The traditional horse and carriage, more commonly referred to as the karrozin has been under the spotlight in recent months. This was a heavy topic of discussion, following the death of a horse in the excruciating heat. As the summer approaches and we are being treated to some heatwaves, the rekindling of this discussion is imminent. As you approach Valletta, you will see a number of karozzini across different parts of the city.
Should these be abolished? Are horses being treated inhumanely when considering the heat levels and the weight they are forced to carry? In this respect, several calls were made for complete bans and appeals for animal rights, with pressure mounting to have updated laws which safeguard horses.
Whilst most would tend to think that karozzini should be abolished completely, there is another side to this argument. Comments made by some locals who work closely with unwanted and injured horses state that such a ban will not be beneficial for the horses themselves. When one considers the amount of horses and carriages in our streets, accidents and horse injuries are rare. This is accompanied by the fact that sometimes horses get dehydrated in their paddocks or stables.
It is also mentioned that karozzini owners would have three horses, where each would work one day and rest for two. If these owners are disallowed from continuing with their job, they would not be able to afford the horses. If karozzini are abolished, a lot of horses will end up being killed or abandoned. No such sanctuary which caters for abandoned horses exists in Malta, therefore it would be safe to assume that the animal cruelty in such a scenario may be worse.
It is also worth mentioning that although karozzini horses may not live a leisurely life, this does not mean that they are not taken care of. The overwhelming majority are well catered for.
One of the issues in Malta is that there are very few stables and paddocks to cater for all the horses. The country is not equipped for horses to get the necessary exercise. There are no facilities, arenas or tracks for their exercise. In a scenario where karozzini are abolished, a lot of horses will end up with no purpose, and therefore will risk maltreatment.
To improve the safety of horses, the country needs to invest in shelters and water hoses, with more hefty fines for those drivers who park in such shelters. Authorities may also consider a reform of the working hours for such horses. Government may also introduce subsidies to improve the quality of carriages and make them lighter.
What is your view on karozzini?