Today was the 814th time this yearly horsemarket in Zuidlaren took place. 1512 horses and ponies and 25 donkeys were present at the market, fewer than last year. Generally speaking the condition of the animals was satisfactory. There were some horses that were rather thin, as is not unusual for this type of market. The arrangements where the animals could be tied up were good and hay had been distributed by tractors the night before as were large water containers. Banners were placed on the containers informing the owners that every half hour water had to be offered to the animals. Plenty of bright yellow buckets were made available by the market organizers to do so.
We saw three draught-horses with docked tails, one of which one was docked in a “legal” manner. The other two were cut after 09/01/2001, the date when tail-docking was banned in The Netherlands. Obviously the horses’ passports had not been correctly checked at the entrance. NVWA took notice of this fact but soon after the two horses “disappeared” from the market.
Shetland ponies are still a difficult lot as far as loading, unloading and walking goes. They don’t readily follow when being led by a rope and often take a firm stand. Their handlers would lose patience and pull their tails, causing us to try to ask them to stop. In one case DB and EonA intervened when a tiny shetland stumbled, fell down and was too tired to get up again. The DB filmed this incident and a veterinarian came to look into the matter.
We were quite happy to see that the organisation complied with our request to give the donkeys shelter from the rain. Unlike horses and ponies, donkeys do not have a water-proof fur coat. Rain leaks right through their fur and they get thoroughly wet and cold. When it started to rain owners were admonished by loudspeakers to put their donkeys in a sheltered place and cover them with an appropriate blanket. This rule was mentioned in the complimentary protocol of this market. Two donkeys were fitted with brand new rainblankets, one already had one. But the others did not have any protection. Their owners turned out to be ignorant of the fact that donkeys need protection against the rain.
EonA, Db and the veterinarian informed them about donkeys’ fur and their need to be covered when it rains.
A very positive change was the presence of a mobile pen at the market. In case of calamities animals could be isolated and treated. This is a very welcome supplement to the horses-ambulance that is already present in case an animal needs to be removed from the market altogether.
Another improvement were the walkie-talkies EonA and DB were supplied with in order to communicate. Moreover the DB-people at the information desk, the veterinarians and the EonA-people were fitted out with fluorescent vests carrying the name of the organisation. This was very beneficial for the communication and cooperation. Also the NVWA was easily accessible for us.
Because of the rain and the fierce wind the market ended earlier than other years.
EonA is very pleased with the endeavours and attitude of the Board of the Zuiderlaarder Market, the Market Master. In general the course of the market was also good. The behaviour of some of the handlers (the way they treated their animals and their agressive tone of voice when addressed by visitors and animal-welfare people) is however still in need of improvement.