** CUBA RUNS ON HORSEPOWER **
Cuba truly does run on horsepower and I have travelled to no other country that still depends on horses and livestock to such a large extent. Everywhere one goes, there are horses pulling carts filled with either local residents going to or from work, tourists out sightseeing, or goods being transported. Horses are also used in the fields for pulling plows and other farm work.
I originally found the extensive use of horses in Cuba to be very charming and environmentally friendly. However, I soon learned a sad truth when speaking with Julio Munoz, the proprietor of Casa Munoz, a small Bed and Breakfast or Casas Particulares in Trinidad. Life for horses in Cuba is often harsh because the people do not have the proper training or equipment to care for these magnificent animals. Indeed, as I looked more carefully, I noticed many of the horses were emaciated and had rough, neglected hooves. Most of the horses work long hours every day on paved or cobblestone roads with no horseshoes or proper hoof care. Such conditions are very painful for these animals.
Cuba has been isolated from much of the world for the last 50 years and trade embargoes, poverty and governmental restriction make it difficult for Cubans to obtain many basic necessities. As a result, the Cuban people suffer tremendously but so do the animals they depend on. For their horses, this means no hoof nails, tools to apply horse shoes, or equipment for grooming. For a country that runs on horsepower, the impact is large.
Julio Munoz, pictured with his horse Luna de Miel in the center photo above, is trying to help the horses of Trinidad, Cuba. His goal is to educate horse owners on newer training techniques as most horses in Cuba are still “broken in” by older methods that are cruel to the animals. Julio is also trying to collect the supplies needed for horse care and is asking for donations of any new or used equipment such as books, CDs and DVDs on horse training, medical care, and grooming; tool kits for grooming and hoof care; hoof nails, etc.
You can visit Julio’s website (Spanish text) at diana.trinidadphoto.com/ or a less comprehensive site in English at www.casa.trinidadphoto.com/fotos/pages/casa20.htm. If you are interested in helping the horses of Cuba, you can reach Julio Munoz directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for taking the time to read this text and learn a little bit about the lives of horses in Cuba.