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January 13, 2008



I am speechless at this incredibly cruel & short-sighted law.
Have done as you requested.
Please let me know if I can do more.

Doug Joiner

This is an outrage and we should all campaign against the laws.

jay roberts

this is terrible for the people who,s life depend on horses ,what is this world coming to,absolute disrace

Erhard Schroll

You get our full solidarity and we will support you!

Starke Pferde - International draught horse magazine


how utterly ridiculous...

I will very definitely be writing. If only to save much practise on a small fat grey Shetland from going to waste :p No, seriously...I hope this isn't just the start of the descent into EU idiocracy :s

Terry Davis. Harness&horse collar maker

Not only is the use of equines an ideal power source for underprivilged regions of the world,it also has ecological benefits and in fact needs to be encouraged further.
The Romanian government is being somewhat shortsighted by taking this decision. I wish you well in trying to reverse it and offer you my full support.
Terry Davis


I've written an entry in Hoofbeats talking about this issue. I've included a link back to your entry here. I've also written to the President of Romania and the US Embassy, and included a copy of my letter in my blog. Good luck with this.

Pit Schlechter

We are spreading this hardly believable information through our network of fifteen european drafthorse associations and write letters to the president of Romania and different ministers. If anyone needs a german or a french translation of the article above, he should send an e-mail to [email protected]
Pit Schlechter President of the FECTU

Joy & Paul - The Ostler Carriage Co. Ltd

Bureaucracy gone mad !!

Modernisation never needs to be at the expense of tradition & heritage.

Insufficient care and thought has been given to the bigger picture by the people in suits and we will be writing as requested to lodge our disgust ( but not surprise !! )


Stephanie Wolfe Murray

Along with everyone else I am disgusted ad frustrated by this new law. In the UK we also tend to be over zealous about EU rulings. But with the horse-drawn carts it is madness. This is what we should be working towards (reducing pollution)not banning. Romania should realise it's lucky to be so far forward in the way we will all have to move towards when the oil runs out. It's a joke and must be stopped and I'm sure you could galvanise thousands of people, includig me, to march through Bucharest in outrage.


Is this not an infringement of the HUMAN RIGHT TO WORK & SUPPORT a FAMILY? Perhaps an appeal to the European Court might be possible.

Could you perhaps launch this as a seperate petition site? Or maybe a short video for You Tube - plenty of response to be had there.

Have written to all UK Horse magazines, UK Ambassador here & in Romania, Mr Basescu, HRH's Phillip, Charles & Anne. Please anyone who feels strongly, could you write too and support us.

Iulian Furtuna

Hi everyone,
No "fromage de lait cru" in France, no corida in Spain, that is very hard to accept by everyone here.. But not horses in the Romanian countryside, how peoples will leave? They will all buy old cars, more polution and no more tradition, poetry, human life...Just cars, cars, industries, no more peoples...That's will be so much more simple to control.We will just be all the same, not specificity, nowhere in this new Europe. I'll do what you sugest, peoples should move on the street in Bucharest, we should remind that horses transport is a necessity in countryside coditions & small distancies, forest, land, between vilages, and is fashion, too, ecological, an original image of an original country in Europe...Becoming europeens doesn't mean general anethesy!!
This new law is just like a very bad dream!! Hope we are not sleeping to hard...

Louise Ramsay

This is just the sort of thing that I feared when I heard that Romania was going into the EU. It is extraordinarily backward, as climate change kicks in and modernised countries look for ways to reduce carbon, to outlaw a form of transport that has a zero carbon footprint, and is also beautiful, traditional, a tourist attraction and quiet and safe compared cars, lorries and vans.

William Thirteen

will do Cap'n...


I guess that, since everyone is against the law, I could try be the devils advocate and defend it. It looks like many people here are interested in the rights of horse owners that are traveling by horse-drawn carts. Does anybody consider also the rights of the horses? Many of the horses in Romania (especially those used by the gypsies) are mistreated. They are malnourished and forced to carry very heavy loads.

