Abuse of Horses on the Galapagos
Horses were brought to the Galapagos during the late 19th and early 20th centuries from Europe and the United States to be used as beasts of burden. No new horses have been allowed to be introduced since the formation of the Galapagos National Park in 1959.
Some horses have escaped and have been breeding on their own for over 100 years in wildlands on the islands, perhaps gradually forming a breed of their own. No one knows because they have not been studied.
Domestic horses on the islands are treated in ways that are not tolerated in many countries:
– bits are used that are capable of breaking their jaw bones.
– foal are broken at the age of about a year by tying heavy sacks of sand on their backs and leaving them tied to a tree for a week until they give up
– horses used for hunting are run on lava beds until their hooves crack and then left to die.
– they are tied to trees by the sides of roadways with little feed and no water
– they are slaughtered for BBQ, particularly during political election times
– they are commonly hit by trucks, busses, and cars.
– castrations and other surgery are done without anesthesia or immunization, many horses die agonizing deaths from tetanus
This sort of treatment is considered culturally “normal” on the islands.
The central, long-term goal of Galapagos Horse Friends is to gradually change the cultural values of the people of Galapagos to be respectful and caring of horses. This is an ambitious yet attainable goal given the human population is only around 30,000 people and the international visibility and economic dependence on tourism of the Galapagos.
We are making progress!
In the following pages are descriptions and images of specific instances of horse abuse on the Galapagos Islands.
Please be forewarned that these descriptions and images are ugly.