Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Horse Power

Cuba has had a long tradition of using horses for riding and for urban and rural transport. The national population of horses has been in decline for some time and now stands at about 400,000. Recent trends suggest resurgence in the use of horses for pulling carts and carriages, and the population may stabilise or even grow. Mules (30,000) are mainly used for riding and packing in the mountain areas (one quarter of the country is hilly). There is quite a small population of donkeys (6000) that are mainly used for breeding mules. 

Since 1990, and the break up of the socialist trading bloc, Cuba has been experiencing special economic conditions, with problems relating to the cost and/or availability of fuel and spare parts for motor vehicles. This led to an increase in the use of horses for both rural and urban transport. Private operators provide public transport in many towns using horse-drawn buses and carriages. The government regulates these, and licence conditions require animals to be inspected. There are limits to the permitted loading of horse-drawn passenger and freight transport. Pack transport in the mountains is unregulated, but overloading does not appear to be a problem. Although some animals used for urban transport are thin, animal health and husbandry is generally good, with excellent veterinary services.

Source: The importance of horses, mules and donkeys in modern Cuba.
 by Paul Starkey, Arcadio Ríos, Humberto Valdés and Pedro Sotto.

This hilarious picture was taken in Moron. The owner handed over the reins, and his hat, to Llyris who sat comfortable in the seat. Meanwhile (back at the ranch) Rob was terrifying some poor old dear in the back with his best Spanish translation of how she could expect the ride of her life!

This was us buying lunch on the street in Varadero where the buggie drivers were also dining.

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