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Another year has begun and reflecting on past the year there has been a lot of positive progress along with all the frustration of not being able to achieve more than we have. We have come across terrible situations where it was impossible to achieve any type of solution due to the lack of legislation to back our work. In some provinces animal welfare laws have still not been made statute and where there are laws they are not strong enough for any kind of deterrent. It is very difficult to understand why so many authorities act so differently from one area to another on blatant cruelty. We have had a good response from the authorities of some areas and they have tried to be as helpful as possible whereby in others to their shame just do not want to know. They can not even comprehend why there should be such fuss over an equine that is after all just an animal. So unfortunately the results greatly depend on whom ever checks out the denouncers report and where they are from, plus whether they have any interest in animals welfare or not.

Much of the lobbying by animal organisations throughout Spain are for laws to be implemented or amended for domestic animals, but equine need a voice also, and it could be that of yours. Many cruelty reports are where the owner has no idea of the cost or the needs of keeping an equine and subsequently the animal suffers without there being cruel intent, just born from complete ignorance to the animal’s requirements. We are trying to run education programs where possible because if someone buys an equine for the first time they need to be able to acquire practical advice. We have seen people pay high prices for fabulous Andalucian horses but within a few months their horse has died of colic or other problems due to neglect, just because their equine knowledge was non existent. One of the objectives for SEPE in 2,002 must be to get more educational programs underway and produce free welfare literature. Sadly still much advice is given over the counter of a bar from one horseman to another with very few having any recognised education in equine welfare. It would be a real step forward if all the equestrian Federations and major breed associations could finally agree on a Spanish equine monitor exam system that could be implemented and accepted nationally.

Although we have limited rescue facilities ourselves we have very been fortunate to have so many people contacting us to say they will take in an abandoned or retired equine. So we have been able to find many new homes for equines throughout Spain by putting other people in touch with someone who has an equine in need of a good home.

Our collaboration with the Donkey Sanctuary has been of great benefit to the donkeys, mules and other equine in Spain and their sponsorship of a field officer, which has helped us to get donkey welfare reports, checked out much more speedily. The Donkey Sanctuary has in the past been a great supporter of the ongoing campaigns with the donkey welfare situations at places such as Villanueva and Mijas. We would like to express our gratitude to Paul Svendson and the trustees of the Donkey Sanctuary for their welfare work here and trying to make Spain a better place for the donkey. We have now taken on a small sanctuary as a joint project with them and would appreciate any assistance our supporters can give the project. Their expertise with donkeys is renowned worldwide and the production of literature for equine veterinary is of great value. Without the support of such charities and the constant lobbing for laws to be implemented, there will be no significant changes made.

Equine transportation for equine going to markets and abattoirs is a major concern in all of Europe and another issue where we are especially involved. We have had reports coming in from various other charities that Spanish equines are travelling on to France and Italy from Spain for slaughter without the regulated stops, which are compulsory. It is impossible to get any accurate figures on equine meat production within Spain but on the EEC figures we have acquired, Spain is below France and well below Italy in equine meat production but these figures do not give any estimation of live animals exported from Spain. One has to accept that many feral ponies are bred for this purpose and have been slaughtered for centuries and it would be an impossible task to ever find homes for the thousands of equine that go to the slaughter house each year. Although when you see horses that were someone's pet standing in a dealers yards, waiting for their long last journey to the slaughter yards of Europe, it is hard to not to ask ourselves why their former owners did not have the decency to have their equine put down humanly? For most the slaughter price could have been of the uppermost importance unless they had a dependency on this, such as some rural farmers.

We often criticise publicly situations where there is serious mistreatment of equine but we should also give praise when there is an improvement on improving equine welfare. The committee of the Rocio along with the authorities and police there, last year really did get their act together. In past years there has been an unacceptably high number of equine deaths, this year we did not have a single report. We can only say well done and keep the good work up to all concerned.

With the whole world of horse lovers looking to Spain when the Jerez 2,002 world equestrian games start in September, can it be right that a horse can still be beaten to death without any retribution within Andalucia? We ask what happened to the Treaty of Amsterdam? The Treaty, which was agreed in June 1997, and was officially signed by the Member States of the European Union on 2nd October 1997 and entered into force on the 1st May 1999. We urge people, to write to the European Commissioner, David Byrne, Dg Health and Consumer Protection, European Commission, Rue de la Loi 200, 1049 Brussels. Maybe he can explain why the EEC makes such treaties without any intention of having them enforced.

The carousel ponies are another major concern and bring us in large amount of complaints. We are always being urged by international charities such as ILPH, WEO and WSPA to do something to improve their welfare. We personally find their situation a difficult one to handle as they do not appear to be suffering in a physical way whilst working on the carousel, and we have not found any that were beaten or underweight. Although we had previously been involved on a joint campaign with the ILPH after there had reports of foals on the carousel running around the carousel after their mothers to feed. The fact that they can spend up to 12 hours going round in a circle without a break, seems like a good reason why someone invented the mechanical carousel. What concerned us most at many Feria’s, which we visited, was that of the stabling conditions during the day. There was normally nothing prepared to give the ponies any shade in the daytime, so they were mostly all put back in the trucks. The temperatures within many of these trucks in mid summer would certainly be enough to kill some animals, and when we asked the feria presidents why, they could not understand the fuss. Maybe we should shut a few feria presidents in a truck in the mid-day heat and then ask them if they then could understand why the ponies needed shade. Perhaps also they would also like to do a 12-hour shift without a break going around in a small circle after being baked all day!

Several new projects will get underway early in the New Year, some joint ventures with other charities, which will benefit equine. But most of our work can only become a reality with your assistance as we need all those who care about equine to give us their support, so we can make at least some improvements in the lives for many discarded pets and ex-sporting partners. We are also looking for people with the expertise that would be able to collaborate with us, on courses for starting and the natural training of equine. We also need some further representatives with spare time in many major cities with whom we can liase with, and promote SEPE’s work within their own equine community.

Many people have contacted us via E-mails with offers of facilities from all over Spain but then change their E-mails so we can not keep in touch. Please always leave an address and a telephone number also and inform us of any change of E-mail address as we have lost a large proportion of the SEPE database as they have now been changed. We also had a virus that bypassed our anti virus program in our computer system and we lost a lot of contact data. So please contact once again to re-send us your details.

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men"
~ St. Francis of Assisi

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