Responsible tourism

Help improve the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules in many holiday destinations around the world.

Help improve the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules in many holiday destinations around the world.

As a tourist you may, unfortunately, be exposed to examples of the welfare issues that affect working horses, donkeys and mules in many of the popular holiday destinations around the world.

However, you are also in a unique position in being able to influence this situation and bring about improvement. 

 Tourism is an important part of many countries’ economies, one which authorities are keen to protect. Making it clear that improved welfare standards are important when choosing holiday destinations will add pressure on authorities to place a higher priority on animal welfare.

What can you do?

  • Contact tourist boards and travel agency working in the country and make it clear that you believe people will not support holiday destinations where there is poor equine welfare. 
  • Do not use working horses that are obviously not up for the job- poor body condition or lame 
  • Don’t do deals to get an animal to carry two people instead of one- this is too much weight for them to carry 
  • Do not barter the price down too much- the chances are that your saving will come out of the food and care allowance for the animal.

Why is it happening?

Working horses are employed in many holiday destinations around the world to make life easier and more exciting for the tourists who have visited; for some the fact that the horses are there is a factor in choosing to visit. However, in too many cases these horses are overworked or are the victims of forms of bad practice that can lead to unacceptable suffering. 

Under-sized donkeys carrying heavy people or loads, being beaten to make them travel over treacherous terrain, or under-fed horses in ill-fitting tack pulling heavy carts full of tourists are sights we may all have witnessed.  

It is useful to try and understand it and learn about why it is happening; it is not always the case that owners don’t care about animals or are just cruel.  

If possible ask the owner about the animal or ask them why they are behaving in a certain way – you may need to use your tour rep to translate here. Make the decision not to be involved in unacceptable practice and let your fellow tourists, your rep and the owner know why. 

Don’t become the cause of the problem…

The horses and donkeys that you will encounter at holiday destinations are usually the only source of income for their owners, which is generally not a very lucrative one. The money that they get from you will have to keep them, their family and their animals. They will be desperate to get as much as they can and will therefore agree to things that are not best practice for the animal or themselves. 

Try not to take advantage of this situation. Do not use a horse or donkey that is obviously not up to the job. Don’t do deals to get an animal to carry two people and don’t barter down the price too much – the chances are that your saving will come out of the food and care allowance for the animal. 

There are codes and guidelines aimed at tourists that have been produced by animal welfare organisations and tourist boards and we would encourage you to seek these out. Check with your tour operator and ask them if they are doing anything to affect welfare issues in the locations they are using. However, most importantly we would urge you to use your own judgment, common sense and compassion when confronted with animals while you are on holiday and then act accordingly. Unfortunately we do not have staff on the ground in many countries where you might encounter poor welfare so we are often unable to directly intervene, but we may be able to point you in the direction of other organisations who can help.

How every £1 you donate is spent

  • 70p directly helps horses
    70p
    Directly helps horses
  • 30p is for fundraising
    30p
    Is for fundraising
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