Cruel Tradition Traumatizes Dozens Of Horses Every Year And No one Is Talking About It

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Spain is often at the heart of many animal-related controversies. Bullfighting inspires dozens of protests from animal rights every year, from activists who find, with reason, the practice to be barbaric and inhumane.

 

But the infamous blood sport isn't the only tradition that merits outrage in this well-loved holiday destination.

 

Source: Denis Doyle

Every summer in the Spanish state of Galicia, the first weekend of July is marked by Rapa das Bestas, an occasion which has been going on for 400 years. This "festival", whose name literally translates as "the shaving of the beasts", pits people against semi-feral horses in a supposed show of strength.

 

The Rapa das Bestas in the village of Sabucedo is the most well known and the oldest. It has been classed as a Fiesta of National Tourist Interest since 1963 and a Fiesta of International Tourist Interest since 2007.

 

Source: AFP/Getty Images

 

After driving the horses from the neighboring hills towards the village, the participants try to lead them into an enclosure, the curro, to cut their manes. While tourists can help capture the horses, they are forbidden from taking part in the struggle with the animals.

 

Source: Joaquin Gomez Sastre

 

During the confrontation, all sorts of violence is permitted. The participants throw themselves at the horses, grab them by the neck, wrestle them to the ground, then restrain them and cut their manes and tails. The scissor-cuts are frenzied and brutal, and can harm the panicked animals.

 

Source: Joaquin Gomez Sastre

 

The horses are then branded and returned to the mountain after the last day of Rapa das Bestas. The villagers from Sabucedo insist that this practice helps them protect the animals; they mark them to identify them. But the brutality of the event traumatizes the horses. What's more, cutting the mane and tail from a horse makes them less able to protect themselves against insects.

 

Source: Joaquin Gomez Sastre

 

Nothing is being done to stop this barbaric practice. Even worse, Spanish authorities seem to be encouraging it, in elevating it to the status of protected tradition. Change must come from tourists who, by going to watch, endorse Rapa das Bestas.

 

Watch a video of this "celebration" below:

 

 

H/t: 30 Millions d'amis

 

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