The picture painted on the web site is very romantic but the reality is kind of cruel. With the crazy car traffic that is now in Romania it is very dangerous for horses to be used for traveling on important roads, especially at night. Many times horse-drawn carts are not well marked and it is very difficult to see them unless you are very close. Imagine this thing happening to you while driving with 80 kilometers per hour. In the more developed countries there are motorways that use some kind of separator between the two directions of traffic. In Romania there are many roads with very intense traffic that have only two lanes (one per direction of traffic) and no separator. This makes it very difficult to see at night because you are always blinded by the lights from the opposite traffic. It's very dangerous to travel by horse on these conditions.

Normally the villagers should use the horses to travel only a few kilometers around their villages on dirt roads, and not 20, 30 kilometers on asphalted roads. You should also think what all that noise and pollution from the car traffic that is on the big roads is doing to the horses.

I also think that human lives are very important and if this rule can save 10 lives per year then it is a very good rule.


I will respond now to Edward's comments. I have lived and worked eight years in Romania. Based on my observations, I disagree totally with the statement that "many of the horses are malnourished, mistreated and forced to carry heavy loads". This simply is not true.

What matters here is that, through the ideas of urban socialist politicians who rarely go outside the city, the rights of millions of farmers are being withdrawn. Edward, what do you think will happen to their horses when they cannot reach their fields? They will go for dogfood. Remember that they cannot go one metre legally on the highway in broad daylight now. Where do you think that the farmers will end up, as welfare lasts only six months in Romania. In the rest of the EU looking for jobs, very likely. Or seeking welfare in other EU states, because their right to work has been withdrawn. Remember that farmers have one of the highest suicide rates too. More farmers will commit suicide than car drivers lives be "saved" through this law.

In eight years driving in Romania, I have seen one accident on a main highway caused by a horse. In this time I have seen four accidents where car drivers ignored signs and red lights at railway crossings and were hit by trains. I have seen pedestrians hit on crossings, a head-on collision between a car (passing on a blind corner) and a bus, and numerous trucks overturned on sharp curves. People killed by drunk drivers. People killed by speeding. And so on. The horse carts are not the main source of danger on Romanian roads. Bad driving, that the police often ignore, is the biggest problem.

Remember that obliging farmers to light the carts properly at night is a reasonable law, and one that could be introduced. It is possible to require that carts are inspected for roadworthiness. The Romanian state could announce a plan to build separate tracks for horses parallel to the main roads. There are a battery of worthwhile road safety measures that allow EQUITABLE access to the roads. Or is the car driver god and king, with the right to throw horses, peasants, cyclists, etc off the roads so that he can speed around consuming non-renewable fuels until they run out?


I'll add that the Romanian ambassador to Canada is Mr. Gabriel Gafita and the address of the Romanian embassy is:

655 Rideau Street
Ottawa, ON
K1N 6A3


I would like to comment on "Transilvanianhorseman" here:

1. The fact that horses are excessively stressed out by the trafic and heavy loads is hard to argue against, unless one is completely blind or ignorant!

2.IT is a very interesting prediction you are making regarding the increase in the suicide rate of farmers, which would be higher then the reduction of the accidents...may I ask which christal ball are you using?

It is true, that better marking of the horse carriages would be usefull to raduce the accidents

I would also argue that from the point of view of well being of the horses, sending carriages on the secondary roads, can lead to harder work fo rhorses and less "friendly" ground, with more obstacles, stones and other unconveniences that would worsen the situation.

It is reasonable to imagine that many horses would be spaughtered if they can not be used anymore, but at least the overall amount of horses used for such heavy and health damaging work would be raduced in the future.


Karina is obviously not a regular reader of this blog. If she was, she would see that Romanian draft horses deal very well with normal traffic conditions and are not at all stressed out by them.

Secondly, she seems to be under the impression that Romanian farmers who cannot use horsedrawn vehicles will simply go out and buy trucks. This despite the fact that Romanian peasants make something like $3 a day.

Completely blind ignorance indeed!


The absurd of the law would be hilarious if it is not so tragic for many rural families depending on draft horse work in Romania. The absurd comes from the fact that in Romania is humanly impossible to enforce that law. Well, except discriminatory enforcement situations you mentioned. Are there any malnourished or overworked horses in Romania? Sure, they are, but where on earth there is no animal cruelty? In perspective, those situations are rare as most Romanians peasants respect and properly care for their horse since their own life depends on it.

