The consequences of poor harnessing

Last year, an estimated one in four working animals treated by SPANA were suffering with wounds. By far the biggest causes were poor harnessing and ill-fitting equipment.

Proper equipment is either unaffordable or not available to buy, and owners resort to using scrap plastic and metal to harness their animals. These abrasive materials rub the skin raw, creating painful wounds that become deeper as they continue to work each day.

Hundreds of thousands of equids battle through their working lives with unsafe harnessing. Deep wounds, chronic infection and painful sores that have no chance to heal; this is the reality for animals working under these conditions.

Please watch our short video about the harnessing issues faced by working animals everyday.

Raza’s Story

10-year-old Raza is a Marwari horse, a breed native to the Jodhpur region of India. Raza works on a farm in the eastern state of Odisha, India, helping his owners, Ali and Sita, harvest just enough crops to feed their family of four.

With only a make-do harness at Ali’s disposal, each time he halted Raza, the cart would collide into the horse’s tail end. When hauling hay one afternoon, Raza stumbled and fell on the uneven path causing the overloaded cart to crash into his rear where an open sore was already festering.

Fortunately, SPANA’s mobile clinic was there to help. The vet carefully cut away hair and dirt that had become matted in his tail wound, and cleaned and sterilised Raza’s injuries. He then gently applied antibiotic ointment to fend off infection, and instructed Ali to clean the wounds twice a day.

The vet stressed that Raza’s injuries could have easily been prevented with improved harnessing. He replaced the broken breeching strap and showed Ali how to modify the harness, adding soft padding to protect sensitive areas of the horse’s body.

Raza is just one out of tens of thousands of animals our vets treat for agonising harness wounds every year.

One Off

could help ten or more working animals by funding one community training session, equipping owners to harness their animals humanely, and empowering them to spread knowledge in their community.


could provide soft padding for two animals, protecting their bodies from harness wounds and making each working day more comfortable.


could relieve the suffering of a working animal by providing essential treatment for a painful, non-healing wound on its back or legs, preventing fatal infection.