Five Outrageous Horse Events
 By Winniefield Park   •   16th Sep 2013   •   2,876 views   •   1 comments
Five Outrageous Horse Events

Most of us do everything we can to keep our horses safe, content and comfortable. It's hard to imagine that not everyone thinks that way. Here are a few horse events that leave horse lovers shaking their heads.

Appleby Horse Fair
This celebration of Gypsy and Traveller lifestyle attracts thousands of visitors each year. Attractions include horse trading, a parade, races and swims. However, over the years, complaints of abuse have surfaced. Video taken by animal welfare officials show horses, some with foals alongside, being ridden or led down a steep ramp into a river, so they can be 'washed'. If the animal refuses it's pushed, kicked, screamed at and whipped by bystanders. Horses fall off the embankment alongside of the ramp. Once in the water, they are led or ridden into water over their heads. Riders and handlers appear to forcibly immerse their horse's heads, and this has led to one horse drowning in recent years. Even children are encouraged to lead ponies, kicking them and hauling them into the muddy river. Fortunately, the RSPCA has increased its presence, and fewer incidents were reported this year than ever.

Horse Fighting
Horse fighting has been banned in most countries, but there are still a few places where it is practised. Horse fighting involves pitting two stallions against each other. As incentive, a mare is tied in the ring for the stallions to fight over, and she too can be injured during the matches. In a small arena, where there is no chance of escape, fights may last minutes or hours. Often, the last stallion standing is declared the winner.

Omak Horse Race
Called the Omak Suicide Race, this event is part of the three day Omak Stampede. The race, which participants compete in order to prove their courage and bravery, has been 'run' for more than 70 years. Horses and riders pelt down a steep hill into a fast-flowing river. A short flat area at the top of the hill is used to get the horses up to full gallop, fifteen at a time, before the plunge down the incline and into the water. Horses are tested for their soundness and willingness before the race, and and for the race, riders often wear helmets and lifejackets. No lifejackets for the horses, however. In the last 25 years, 21 horses have died of various injuries, including drowning.

Diving Horses
In the recent revitalization of the Atlantic City Boardwalk, it was proposed that the 'diving horses' attraction be revitalized. Diving horses were a popular spectacle in the late 1800s and continued until the 1970s. Horses were ridden up a long steep ramp to a diving platform up to sixty feet above a small pool. The horse would then appear to jump, with or without a rider, and dive into the water. Many horses didn't jump. It's been revealed that some ramps were hinged to drop out from under the horse. Animal-rights activists rightly quashed the 2012 proposal to bring back the diving horses.

Bull Fighting
Another event banned in most countries is bull fighting. However, it does continue in a few countries and part of the spectacle are the picadors. The picador's horses are blindfolded and covered in a thick quilted cloth, meant to protect them from the bull's horns. But, like the bulls, horses are likely to suffer injury and sometimes death during the 'fight'.

Is Tradition a Reason, or an Excuse?
Enthusiasts of these events most often cite the importance of tradition. What do you think? Is tradition ever an acceptable excuse for cruelty?

Image Credit: © Zuzana Buráňová |
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You could say the same about jumping, eventing and racing. Horses have died in each of these, but I see you didn't mention any of them.
No, I'm not against eventing or racing, but I am against saying one thing is cruel because one or two horses have died, but ignoring another thing, where hundreds of horses have died. Some of these are no more extreme than making a horse jump a solid 5ft jump or gallop however long a race is.
If that's acceptable, why are these classed as cruel?
Simply because eventing and racing are OUR traditions, whilst these are the traditions of other cultures. They probably look at our horse shows and shake their heads, calling it cruelty.
My point is, they have their traditions, and we have ours. Theirs may result in the death of horses, but ours do as well. Leave other people's cultures alone.
  Sep 16, 2013  •  3,962 views
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