That stupid law was put forward by not very smart but hugely supercilious politicians who, in most cases, are themselves the first urban generation in the family. For them, the horse-drawn cart is a symbol of a peasant society they got to get rid off as soon as possible, as they got to erase any trace of their own roots to become full Europeans. I would suggest you read some Caragiale because he was never more fitting than today. As for the car accidents due to horse-drawn carts: I reckon there quite a few - especially by foreign or inexperienced drivers driving too fast, mostly at night, and not used to third-degree encounters on Romanian village roads. In the end, Darwin operates in all places pretty much the same. And btw - laws requiring safety lights on animal-drawn vehicles are plenty, but, you guessed it, nobody enforces them in Romania.

Will do as you asked, Julian, for nothing brings me more pleasure than a reasonable motive to rant at those political midgets in Bucharest.


In the spirit of fairness I would like to mention that this problem regarding the horse-drawn carts is a problem of concern of many people, even BBC has written an article about this. You can see it here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7098896.stm

I am a person that likes to be convinced by arguments and not by emotions. The way things are presented here you are tempted to believe that a way of life is about to stop. That sounds very worrying and many people become very emotional about this and decide to help. My feeling is that things are exaggerated to some degree to make them sound more dramatic. One example of such exaggeration is to mention that 10 million people are affected. First of all I find it hard to believe that the whole rural population of Romania is 10 million (considering the large emigration from rural areas to big cities or even other countries). Second of all it is obvious to me that not every villager has a horse or a horse-drawn cart. Third of all I don’t think that all people owning horse-drawn carts actually use the roads affected by this new rule. I would expect that the number of people affected by this new rule in any way to be significantly lower, probably even significantly lower than 1 million.

From what I can see on Article 71 of the Highway Code the carts drawn by animals are not allowed to travel on national roads and inside municipalities. In other words they are not allowed to travel in the places with intense car traffic. I think this is a very reasonable decision since it will help decongest the traffic. On the other hand that doesn’t mean that horse-drawn carts are not allowed to travel between villages or that villagers are not allowed to go to the field and do their daily work. To base this argument of facts I could point out that national roads, European roads, highways and urban streets make out about 37000 Km out of the total road network of Romania that has almost 200000 Km. This means about 18 percent of the total road network. From what I see there are plenty of roads on which the horse-drawn carts can travel.
So that you don’t think I am making up these numbers I can point you at this web page: http://www.andnet.ro/retea_drumuri_EN.htm . It is part of the web site of the “Romanian national company of motorways and national roads”: http://www.andnet.ro/index_EN.htm

The decision of stopping access of the horse-drawn carts inside the municipalities sounds also very reasonable to me since these big cities have a very congested traffic. There are only 103 municipalities in the whole country and you can see a discussion about them on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_Romania

I think Article 71 is correct in principle. In practice there can be problems in implementing it and I think that this is the place where people should focus their attention. I can understand that in some places (especially in the mountains) there can be only one road between villages (which often happens to be a national road). In those special cases I guess it would be fair to allow the traffic of the horse-drawn carts but only in certain intervals of time where the car traffic is usually very light. Some special road signs could be made for this purpose.


Edward, away from Bucuresti, traffic levels are relatively low. I know because I drive on these roads frequently. 150,000km over the past few years. Remember that I live in Romania. In my opinion (as a professional transportation engineer with 16 years working in this field before coming to Romania), the majority of the national highway network in Romania is suitable for animal-drawn traffic. Removing horse carts won't decongest roads. Outside the munipalities (where horse carts rarely ventured), traffic is generally free-flowing. What little congestion there is tends to be caused by slow-moving trucks.

Yes, certain safety measures are advisable for slow-moving vehicles of all types, for example reflective signs all day and lights after dark. However, the biggest risks on Romanian roads are not caused by horse carts or peasant farmers. The problems are downright careless driving (passing on blind bends, for instance), speeding (many drivers have radar detectors), and alcohol.

