Spanish animal party wants end to mistreatment of horses in bonfires

by Lorraine Williamson
Luminarias - horses in bonfires

The tradition Las Luminarias involves horses walking through large bonfires. Spanish animal party Pacma calls this tradition in which animals suffer unnecessarily out of date and calls for action by the municipality and the Castilla y León state government. 

Last Monday, ‘Las Luminarias’ was celebrated in San Bartolomé de Pinares (Ávila). According to annual village tradition of San Bartolomé de Pinares on the eve of Las Luminarias de San Antón. This is a festival in honour of St Antionius, the Catholic patron saint of animals. Villagers ride their horses through the bonfires, whose smoke is said to provide protection against disease. 

The Spanish animal party Pacma calls the tradition “anachronistic and outdated”. Pacma president Javier Luna asked the mayor of the municipality, Ana Isabel Gómez, as well as “the participants” if “they want to be the ones exposed to the embers of the fire next year”.  

In a statement to news website Europa Press, the party denounced the ‘terrible suffering’ of the animals, who experience ‘panic and great stress at the fire’. The horses try to retreat and flee from the fire, but are forced to walk on. ‘Horses have a natural fear of fire; they see it as a danger,’ says Javier Luna. ‘This causes terrible stress, which can endanger their lives’.  


Pacma considers the mistreatment of such traditions to be abuse, and has been publicly denouncing it for years. They have asked City Hall to stop carrying out these celebrations in this way. Furthermore, the Junta de Castilla y León has been asked not to allow this celebration next year. ‘It is time to stop using and exploiting animals in festivities and traditions,’ stressed Javier Luna. ‘It is possible to opt for ethical alternatives that do not require animal suffering, but governments do not seem interested in entering the 21st century,’ he said.  

Also read: Pacma sues government over attitude to children and bullfighting

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