Still No Action to Protect Horses

March 28, 2019

The MSPCA wants to see action before more horses suffer and die from exhaustion and folklore husbandry.




Every utility role historically occupied by horses has been filled by technology, making its role in transportation a dubious tradition. Therefore it is time to accept that it is no longer justifiable to perpetuate the practice of inflicting slavery on these animals for transportation and perhaps it is time that we stop flagging tradition as excuse. The only role left for the horse to occupy is that of companion animal and leisure. In every other aspect of our society we have accepted that new knowledge informs our practices today, which have overwhelmingly shot most traditions down one by one. 


Most laws regulating the keeping and treatment of horses aim to reduce their impact on human activities. Animal welfare consideration in laws on horses are sparse and weak. This leaves horses unprotected from cruel slavery and folklore husbandry[1]. The result of folklore husbandry is a failure to provide animals with one or more of their 5 welfare needs and shows inadequate education of the keeper. 


The MSPCA wants to see subsidiary legislation to set up minimum standards for the keeping of all horses, much like the recently introduced Keeping of Dogs Regulation AND for such laws to be enforced. We understand that there are different settings in which horses interact with humans and each setting requires an added layer of protection.


Although the MSPCA is convinced that there is  no necessity for horses to be used in transportation, while they are still a reality we live with, we would like to see a legally defined heat index range when horses are not allowed to be used for transport or sports. Although temperature has been suggested as the parameter to measure when deciding whether a horse should be worked, science clearly shows that humidity is as relevant because even at low temperatures it reduces the animal's ability to dissipate body heat that arises from exercise. Other factors such as the maximum incline, maximum load and working hours need to be limited to reduce harm as much as possible. 



The MSPCA believes that horses, whether kept for work or leisure, deserve to be housed to a minimum standard that protects their 5 freedoms. This includes parameters on how all horses are to be kept in stables pertaining to size of enclosure, the necessity to be housed with other horses and the equipment allowed in the handling of horses. The MSPCA strongly believes Malta needs to move away from the window dressing actions of the past and start doing and implementing legislation that actually produces protection for animals. For Malta to evolve into a country that takes actions that work, politicians need to accept that some (or even many) people must get upset.


Bil-Malti (nizzel id-dokument minn din il-holqa)



[1] Folklore husbandry is an emerging term describing the phenomenon of unevidenced, pseudoscientific, convenience-led habit and opinion handed down from one ill-informed animal keeper to the next. 

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