GAWF has been lobbying to stop the cruel practice of ‘hobbling’ (tethering the animals’ legs) since 2018, and in 2020 we launched FOUR FEET FREE: Our fight to end hobbling in Greece,
Hobbling is the tethering, to each other, of two or more legs, when an animal is not at work.
The main reason for this traditional practice is the need of the owners either to confine their animals within a particular, unfenced area or to make the “recapture” of animals left to wander freely relatively quick and easy. It’s a very common, established practice in areas where the local terrain is rocky or sparsely vegetated.
Hobbling has a number of negative effects on the animals’ health and working ability and brings with it a high risk of accidents (dislocations, fractures) that can lead to death, only sometimes via euthanasia. Permanent hobbling fails to observe three of the “five freedoms” of animal welfare and is considered animal abuse.
Our pilot anti-hobbling project, FOUR FEET FREE, launched in September 2020, focussing on the widespread practice of equine hobbling on one particular Greek island – Paros, in the Cyclades.
The aim is to identify what works best to reduce (and we hope, to ultimately end) the cruel and dangerous way of controlling the movement of animals.
Our approach is multi-faceted: to inform owners about the negative effects of hobbling and the existing animal welfare laws; to demonstrate alternatives and convince them to use these instead, and to engage the local authorities, ensuring that they are aware of their respective roles. We will also educate the younger generation on equine welfare and, finally, make the whole local community aware of the negative effects of hobbling.
Although this project is focused on the equidae of Paros, once results indicate the most effective approaches, we can expand to to other locations where hobbling is widespread, and, ultimately, the whole of Greece.