Writing To Further Animal Welfare

Posts tagged ‘Horse Riding’

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

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