Pura Raza Espanola horses are a breed from the Iberian Peninsula. Throughout history, this breed has been prized by nobility and Spanish royalty. Today, Francisco Mesa, a 73-year-old Spaniard, breeds these beautiful and intelligent creatures. However, due to the effect of the economic crisis in Spain, Mesa’s purebreds are destined for the slaughterhouse this July.
Because of the lack of demand for horses in addition to Spain’s financial trouble, more and more horse owners are unable to pay for the animals’ upkeep; if these owners can’t find anyone to take their horses off their hands, the animals are bound for slaughter. Owners who abandon their horses face steep fines.
Mesa has been breeding horses since 1991. He used to sell his purebreds for tens of thousands of euros each. Now, he is desperately trying to unload his 25 horses cheap or give them away to save their lives. Because Mesa cannot afford to support his family and his horses with his monthly government pension, he has set a June deadline for finding a new owner for his horses. If he can’t, they are off to the slaughterhouse.
He set that deadline because it coincides with the annual pilgrimage of Catholic faithful to a nearby hermitage to see the small carved statue of the Virgin of El Rocio. The event frequently draws a million people, many on horseback or in horse-drawn carriages, in keeping the tradition.
Mesa wants to use the event to advertise his horses for one last time to a crowd that appreciates them and might want to spare them from slaughter.
“I’m a horse lover,” Mesa said. “And I’m doing everything I can to save their lives.”