Poland: Inspecting Skaryszew Horse Market

The team of Viva! Interwencje, on behalf of Animals' Angels, inspects one of the largest and most infamous horse markets – Skaryszew. Viva deploys the largest team ever – consisting of 16 people – to the market to make sure no violation goes unnoticed.

The team reaches the town on Sunday evening to find out that the horse trucks are already arriving and they are soon allowed into the market premise, which opens at least seven hours before the announced start of the market. The team members are not allowed anywhere near the entry checks by the order of veterinary service, which is against the law. Still, this suggests that the entry checks are not detailed enough.

The unloading of the horses is chaotic and brutal in many cases. One of the horses collapses as his leg gets stuck in a hole in a stationary ramp that had been approved by the veterinary service personnel. Many horses are forced to jump off the ramps of the trucks, risking serious injuries. Afterwards, they are tethered under the roofings, tucked one next to another with no space to move or relax. Many of them are stressed and sweating, jumping on each other, biting and kicking.

One of the horses escapes the market premise through one of the veterinary checkpoints, where no one tries to stop him. He runs off into a motorway, putting his own life and the lives of the drivers in danger. He is finally caught at a nearby gas station by our team and local people. Despite him being frightened and sweating, and causing danger, he is allowed back into the market by the veterinary service. 

Later, as most of the farmers get more and more drunk, they start to be more aggressive and the team observes cases of violent loadings, including the use of sticks and whips. The local police from Radom proves as really cooperative, but the veterinary service personnel does not take proper actions when needed, even when requested by the team.

When the market premise gets filled to capacity with trucks and horses, the market operator redirects further trucks to the nearby field where veterinary service has no supervision, and where no infrastructure is available.

The market ends in the early afternoon. The last farmers limp out leaving their empty bottles of vodka scattered on the ground. Later on, the mayor of Skaryszew appears on TV, saying he is proud of the improvements at the market. Our observations suggest that there is nothing to be proud of and that's what we will communicate to all relevant authorities. This year's market attracts considerable media attention, that present the real image of this 'event'.