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July, 2016

"Horsewoman Betsy Gosling delivers aid to horses in Cuba.
Here she tells us why and how we can help."


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By walking around it is easy to see the horses need help. "Horses in Cuba are not pets or for pleasure but rather working animals"
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What motivated you to start helping equines in Cuba? Have you always traveled a lot? I grew up traveling as my father was a geographer. I had a training business before Katrina, but I didn't restart it after the storm. Instead, I devote my time to my other passions-photography and travel. In 2011, I went to Cuba the first time with my sister. Both my sister and I had Cuba on our bucket lists. The opportunity presented itself to go on a humanitarian trip and we were in Cuba less than 4 weeks later. I fell in love with the country and especially the people. I knew they were in need of help in a lot of ways including with their horses. Horses are my expertise so it seemed like the best way to give back. I have always travelled legally to Cuba since traveling as a tourist is forbidden under the embargo except under certain circumstances.

What is the embargo status? The embargo is in place. It requires both Congress and the President to remove it. In the last year, our governments have made huge strides towards normalizing relations including re-opening the embassies after over 50 years.

How did you learn about the Cuban horses' situation? By walking around it is easy to see the horses need help. Horses in Cuba are not pets or for pleasure but rather working animals. Most pull carts delivering goods or act like taxis for locals or provide services for tourist. While Americans cannot go to Cuba as tourists, people from all over the world do travel there. After seeing a blog post that Thinline Global (a company that makes protective gear for horses) about the Cuban horses' welfare, I decided I needed to do more. I started by bringing a few guards donated by Thinline but was only able to reach a few horses each time. I started a campaign for donations and on my last trip I brought 120 tubes of ivermectin, 35 pairs of boots, 28 saddle pads for harnesses and the Thinline guards (not to mention more stuff for cats and dogs). All of this was donated. The need is large and never ending as there are over 400,000 horses in Cuba. Every little bit may help keep one horse from suffering and/or makes it so one person can continue to feed their families.

After being there six times already is it easier? It is easier in terms of the US government. And easier because I know my way around and what to expect.

How do you pack? The airlines only allow 44 lbs. including your carryon to go to Cuba. Anything over is charged $2/ lbs. The last time my clothes and camera equipment were only 28 lbs. I was overweight by 90 lbs. with the donations!

Who do you approach for donations? Mostly, I have used social media to get donations. I received them from all across the United States and Canada. It is never ending: the need for more supplies for the horses.

What donations do you accept? Any wormers, boots (not bell boots), girth guards or other guards, anything protection for harnesses, money to help with the baggage fees and to buy things that are not donated. There is a lot they need. It is a balance of wanting to help to most number of people for the least cost, weight and space in the suitcase.


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Horses in Cuba are working animals. Horses in Cuba are not pets or for pleasure but rather working animals.
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Are you fluent in Spanish? I speak enough Spanish to get around but am a long way from fluid. I continue to work to improve my Spanish.

Where do you stay? At casa particulares. They are privately owned houses that rent rooms out.

Does anybody come with you? The last three trips have been done solo. There is a possibility that we will do a group trip in the fall. Contact us if you are interested.

Does the Cuban government keep tabs on you while you are there? I don't think so. :-)

How long is the fight? It is a 45-minute flight from Miami.

What is the weather like? It is a tropical island. Hot in the summer and never that cold in the winter.

Are you more inclined to go at certain times of year? I go when I don't have any judging jobs and preferably not during peak tourist season.

How long do you tend to stay during your trips? It is expensive to get there. I try to stay 2-3 weeks.

Are the folks receptive to your being there? The people are awesome. They love Americans and the USA.

Is this work gratifying? I bring photographs to people as well as horse supplies. The joy you bring someone by a single photo or a pair of second-hand horse boots, just makes you feel good and makes you want to do more.

Other thoughts? We are not registered as a 501(3)(c) yet as I take money and use the funds directly for the horses. In the future, this may change.

For more information: cubashorses.wix.com/cubashorses. Liking us on Facebook helps us immensely as this encourages companies to donate too.