Nationwide Crackdown Coming on Illegal Use of Spiked Bits

For Immediate Release:

3 December 2019


Garima Jain ; [email protected]

Hiraj Laljani ; [email protected]

Police Team Up With PETA India to Confiscate Painful Devices Used to Control Horses Used for Weddings and Rides

Delhi – Based on the results of a multi-state survey of government efforts to enforce India’s ban on using spiked (or “thorn”) bits on horses, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India is launching a nationwide campaign aimed at helping police enforce the ban. The group has written to the chief secretaries of states and union territories including Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh urging them to take action against those ignoring the ban and to conduct police enforcement drives. The campaign is being launched in the states and union territories which have highest number of horses, ponies, mules, and donkeys as per the 20th Livestock Census of 2019, published in October and conducted by the Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying of the central government.

Bits that have metal spikes sticking out of them – aka “thorn bits”, as they act like a line of thorns piercing the horses’ sensitive mouths – are often used to control horses used for weddings, who are traumatised by the extremely loud noise of drums and trumpets, and for rides. However, use of the bits is strictly prohibited under Rule 8 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals Rules, 1965. Following outreach from PETA India, several governments – including those of Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Karnataka, and Telangana – have issued orders mandating the enforcement of this prohibition.

Recent investigations by PETA India even found horses with spiked bits embedded more than a centimetre deep in their mouths, ripping their lips and tongues and causing extreme pain, bloody wounds, immense mental trauma, and lifelong damage. PETA India will campaign 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.

A PETA India investigative video about the cruelty of using spiked bits is and photographs of the same are available for download upon request.

“These torture devices lacerate horses’ mouths and leave them with lifelong pain, and they don’t belong at weddings or anywhere else,” says PETA India CEO and equine veterinarian Dr Manilal Valliyate. “States across India are going to crack down on using these harmful spiked bits, and PETA India is ready to help.”

Following PETA India’s investigations into the abuse of horses for weddings and other ceremonies, Delhi police – aided by the group – confiscated more than 100 illegal spiked bits and filed non-cognisable offence reports against many horse owners. As public awareness of the cruelty of using spiked bits grows, numerous wedding parties are now opting for horse-free transportation, including walking, arriving on a Royal Enfield Bullet or Harley-Davidson or in a vintage car or Ferrari, or even dropping in by helicopter. High-profile celebrity couples whose weddings were horse-free include Shahid Kapoor and Mira Rajput, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Rukmini Sahay, Zaheer Khan and Sagarika Ghatge, Neha Dhupia and Angad Bedi, Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli, and Sonam Kapoor and Anand Ahuja.

PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” – opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit