I’m Not Horsing Around

horse carriage

Taken from the Facebook event cover photo: Concentracion Por Los Caballos Del Parque. Link at bottom of page.

Those who follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr will already know that on Friday 17th I attended a protest in  Malaga. We were protesting on behalf of the voiceless, nameless horses who have to work in all weathers for the pleasure of tourists.  It was early evening, but the sun was still hot in the sky, and I could definitely feel my arms start to burn.

Whilst I could choose to go and stand in the shade when I got hot, these horses could not. When I felt dehydrated, I could open my bottle of water and have a drink, these horses could not.

Their ‘owners’ claim that they don’t feel any pain – maybe they even stretch as far as claiming that the horses enjoy working in all weathers – but this doesn’t match up with the fact that in this last week alone two horses have died due to a combination of heat exposure and dehydration.

What is it that these horses are doing? Well, Malaga is a city with lots of tourism due to the white-sand beaches and wonderful architecture. So, in the name of tradition, the horses are strapped to a carriage and are used as a taxi service for the entertainment of foreigners. I honestly can’t understand how the business carries on when there are an abundance of bicycles for hire and frequent buses – I think it is down to propaganda on the owners part, and genuine ignorance from the tourists (I don’t blame them for being ignorant, ignorance is not a crime, as long as you are open minded and prepared to listen when someone informs you of the truth).

We held up posters like this in a variety of languages to attract passers-by's attention

We held up posters like this in a variety of languages to attract passers-by’s attention

Our protest certainly put the horse owners out of business that evening. We were stood in a busy part of the city where the horses are kept, and a combination of our posters/chants/flyering deterred all tourists in the area from getting in the carriage. I don’t speak much Spanish so I couldn’t understand the details of the arguments, but the horse owners were getting pretty angry about this. They were desperately trying to insist that we were wrong, but they were significantly outnumbered by us. Every time people on biycles came past on the road, we cheered to show our support for alternative forms of transport that don’t involve death and cruelty.

Without constant daily protest it seems unlikely that this damaging industry will stop altogether, but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t have an impact. For example, for that evening, the horse owners didn’t make any money. The horses were not forced to drag people around. We attracted the attention of a huge number of passers-by, many of whom were genuinely shocked to learn that this seemingly harmless business was actually torture. These people are much less likely to support the industry in the future, perhaps they will even stop others from doing so, too. (it’s pleasantly surprising how much one person can make a difference).

The purpose of this blog post was firstly to recount the events of the protest, but secondly, to raise awareness. Using animals for exploitation in any shape or form is immoral and wrong. Many people don’t seem to understand this as they believe humans are above animals, but this is a speciesist perspective. Humans are animals too, and we have no right to take away their freedom by forcing them to do our bidding. The horse carriage rides that happen in Malaga and probably other cities in Spain too, are slave labour.

I imagine that over the past few years this industry is probably naturally declining as people are becoming more aware of the ethical implications of using animals in this way, but I urge you all to continue spreading this message. And of course, if you agree with me that this exploitation is wrong, perhaps reassess your opinion on other forms of animal exploitation. Becoming vegan is the only way to live in harmony with animals as our equals, and it’s imperative that you stand up today for what is just and moral. For advice on how to go vegan, click here.

What activism have you participated in before? Do you think that direct protesting has a positive influence on social change?

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Image attribution, link to the facebook group here

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