Horse Fighting: Fact Sheet - The Fund for Horses

Horse Fighting: Fact Sheet - The Fund for Horses

Horse Fighting: Fact Sheet

What is horse fighting?

Horses are herd animals, and in natural circumstances will not only engage in battle for leadership of their group, but also for mating purposes. In this environment, Stallions do not fight to the death, but until one of them backs down or flees. This is nature's way of ensuring that the strongest bloodlines are responsible for the procreation of their kind. Horse fighting, or horse to horse combat, is a barbaric spectator sport where these circumstances are simulated in order to make two stallions, or male horses, fight each other in a controlled environment. Events are conducted before wildly cheering crowds who are stimulated by the blood, gore, fury and intensity of the fighting.

Where does horse fighting take place?

Horse fighting has now been outlawed almost worldwide. It still thrives, however, in countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, China and South Korea. Brutal and inhumane, these spectacles can be anything from featured events in annual fiestas and thanksgiving festivals to scrappy events put together by locals for the purposes of an afternoon's gambling and entertainment, or to honor a special guest. Horse fighting takes place in city stadiums or abandoned playing fields in remote villages and provinces. In more highly populated areas they may also be conducted at a local racetrack.

Where do the horses come from?

Some horses are bred specifically for horse to horse combat. However, some are acquired by promoters for their size and sturdiness and trained for fighting.

How do they make the horses fight?

To start the competition, two Stallions are brought in. A mare in heat is then presented to them and removed. Horses who do not immediately engage in a battle for her are whipped into a fury or gunshots fired to incite them through fear.

As the Stallions rise in combat, they bite, kick and strike each other with their hooves, inflicting serious wounds and injuries until one of them either succumbs, flees or is killed. The Stallion left standing is declared the winner.

Aside from the physical pain and wounds incurred by the Stallions, the mares are also subjected to animal cruelty, as they are injected with hormones to keep them in heat for the prolonged periods.

How long do horse fights last?

In festivals, a series of pairs are brought in to fight. The winners of these bouts then fight each other, until all are eliminated but the final two. In the deciding contest, the ultimate winner is declared the champion who is decorated with a special blanket and cheered by the crowd. It is considered a great honor to own the winning horse.

In provincial horse fights, stallions compete in a series of one-off matches. Competing horses are often ill-matched which results in gruesome injuries and even death to the weaker opponent.

What happens to the horses that lose?

Depending on the owner or promoter, horses who are not mortally wounded or suffer superficial wounds may be treated for future fights. These horses, however, are considered weak and their lives spared for more sinister purposes. In their next bout, they will be pitted against a superior opponent and will most likely be maimed or killed. In doing so, promoters ensure that spectators get the blood and gore they demand and expect.

For horses who are not treated for their injuries, this means their careers as equine gladiators are over, and they are either shot or slaughtered. It has been reported by visitors that in the remote areas of Asian countries, some of the horses are butchered at horse fighting events, and a cookout held for the spectators.

Why does horse fighting still go on?

Countries staging horse fights defend it as a cultural tradition that has gone on for hundreds of years, and resist any attempts to ban it. While tradition has long been used to legitimize horse fighting, money and gambling appears to be the real reason for its continued existence.

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"From my earliest memories, I have loved horses with a longing beyond words." ~ Robert Vavra