06/04/13 Horses are Competing in Dragging Logs

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Ministry of Agriculture
Mr Tihomir Jakovina, Minister
Ulica grada Vukovara 78
10000 Zagreb

June 4, 2013

Dear Mr Jakovina,

We are writing to you regarding the events where horses are competing in dragging logs or "slajs" or "straparijada" that are being held in Lic in Gorski kotar, Bater near Novi Vinodolski, Backe Ostarije and other parts of Croatia.

In these events logs sometimes weighing a ton are being brought in, and horses singly or as a pair drag the massive logs, most often in deep mud. Even though the organizers stipulate that the horses should not be whipped, in practice horses are heavily abused by being lashed until they bleed, stabbed with sticks with metal ends and struck by hand. Horses are, exclusively for human fun, exposed to completely unnecessary physical efforts, screams and shouts of the crowd, car noise, heat and no shelter from the strong sun, and during the competition, ranting of the horse owners' kids, who pull the horses tails or hit them with the whip whilst they are tied up. As they have very sensitive hearing, exposure to noise causes them panic and fear. Integral part of these competitions is also illegal betting to the amount of several tens of thousands of euros.

Apart from the general provision of the Animal Protection Act which forbids causing animals pain, suffering and injury, as well as intentionally exposing them to fear: forcing animals into behavior that causes them pain, suffering, injuries or fear and their exposure to the unfavorable temperatures and weather conditions, it is also forbidden to use animals for performance or competitions "if they are during this forced into unnatural behavior or animals are caused pain, suffering, injuries or fear" (Article 4, paragraph 2, item 11).

Considering that during competitions horses are exposed to mistreatment and forced into unnatural behavior that causes them pain, suffering, injuries and fear, the log dragging competitions are being held illegally. This is why, pursuant to provisions of the Animal Protection Act, log dragging competitions for horses are forbidden by the Act, so it is in the interest of the Ministry of Agriculture, animal protection associations, as well as all the citizens of Croatia to ensure this ban is also conducted in practice, which is not currently the case. In order to prevent further violation of the Act, we expect the veterinary inspection to ban every single event of horse log dragging competition.

Apart from the fact that the horse log dragging competition is already forbidden by the Act, ban on exploitation and abuse of horses should be consistently carried out also by future amendments to the Animal Protection Act by banning horse exploitation as a so called working animal. In 21st century using horses as work force is neither ethical nor necessary, especially in light of developing modern agriculture in Croatia where, next to up to date mechanisation and following of the developed methods in agriculture of European Union, there is no room for old fashioned and humanly totally unacceptable animal treatment.

Due to the above we request that the Ministry of agriculture and veterinary inspections enforce the Animal Protection Act, i.e. specifically ban every single horse log dragging competition event. At the same time we request that in the next Animal Protection Act amendment using horses as so called work animals is banned, in order to ensure effective animal protection.

We remain at your disposal for additional information and collaboration.

Kind regards,

Luka Oman



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