Animal welfare advocates had an early Chinese New Year gift for the Binondo caritela horses this year. 

On January 31, 2011, Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF), Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (CARA) and The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) visited Binondo to conduct a horse clinic outreach project in the area. 

The animal advocates found that the horses in Binondo were in worse conditions than the Intramuros horses – perhaps because this was a business district and the horses were “used” more for transporting heavier loads, as compared to the Intramuros horses which were used mostly by tourists only. 

Routine blood-drawing, deworming and giving of vitamins were done on the animals. 

There were cases of thrush (infection of the foot and leg area), malnourishment,  ill-fitting bits (that piece of metal placed in the horses’ mouths),  and ill-fitting bridles and harnesses that had to be addressed on the spot. 

The cocheros were given a lecture and some important reminders about proper care for the horses and about giving them enough time to rest, and to never overload their caritelas.

Out of the 39 registered calesas in Binondo, 37 horses showed up to be treated and checked by AKF vets led by Dr. Roland Arciaga. PAWS and CARA volunteers prepared the educational materials and assisted the vets. 

The almost 100% attendance (1 horse was ill and the cochero requested for a special visit, while 1 horse was probably the one that met an accident last September 2010 and was shot) of the Binondo caritela horses was due to the hard work of the Manila councilors led by the dynamic Councilor Ryan Ty, who made sure all announcements were properly made ahead of time. 

Councilor Ty says they would like to do more projects like this with animal welfare groups so that the horses and the cocheros will have some form of free assistance and so that the working animals will get treated better.

AKF-CARA-PAWS’ “Love Ko, Kabayo Ko” mobile horse clinic will be back for follow-up visits in Intramuros and Binondo within the next few months.