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Happier horses?

No work when it's hot

palma galera

Palma Council has introduced yet more new measure to ensure the health and safety of the horses which pull the carriages filled with sightseeing tourists around the city. They've introduced new rules which prevent the horses working when the temperatures rise as they are creatures which are particularly affected by the heat.

The plan is that when the State Meteorological Agency AEMET issues an orange or red weather alert – always a day in advance – the carriage drivers can not operate between the hours of 12:00 and 17:00.

It has to be said that Palma Council has a pretty good record on animal welfare in general but the subject of these horse drawn carriages in Palma is an intensely polemic one. Animal rights and welfare organisations are constantly campaigning against them and the latest 'Stop Galeras' (galera = carriage) wants them taken off the streets entirely and replaced by 'antique' electric vehicles.

Despite mandatory annual tests and checks on both the horses and carriages there are many complaints from the public about the poor state of the horses - some have collapsed in the street – the overloading of the carriages with people, and the danger; one horse got loose on a main street and damaged four cars in its panic.

The problem the council face is that all the drivers are Gitanos, Romani people from the south of Spain and every time the council try to improve the lot of the horses, the drivers play the 'racial discrimination' card, with their spokesperson recently claiming that the council wouldn't say anything if the drivers weren't Gitanos.

Personally I wouldn't dream of taking a tour in a galera and I really hope that the new measure provides some relief for the horses.