Writing To Further Animal Welfare

Equines Suffer in Spain

Having lived in Spain for several years and having set up a welfare operation for donkey welfare I have been looking into what other problems face the equines of this country.  I asked a member of Animals Angels “Julia Havenstien” what her views of the situation were?

 “Dear Paul,

Exactly, the number of equines slaughtered in the north west is increasing and the number of exports is decreasing.

It is very difficult to tell where the most equine problems are in Spain. 

Horses for slaughter are raised in north – west Spain (Navarra, Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Pais Vasco, Aragon and Catalonia). They are raised in half wilderness/ extensive farms and are only gathered for further fattening about one months before slaughter. Many are slaughtered in the same region where they were born or nearby regions. In Galicia there are some awful traditions when taking the animals down from the mountains and marking them for identification: they used to cut the ears of horses or use ear tags and in order to catch them they use brutal methods. 

If the horses from the northwest that are not slaughtered in the same area, they are taken to the area of Levante and Catalonia for further fattening and later they are exported to Italy or France. The transports from northwest Spain to the area of Levante often exceed 8 hours and thus are not allowed for unbroken horses (they are all unbroken), as well as the transports from the Levante to Italy or the North of France.

Thus there is the problem that unbroken horses are regularly transported over long journeys. The ministry knows this perfectly but ignores it in order to keep the trade going. We filed endless numbers of complaints…. 

Andalucia has no tradition of horse slaughter and no export tradition. In Andalucia in general no horses are bred for slaughter (I know only one dealer near Sevilla).

However, for me the main equine problems are in Andalucia, especially for “riding and breeding” horses

–          Worst holdings
–          No pasturing
–          Kept in small boxes
–          Lack of movement
–          Hobbling very common
–          Brutal riding methods
–          Stallions for breeding that practically never leave their boxes 

 All the best, 


As you can see from Julia’s report although export and slaughter are still major problems, the aspect that is also very worrying is with regard to riding and breeding. How do you tackle a situation that effects tens of  thousands of animals but not in large groups, some breeders/owners will have a couple of animals others twenty or thirty? Although you can check the markets and ask the authorities to enforce animals welfare protection laws in Spain (which do exist but are seldom enforced) many will be bought and sold directly and so go unnoticed.

This is a problem that faces equines all over Europe and will only get worse as the recession continues and will be high on the list of priories for WTFAW in 2013

Paul Svendsen


Comments on: "Equines Suffer in Spain" (5)

  1. Do you know what horse rescue organizations (if any) exist in Spain? Or . . . are there any rescue/welfare organizations in other parts of Europe that are working to affect change.? Of course, horse slaughtering is going on all over the world, along with the massacre of literally millions of innocent animal species. The suffering that man’kind’ either inflicts or allows on the animal spirits is overwhelmingly disgusting.

    • Thanks for you comments and yes Animals Angels are a wonderful organisation. I am currently in contact with welfare organisations in several European countries with the view to combining our efforts. Will keep you posted in the New Year with progress. Thanks again for your support.

      • I wanted to let you know that earlier today, a blogger commented on my reblog of your poetry “We all stood by.” He loved it. I recredited you as the poet. Then, I linked over to his page and read poetry that he wrote called, “Donkey.” I remembered that you have a special place in your heart for the Donkey’s, and thought you might enjoy reading his work:


        Many Blessings! ~Gerean, The Animal Spirits

      • Thanks Gerean, have visited the site and loved the poem, one of my favorite memories of looking after donkeys is doing night checks on the farm and sitting in a barn full of them. The noise of over a hundred animals munching on hay was so therapeutic and good for the soul!



  2. I just linked over to Animal Angels website. Wonderful work they are doing.

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