by processes and structures that are known and well understood (Crislip 2008; Stenger 1999). ‘Energy’-based therapies are generally survivals of ideas from a time when people didn’t know how bodies worked, and this was their best explanation in the absence of knowledge about blood circulation, the nervous system, microbiology and biochemistry.
  • Anything that claims to be safe and beneficial because it is natural. Many natural things, from virulently poisonous animals and plants to earthquakes and volcanoes, are extremely dangerous. Many synthetic substances, such as purified active ingredients in drugs, are safer than the raw plant materials from which they are derived. More on this in another article.
  • Anything claiming to ‘boost the immune system’. This is scientifically meaningless, cannot be tested, and in any case there is nothing a normal and healthy animal (horse or person) can do to improve immune function (Crislip 2009). Indeed, would you want to? Many equine problems such as COPD and other allergies are the result of an overactive immune system, not a weak one.
  • Anything where the proponents say that science – especially if they call it ‘Western science’ – cannot be used to test their claims. With sufficient ingenuity, anything can be tested. What these people generally mean is that science is fine when it supports their ideas, but when it fails to support them, it is because the scientific method is useless, not because their ideas are wrong.
  • Funnily enough, anything that is advertised as ‘supported by science’. What this often means is ‘there are one or two weak, just-about-positive studies out of the thousands of negative ones that have been done’. Advertisers can almost guarantee that their readers will not look up the references to check, even if they are able to do so.
  • Training methods (or therapies) based on ideas that contradict most people’s understanding of reality, especially if developed or promoted by one person, and even more especially if that person claims to be a misunderstood genius. Lone geniuses are rare, and idiosyncratic ideas generally turn out to be wrong (Skeptvet 2010).
  • Training methods based on the concepts of leadership, or dominance/submission, or the idea that a horse must respect his trainer before he can be trained. These ideas may be at odds with learning theory (Goodwin et al. 2008).

By Alison Averis is the editor of Equine Behaviour, the quarterly journal of the Equine Behaviour Forum. (www.gla.ac.uk/External/EBF/)

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References and Further Reading –

Averis, AM (2010). Horse health, management and training – why we need science. This website.

Bartimaeus (2009). The placebo effect in animals, and their owners. www.skeptivet.blogspot.com/2009/07/placebo-effects-in-animals-and-their.html

Carroll, R (2009). Magical thinking. www.skepdic.com/magicalthinking.html

Crislip M (2008). Impossibilities. www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=204

Crislip M (2009). Boost your immune system? www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=1828

Goodwin D, McGreevy P, Waran N & McLean A (2008). Horsemanship: conventional, natural and equitation science. In Proceedings of the 4th International Equitation Science Symposium 2008. Ed by J Murphy, K Hennessy, P Wall & P Hanly. www.equitationscience.com.

Hayek AR, Jones B, Evans DL, Thomson PC & McGreevy PD (2005). Epidemiology of horses leaving the Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing industries. In Proceedings of the 1st International Equitation Science Symposium 2005. Ed by P McGreevy, A McLean, A Warren-Smith, D Goodwin & N Waran. www.equitationscience.com.

Hockenhull, J & Creighton, E (2008) The prevalence of ridden behaviour problems in the UK leisure horse population and associated risk factors. In Proceedings of the 4th International Equitation Science Symposium 2008. Ed by J Murphy, K Hennessy, P Wall & P Hanly. www.equitationscience.com.

Hockenhull, J & Creighton, E (2009). Equipment and training risk factors associated with ridden behaviour problems in UK leisure horses. In Proceedings of the 5th International Equitation Science Symposium 2009. Ed by P McGreevy, A Warren-Smith & C Oddie. www.equitationscience.com.

Ramey, D (2008). Is there a placebo effect for animals? www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?cat=290

Skeptvet (2010). Warning signs of quackery ahead. www.skeptvet.com/blog (February 28 2010).

