PETA Global 2018 Issue 3

Raja: © Rahul Deshpande • Car: © Dinodia Photos/Alamy Stock Photo • Blood: © • Photo frame: © • Borders: ©

PETA India Sets Out to Stop Nightmares for White Mares


W ho would ever suspect that horses used in Hindu and Sikh marriage ceremonies are in pain? You might well wonder why they don’t buck during the baraat – a procession in which the groom rides a white mare – as they must be driven insane by the blasting trumpets, pounding drums, and exploding firecrackers. There’s a sinister reason. During her recent visit to India, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk helped an animal charity supported by PETA India spot blood trickling from the corners of the mouth of a mare rented for weddings. Veterinarians approached and found the cause: a barbaric spiked bit in her mouth, which was keeping her still by the threat of pain. The team confiscated the bit, loosened a decorative wrap that was causing her leg to swell, and had a word with the groom. Although banned, such torture devices are still widely used, including while cruelly training mares to “dance” to a drumbeat. This summer, PETA India, with the help of the Delhi Police, conducted an enforcement drive during which they confiscated more than 50 spiked bits. The team also seized four malnourished, injured horses, who were sent to a sanctuary. PETA India is urging authorities to protect horses by banning the manufacture, import, and sale of the bits – and by charging anyone caught using them. AWedding March of Misery During India’s wedding season, rented horses work nearly nonstop, from early morning until late at night, going from one ceremony to the next without a break. At other times, they’re kept tied up tightly in filthy, fly- infested stalls, standing in their own waste and often tethered by a back leg as well. They have no opportunity to exercise, and many suffer from painful foot problems – including canker (unwanted tissue growth), thrush (an infection), and painful inflammation of the hoof – as a result of being forced to stand on hard concrete. When wedding season resumes, the sudden increase in activity causes many to succumb to exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis, which can cause a breakdown of

muscles, lameness, and even death. Some horses are kept so dehydrated and exhausted that they collapse.

Kind Couples Say I Don’t to Cruelty The custom of having the groom ride a white horse may have originated hundreds of years ago, when women were often abducted from their weddings by armed bandits who stormed the event on horseback. As India’s Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi observed, “This is not a prince that is coming to claim his princess – this is a young man overdressed in silks and jewels with a lampshade on his head and garland of money around his neck, pretending he is a kidnapper about to do the unspeakable act of taking a young girl against her will and holding her to ransom.” Couples who are part of the trend of rejecting this inhumane tradition and the suffering that it causes include Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma and cricket team captain Virat Kohli, actor Shahid Kapoor and wife Mira Rajput, Grand Slam–winning tennis player Sania Mirza and cricket player Shoaib Malik, style icons Sonam Kapoor and Anand Ahuja, and many others. PETA India is determined to continue cracking down on spiked bits until all horses can live happily ever after.

The team confiscates a cruel spiked bit.

These torture devices are widely used.

I SAVED! Raja’s Dancing Days Are Over Raja was being taken to “dance” at a wedding when he fell from a transport truck, badly injuring his back. A PETA-sponsored charity ensured his rescue and rehabilitation. Now, he spends his days peacefully grazing in the company of his horse friends.

Take Action Now If you know anyone planning a baraat, urge them to watch PETA India’s video at and choose horsepower over horses with a fancy convertible or other vehicle.

Raja enjoys a snack at the sanctuary.


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