A leading equine welfare charity has issued advice for tourists visiting countries in North Africa

The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA) is asking holidaymakers to encourage better equine welfare in North African countries by only using carriage and riding horses that are in good condition.

“In North African countries, such as Tunisia, tourists will find the condition of the horses used for carriage rides and trekking varies enormously,” said Karen Jones, SPANA’s veterinary director.

“Tourists can encourage owners to improve their care of their working horses by only using horses which are in good physical condition with no obvious injuries.

“Visitors may have to pay slightly more for a ‘better’ horse, but by making this simple positive choice they are actively rewarding the good owners and punishing those owners who do not care for their horses.”

She advises holidaymakers to look at the horse’s general appearance; check if its hooves are well shod; see if the harness or tack appears to be comfortable and well-fitting; and check what type of bit is being used, before getting on board.

If during the ride you feel the driver is treating the horse too harshly simply ask him to stop and get off. Remember, actions speak louder than words, especially when there is a language barrier to overcome.”

If holidaymakers are unhappy about the way animals are being treated they can contact the minister of tourism while on holiday, or when they return to the UK, they can write to that country’s ambassador. They can also contact SPANA’s headquarters.

Tourists have real power and they can make a difference,” says Karen. “Complaints can help kick-start governments into acting on problems such as animal welfare, if they believe it will impact on the country’s tourism industry.”

To find out more about SPANA visit www.spana.org or call (tel: 020 7831 3999).

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