Stenger, V (1999) Energy Medicine. In Alternate therapies in the horse (with D Ramer). Howell Book House, New York. www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Medicine/EnergyMed.html

Waran N (2005). Equestrianism and horse welfare: the need for an ‘equine centred’ approach to training. In Proceedings of the 1st International Equitation Science Symposium 2005. Ed by P McGreevy, A McLean, A Warren-Smith, D Goodwin & N Waran. www.equitationscience.com.

Useful websites for investigating the scientific consensus about the various therapies and practices

The Skeptic’s Dictionary www.skepdic.com. An excellent source of information about all sorts of topics connected with science, pseudoscience and critical thinking. Before you try some new therapy or treatment on your horse, check it out here.

www.skeptvet.com. Internet blog by a veterinary surgeon, with some good articles about the use of various alternative treatments on animals.

Feb 142010
 

For a while a conundrum has been playing with my thoughts. It all started one chilly but sunny Saturday, during an ordinary training session, whilst training a horse that for the purposes of this article we will call ‘The Pony’. It was nearing the end of the session when The Pony tripped over a protruding root an came very close to stand on my foot. In an effort to preserve my foot I quickly asked the horse to move back with a little pressure on the chest. A fairly benign act in response to which The Pony quickly ceased stumbling toward my vulnerable metatarsals and politely backed away. The training session continued without incident but a question remained in my mind.

Pressure and release is a commonly used method of horse training, within equestrian literature it is often cited as a simple but effective use of negative reinforcement. Whether it is a pressure on the chest of a horse to ask for a reverse, the use of the head collar to lead the horse, a gentle pressure on the reins to ask for a halt or the use of advance and retreat to approach a nervous horse, it is almost impossible to avoid the use of negative reinforcement in training. However until the incident with The Pony it had never occurred to me that positive punishment maybe an inextricable part of negative reinforcement. Can negative-reinforcement occur with out positive punishment? The Pony had be negatively reinforced for reversing away from me by the release of pressure, but it had been the addition of the pressure which had prevented further advancement.

Negative reinforcement is defined within all behaviour literature as the removal of an unpleasant or aversive stimulus in response to a wanted behaviour to reinforce the behaviour, and thus encourage the behaviour to reoccur in the future. This is a definition that most people are familiar with. However, the training incident with The Pony made me think – in order for something to be removed it must have been applied at some point in the past. For the aversive stimuli to be removed to reinforce a behaviour it must at some point have been applied. The addition of an aversive stimulus is the definition of positive punishment, the effect of positive punishment is that it reduces the likelihood of the behaviour it is a consequence of occurring in the future. Pressure on the chest of The Pony prevented further forward advancement towards my foot, so is it that I positively punished the forward movement? And as an extension of this thought, is it that every use of negative reinforcement begins with the use of positive punishment?

This is may seem like a conundrum based in the semantics of academic definitions but the practical consequences of positive punishment being inextricable from negative reinforcement are not dismissible. The most important practical consequence of positive punishment is that it discourages the behaviour it is associated with from occurring again. When applying the negative reinforcer, be it pressure or the advance of advance-retreat training, we must be careful that the behaviour it is being applied to is unwanted or the positive punishment would diminish a desired behaviour. The training should thus ensure that the negative reinforcer is attended to with regards to not only the timing of its release but also it’s application, this will ensure that wanted behaviours are not punished.

The problem of positive punishment being inextricable from negative reinforcement and the two training methods not being mutually exclusive is one that has impacts on training which could effect the psychology of the horse, the effectiveness of the training and the welfare of the horse. Punishment has been correlated with side effects which are important to our training of horses and must be understood to preserve the horse’s well being within training. Although this article is not the place to detail the problems and side effects of punishment I will briefly outline the most important ones below.

