After a memorable 2016 UK high-goal season, tournaments in Aspen, the final of the East Coast Open in Greenwich and playing in the Hawaii International Polo Championships, the American Polo Player Nic Roldan once again found himself at an airport en route to a new destination but with a difference: This trip did not involve mallets or polo boots, he was off to Guatemala to go and see first hand some of the work the Brooke was doing there.
At the end of 2015 Nic was asked to become an ambassador to Brooke USA, the American fundraising arm of The Brooke, an international animal welfare organisation dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules, in the poorest parts of the world and the communities who rely on them. Here Nic saw a parity, he play’s polo professionally but at the heart has been his love for horses. He can not do what he does without his horses. Like all equestrians he owes so much to his four legged wards and like many others they allow him to make a living and thus could be referred to as “work” horses. Nic pampers his equines, does all he can to make them as comfortable as possible and one could say they live in 5 star luxury however there are many working equines around the world who are way down the other end of the spectrum and who find themselves in dire conditions. He feel’s the mission of The Brooke is something that will be close to the hearts of all who love these majestical and noble animals.
Since being an ambassador to Brook USA Nic has enjoyed doing as much as he can to raise both finds and awareness of the Brooke and was also keen to see first hand what it was all about. So before returning home for the Palm Beach Fall season, he headed to Guatemala with Brooke USA. Guatemala is one of Latin America’s poorest countries with over half of its population living below the poverty line and it’s in these, largely rural, communities that most of the country’s 227,000 working equines live. Nic spent a week there and travelled over 3,000 kilometres to different parts of this mountainous country to get a full picture of the issues they face, the different areas and the results.
Families rely on these equines predominantly as essential pack animals to transport their wood (for cooking or to sell), water, crops & other necessities & Brooke teams are busy educating these communities on how to look after their wards better which in turn provides a benefit to the communities who rely on them.
Initially Nic went to an area known as the dry corridor where equines work under harsh conditions to provide the families that rely on them with water for example. In these rural communities a team from The Brooke, gives talks covering both husbandry & handling. Nic was blown away by the amount of people there. Particularly women who are the ones who rely the most on the donkeys who they use to carry their essentials and described it as “an emotional moment to see how all these people live, how proud they are & enthused to learn. Truly inspirational.”
Brooke not only are busy educating these communities, but they also try to find practical ways to help. One of which is that they have been providing people with sample bags of a type of grass seed which requires very little rain thus it can grow and provide forage for their working equines in the summer when there is nothing to eat.
The second area he visited had totally different topography being almost alpine and lush. However, with a huge amount of poverty and in fact Save the Children do a tremendous amount of work in that area. There he met one of Brooke’s success stories “Don Roberto” who Brooke has taught how to shoe the local communities working animals and he has really taken to this. He has to remodel a normal pair of pincers into hoof clippers for instance in order to do his work.
Nic was very impressed with The Brooke’s staff in the field and is so proud to be part of this amazing organisation. Being an athlete Nic was also pleased to see each community had a football field/basketball court and with sport being so important in inducing community spirit, he enjoyed joining in.
It had been a long week but an incredible one in which he met some inspirational people. It was an amazing experience and fabulous to see The Brooke’s work in action first hand & where the funds raised are being used & why. The Brooke’s vision is of a world in which working horses, donkeys and mules are free from suffering.
In March this year Nic organised the “Inaugural Nic Roldan’s Sunset Polo & White Party” in Wellington, Florida where over 140,000 US-Dollars was raised to benefit Brooke USA and he will follow this up with a second edition next year.
Photos © Enrique Urdaneta, Nic Roldan