Two recent examples. An acquaintance who drives a new SUV was stopped by police doing 130km/hr (90mph)within a village with a 50km/hr (30mph) limit, and was not prosecuted because he is a local businessman and has "contacts". The wife of another acquaintance ran down and killed a pedestrian whilst drunk at the wheel. She escaped because her businessman husband paid off the local police chief and anyway "the victim was only a gypsy". That kind of thing is the story of Romanian road safety, and it continues.

At present, survey results show that some 45% of the Romanian population is rural. That's about 10 million people. Around 3/4 million households comprising (as an estimate) 4-5 million people use horse-drawn vehicles. Many of these do depend on rural national highways to access their fields, woodland, get to market, etc. Assuming that 18% of people live along the 18% of highways that are "national highways", given the fairly homogenous spread of rural population, that's up to a million people affected. If the rights of the odd million people are to be sacrificed so that drivers can speed along faster and reach their destination a minute or two earlier - well, all I can say, is that the communist disregard for popular welfare is alive and well. The legislators are, remember, for the most part relics of Ceausescu's "Years of Light".

I remind readers that there was no public debate or consultation before the law was changed. The legislators didn't see the need to involve the citizens. To paraphrase Brecht, "they dissolved part of the population.....".

It always used to be a rule in highway management that motor vehicles give way to others (pedestrians, cyclists, animals, etc). Romania, however, in its desire to modernise, has thrown this precept away. Unfortunately, modernisation in Romania, often is warped into a misconstrued, egotistical concept that embraces a minority buying the biggest cars, building the biggest villas, indeed unsustainable ostentation for the most part. Equality, equity, fair wages, access to education and health care, etc, just don't figure in this concept of "modernity". Private wealth vs public squalour.

I come back to the need for an equitable system. People living in rural areas need to be treated equitably. That means access to convenient highways wherever possible, even if they are "have-nots" without cars. These people are citizens too. The law must provide for their needs, not persecute them. That is a precept of civil society. Clearly this is a lesson that Romanian politicians and legislators need to learn.


In the spirit of fairness, I would like to mention that Edward is right. At last, one man who thinks with his own head and does not need a guru to tell him how to think, or a captain or boss to tell him what to do. I was born in Romania and have been living here for over 45 years and I know my country better than others. I really know what's happening here.Indeed, some people on this blog are exaggerating and some have become very emotional.Calm down everybody! We Romanians have a saying that says -"dracul nu este asa de negru precum se pare " - "the devil is not as black as it seems". Too much noise for nothing! - Prea mult zgomot pentru nimic!Believe me!


"Days go past, and days come still,
All is old and all is new.
What is well and what is ill,
You imagine and construe.
Do not hope and do not fear,
Waves that leap like waves must fall;
Should they praise or should they jeer,
Look but coldly on it all."

"Gloss" by Mihai Eminescu - greatest Romanian poet & one of the world's greatest romantic poets.


Yes, Stephany, I mean no disrespect however there are lots of proverbs like that in Romania, about how things aren't as bad as they seem. I bet they were quoted widely when the Communists took over in 1947 and people started being sent to the Gulags.

Yes, it's great that there are people who think for themelves in Romania. At risk of being called "colonial" (again), I suggest that Romanians urgently need to think about what is good for their nation and all the people within it. About what is equitable, honest, good.

Romania will never become a technological nation like Germany. It needs to find a course appropriate to a largely rural land of forests, pastures and farms. In which the population are happy, healthy and have a sustainable future in this world of depleting fossil fuels. Still being largely rural gives Romania a huge headstart and a massive advantage over most other EU member states.


It is quite obvious that some here, even if they live in Romania, are not very accustomed with rural life. That goes beyond visiting some distant relatives for a couple of days. Or commuters who only spend the night in the country. Many families in Romanian villages have no cars, but still need a mode of transportation of some sort. Why? Because you can’t use your own hands to carry wood, hay, produce to the market, work the land in mountain areas, shopping etc. They can’t buy trucks for obvious reasons. It’s the only road they can use and now the law takes that away from them. What are they now supposed to do? If no alternative route is available, as in most cases it isn’t, what should they do? Built another overnight? What bothers me most is the arrogance of the legislators who never bother to think from peasant’s point of view and try some compromise. City motorists do not own any village roads- it’s public space to which village people are equally entitled. Actually, thinking of it, most village roads were made first by villagers well before any national agency took over and poured asphalt on it. In many instances the local city hall and local funds are used to maintain the roads. But people who pay for it have no say. If this is not communist way of thinking, I don’t know what it is. Julian is right, no question for anyone who see things as they are. Painting issues in sweet colors doesn’t make them any better.