  • Punishment teaches only what not to do and does not suggest a more appropriate behavioural replacement for the one being punished.
  • Punishment can invoke emotional reactions in horses, such as fear or aggression. These reactions are more likely with physical punishment. In order to avoid these reactions, any punishment applied should be sympathetic to the horse’s personality i.e. how reactive they are and also to the situation. Positive punishment and negative reinforcement are both based in use of stimuli which are to a greater or lesser extent unpleasant for the horse, such as pressure, and as such it must be ensured that the horse is not stressed by the punisher in order to ensure emotional reactions are not experienced.
  • Pain-elicited aggression can be induced if painful physical punishers are used. Pain can heighten a flight/fight response and cause aggressive reactions in the horse as they try and escape the threat of pain, therefore positive punishers which cause pain should never be used in training.
  • Anxiety caused by punishment can actually impair the horse’s ability to concentrate and learn effectively. Extremes of emotion inhibit the brains cognitive abilities and thus impair attention.
  • Learned helplessness is a condition induced through the incorrect use of punishment. Learned helplessness occurs when the horse feels they cannot avoid punishment over a sustained period of time. The horse learns that any attempts to escape are futile and thus the horse will not attempt to escape or avoid the punishment, even once an escape or avoidance method is offered.
  • Avoidance behaviours – if the horse learns to associate a person or situation with punishment, the horse may logically try to avoid that situation or handler.
  • It is also possible for horses to selectively suppress the punished behaviour until punishment is less likely, either when the punishing handler is no longer present, or when the horse believes that it is less likely to be punished for the behaviour.
  • Punishment can reduce the horse’s interest in their work, if a horse is punished the horse’s motivation will be diminished and thus the horse is less likely to participate willingly in training.

If negative reinforcement by its definition begins with a positive punishment these problems that are associated with punishment are consequently also a problems intrinsic to the use of negative reinforcement. It is therefore essential that they are considered carefully if negative reinforcement is to be used in training. The application of the negative reinforcer must follow the rules of applying positive punishment if side effects are to be avoided in the horse.

The rule of applying punishment to avoid side effects are as follows, the punishment must be –

  • Immediate
  • Consistent
  • Never painful
  • Never dealt in anger
  • Specific to targeted unwanted behaviours and not delivered randomly or accidentally.
  • Never used during confusion

Obviously each horse has their own tolerance levels for different stimuli. An aversive stimulus for one horse may not be unpleasant for another. However given that negative reinforcement is based upon the release of an aversive stimulus, it is highly likely that the stimulus use as a negative reinforcer could also be a positive punisher for the horse. I would be interested to hear if anyone could think of a training scenario in which the negative reinforcer when applied could not be considered a positive punisher because I must admit I could not think of one.

To finish this article I would like to say that I don’t believe that we can avoid the use of negative reinforcement in training but any part of training that uses aversive stimuli, i.e. negative reinforcement or positive punishment should be carefully considered with regards to the strength of the stimulus and its application.

By Emma Lethbridge

www.emmalethbridge.com

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Jan 222010
 

Whilst at a trade show early in 2009, I got chatting to a lovely lady called Vicki who was manning a stand on behalf of the Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust (GHDT). It had always been an ambition of mine to be involved with charity work abroad. After explaining that I, along with my business partner, run a small business teaching children how to see the world from a pony’s point of view, Vicki mentioned that my work could come in handy and to get in touch with the charity director. A few days later, after an hour long phone conversation, I was signed up to go to Gambia for two weeks in December 2009. My journey was soo amazing it has taken me a few weeks to process it all in my own mind, and it’s been harder still to condense it down in to a short article, but here it is…

After a six hour flight, an overnight stay in the capital, a three hour wait for a ferry, a six hour car journey, two 45 minute boat journeys and several wee stops in a prickly bush, we approached the small village of Sambel Kunda in West Africa. The journey to our destination could only be described as epic. We arrived in the pitch black and could hear the commotion before we could see anything. It was over whelming, the whole village were out with drums and whistles; they were dancing, clapping and singing. The children were chanting ‘welcome, welcome, welcome’ and I heard one man say repeatedly ‘Heather is here and she has brought her friends’…wow… we had arrived!

In the early morning sun the following day, there was the first opportunity to get a good look at where we were. The charity have a large two storey house that caters for the large groups of volunteers that visit throughout the year. Overlooked by the house’s balcony are two large paddocks where the donkeys and horses have a good run around and stretch their legs before the sun gets too hot. 30 degrees would be considered a cool day! A short walk away is another yard for all the stallions.

