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Abbey donates materials to Harness Maker Terry Davies in support of SPANA.

Terry Davies, a professional harness make from Shropshire, contacted Abbey last year looking for donations in materials. These materials would help Terry bring his prototype alive which would help radically change the welfare of working animals across Ethiopia.  We asked Terry if he could tell us more about this great project and his involvement with SPANA. Here is what he had to say…

Working equines play an important, integral role in the lives of people in the developing world. Livelihoods and local economies depend upon them for transportation, both commercial and public and in agriculture where they are used for of cultivation and common field work activities. Tourism is also an area where equines are employed extensively taking visitors on carriage rides around local attractions.

For working animals to perform at their best the requirement is for ‘fit for purpose’ harness. In other words harness that allows freedom of movement without constraint or risk of injury and is comfortable for the animal.  

Unfortunately in many of the poorer regions of the world this is not always the case. Many of these working animals do not reach their full potential as a consequence of poorly designed, ill-fitting DIY harness that can result in serious injury and infections that can sometimes be fatal.    
Unfortunately in many of the poorer regions of the world this is not always the case. Many of these working animals do not reach their full potential as a consequence of poorly designed, ill-fitting DIY harness that can result in serious injury and infections that can sometimes be fatal. 

Harness Related Injury   

In my role as a Harness & Horse Collar maker, something I have been doing for more years than I care to remember, I have had the opportunity to visit many of these countries and have seen the problems first hand; believe me when I say it is not a pretty sight. Harness related injuries (HRI) are common place; they are as a direct result of lack of knowledge on behalf of owner/users in the dynamics of equine draught and harness fitting.

However, it need not be like this. Many of these injuries are largely preventable and can be overcome through having a better understanding of harness design and a basic, rudimentary familiarly with harness production methods. 

I am currently working with SPANA, a UK animal welfare charity, in setting up a training programme in Ethiopia to this effect. This is a country with some 9 million equine, our aim is to train local people in the manufacture of suitable, cost-effective harness that will enable equines to be more productive.

We see this as a win, win project.  By providing local people with skills relative to the needs of their animals both will benefit leading to improvements in local communities/services at large.

Abbey England, a leading supplier worldwide to the Saddlery/ Harness trade, has generously offered to support this project by donating materials/fittings suitable for the manufacture of a prototype harness specifically designed to meet the needs of working equines in developing countries. The prototype, based on knowledge that has been in place for some 2000 years and still used today, will be trialled in Ethiopia later this year.  Subject to the outcome, it will be used as a working model for further distribution to other regions and adapted to local requirements.     

The importance of harness is not to be underestimated. It is said the Indus. Rev. was carried on the backs of horses and without them it would have never happened. How true this is. If it were not for harness, then these magnificent beasts would indeed be nothing more than ‘beasts of the field! Harness represents the means by which they are transformed into a multi-purpose power tool capable of performing many tasks to the benefit of mankind.                                  


Many thanks to Terry for taking the time to write this blog and for all the information about this great cause. For more information about SPANA, please visit their website www.spana.org.

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