Use with carriages shortening horses’ life expectancy by 90 percent: Report
ISTANBULHorses that are used to pull carriages in places like Istanbul’s Prince Islands have an average life expectancy of just two years rather than the standard 20, according to a report from an animal rights group, Turkish news portal Bianet has reported.
“The approximate life expectancy for horses is 20 years. But the life expectancy of horses which are used with carriages is two years after they start working,” said Elif Narin, an activist from the “Don’t ride phaetons, horses die” initiative.
The Animal Rights Watch Committee (HAKİM) issued a report on May 9 about horses that were being used with carriages in Turkey, stating that 1,540 horses were working on 272 carriages on the Prince Islands in Istanbul, 230 of which are on Büyükada, the largest of the islands.
Some 400 horses die due to accidents or squalid conditions every year, the report said.
“The number of 400 is just the number of dead horses which were buried by the municipality. But we know that a number of injured horses are left to their fate in the forests. A number of horse corpses have been observed under the sea. We guess that about 700-800 horses die every year,” she said.
Narin said horses were also used with carriages in touristic destinations such as İzmir, Antalya and Kuşadası.
It is unnatural for horses to be running on such steep hills as seen on Büyükada, Narin said.
“There are a lot of steep hills on the islands. Running horses on asphalt roads and steep hills is against their nature. If the asphalt is broken into pieces, the horses stumble and injure themselves,” she added.
At the same time, many horses “crack,” that is, dying from overeating.
“If they run after eating and drinking, they can experience ‘cracking.’ So, they were running without food and water. This is very distressing. People join the queue to ride in a [horse carriage]. Pregnant horses are also run on the paths of island,” she said.
“We have also heard a number of incidents in which injured horses are thrown from boats. We do not know if they are real or not. But we have seen some pictures showing dead horses lying on the seabed,” she added.
The management of horse carriages has been monopolized, Narin said, adding that operating a carriage was like acquiring a license plate for a taxi.
“All carriages in Büyükada are managed by a few people. For example, a person can rent a carriage for six month. This person runs the horses into the ground to make up for the money that he pays in rent,” she said.
Narin also said there was no medical center for horses on Büyükada.
“There are horses everywhere but there is no veterinary or medical center. Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality sets the prices for the carriages, but nothing is done for the health of horses,” she said.
Narin also stated that electric carriages could be an alternative for horse carriages.