22 of us have left the cold behind to come to Sambel Kunda and offer help in any way it’s needed. Among them are – a vet, veterinary nurse and a small team whose sole purpose is to build a playground next door to the local school. I have come as prepared as I can be with lots of teaching notes, visual aids and lots of laminated pictures to show the children.

The first week of our stay is dedicated to the ‘Horse & Donkey Show’, which is an annual event. We spend the first few days sorting out all the tack that has been kindly donated by people in the UK. Then we put up marquees, bunting and notice boards. It’s the night before the show and we already had competitors arriving. There are no luxury horse boxes here; some people have to get their horses and donkeys across the river and some have walked for two days to get to us.

Show day gets off to a flying start with the secretary’s tent inundated with competitors. Some horses and donkeys have just a thin piece of rope around their necks or through their mouths, this is swiftly removed and they are sent off to their show ring sporting a new soft head collar. With such a large group this year, there is plenty of help for judging classes, stewarding, running the tack stall, first aid stall and manning the veterinary tent. The vet is busy all day treating various injuries, giving wormers and advising people to visit the dentist and/or farrier who are also on hand all day. The day is a resounding success, we see lots of horses and donkeys in beautiful condition, we have a fabulous write up in the main Gambian newspaper and the Donkey Club boys get to show off their new game of ‘Donkey Ball’ to a huge and excited crowd.

It takes another day to put everything away, and once the volunteers for the first week are safely on their way home, it’s on with the general running of GHDT. There is plenty to do at the GHDT, not only is there on-site wound checks needed on various animals, but the GHDT also travel to 10 local schools to teach children about the care of horses and donkeys, and to lots of markets each week to treat any sick or injured animals.

Going out to the local Lumo (market) is where the harsh reality of the Gambia hits you. The days are long, hot and extremely dusty. People queue to see the vets and staff and we see everything from horrific injuries to illness and disease. The weeks cases included; a horse with a septic tendon sheath; a horse with a badly swollen and broken penis; maggot infested wounds; burns; sores from poorly fitted and ill maintained harness; rubs and sores from tethering and abscesses. Lots of horses had a heavy worm burden and levels of emaciation I have never seen. It sounds horrendous, but once you are there in the thick of things, you quickly get past the shock and have to just accept the reality of the place and get on with the job of patching them up as best you can and sending them on their way.

The charity is very well known in the area, so sometimes on the way back from markets people would call and ask us to stop in on their compound on our way through, which we willingly do. There is currently a neurological disease affecting many horses and donkeys in Gambia. It is not yet known what causes this but it’s most often fatal. I saw one such case with a little bay horse that had been down on the ground for three days before the owners called the GHDT staff. Generally speaking Gambian’s don’t believe in putting things to sleep on religious grounds, but when they could see how much this little horse was suffering, they agreed. It was a distressing experience and I fought every ounce of my being not to cry for him, but I was blown away by how professional and swift the GHDT staff were in dealing with the situation. They have received superb training from UK vets and they come in to their own in situations such as these. In order to learn more about this disease they had to take samples from various parts of his body, which is a job no one enjoys, but without these samples they don’t have a hope of finding the cause.

Each evening everyone came back to the house and we filled each other in on how our days went. It’s not the easiest thing for such a big group of strangers to suddenly live together, but we came together brilliantly. From making each other laugh over dinner, to looking after each other when a tummy bug worked it’s way round us. We took it in turns making the tea and keeping the gas powered fridge stocked with beer (what a luxury that was!).

During this trip, I quickly realised that all the things I had prepared to teach and show children were just not suitable. Even things that are so basic for us here in the UK, like providing ‘Fibre, Friends & Freedom’ are not appropriate. Gambians can’t offer an environment where their horse or donkeys have friends as they have a working animal, not a pet and they often struggle to support the one they have They can’t offer the animal freedom; when they are not working they are usually tethered to a pole within the family compound. In terms of Fibre, they offer them what there is available, which is a hay so coarse that you snap each piece like a twig.

