Horse of tourist carriage collapses due to heat in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
horse carriage down

PALMA – Every summer, stories circulate about the pitiful situation in which the horses find themselves dragging old-fashioned carriages with tourists through various city centres in Spain. Consequently, animal organisations oppose this practice. 

Not only people can succumb to heat stroke, animals also have a hard time when the mercury exceeds 40ºC, as is now regularly the case. Especially if they have to stand in the heat all day and have to pull a heavy carriage. 

For example, last Saturday in Palma de Mallorca on Plaza Rei Joan Carles I, a horse collapsed due to the heat. Several passers-by were startled and ran to help the animal. “It’s because of the heat, give him water,” it sounds in the video published on Twitter. It then appears that the tourists refuse to get out of the carriage. There is also an extensive indignant commentary on it. Tourists pay about €50 euros for a tour along the main attractions in the capital. 

“Bad conditions 

A horse collapsed in the same city a month ago. That led to action from animal rights groups calling the “conditions” in which the animals are kept “bad”. The licenses that horse and carriage owners have are usually for life and are passed down from fathers to sons. Therefore, there is little control over it. Furthermore, in Palma there are 28 of these permits. 

Every year these ‘caballos de galera’ make the news. Or they collapsed or even died from the effects of overheating. According to Guillermo Amengual, president of Animanaturalis, the carriage horses are “in bad condition, very thin. Furthermore, there are animals that can no longer walk. We have been able to see it and report it, but after that the horse in question can often not be found anymore”. 

No follow up 

His organisation wants, he tells in El Diario, that the horses are inspected by vets before the summer starts and also during the summer. It has already been established that a number of horses in Palma were not in sufficient condition to work. However, it was never acted upon. 

In 2019, the city council passed a decree not allowing horses to be harnessed to the carriages between 12 noon and 5.00 pm on days when AEMET issues weather code yellow or higher due to heat. However, this decree was rejected by the Court in Palma because the municipality could not impose these kinds of rules. 

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Horses well cared for according to the owners 

According to the owners of the horses, El Diario writes, the horses are well cared for, fed and in the shade. However, usually that shade is provided by a parasol provisionally attached to the carriage when the horse and owner are waiting for their ‘passengers’. 

Fallen Horse in Seville 

The Dutch Michelle occasionally guides visitors through Seville and tells that she saw a horse fall near the cathedral on 13 July. Since she has horses of her own, she came to the rescue. As she approached, the other horses lined up, panting and puffing from the heat. The horse’s owner snarled her away twice. He said he didn’t need any help. 

Michelle couldn’t stand it and decided to call the police. However, she got nowhere until she finally spoke to someone who promised her to ‘make a note. That was it! “It could be that the horse has slipped, or a combination of factors, as they turn them too short on the smooth ground with their horseshoes, but next time I’m in Seville I’m going to report it. Something has to be done, it’s outrageous!” said Michelle. 

Petition against horse-drawn carriages in Palma 

A resident of Palma has already collected 63,300 signatures in a short time with a petition on the platform. “No more collapsing horses on the streets: a ban on carriages in Palma NOW! We can no longer allow them to be mistreated and forced to work until they can no longer handle it or even die.” The question posed by the petition is how many horses must die before the carriages are banned? “When are we going to take animal welfare seriously in Spain?” 

Horse dead at Seville feria 

Last year a horse died at the Seville Feria. The animal would not have eaten anything all day and nevertheless had to drive around a carriage with people celebrating in the heat. It was not the first time that a horse died during a feria in Spain. An animal organisation released a video on social media showing the horse lying on the ground with breathing problems before dying. 

Also read: Horses and wolves victims of fraud

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