After receiving an appeal from PETA India pointing out the rampant use of spiked (or “thorn”) bits – devices with metal spikes sticking out of them – to control horses throughout Rajasthan, Dr Virendra Singh, the director of the state’s Department of Animal Husbandry, issued a new order to department officials and the member secretaries of all district SPCAs calling on them to enforce the law. These bits had already been explicitly banned under Rule 8 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals Rules, 1965, and as per a 2014 order of Rajasthan’s Department of Animal Husbandry.
The new order notes that the 2014 order asked all district administrations to adhere to the advisory issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India in that same year by prohibiting the sale and use of spiked bits at animal fairs.
In our letter, we noted that the population of horses and ponies in the state is around 0.34 lakhs (the third highest of any state in the country), 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 and rides and 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, immense psychological trauma, and lifelong damage.
Several states – including Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh – have issued orders mandating the enforcement of this prohibition. PETA India is 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 in order to close an existing loophole.
These illegal torture devices lacerate horses’ mouths and leave them with tremendous pain, and they don’t belong at joyous occasions such as weddings or anywhere else.
We’re grateful that the Rajasthan government is calling for a renewed crackdown on the use of these harmful bits, and we’re ready to lend a hand to help enforce the law if needed.