It also quickly becomes clear that you can’t come to the Gambia and tell people what to do. It is far better to do things, let people see the benefits it brings and they’ll soon follow suit. As an example, I stood talking to a young boy about his donkey at the show, I gently stroked the donkey’s ears and neck and the donkey promptly leaned against me and fell asleep. Within a few minutes I had a group of children with me all eager to have a go and even starting to argue over who got to stroke the donkey.

Two weeks suddenly seemed like two minutes; I’d just about got used to the heat and dust, understood what is needed from an education point of view and begun to appreciate the sheer scale of it all, before I found myself boarding the plane to come home.

My experience in the Gambia has left me questioning so many things that go on in the UK. For example, if injuries like the ones we saw were sustained in the UK, the horse would be put to sleep without hesitation. As mentioned above animals are rarely put to sleep in the Gambia and not only do they recover from their injuries; they recover extremely well and go back in to work, even from broken legs. It makes you think that perhaps we are too disposable with our horses here. Amazingly, they also recover from these injuries with little medical intervention, including pain relief. The charity relies on vets volunteering from the UK and often has to manage for several weeks without one present. They also rely on drugs donated from the UK, so once they run out there’s nothing else to offer.

I found the behaviour of the animals very interesting. You will see a lame horse, trotting down the road, pulling a fully laden cart, with rubs and sores all over him from the harness, but he doesn’t spook, nap or attempt to flee. They stand calm and still whilst you treat what must be painful injuries. They are resigned and accepting of their life where there’s never a mutual groom, a good roll or frolic in the sunshine with a herd of friends, but can they miss or crave something they’ve never had?

Another interesting thing is that the children ride on the rump of the donkeys and we all told them to sit forward. As soon as they did this, the donkey would dip his head to the floor, drop his shoulder and deposit the child on the floor! To be fair, the donkey doesn’t seem to mind the child sitting so far back and will walk, trot and canter on command. So, were we right to tell them to move? From the look we got from the child on the floor, I think perhaps he was OK as he was!

There are two people I met who cannot go unmentioned. The first is Heather Armstrong who runs the charity, a woman for whom there is no commendation high enough for what she does. She oozes a calm and radiant energy and yet works so incredibly hard. She is constantly organising the next set of volunteers, ensures they have a safe (albeit long) journey and are well prepared for the task and environment ahead of them. She has to negotiate with officials, village elders, local dignitaries and the Gambian Government to continue her work or bring in something new. She organises training for the staff and teachers to keep them motivated and up to date so that they can offer the best possible care. She spends her year travelling to and from the UK (which as described above is no mean feat), she keeps everything running smoothly and is always so thankful of any small gesture offered to her charity. Along with other members of her family, Heather has dedicated her life to improving the lives of the horses and donkeys of the Gambia and of the Gambian people by sponsoring their education and aiding their health care. As I tried to take stock of everything around me I found it hard to imagine what their lives would be like without Heather and her charity.

The second person is Anna, an angel on earth if ever there was one. Anna is from the UK and is in her second year of volunteering there. She has to be so many things all at the same time. She has to be a nurse to sick and injured animals, a nurse to sick and injured people, she has to be a diplomat, book keeper, teacher, mother and mentor – she is a shining star; not only to the GHDT but to so many people and animals of the Gambia who have been taken under her wing. Nothing seemed to phase Anna and she never ran out of patience even when she must have heard her name called 100 times from people, all wanting something from her.

I have been humbled to tears during this trip; by the people I met and worked with, by the spirit and will of the horses and donkeys and I’m so very proud to have been part of this project if only for a very short time.

By Joni Caswell.

For more information on the Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust and to see photo’s of the amazing playground everyone worked so hard to build, please check out www.gambiahorseanddonkeytrust.co.uk . GHDT are also on Facebook.

For more information on the school sponsorship programmes, please check out www.sssgambia.co.uk