Marie Rippingale, Senior Equine Nurse, flew out to The Gambia, on the north-west coast of Africa, for the second time in two years in December to help The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust (GHDT).
Her work, funded by the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) focused on ways to improve horse and donkey welfare, and to teach local animal owners and the para-vet apprentices how to better care for the animals and prevent unnecessary, and often costly, animal deaths.
Most of Marie’s time in the field was spent diagnosing and treating Trypanosomiasis, a disease where blood parasites are transmitted to horses or donkeys by the Tsetse fly. Marie also treated patients for ticks, saddle sores, wounds, colic and general lameness, as well as administering medication injections, carrying out bandage changes, putting in IV catheters, and more basic, but equally important, tasks such as feeding and watering.
Helping Reduce Poverty in Rural Areas
Sharing her equine expertise, Marie and another UK vet Jan Puzio, set up a veterinary clinic at the annual GHDT show. Gambians travelled from all over the country to receive treatment, get general health checks and advice. The idea behind the show is to encourage the Gambian people to take care of their animals correctly, and to have this rewarded by receiving a very coveted GHDT rosette. Marie also ran lectures for the para-vet apprentices at the GHDT sanctuary. Lecture topics included wound care, medication administration sites, antibiotic use and blood transfusions.
Marie says: “Having worked as an equine nurse for 15 years, I’ve always wanted to work overseas to see how the veterinary world works in another country. One of the biggest challenges we faced was teaching locals to care for their animals using only what is available to them. There aren’t endless veterinary supplies available in The Gambia, so we really had to think on our feet. Owning a healthy working animal can help reduce poverty in rural areas, so I’m really proud to have helped for a second year running, and I hope to come back again in the future.”
Marie studied Equine Sports Science at Nottingham Trent University, where she spent her placement year working with the Equine Nursing Team at Scarsdale Vets before graduating in 2005. Following this, Marie qualified as an Equine Veterinary Nurse in 2007. Marie has since gained the Diploma in Higher Education Clinical Veterinary Nursing and the Diploma in Advanced Veterinary Nursing, the latter where she and two others were the first equine veterinary nursing students to take this course.