//Coach horses in Cartagena: Between tourism and abuse

Coach horses in Cartagena: Between tourism and abuse

The city of Cartagena in Colombia is well known for its great reputation as a tourist city. Cartagena coach horses play a key role in the city’s tourist activity. However, overexploitation has led horses to suffer deplorable conditions, abuse myself. Today we will know more about the coach horses in Cartagena, their tourism and the possible abuse that are their own.

Medieval Cartagena By Horse Drawn Carriage, Cartagena, Colombia | Celebrity Cruises

Cartagena de Indias – City of contrasts and history

Since 1991 Cartagena de Indias, as it is officially called, has been listed as a Tourist and Cultural District.

This wonderful port city is a melting pot of color either for its architecture or for the marine twilights.

Cartagena de Indias was one of the most important ports in America at the time of Spanish colonization. From that time there are numerous infrastructures representative of the time that represent a cultural heritage for the South American country.

Cartagena’s architecture of its time as part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada remains almost unchanged.

A city that has preserved its history and heritage to this day. That’s why it has become a tourist center of importance for those who like to discover its past.

Given its interesting architecture, tourists want a trip to the past, to colonial times. One of the great beneficiaries has been the horseback riding industry.

Cartagena’s coaching horses are a symbol of the city’s tourism but the owners are killing the “golden egg hen” with the mistreatment of the horses.

That is why today we will know a little more about the horses coachers, Cartagena, historical tourism and the life of mistreatment. Due to the ambition of some tour operators the horses are suffering and we must with our actions support their protection. Let’s move on.

Cartagena's historic center overlooking Bocagrande
Cartagena’s historic center overlooking Bocagrande

The History of Cartagena

Cartagena was blessed with a privileged position geopolitically speaking. That is why one of the largest cities of the Spanish viceroyalties settled there.

But that’s why Cartagena was also wanted by pirates, bandits and privateers. Their riches were a source of desire on the part of the other monarchies and the bandits who associated with them or did not operate in the area.

Because of this, the city of Cartagena was fortified with walls and canyons at the level of the Gulf of Mexico, one of the most reinforced cities in Spanish America.

Thanks to efforts to protect the riches of Cartagena and its population, they have been preserved. The city and its cultural treasures have survived over the years.

So many are its historical relics that in 1959 the historic center of the city was declared a National Heritage for its country, Colombia. A little more than a decade later, in 1984, the city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

In the Walled City is the “Plaza de los Coches” (Couch Square). Around the “Plaza de los Coches” we find colonial houses and La Iglesia. In addition we find in the square the statue of Pedro Heredia, Spanish conqueror and founder of Cartagena de Indias. Pedro Heredia was also the first governor of the city.

Cartagena’s historic center is full of wonders to see. That is why rides on coach horses are so appreciated in Cartagena, although tourism has caused the abuse of horses.

Cartagena de Indias Panorama
Cartagena de Indias Panorama

Coach horses in Cartagena de Indias Can tourism cause abuse?

Why are coach horses being mistreated in Cartagena? Because tour operators overload horses and services with overweight and over-travel. Fatigue and insufficient feeding begin to take over these noble animals.

The investigation began in December last year (2020) when in Ciudad Heróica 17 horse coaches had to be treated as an emergency. Of these at least 12 died and the others were in pretty serious condition.

There was talk of intoxication of them but the truth is that tourism did not stop, even at the cost of the life of the horses. The long and strenuous working days to which the poor animals were subjected.

The end of the year is a very busy time for tourism in Cartagena de Indias and for coach horses.

Coach Horses in Cartagena - ¿Tourism or Abuse?
Coach Horses in Cartagena – ¿Tourism or Abuse?

Abuses of coach horses led them to death

This is how the days are in full sun without great breaks. Inadequate feeding was added to this by adding bran to the horse feed. It was this alteration in feeding in addition to their weakness that caused their death.

The bran in the horses generates timpanism and equine colic which ended up weakening overexploited horses. Veterinarians agreed that the symptoms of horses were consistent with bran feeding.

In addition, abuse of horses increases in the season of increased tourism. This is because cars and horses are prepared for 4 tourists. But due to high demand some greedy coachmen accept up to 8 tourists on board.

It is not only a punishment-free abuse as there is a rule limiting up to 4 tourists. But some authorities next to the coachmen have gone blind-eyed.

In addition, some horses continue to work in operating conditions even at an advanced age without the consideration of tourists and coachmen.

The fun of some is at the cost of the death of the horses…

Coach Horses rides along the Coast of Cartagena de Indias - Between tourism and abuse
Coach Horses rides along the Coast of Cartagena de Indias – Between tourism and abuse

Trying to bring coach horses and tourism to order to avoid abuse

Awareness of the situation and how it can adversely affect national and international tourism, Cartagena take matters into its hands.

