80,000 horse could end up at the abbatoir (French for “slaughterhouse”) as a result of a proposed tax increase on equestrian centers, claimed protesters as they brought Paris streets to a crawl, er, clip-clop during a massive protest.
Top photo: sfgate
Thousands of human and equine protesters came from across the country on Sunday to demonstrate against a plan that would raise the tax on equestrian centers from seven to 20 percent across the country, which is set to host next year’s World Equestrian Games.
“Riders, up in arms!” shouted protesters carrying signs reading “Sales tax at 20 percent–Death of Horses and Ponies,” reported Reuters.
Protesters wheeled a guillotine through the streets, with its blade looming above a toy horse’s head. Other protesters hoisted a horse effigy on a crucifix.
One sign read “Too many taxes = Spanghero,” a reference to the French firm the government said sold horsemeat labeled as beef that made its way through the European food chain, prompting a food scandal earlier this year.
“It’s a death blow,” Serge Lecomte, president of the French Horseriding Federation, told Reuters TV. Protesters estimated about 6,000 jobs would also be lost as a result of the tax.
Serge Lecomte, the president of the Fédération Française d’Équitation, told journalists: “The situation is exceptional. The whole sector is now in danger, ” according to The Guardian. He said the tax increase would lead to the closure of 2,000 of the country’s 7,000 riding centers and “send 80,000 horses to the abattoir.”
The paper reports that France has about 700,000 riding instructors and 2.3 million people who ride (not a bad ratio for lessons, by the way). It is the third most popular sport in France, coming right behind soccer and protesting.
Watch these clips for some of the cutest pony protesters you’ll ever see: