Horrendous Horse Fighting Blood Sport
Horse fighting — a vicious spectator blood sport that dates back 500 years — is still practiced today in parts of China, Indonesia, South Korea and in Mindanao in the southern Philippines.
blood-bath tournament took place in the town of Don Carlos in the Philippines which involved 54 horses, many of which had grisly injuries.
Picture this … the crowd cheers wildly in approval as the stallion sinks his teeth in the throat of his adversary. The terrified victim rears up on his hind legs and veers away in a desperate effort to flee — nowhere to turn — blood pouring into his eyes so he can no longer see, while his right ear is badly torn and covered in blood. The bloodier the injuries, the louder the crowd roars, stimulated by the gore, fury and intensity of the fighting.
The steed moves in for the coup de grace, kicking the weaker horse in the head again and again with his front hooves, who soon collapses to the ground, lying there panting in a massacre of defeat.
Horse fighting has become a hugely popular sport, as thousands flock to watch the bloodbaths, including countless children. Many of the adults at this spectacle were drunk and spent their time gambling and jeering at the battling animals.
quickly covered in gashes and bites while others limped around the arena with a glazed look in their eyes as they pitifully attempted to escape.
“These tournaments are truly barbaric.” says Andrew Plumbly of the Network for Animals welfare group, which has been campaigning to bring these savage tournaments to a halt.
“Our vets have seen horses being kicked in the head so hard that their eyes have popped out of their sockets. Other horses have had their ears ripped off. It’s straight out of the Middle Ages.”
To get the stallions into a fighting rage, they’re whipped into a hostile frenzy by the presence of a young mare ‘in season’ which is staked to the ground in the middle of the muddy arena.
Completely overcome by desire, the stallions attack one another in attempt to defeat their sexual rivals. “Horses often die in the ring from exhaustion or their injuries.” says Plumbly.
The tournament is equally traumatic for the mare used as bait for the steeds. Not only was the mare in this horse fight repeatedly hit by stray blows from the dueling horses, but she was also required to mate with the victorious stallions from each fight — mounted as much as 30 times during one tournament which can last up to 6 hours.
Aside from the physical pain and wounds incurred by the Stallions, the mares are also subjected to animal cruelty, as they’re injected with hormones to keep them in heat for prolonged periods.
care is often too expensive for most owners, so wounded horses are typically killed for their meat with the choicest cuts barbecued and sold to the crowd. A similar fate holds true for horses deemed too old or too weak to fight as they’re ’sacrificed’ by pitting them against much stronger stallions. Some break their legs as they desperately try to escape.
Even though horse fighting is illegal in the Philippines, corruption and lack of enforcement ensure that the tournaments carry on — and with apparent official sanction as they’re featured on TV, and local businesses sponsor horses and tournaments. Local authorities even offer prize money. Thousands of dollars are bet on fights — a small fortune in a desperately poor country.
The matches are promoted as a ‘cultural tradition,’ when in fact they’re organized and controlled for the most part by crime syndicates who rake in vast profits from gambling.
are bred specifically for horse to horse combat, while some are acquired by promoters for their size and sturdiness and trained for fighting.
Network for Animals wants to build clinics to treat injured horses and to educate local people about caring for animals and encouraging tourists to avoid the southern Philippines.
“If people want to help stop these tournaments they should write to their embassy and tell them that they will not visit these islands.” says Plumbly.
“The threat of a loss of tourism money will help bring this despicable blood sport to an end.”
Yet in another dusty arena set in Guizhou, China, with wild, rolling eyes filled with a mixture of fear and hatred, nostrils flaring, blood already flecking their ragged flanks, two stallions rise on hind legs to fight one another.
them as they bite, kick and snort, a keyed up, cheering crowd takes bets on which one will triumph. While animal welfare groups condemned the horse-fighting tradition celebrated by China’s Miao ethnic group in Rongshui county, Guangxi province, locals pointed out that it’s been going on for 500 years.
The fighting, part of the summer Xinhe festival which asks for blessings on newly planted crops is even included on some tourist itineraries in South West China.
“It is nothing but barbaric.” said Vivian Farrell, president of the International Fund For Horses, which has led campaigns to ban horse fighting. “It’s cruel and inhumane and I don’t know why they do it.”
While tourist guides tell tales of teams of horses being led into the makeshift arena to the sound of gunfire and a reed pipe band, they fail to mention that the stallions are whipped into a frenzy.
Vivian Farrell said, “They will rear at each other and kick and bite in the bid to show whose bloodline is superior. Sometimes the fights last 10 minutes — sometimes they go on for half an hour.”
people, the fifth largest of 56 ethnic groups recognized by the People’s Republic of China, regard the fighting as ‘thrilling, exciting and fascinating.’
One guide explains how two teams of horses, specially selected to be ‘plump, sturdy and energetic,’ are led to the arena and then pitted against each other one by one. They bite each other, turn their hooves and kick the other side heavily.
If one horse falls down or runs away, the other one is declared the winner and another 2 take their place. The winning horses then fight each other.
While the losers are led away to **** their wounds, the sweat-soaked champion is draped in red while his owner ‘feels very proud for having such a brave and strong steed.’
Karen Chisholm, from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said countries often defended horse fighting as a tradition, but “torturing these magnificent animals in the name of entertainment is deplorable”.
“Tradition never justifies cruelty and this has no place in a civilized society.” she said.
The horses are often bred specifically for combat. Stallions that don’t immediately engage in battle are whipped, or gunshots are fired to provoke them. The stallion left standing is declared the winner.
The International Fund for Horses says competing horses are often ill-matched, resulting in gruesome injuries and even death to the weaker opponent.
“While tradition has long been used to legitimize horse fighting, money and gambling appears to be the real reason for its continued existence”.
Promoter Kim Byong of South Korea denies the blood-sport is cruel, on an island where horses are usually traded for meat and medicine, and few are sentimental about watching the proud animals fight.
“Horsefighting simply brings out that basic instinct in an animal.” says Byong.
The stallions are awarded marks for the number of bites and kicks they land on their opponent, and weaker horses are sometimes killed. The organizers are hoping the sport will catch on with tourists — and if the spectacle of the fighting fails to draw them there’s always the celebratory horsemeat barbecue to follow.
The Fight to End Horse Abuse
“One of the most disturbing things about these images is the crowd of sadists (and children who are too young to know any better) who look on and smile — as if they were at a football game rather than a ritual torture.” says PETA.
PETA Asia Pacific is working to raise awareness about this hideous blood sport, and will continue to fight the ludicrous notion that ‘tradition’ can justify torture in this or any circumstance.
• For more information on NFA campaigns and how you can help, visit Network for Animals, or donate International Fund for Horses, where you can find out more on their website.
Not all of the images in the following clips are cases of neglect, but they do reveal what horses go through. They are bona fide cases, authentic pictures, real horses and their actual lives. Whether they died of natural causes or those inflicted upon them by humans, they still suffered a great deal.
More than 94,000 horses go to slaughter each year, strictly for human consumption. Over 1 million suffer from Neglect.