Poland | Skaryszew | Horse market and vehicle inspection

The TSB|AWF and Eyes on Animals (EonA) team returns for the 4th time to Skaryszew to evaluate whether anything has changed at the annual horse market. Chances for a lasting change are higher with a new Mayor elected last autumn. In February, we were invited to give a training on legal requirements related to the market operation. The participants looked quite inspired.

Day 1 | Draught horse day:

Day one starts for the team, as usual, the night before: Even though the market officially opens at 5 am, we keep patrolling the area to verify how many vehicles arrive too early. The situation is better than in previous years, the majority of the vehicles arrive in the early morning. More horses are brought this year: Over 300, which leads to space problems for the animals. The organisers prepared unloading ramps and we see them in use several times, however, not all participants are educated or patient enough to use them for a safer unloading. We document the bad fall of two unloaded horses due to incorrect vehicle ramps and unprofessional handling. Luckily the horses do not get injured. The terrible weather is not helping. It is very windy and it rains with occasional hail and snowstorms. Numerous policemen are present, which does not prevent excessive alcohol consumption at the market grounds, despite the explicit ban. On the other hand, veterinary inspectors are much more willing to cooperate and have a new approach to inspect the vehicles with the use of checklists – this way our concerns can be immediately confirmed by competent authorities. All in all, we see some positive changes and hope for the future on the side of the organisers. However, regarding the participants of the market, changes will take much more time and require a cultural shift.

Day 2 | Warmblood and pony day:

The usually calmer second market day is sunny, but still bitterly cold. About 40 riding and carriage horses are brought and a few ponies. Only one horse is in a bad condition. The new owner promised to initiate proceedings against the person who caused the mare’s suffering. As in previous years, one team member is patrolling the market area with road police. One of the inspected trucks turns out to be a surprise: They find cattle inside, and not horses. Even though the focus is obviously on horses, the transporter is inspected, and a severe fine is issued for tying the cattle by their horns – which is a painful and forbidden practice, and for mixing adult bulls with cows. The market ends about noon, with few horses sold.