Notice the numerous white hairs.  Addressing this problem became our mission. We explained that adding more padding on top of the spine only worsened the problem. Once they understood that a space between saddle and spine was needed, they took immediately to the solution.

Notice the numerous white hairs.  Addressing this problem became our mission. We explained that adding more padding on top of the spine only worsened the problem. Once they understood that a space between saddle and spine was needed, they took immediately to the solution.

Local wool blankets were used to create saddle pads that would relieve pressure on the animal's spine.  Folding twice from each end created pockets for the insertion of shims of varying thickness.

Local wool blankets were used to create saddle pads that would relieve pressure on the animal's spine.  Folding twice from each end created pockets for the insertion of shims of varying thickness.

In August 2014 we traveled with a group of twelve veterinarians and vet students from the U.S. and Peru in the high Andes mountains. Organized by head veterinarian, David Turoff, the project was supported by Yanapana.org,  the Humane Society Veterinarian Medical Assn.( HSVMA RAVS) and the CAVMRC (California Veterinary Reserve Corps). These organizations funded the medical supplies needed. All of the manpower was volunteered.

We started at Saksaywaman just outside of Cusco, and in ten days treated about 700 equines (horses, mules, and burros). The treatments needed included: vaccinations (including rabies shots for the prevalent vampire bats), castrations, hoof care and dental work. From Saksaywanan we traveled on to Mollepata by vehicle.  Mollepata is the home of the Yanapana organization. This remote village heads a woman's weaving co-op among other local projects.  We arrived with and donated many leather working tools and worked with the Yanapana people to enhance their skills at making useful items for the equines and personal use. Our project in Peru also took a new twist - many of the animals were so thin that we devoted most of our time to saddle fitting. To alleviate the common saddle sores along their spines, we developed a system of padding using a typical Peruvian blanket, folded and padded in a special way. Our tools were put to good use customizing these blankets to help relieve pressure on the animals' spines. 

Lisa demonstrating  how to add shims to elevate the saddle. With air space between the underside of the saddle and the spine, pressure is relieved and the back stays cool. PROBLEM SOLVED

Lisa demonstrating  how to add shims to elevate the saddle. With air space between the underside of the saddle and the spine, pressure is relieved and the back stays cool. PROBLEM SOLVED

Then we began our trek on the Salkantay Trail to Wayrac and down the eastern side of the Andes towards Machu Pichu. While hiking over the 15,500 ft. Salkantay Pass, we were supported with 18 mules packing our tools, medicines, camping gear and food. In these regions of no roads, the equine groups of horses, mules and burros are vital to the livelihood of the indigenous people. Our first stop after accending the Salkantay pass was the Wayrac Station at 14,000 feet. We worked there for two days and the two delightful cooks traveling with us surprised us for our 65th birthdays with a special desert! (Loren and Lisa are 3 days apart!). After a few more days of work along our return route, we returned to Cusco.

It was an honor for us to join this project and this dedicated group of people.