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Saint-Josse horse race cancelled amid animal welfare concerns

08:51 29/08/2023

A horse race planned for September in the Saint-Josse-ten-Noode neighbourhood of Brussels has been cancelled by the organisation planning it amid growing concerns about animal welfare.

Time For Others, which had organised the event in cooperation with the municipality, announced the cancellation over the weekend and expressed regret that the event had brought such criticism.

Brussels minister of animal welfare sharply criticised the planned event, promising to conduct an investigation as to whether it complied with existing legislation that bans horse races on public roads.

Not long after, other organisations began to raise questions concerning animal welfare, including Extinction Rebellion and animal welfare organisation Gaia.

“The safety of the horses is not guaranteed,” Gaia said in its remarks, and Extinction Rebellion promised to block the race through means of non-violent civil disobedience.

The race was due to take place on 16 September on Place Saint-Josse, which would be transformed into an urban race course.

The organising non-profit association said that this type of race is customary in Flanders and the Netherlands, adding that animal welfare was a central concern and they it had planned to “put in place a series of measures to ensure compliance with current legislation (sand track, secure track, protection of horses, etc), under the close supervision of race stewards and approved vets.”

Mayor Emir Kir had supported the initiative with enthusiasm.

Photo: Jorge Royan/Wikimedia. Licensed under Creative Commons

Written by Helen Lyons