Under Italian legislation, horses have no special recognition, even though many consider them as pets, just like dogs and cats: living beings to be loved, respected and protected.
Unfortunately, the current legislation does not recognize this need. There are no rules governing the treatment of horses in all the various areas in which they are used, leaving them be treated merely as “consumer goods”.
Equines are among the most exploited of animals because of this great variety of uses to which they can be put: from legal sporting competitions and street racing, palios, riding schools, tourist carriages, circuses, and transport, all the way to slaughter for meat and skins, and even vivisection.
Most of these exploitative and abusive practices are carried out without any thought for the harshness of the lives and deep psychological suffering of these noble and majestic animals. Current laws are largely insufficient to ensure their protection: there are no appropriate and solid regulations for the protection of equines, or enforceable punishments for those who mistreat and abuse them.
IHP runs Italy’s first Rescue Centre for equids that have been legally seized as a result of mistreatment (Law 189/2004). The Centre was recognized by a Ministry of Health Decree in 2009.
At IHP’s Rescue Centre, the horses live in freedom, and benefit from a rehabilitation programme which addresses both physical and psychological issues. This helps in restoring them to a balanced, healthy state.
The horses at the IHP Centre live in a semi-wild state. The Association has created an environment for them that is as close to their natural environment as possible. They live in herds and graze in spacious pastures, and lead a comfortable and natural social life.