STAFF REPORTER THE Spanish Society for the Protection of Horses (SEPE) has launched what is perhaps its most concerted efforts to date to draw attention to what it claims is abusive treatment of animals who work alone or in teams to pull machinery in agriculture and industry.

The Society wants to give a particularly high profile to horses which are used to pull two-wheeled carriages around the “sights” of the country's major towns, a combination of horse, carriage driver, and tourists who hire them by the hour. Every year, the society claims it receives a myriad of complaints, above all towards the end of the tourist season when some operators - with little or no concern for the animals - literally work the horses until they drop, sometimes still in their reins. The Society says that there is a host of non-governmental organisations who are providing support by documenting similar complaints with a view to bringing the abusive treatment of overworking horses to a halt. Instances have been recorded of animals having to pull carriages 15 hours a day.