Every year in Italy, in The Palios and Jousts, many horses die:

Can we sacrifice the life of animals for the entertainment of human beings? Think about it.
Just say NO to the Palio and Jousts: do not be an accomplice to the exploitation and death of horses!




    We often hear it said that horses are born to run. In reality, horses live in freedom running onlyto play or escape from predators. You can't compare a spontaneous race (that has precise ethological motivations) to one whose principle component is human desire and certainly not that of the horse. Animals don't have a choice: with a person on its back, continually whipped, in pain caused by the use of rigid vices, they are forced to run. But this type of race is only the tip of the iceberg of the types of exploitation to which horses are subjected: they are broken in and trained with coercive methods, exhausting training and races. Often the horses used in the Palios and Jousts are race track shy, and often, they are involved in clandestine races. Gradually as their performance decreases, these horses pass to other forms of exploitation, until, when they are, by then, completely "useless", they are partially slaughtered.

  • Danger of Accidents and Death

    Hundreds of horses die in the Palios and jousts. For example, in Siena 48 horses lost their lives, in Asti - between 2000 and 2003 – 12 died; in the 2009 edition a horse fell, became lame, and then was put down. The courses where horses are forced to race are dangerous: they involve piazzas with narrow curves; occasionally the courses pass through the streets of the historical center, forcing horses to take a dangerous trajectory. Notwithstanding that a major system of security has been introduced, by ordinance of the Ministry of Health and in force since September 2009, the risk of falling, crippling, and death still remains high. The accidents verified in the last months demonstrate that it is impossible to eliminate the risk that horses can injure themselves and die.

  • doping


    Often the Palios and jousts are also the stage of illegal activity, like doping. The heated competition between districts or regions and the desire to win make unscrupulous jockeys or teams use chemical drugs to augment the performance of their horse. The drugged animals become faster and stronger, but it is precisely for this reason that their life is placed even more in danger: they are physically pushed beyond normal limits that can cause death by collapse and cardio-respiratory attack. No tradition can justify the exploitation and death of animals! You too can contribute to the elimination of this horrendous exploitation: Don't but a ticket to assist in these barbarous events!


    We have always sustained that the July 25 patron saint of Pistoia, during which there is also the Bear Joust, is an important mass and entertainment event for citizens, tourists and simple curiosity seekers of all ages, as well as an optimum money making opportunity for many shop owners, especially in this difficult economic period. We are, however, against the use of horses, like any other species of animal, in the Bear Joust equestrian competition, which causes the injury and death of numerous horses: the research result of local newspaper chronicles indicate that from 1975 to today that the lives of at least 10 horses had been lost; of the fate of the 17 horses injured or lamed during the practice or competition we were not able to find any information.



(Source: Pistoia News chronicles of "LA NAZIONE" and "IL TIRRENO" newspapers)

  • 1980

    ELOYSE, a horse of the Golden Lion district, breaks a leg during the joust.
  • 1984

    During the joust four horses fall. One of them, TORNADO, from the Dragon district, breaks an ankle and is put down (euthanized). There is no information about the other horses.
  • 1985

    The horse from the White Deer district, AGATA, breaks a leg during the joust and is put down. Another horse also remained injured but there isn't any additional information about this horse.
  • 1987

    During the trials, a horse has a serious accident, the responsible parties do not want to make a statement and nothing more about the accident is known. During the joust, PICCADILLY, a Golden Lion horse, breaks a leg and is put down. A White Deer horse is also injured and maybe put down.
  • 1988

    Two horses from the Griffon District are injured.
  • 1992

    Three horses are injured: two belong to the White Deer district, one of them fractures his hind leg; the other horse is from the Griffon district. Also, in this case, there isn't any news about the fate of these animals.
  • 1995

    The Golden Lion horse, JAPANESSA, breaks its right front leg during the trials; a Dragon district horse is also injured.
  • 1997

    FOGARIZZO, a Dragon district horse, is injured during the trials and is put down. The same destiny for SENAPE, a Griffon horse, which is put down after it breaks its front left leg joint.
  • 1998

    Three horses are wounded: MORGHESTEN from the Golden Lion district, URALO and ECSTASY from the Dragon district. The latter fractured a hoof. We didn't find any information in the newspapers about their fate.
  • 2000

    LUPIN, a Golden Lion horse topples to the ground breaking the humerus of its left leg. The death of this horse was kept a secret.
  • 2011

    SOPRAN GINESTRA, a White Deer horse, is injured during the trials and subsequently put down.
  • 2014

    ORACLE FORCE, a horse of the Griffon neighbourhood has got a first falange compound fracture and AS A RESULT IT WAS KILLED.

    GOLDEN STORMING, another horse of the Griffon neighbourhood has suffered a radice ephiphyseal compound fracture and AS A RESULT IT WAS KILLED TOO.

Newspaper Articles

We have collected the articles from local newspapers about the accidents that occurred during the exhibition "Giostra dell'orso". Click on the years to read the full article.

Everything changes, also the most beautiful of traditions. The events that exploit animals must change. Maintaining their beauty and history, but changing them as regards to the animals. It is not difficult; in many places it has already been done. It is enough just to want to do it. No tradition justifies cruelty!


Since, notwithstanding the tactics and precautions adopted for a successful race, it is impossible to eliminate all of the risks that can injure or cause the death of horses, we propose impossible to eliminate all of the risks that can injure or cause the death of horses, we propose substituting real horses with mechanically driven horses, like those, for example, that have already been in use for many years at the Lodi District Palio; an event that in 2011 earned recognition by the "Patrimony of Italy" (the brand reserved for the national excellence of organizations or events that contribute to increasing the value of Italy's imagine), as being distinct on a national level in its ability to keep territorial folklore alive, for adapting traditional representations to the changing times, as respects to animals and the environment, and by providing incentives for the participation of visitors and tourists.

Among the criterion for winning the award, particular importance is attributed to the respect given to biodiversity and animals, that they mustn't be involved or exploited in any manner whatsoever. In fact, there isn't anything "cultural" in the death of an animal for the entertainment of spectators.

Not only: we further suggest combining the Joust with a competition for children, also in this case utilizing small mechanically driven horses (called "little colts"), to also allow the youngest of children to take part in this beautiful day of celebration. They will be awarded a medal or trophy, irrespectively of their result.

Watch the video about "Palio di Lodi"

LAV Sede Nazionale
Viale Regina Margherita, 177 - 00198 Roma
Web Site: www.lav.it
Email: info@lav.it
FB Page

Warm thanks to Gabriele Donati for his patient research in the library
and to Mr. Luigi Bisleri, Honorary President of Lodi Wasken Boys Club, for his helpfulness and kindness.

Thanks to Silvia Grassotti for graphic design and website creation,
to Nadia Zurlo, head of department equines of LAV, and to National LAV headquarters for their valuable support.