On 30 January this year (2021) they raided the mangers. This sought to examine living conditions and the treatment of coach horses.

These break-ins confirmed suspicions of abuse and abuse.

Both GELMA (Special Panel to Combat Animal Abuse) and Dipro (Directorate of Protection and Special Services of the National Police) participated in the operation.

Both entes, at the request of the Neogranadina nation’s prosecutor’s office, appeared in the stables of the Marbella neighborhood. In order to determine responsibilities for the death of coach horses from Cartagena in December and to take care of tourism and avoid abuse.

About 40 battered horses were found there. At least 12 coaching horses were seized after the break-in.

Wounds, poor hardware, lacerations, poor feeding and poor equine care were verified during the break-in. In addition, situations of unhealthiness were confirmed.

Break-in to the stables of coach horses in Cartagena - Between tourism and abuse
Break-in to the stables of coach horses in Cartagena – Between tourism and abuse


History of animal abuse against caring horses in Cartagena

The problem of mistreatment of coach horses in Cartagena is long-standing.

Since it is one of the tourist attractions of the city, drivers abuse horses. Overcarging and making them overwork in exchange for limited meals.

Allegations of this situation are already several years old and the authorities are acting eventually. The truth is that there are no definitive actions to end the torture of animals and their exploitation.

The number of horses injured or killed in their work to be exhausted is counted by dozens.

Since 2014 there has been news on this topic.

On the website “Colombia Reports” we find a report on the invesgation of sightseeing tours by car.

The report “Tourist horse carriage rides in Cartagena under scrutiny following yet another dead horse” publicly uncovered something that had years to go by.

2014 was a terrible year for coach horses because in that year at least 5 horses were injured or killed.

In the first months of the year, two horses collapsed and two horses died for the same reasons. The first lost his life on April 21, 2014 and the other on July 2.

But this was not all, because on September 6 a horse was seriously injured by mistreatment.

The report revealed that shortly after that same month, in the same week one horse died of a heart attack and another collapsed in front of tourists.

It was certainly a great loss for equestrian tourism.

"Colombia Reports" report on coaching horses in Cartagena
“Colombia Reports” report on coaching horses in Cartagena

More reports of battered horses year after year

In 2016 Suzanne Scherer created a petition in initiated a petition in Change.org Mayor Manuel Vicente Duque banned the practice.

We know that the livelihood of many families depends on this economic activity but so does the life of horses.

The petition in one year reached more than 13,000 signatures. The petition was closed soon after, but before being closed it reached 27,323 signatures.

It is certainly a problem that year after year has been reported. Joint measures are taken without addressing the main problem: The awareness of coachmen and tourists.

To the extent that each of those involved can be made aware, the situation may be changed. It is also important to generate reporting mechanisms and take this situation seriously.

Cartagena is a city that depends on tourism and if tourists become aware of this situation they can generate pressure to change the fate of these horses.

Petition in change.org to ban coach horses in Cartagena
Petition in change.org to ban coach horses in Cartagena

Continued mistreatment of horses

A coachman was reported through social media in November 2019.

That coachman violently attacked his horse after he collapsed exhausted.

Outraged people captured the situation on video and posted it on social media, forcing authorities to take up letters on the matter.

It’s definitely a never-ending story.

Some urge the government to stop the practice of horse-drawn cars. Given the city’s cultural historical heritage, that would be a shame.

It is important to draw the attention of the authorities. The authorities should establish mechanisms to ensure the life of horses and the tourism activity of sustainable maning.

No doubt the intervention of the police is never inadogable but there must be strong actions.

Revoking the licenses of abusive coachmen and regular controls should be the beginning of a better Cartagena for all. We have our hopes focused on it and that this report will contribute to this.

Report of the newspaper "El Tiempo" of Colombia November 26, 2019
Report of the newspaper “El Tiempo” of Colombia November 26, 2019

A step in the right direction for sustainable tourism

Gustavo Mirabal and his wife Maria Carolina Chapellín make an effort to make animal abuse visible and in turn congratulate the authorities taking action to improve the situation.

The city of Cartagena and the Colombian public prosecutor’s office do the right thing to keep tourism growing in Cartagena. Let the world know the history of Cartagena and Colombia without the coaching horses having to suffer the consequences of wild tourism and abuse.

Without a doubt this is a first step in putting tourism in order in Cartagena and balancing it with animal rights.

Let us hope that these actions will lead to better care of the coaching horses of Cartagena and in this way that tourism does not involve abuse of horses. Tourist awareness is key. We must remember that horseback riding cars also represent a historical legacy of the city.