From midnight until early morning on October 10th, an Eyes on Animals team attended the horse market in Hedel. We were accompanied by two journalists of Animals Today, who themselves had invited a security guard of BBA-A (Bouncers Against Animal Abuse). The reason for these precautions was that two years ago they, and us, were physicially and verbally harassed by horse-traders at the horse market in Zuidlaren.
When we arrived, the market was almost empty and looked clean. There were several places where water and hay could be obtained by traders and here and there we saw straw on the ground.
Unfortunately this peace was disrupted as more horses and ponies were offloaded. Soon the atmosphere changed for the worse. Traders took offence when we expressed some opinions and like the last time we attended, physical aggression was the response when one of our team commented on a horse that came from the truck with a large bleeding wound on his hind leg.
Like before we saw quite a few violations of the law: animals tied up too tightly, animals not offered water, animals standing too close to one another causing stress and fighting, halters that cut into the eyesockets of ponies and several laming animals.
We spotted two NVWA employees and walked up to implore them to take action, but to our bewilderment they declared ‘not to have any intention to maintain the law’.
We reported this to the Dutch government (NVWA) inspectors walking around but they said they would not enforce the law. We later sent a written complaint in about this to the head office of the NVWA.
Our relationship with the people who organize the Hedel horsemarket is very warm and they have tried to do their best to welcome us and to improve the conditions for the animals. However, when good intentions are not supported by the people who should maintain the laws, failure lies ahead.
Horsemarkets remain an eyesore as far as animal wellfare goes and we are certainly not in favour of them, the way they are held. Horses and amusement fairs do not go together. As usual we will send a report of our conclusions to the proper authorities.