Monday, 1 March 2010

The state of Horse Carriages in Malta.

­­­A report by the internationally recognised body TAWS has been finished on the state of Maltese horse carriages (karrozini) in relation to issues of animal welfare. A visit by TAWS took palce to the island of Malta from the 9-13th November 2009 coordinated by Myriam Kirmond (Animal Rights Group). Their visit aimed at reporting on state of animal welfare in this traditional practise of horse carriages, locally known as ‘Karrozini’.

During the visit the experts Dr. Carl Boyde and Prof. Ramsay Hovell visited 50% of the Horse Carriage drivers, the Valletta Cruise Terminal administration, General Workers Union, Animal welfare department, Floriana Local Council & Ministerial Secretariat.

The scope of the report given the limited time and information on the matter was not that of formulating a comprehensive report on the location and type of carriage shelters, but rather to draw international experience on the matter and producing constructive feedback on the subject.

The approach to the study of the animals welfare was undertaken through the 5 Freedom framework constructed by the Farm Animal Welfare Council. This welfare code is internationally recognised in determining animal use for commercial purposes.

The study which I will not go into detail highlights the following observations:

Horses the Owners and their Carriages:

The carriages used and the way these are harnessed to horses have been found to be in good condition and well set, presence of a specialist to undergo maintenance was available on site.

Even with regards to the horses used for the purpose of the ‘Karozzini’ were qualified as suitable for the journeys these had to undertake. Veterinary services for these horses are present but regularity in the provision of this service is not the case in Malta sofar. The shifts of horses was claimed to be a day-in day-out type thereby giving resting time to the horses.

A curious detail was identified that the ideal-type of horses of the purpose of the ‘Karrozini’ is present in Tunisia but due to disease restrictions this type of horse cannot be introduce in the maltese locality. This horse is know to be better resistant to the weather conditions in Malta thereby making a substitution of the present breed with the one found in tunsia would improve the welfare of the present horse whilst introducing a breed more able in such a service.

As regarding the Owners of the ‘Karrozini’ these have been reported to have managed to set a model in the locality of Rabat where a recognised public dialogue was achieved between the Local council and the Owners. This model has brought about the use of rubber covered wheels, appropriate bins for feaces disposal and allocation of a shaded area for the rest of horses outside Mdina. This model of representation should be encouraged and brought to a national level to share the ideas and also to bring in more resources to the modeling of sheltering services.

Working Conditions:

As far as sheltering goes in Summer conditions of up to 40°C it becomes a basic neccesity for the horses given the 5 freedoms model. A shelter is at present only available in Valletta at the MCC. But, the issue of sheltering cannot be disconnected with the issue of water accesibility.

Two practises which are not practised across the board in Malta but ought to be are the provision of water in regular intervals over a trip and the sponging of the horses to help evaporation. It was noted that all horse carriages should carry a bucket of water of this purpose, but also there ought to be water points for the Owners to resort to around the locality.

The present practise of putting a cool cloth or ‘Xoqqa’ as known locally must be standardised in terms of size, material and shape of such a cloth. This would help the horse reduce the burden of long trips in Summer weather, but unfortunately the policy at present employed is not effective in its purpose.

Hygiene considerations was seen as also vital as appropriate feaces disposal bins ought to be installed throughout the city and the point of rest (shelter) ought to have the appropriate pavement and water facilities to keep the shelter in hygienic conditions.


As far as the study goes there has been a limited scope to the document due to time constraints and a lack of information to the experts. Therefore, what the study cannot suggest is the site of shelters or the form in which these ought to be. But what is does point out are the neccesary availability of waste bins and water for the horses and their carriages.

On this note, Greenhouse has suggested the Animal Rights Group to seek the inclusion of Shelters in the project of the Valletta city gate regeneration. This will be further considered on our part in the next meeting to hopefully include it in our agenda.

Read More:

Times of Malta

1 comment:

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