09/20/23 Regularly whipped until bleeding, stung and beaten for fun and profits!

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Shocking: Animal Friends Croatia explains why two men brutally beat a horse in the Karlovac area

- After the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture rejected their proposal in 2016, Animal Friends Croatia reiterated their demands for a legal ban on horse logging

Animal Friends Croatia has stated that the strong reaction by the Croatian public to the distressing event is not settling down after last week’s arrest of two men maltreating a horse in the Karlovac area. Although the beaten horse has been temporarily seized by the authorities, there is a real possibility it may return to the stables of horror. Citizens shocked and perturbed by the horse abuse video have been contacting the group and asking for reasons behind this senseless horse beating. Animal Friends Croatia warns that the daily horse beating of all horses owned by the perpetrator will undoubtedly continue behind closed doors. The shocking reason for the flogging is that it is part of regular “preparation” for competitions held across Croatia.

“The Karlovac horse was abused for senseless entertainment and profits. Horse beating in stables ensures that, at heavy log pulling competitions, called šlajs or štraparijada, the horse is conditioned to pull a heavyweight, much beyond its physical capacity, only at the owner’s hand gesture for fear of beating. We demanded a legal ban on this abusive practice back in 2016, however, absurdly, the Ministry of Agriculture rejected the proposal claiming it was part of a tradition,” explains Snježana Klopotan Kačavenda, Animal Friends Croatia Project Coordinator.

Labeling it a so-called tradition, rather than a cruel entertainment act conjured up in a drunken bet of primitive men in a pub, Karlovac veterinarian Berislav Špigelski stated that the video of two men clearly beating an animal with two boards was wrongly interpreted as the horse was not being abused and that something else must have happened as the horse seemed to have ‘a difficult character’. Animal Friends Croatia expressed their concern over the veterinarian in their letter to the Croatian Veterinary Chamber claiming that he is an embarrassment to his profession due to his justification of animal maltreatment. The group warned that horse beating and maltreatment are common daily practices as animals are continually exposed to abuse.

Unfortunately, the video of the beating is not an exception but a rule! The maltreatment will not cease until the cause is removed, i.e. until štraparijada is banned!

Horse logging competitions take place in Lič in Gorski kotar, Baške Oštarije and other parts of the Lika-Senj County, Velika Gorica, Karlovac County, Bater near Novi Vinodolski and some other parts of Croatia. Horses are forced to pull logs, individually or in pairs, sometimes up to two tons in weight, and sometimes across deep mud.

“People who participate in competitions themselves but are perturbed by the abuse have told us that others often beat horses for up to an hour prior to the competition to “hype them up.” During the competition, they beat them with their hands, probe them with sticks with metal tips or even whip them until they bleed. Horses are exposed to heavy physical exertion, shouts and screams by the crowd, car noises, heat and strong sunshine before and during the competition. As they have a very sensitive sense of hearing, exposure to noise causes horses to fear and panic. The maltreatment is motivated by profits – the winner’s price shoots up to 10,000 euros, and abusers, who purchase horses cheaply and sell them at a much higher price, can earn up to or three annual salaries with two or three horses. Profits are also reaped on illegal betting worth several thousand euros. At three to five years of age, horses already end up in a slaughterhouse completely destroyed by the abuse,” explains Klopotan Kačavenda.

She adds that such treatment of horses, before, after and during competitions, is in contradiction with the provisions of the Animal Protection Act which bans animal exposure to pain, suffering and injury, purposeful exposure to fear and disease, forcing animals to certain behavior that causes them pain, suffering, injury or fear, and their exposure to unsuitable temperatures and weather conditions.

“Open horse abuse, illegal profits and illegal competitions are taking place in the government’s full sight. In our forthcoming amendments to the Animal Protection Act, we will reiterate our demand for a ban on this cruel and disgusting practice. We expect the Ministry of Agriculture not to turn a blind eye this time because it is impossible for the police and veterinary inspectors to monitor every stable in Croatia. We cannot allow tolerance of horse logging to preserve the so-called tradition used as a disguise for easy profits by individuals who will stop at nothing. Citizens of Croatia do not want such traditions!” concluded Klopotan Kačavenda.

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