Despite being one of humans’ most loyal and dedicated companions, horses are still subjected to a shocking degree of abuse and exploitation. Wild horses are targeted and culled by the U.S. government to expand space for cattle ranches, many of these horses are slaughtered for their meat and sold to countries around the world, and working horses in the racing and horse-drawn carriage industries are run to the point of exhaustion and discarded when they can no longer bring in a profit.
There have been some improvements for the welfare of horses, with Barcelona banning the use of horse-drawn carriages last year, but horses in Spain are still at risk of falling under fire, literally. A petition on Care2 explains that in a 500-year old custom during the festival known as Las Luminarias in San Bartolome de Pinares, Spain, on the eve of Saint Anthony’s Day, horses are forced to run through enveloping open flames in the street.
Animal rights activists have long been fighting against this practice, but defenders of it claim it is tradition and the horses are not harmed. However, in a video shared by Global News, amidst the blinding billowing smoke, frightened horses emerge speeding through the haze, and many have lit embers sparking off their bodies as they run away from the burning flames.
Age-old customs are never an excuse to put the lives of innocent animals in danger. The tradition of the festival can still be kept alive with fire without risking the safety of the horses, and the petition’s author suggests that the horses can symbolically run through fake fire to maintain tradition and resolve conflicting viewpoints.
If you agree that this cruel custom should end, please take a moment to sign the petition.
Few people are even aware that this risky practice exists, so please make sure to get the word out and increase support for these horses by sharing this with your network.
Image Source: Pixabay