New regulations in Flanders will put an end to using real ponies, horses or other equine animals for fairground carousels, according to a press release from Flemish Minister for Animals Ben Weyts.
Holders of fair ponies, which frequent markets, festivals and similar events, have until 2023 to stop their activities.
“After consultation with the actors involved, with support measures and reasonable deadlines, we are saying goodbye to another outdated custom,” said Weyts.
At many fairs in Flanders, people can still take a ride on a real pony or horse instead of a mechanical carousel.
Those animals have to monotonously spin around in a circle for the carousel, surrounded by crowds and loud music, Weyts points out.
“Step by step, we in Flanders are saying goodbye to outdated customs, which no longer fit in with how we as a Flemish society view animal welfare,” Weyts said.
“No more slaughter without anaesthesia, no docking of tails, no more fur farming or force feeding and now no more fair ponies either. We have a damn duty to actually avoid avoidable animal suffering.”
A compensation scheme is being provided for the owners of fair ponies as part of the discontinuation of the activities.
Existing fairground pony owners who want to continue their activities until the end of 2022 must register.