Once again, the annual tradition of the “Rapa das Bestas” (Galician for the shearing of the beast) has taken place in the northwest of Spain. The event involves driving wild horses into a village to shear their manes and tails.
The “Rapas das Bestas” is an ancient Galician tradition, and is celebrated in various villages in Spain. Early in the morning, the male inhabitants of a village go into the surrounding mountains, where they look for wild horses. Once they have found these horses, the animals are driven down to the village. In the village, the horses are gathered in a so-called “curro“.
Then the marking of the horses begins. Two “aloitadores” (Galician for fighters) stand at the head of the horse and one at the tail. The men then try to hold the horse with their bare hands in order to shear the mane and tail. In addition, a mark is cut into the animal’s coat. In this way, the respective “aloitadores” mark it as their property. After the procedure, the mares and foals are usually released. Stallions, on the other hand, are often sold for slaughter. In the evening, a big party is held in the village to celebrate the success of the hunt.
Here, you can see some pictures from this years hunt:
Criticism from animal welfare organisations
Animal rights activists mainly criticise the stress that the animals suffer from the hunt. In addition, it is very common for mares and foals to get lost in the chaos of the hunt and no longer find each other. This reduces the foal’s chances of survival after the hunt. Furthermore, the shearing of mane and tail is criticised too. As a result of the shearing, the animals lack considerable protection against insects.