Mallorca is the largest island in the Balearic Islands, part of Spain — located in the Mediterranean. In the city of Palma there are 28 horse drawn carriages. Fifteen of them are based by the Cathedral, eight on Calle Conqueridor and five in Arenal.
Rafael Suárez is one of just a few drivers at the Cathedral who is willing to give his name. One of the other drivers says: “We don’t want to give out names because they go looking for us on social media in order to insult and threaten us.”
We are not surprised but of course do not support harassment, if that is indeed going on. The drivers may be exaggerating, which is often the case when anyone says anything even remotely critical of the horse drawn carriage trade. The reality is, however, that it is a cruel and despicable business.
These drivers take it a step further. “The animal rights people only know how to complain and report. They are inciting hatred. They mistreat us. It’s a campaign of harassment and destruction. It’s not nice to have to say it, but it’s because of racism; that’s the conclusion.” Possibly. But we believe this is in fact all about the abuse of the horses.
What is so very disconcerting is that many of the horses employed by the carriage horse trade in this instance are cast offs from horse racing. Haven’t their lives been hell already?
Driver Antonio Suárez, trying to cast it all in a more positive light states, “We prevent the deaths of the horses —bearing in mind that they come from the racetrack. If it weren’t for us, when they’re no good for racing, they would end up in the slaughterhouse to make dog food. With us they have food, insurance, examinations. Of some 200, we have saved 20 or 30.”
So . . . . only 20 or 30 horses out of 200 racehorses missed getting to sent to slaughter this time around. Is there anywhere in the world where racehorses are not routinely dumped in slaughterhouses when their racing careers are over?
In the Mallorca tourist destinations of Alcúdia, Palma, and Sant Llorenç des Cardassar, dozens of exhausted horses are forced to pull carriages laden with tourists through the busy streets. Many of the debilitated animals collapse — especially in the summer, when temperatures regularly reach 40°C (104°F. Others get caught up in noisy traffic, which often leads to accidents – the honk of a car’s horn or even just an insect bite can be enough to trigger the horses’ instinct to bolt.
Carriage horse drivers could avoid all their troubles if they would simply convert to electric carriages. All they have to do is charge them up and off they go — no stabling expenses; no bedding, hay and food to buy; no health care costs; no maintenance items such as shoeing or having the horses’ teeth ‘floated’ — and no criticism, heckling and ‘harassment’ from the public or those tiresome animal rights people.
What we are doing
The Fund for Horses, working as the Int’l Fund for Horses, are already in contact with the Mallorcan government and Palma officials about transitioning from horse drawn carriages to electric carriages.
There are so many wonderful examples in countries large and small outside the U.S. who love their electric carriages, and best of all so do their customers.
Beginning in 2017, Mayor Enrique Alfaro Ramírez, of Guadalajara, Mexico replaced the carriages that traversed the city’s historic center with electric-powered replicas.
There are also a few gas-powered carriages in certain parts of Mexico. Mérida was the first city in the state to begin using gas-powered buggies, which it did in November 2019. Motul, Yucatán, has become the second city in the state to replace horse-drawn carriages with motorized ones following pressure by animal rights activists to abandon the practice, citing animal cruelty. They were instructed to find a dignified retirement home for the now prohibited horses, which was followed up on to make sure they did.
Horse-drawn carriages have been banned in Cozumel, Quintana Roo, since May 2020 citing that the practice violates the State’s animal welfare laws.
Featured image: PeTA UK