Is Rapa das Bestas, a Spanish Horse Wrestling Tradition, Cruel to Animals?Published July 10, 2012
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Accompanying the short article was a graphic slideshow of 38 photos in which men and women of all ages who were participating in the three day long 400-year-old Spanish festival held on July 6, "Rapa das Bestas” (translated into English as the "Shearing of the Beasts").
Rapa das Bestas originated in the 15th century, according to the Spanish Tourist Office. The festival takes place starting on the first Saturday in July each year in which folks have the opportunity to wrestle 600-700 untamed horses to the ground in order to shear their manes and tails and mark them with their bare hands.
According to Magazine Pass this festival in which humans engage in fighting horses body-to-body just to shear these beautiful wild horses demonstrates the participants’ courage, virility and independence.
While rounding up terrified wild horses, corralling and then wrestling them to the ground in order to assert their bravery is obviously appealing to those who participate in this festival, Animal Naturalist writer Ana Arnal considers this practice to be not only invasive, but highly stressful for these frightened horses.
The animals are forced to gallop without rest, food or water to the village in which the festival is held. Upon their arrival they are then forcibly penned into an overcrowded corral prior to being pulled violently from all directions and pulled to the ground to have their manes and tails cut. Arnal feels strongly that this is both abusive and inhumane. She said, "The horses are tired, stressed, afraid, do not know why they are there and why they have been deprived of freedom and will."
Horses are prey animals who roam their natural habitat peacefully. If they are confronted with danger, they will instinctively run from imperilment in preference to fighting. Presently there are horse lovers in Spain and throughout the world who deplore the 400 year-old festival. They are raising their voices in protest and signing petitions in order to bring this act of cruelty to animals to an end.
To this writer it seems that the Rapa das Bestas is another excuse for some members of the human species to engage in activities which are deemed a “sacred” tradition. The Bible tells us we have been given “dominion” over the animals, but does this give us a right to dominate these innocent creatures just to prove our superiority and to gain pleasure?
Tell us how you feel regarding the horse wrestling in a comment.