• Spain's news in English

Spain slaughters horses as crisis bites

Alex Dunham/The Local/AFP · 12 Mar 2013, 16:35

Published: 12 Mar 2013 15:46 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Mar 2013 16:35 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In Spain's boom years, they were a massive status symbol: horses you could take for a gallop on the weekend. 

Now abandoned as a result of the economic crisis, these animals are being shipped off in their tens of thousands to the nation's slaughterhouses.

"A few years ago, before the crisis, a lot of people thought: I'll buy a big car, a big house and why not a horse?" said Virginia Solera, a woman who helps run a shelter in Andalusia for the luckier equine cast-offs.

The boom years had a particularly strong impact on Andalusia. Many people left the fields to work in the flourishing construction industry and found themselves out of work when the property bubble burst in 2008. 

The Spanish government says the number of horses slaughtered in abattoirs has doubled since then, with 60,000 killed in 2012.

"The way things are now no one is buying horses, the feed is expensive and no one wants a horse, so I've had to stop sales," said horse dealer Manuel González Melendi.

"I've sold some cheap and the others have gone to the slaughterhouse."

Manuel González, secretary general of the Spanish slaughterers' and meat-processors' association Aprosa, has also seen this trend grow.

He says looking after a horse can cost €400 a month. Now, though, many owners are cutting their losses by sending them to the slaughter in return for around €150 per horse.

Horsemeat, which has been the subject of a Europe-wide food scandal over recent weeks, is not popular in Spain.

Story continues below…

This means 90 percent of the slaughtered beasts are exported, mostly to France and Italy, Aprosa says.

"Everyone is taking advantage of the crisis to get rid of things they don't want, things they once took responsibility for," said Solera.

"They try to hang onto the car and the house, but not the horse. The horse they just get rid of."

Alex Dunham/The Local/AFP (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spain's 'Napflix' aims to bore viewers to sleep
Photo: Screengrab/ Napflix

A Spanish video platform called Napflix, designed to put people to sleep with dull content, was launched this week and its founders are on the lookout for more "monotony and repetition."

Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Brit 'paedo' held on Costa del Sol after Most Wanted appeal

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives was arrested on the Costa Del Sol following a tip-off from an expat just hours after his face appeared on a public appeal.

Spain's parliament approves deficit reduction measures
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Spanish lawmakers approved on Thursday measures to reduce the public deficit and keep it under the target agreed with the European Union.

'Cubism and War' show opens at Barcelona Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso Harlequin and Woman with a Necklace. Photo: MP

Barcelona's Picasso Museum unveiled an exhibition on "Cubism and War" on Thursday depicting how one of the most influential artistic styles of the 20th century survived the First World War.

Why this bionic limb pioneer doesn't believe in disability
Hugh Herr has been award Spain's top science prize. Photo: FPA

The Local speaks to Hugh Herr on winning Spain's top science prize and how being an amputee doesn't make him disabled.

Dine in the buff at Spain's first nudist restaurant
A buffet of organic food will be served on "human tables". Photo: Innato / Facebook

Spain's first naked dining experience is to arrive on the island of Tenerife following the success of a similar venture in London.

Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Photo: AFP

Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday cancelled a bullfighting ban in Catalonia in what is likely to exacerbate tensions between Madrid and the separatist region, and between animal activists and fans of the tradition.

Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Eta members made a ceasefire declaration in January, 2011. Photo: Gara / AFP

Five years after armed separatist group Eta declared a permanent ceasefire, Basque journalist Alberto Letona is still wondering when the dialogue will begin.

Hunt for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Call Crimestoppers if you recognize these faces.

These fugitives from British justice are thought to be hiding out in Spain. Do you recognize anyone?

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
jobs available