April 1, 2019 | News

Responsible ownership in Marrakech

Responsible ownership in Marrakech

In the vibrant city of Marrakech, Morocco, you’ll find hundreds of horses working through the heat of the day pulling heavy taxi carriages, known as ‘caleches’. These horses ferry tourists and locals around and often suffer from painful harness wounds, lameness and dehydration.

For their owners, these working animals play a vital role: they provide the basis of their incomes and livelihoods. That means it’s crucial for owners to behave responsibly and ensure their horses remain in good health and are able to receive care and support when they need it.

This is where Together for Animals member SPANA comes in. For nearly a century, SPANA has made exciting progress to improve the lives of these hardworking horses in Morocco. We’ve built and maintained water troughs in the city’s streets to give them access to water and since 1988, we’ve worked with local authorities to set up a compulsory licensing scheme for caleche drivers. This runs from our veterinary clinic in Marrakech, where our veterinary experts offer free treatment to animals in pain and promote humane care by animal owners.

Through the licensing scheme, each caleche horse is microchipped – so they can be identified – and gets a health ‘passport’. Our vets give the horses a health MOT three times a year, assessing everything from eye problems to lameness, and awarding a score for different categories. They also advise drivers on how to care for their animals.

Drivers with horses that pass the MOT receive a passport stamp and coloured leg band for their animal. This proves that they’ve been given a clean bill of health and allows tourists to choose carriages pulled by healthy horses. Indeed, our team regularly tour the city with police to check unidentified caleche horses. Police officially warn the unlicensed drivers.

Each year, MOT scores are added up and caleche owners attend a prestigious prize giving ceremony. An award rewards owners for keeping their animals in excellent condition and embracing good welfare practices and well-deserving horses receive a sack of crushed barley.

The funds raised by Together for Animals helps support SPANA’s vital work with working animals in some of the world’s poorest communities. To help animals live happier, healthier lives text PETS to 70085 to donate £3 or visit our donate page.