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Oia Journal: Galicia’s Wild Horse Roundup Runs Headlong Into Modernity

Mr. Español said he planned to insert the compulsory chip, but also continue using the traditional hot iron method to brand his foals.

Government officials say a chip and an insurance policy are essential to establish accident liability, in particular when horses leave the woods and run onto a road.

Three years ago, one of Mr. Español’s horses died after being hit by a car while crossing the coastal road that links Galicia to Portugal.

But the ranchers believe that the problem is mostly irresponsible drivers, who speed along country roads and “just don’t respect the horses,” said José Fernández Martínez, the president of an association of ranchers.

“Modern society is losing a way of life that has kept us and animals in harmony,” he said.

Laura Duarte, an official from Pacma, a political party promoting animal rights, said that checking on the health of horses was laudable, but that other aspects of the roundup were unjustifiable.

“We don’t criticize what’s being done, but how it’s been done,” she said, “because it causes terrible stress to animals that live in the wild and aren’t used to human contact.”

“To brand a horse with hot iron can only cause huge suffering,” she said.

Even if a roundup cannot be compared to bullfighting in terms of cruelty, Ms. Duarte added, “the argument in its defense is the same, which is to evoke tradition.”

“Any tradition that harms animals must be reviewed,” she said, “and doing something for a very long time doesn’t mean it shouldn’t now be adapted to our times.”

Source: NYT > World

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