By Guest Writer • 14 June 2022 • 12:37
Jill and Steffi with Seprona friends at El Rocio
JILL NEWMAN ROGERS fights to help horses mules and donkeys in Andalucia.
As President of ARCH (The Andalucian Rescue Centre for Horses) she travelled down to Huelva earlier this month to the famous El Rocio pilgrimage.
This three-day event is famous throughout Spain for its size and spectacle, combining religion and fiesta.
Thousands upon thousands of participants, from many different brotherhoods dedicated to the Virgin of El Rocio, arrive in traditional dress on horseback or with beautifully decorated floats pulled by horses or mules.
While the humans spend their weekend enjoying the celebrations it is often a stressful time for the animals and in the past ARCH have been made aware of too many cases of cruelty, often resulting from ignorance.
Jill and Steffi, another ARCH volunteer and a qualified farrier, joined animal rights lawyer Aritz Toribio to assist SEPRONA (the animal welfare arm of the Guardia Civil), veterinarians and the local police to monitor the condition of the horses and mules.
The two teams checked and treated the animals, in particular for injuries resulting in ill-fitting tack or wounds caused by the heavy weighted nosebands often used here in Spain.
This year, happily, there were few serious cases of neglect or abuse (in the past ARCH have taken in horses confiscated from El Rocio) and Jill feels that things have improved considerably.
What Jill was unaware of when she agreed to go to El Rocio was that, at the age of 80 and still using crutches after a hip operation, she would find herself sleeping in her car along with Steffi and a rescued Malinois (a Belgian Shepherd dog).
Accommodation in and around the site of the pilgrimage is at a premium and the arrangements went sadly wrong.
Indefatigable as always, she proposes to go again next year but the ARCH Committee have stipulated that they book beds now!
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