December 9, 2022

Horses for rent at Wright Park and Camp John Hay are free of any viral or bacterial infection, the Department of Agriculture assured last week.

DA Program Coordinator for Livestock, Dr. Lesley Deligen, said the immediate isolation of infected horses implemented by the Baguio City Veterinary and Agriculture Office contributed in the early containment of the infection that affected 21 horses since March 2020.

So far, no new cases have been reported as horses that have been found to have been infected of the equine infectious anemia (EIA) were isolated.

To ensure that the horses currently being rented out remain free of any infection, the CVAO will again test the horses after six months.

Deligen said DA-CAR is closely monitoring the situation of horses for rent after receiving directive from the Bureau of Animal Industry as the infection if not controlled can also affect the livelihood of people who rent out these animals for leisure or tourism purposes.

He said the CVAO is also trying to trace where the horses could have gotten the infection and they suspect that the infection was from a horse that might have been brought outside the region then brought in one of the parks in Baguio. 

EIA or swamp fever is an infectious disease of equids or mammals of the horse family. It does not have a cure or a vaccine and the only way to stop the spread of infection to other horses is permanent isolation or euthanasia.

But a known supporter of pony boys of Baguio said government should do more to help the affected pony boys.

In a Facebook post, Solana Perez, a supporter of the pony boys, said with the pony boys’ loss of livelihood due to the pandemic, government should do more to help them – to include giving them enough area where horses can be isolated.

She said with the dwindling space provided by the city for the horses, there is simply no way for the pony boys to shoulder the responsibility of isolating the horses imposed upon them by the executive order issued by Mayor Benjamin Magalong.

“Since Baguio has gradually given way to urbanization and development, pasture options for horses have become severely limited. The wooded space between Wright Park and Mansion doesn’t count; for some reason, the allotment of space in that area for horses has been decreasing steadily through the years.”

“With no access to adequate space for pasturing, where are they supposed to isolate their horses? And with less than minimum wage earnings, who will shoulder the cost of their treatment and loss of livelihood?” Perez asked.

“What is Baguio City doing to help the workers of an industry hailed as one of our ‘classic’ tourist attractions? Is there a plan? Aside from simply isolating horses, are the pony boys expected to afford further treatment and medicine? Where will the medicine be sourced? Does this mandate serve to ease the burden of these workers, or does it only impose greater restraint and unnecessary publicity without fully taking into account the situation that the pony boys find themselves in?,” Perez added. – Rimaliza A. Opiña