After hearing from PETA India about the rampant use of spiked (or “thorn”) bits – devices with metal spikes sticking out of them – to control horses throughout Haryana, Shri Sunil K Gulati, the additional chief secretary of Haryana’s Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying, issued an order to department officials calling on them to crack down on the use of these illegal devices. The bits are explicitly banned under Rule 8 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals Rules, 1965, and as per the 31 March 2019 judgment of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana.
The order also directs that spiked bits be replaced with smooth ones, any injuries to the animals be treated, and legal action be taken if an owner refuses to use a smooth bit. The order further states that the director general of the animal husbandry department will provide grants for the purpose of buying smooth bits, which will be given free of cost to animal owners.
In our letter, we pointed out that the population of horses and ponies in Haryana is around 0.10 lakhs, as recorded in the 20th Livestock Census 2019 conducted by the Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying. When spiked bits are used to control horses for weddings or rides or to force them to haul goods, the devices can sink more than a centimetre deep into their mouths, ripping their lips and tongues and causing extreme pain, bloody wounds, psychological trauma, and lifelong damage.
Our letter also pointed out that the 31 March 2019 judgment of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana states that “[t]he use of spike stick or bit, harness or yoke with spikes, knobs or projections or any other sharp tackle or equipment is banned throughout the State of Haryana to avoid bruises, swelling, abrasions or severe pain to the animal”. These illegal torture devices lacerate horses’ mouths and leave them in tremendous pain, and they don’t belong at joyous occasions such as weddings or anywhere else.
Several states – including Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh – have issued orders mandating the enforcement of this prohibition. We are campaigning not only for police to search for and confiscate the illegally used devices but also for laws to be introduced to include a ban on the manufacture and sale of spiked bits – a loophole that needs to be closed.
Animals aren’t ours to use for entertainment and abuse. Let’s end the suffering of horses.