Historic reenactments which involve the endangerment of animals’ lives have no place in today’s society. So why is it that people continue to actively exploit animals in the name of entertainment when so many alternatives exist?
Medieval sports such as jousting are notoriously violent and dangerous for the competitors, and while they are able to decide whether or not to take part, the horses are afforded no such luxury.
The Captive Animal Protection Society (CAPS) are running a campaign to highlight the widespread use of horses for jousting games being held at English Heritage sites, which are putting these animals’ lives at risk.
Jousting is a medieval sport which involves two opponents on horseback charging towards each other with a lance, aiming to knock the opponent from their horse. Historically, many horses were seriously injured and killed during jousts as lances would spear them in the face, chest, body and legs, and they would also be thrown to the ground when riders were knocked off, resulting in broken legs.
Today’s jousting events are theatrical reenactments of the real sport, meaning that events are choreographed, but the risks remain all too real for the horses forced to take part. Horses are trained to be able to deal with the scary ordeal of being charged at, struck, thrown to the ground, and to be in a loud arena with shouting crowds of people, none of which is something that comes naturally to them.
Unprotected Horses in Great Danger
CAPS have been investigating the issue in the UK, and have revealed a number of instances of horses being put into unnecessary danger in the name of historic entertainment. At a recent English Heritage event at Kenilworth Castle, jousting matches took place where the horses were not given facial protection, despite the fact that they were being charged at head on with a heavy wooden lance.
When confronted about the issue, organizers claimed that the head guards were broken and that they are usually used. Instead of cancelling the event in order to prevent the horses from being put in even more danger, it was allowed to continue with the riders being instructed to aim above the horses heads to ‘ensure’ their safety. This highlights the priorities of the event organizers, and it certainly isn’t with animal welfare.
A Sport Best Left in the Dark Ages
The use of animals for entertainment is a big issue right now, with animal circuses, aquariums and zoos being forced to rethink their practices by the animal rights movement. Sports such as jousting which put the lives of animals at risk for our entertainment are best left behind as we strive for a caring and compassionate society. There are plenty of alternative ways to teach history without needing to exploit animals in the process.
If you feel strongly about this issue, please send a letter to English Heritage to ask them to put an end to this cruel sport. For more details, plus a sample letter, please visit the CAPS website.
Photo Credit: Soller Photo