What is the Equitarian Initiative?
Equitarian Initiative is a non-profit organization whose mission is to prepare volunteer veterinarians worldwide to deliver health care and education to improve the health, nutrition, productivity and welfare of horses, donkeys and mules, and to empower their care providers for sustainable change. There are several projects within the Equitarian Initiative, which are based all around the world. The overall vision of the organization is a world where every working horse, donkey and mule receives basic health care. There are currently over 100 million people who rely on working horses, donkeys and mules for their family’s survival. That represents 90% of the world’s horse population! Through education, collaboration, direct aid and inspiration the volunteers in this organization branch out to provide sustainable health care for the working equids of the world. Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is just one of the many sites where the Equitarian Initiative is currently working.

If you are interested in learning more about the Equitarian Initiative, check out the website: https://equitarianinitiative.org/

Work on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation:
Each year the Sung Oyate (Horse People) which is a group of veterinarians, veterinary students, farriers and veterinary technicians, travel to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation located in Kyle, South Dakota. Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is home to the Lakota, Sioux Tribe who have experienced hardships for many generations and live their daily lives in equal strife to those living in a developing country. Horses are the foundation of the Lakota people both culturally and spiritually. Not only are horses a way of life on the Reservation but also how many families make a living, through breeding, raising, training and selling horses. There is very limited veterinary care on the reservation, so each year we work to provide care for hundreds of horses, donkeys, mules and ponies through vaccination, deworming and castrations. Many horses also receive dental examinations, wound care, lameness exams and hoof trimming. We also work closely with the Horse Spirit Society, which is a non-profit organization located in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. The mission of the Horse Spirit Society is to provide healthy equine activities to encourage children to actualize self-awareness through increasing their self-confidence and self-reliance by gaining strength and self-esteem through learning about horses utilizing traditional Lakota language, values, culture and ceremonial practices to enhance healthy proactive lifestyles through a healthy diet and positive physical and mental activities to enhance individual identities, family relationships and community empowerment. Horses are an important part of the Lakota culture and through education and direct aid we are able to keep the horses healthy and cared for.

How can you help the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation?
The Sung Oyate is always looking for donations of used tack and equipment. Most natives on the reservation cannot afford bridles, saddles, halters, lead ropes, brushes, or hoof picks. Any donations including westerns saddles, bridles, halters, and working parts (such as a bit, cinch, leather straps) would be an invaluable help to the people of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The tack donations are given to a local leader, Percy Whiteplume who runs the Horse Spirit Society community riding program. Percy trains trail horses and organizes community rides to celebrate sobriety, reconnect children with their culture and provide support for those experiencing depression. Monetary donations are also incredibly vital to go toward veterinary supplies needed throughout the year. Monetary donations through the Equitarian Initiative are tax-deductible. Checks can be made out to “Equitarian Initiative” – please add a note stating the donation is for the Pine Ridge Project in South Dakota. Donations can also be made online at equitarianinitiative.org – Be sure to add a note stating the donation is for the Horse Spirit Society.

If you have any questions regarding donations, please contact Dr. Marie Kettler at mkettler@badgervet.com
If you have donations, please mark them “Pine Ridge Indian Reservation – Dr. Kettler” and drop them off at the Janesville clinic location.

Veterinary Medical Supplies Needed:

  • Vaccines: EWT/WN
  • Tube (oral) de-wormer
  • Sedation and anesthesia
  • Local anesthesia: Lidocaine, Carbocaine
  • Antibiotics
         º injectable penicillin
         º SMZ (sulfamethoxazole trimethoprim)
         º Excede
         º Powder phenylbutazone
  • Bandage materials
         º Sheet cotton
         º Brown gauze
         º Vet wrap
  • Surgical blades
  • Syringes (mostly 3cc to 12cc)
  • Needles (18g, 20g)
  • 4×4 gauze squares
  • Iodine or betadine solution
  • Chlorhexidine solution

    Tack donations needed
  • Scrap leather (in good condition)
  • Saddles (Western Only, please) or parts of saddles
  • Saddle blankets
  • Girths and cinches
  • Breast plates
  • Bits (mostly snaffle)
  • Headstalls
  • Reins
  • Halters
  • Lead ropes
  • Cowboy boots
  • Lassos