As for “too much noise for nothing”: the Romanian peasant has amazing survival traits and an important one is to ignore everything coming out of the old or newer leaders mind that does not make much sense to them. Thus, this new law will never be really enforced in many places, and Lunca is one of them, given the specifics. Then, what’s the point of making laws that are not realistic in the slightest?


Never heard tell of such a law.Whats the rush to modernize the common peolple and country when the price of fuel is rising.The law is only slowing the countrys progress and harming the people.


I came across this on Anne's smellshorsey blog, I will add something on my blog as well. Hopefully that will help to get you more support.

Someone up there mentioned using UTube. I know that here it has been used to expose horse abuse cases and had a big response much quicker than traditional methods. So that might be a good resource.

Tracey/Desperate Horsewife

Oh, how terribly sad... Yes, I'll definitely be blogging and passing along the information for you.

Mike Morton

Romania is supposed to be a free country - if the bureaucrats obeyed speed limits there would be no need for a ridiculous ban which impinges on the rights of the rural communities of Romania.
Mike Morton
Transylvania Uncovered

M.J. Ackermann, MD

I agree with your sentiments. I have copied this far and wide and I have sent the following letter as you requested.

Good Luck!!!

Mr Traian Basescu, President
Palatul Cotroceni,
Strada Geniului nr. 1-3
Sector 5 - Bucuresti - Romania,
Cod postal 060116

18 February, 2008


Please accept my most respectful greetings from a rural physician in Nova Scotia, Canada.

I have recently learned about the new laws prohibiting the use of roadways by horses and horse carts. I understand that such laws are necessary in the congested traffic areas of city centers, but out in rural regions and especially on gravel country roads this policy makes little sense.

There are many beautiful regions of Romania that I have seen in film and on the internet, and I dreamed of one day traveling to your country to take part in an equine vacation, but I fear that by the time I get there this traditional lifestyle will be no more.

Please take time to revisit this policy. It can only harm your lovely country and its rich heritage.

Thank you for your kind attention,

M.J. Ackermann, MD (Mike)
Rural Family Physician, Sherbrooke, NS
Box 13, 120 Cameron Rd.
Sherbrooke, NS
Canada B0J 3C0

[email protected]

"Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst".



Doug Joiner

Let us keep a little perspective on things here.

I am a professional horse man in the UK (a horse logger and Chair of the British Horse Loggers). I earn my living working my horses and also drive and ride them on the roads in Britain. I led a group of BHL members to Romania on a study tour a couple of years ago and visited Julian at Lunca Ilvei. I think I can comment from a reasonably informed angle.

No one is trying to say that horses must be allowed on every road. I do not wish to drive my horses on the motorways here.

The former regime in Romania classified a number of roads as 'national highways'. These roads include quite a wide range and in the category are roads that we would consider (in the UK) to be 'B' and 'C' roads and smaller. The current Government has not reviewed the classification but has instigated this ban. On a superficial reading it sounds as if they are being sensible and keeping horses off motorways. In fact they are preventing legitimate trade and work.

As an example, when we visited Lunca Ilvei we were shown a large village of some 5,000 people. To work the land, extract timber, take goods to market and to move people around the good people of Lunca Ilvei had some 400 working horses and a few oxen. They had only 15 cars and 3 tractors. The road that runs through Lunca Ilvei and connects it to other villages is a 'national highway'.

The horses are essential to the daily life and work of these people and, given the number of vehicles, the horses are not facing heavily congested, high speed roads. There is no alternative to the use of the horses. So these good people (I use the phrase advisedly, they are good people) are now being criminalised for continuing to work as they have done for very many years. They are being penalised and they are suffering. Now, if we read the Telegraph, we can see that their horses are also suffering as a consequence.


I believe this to be ludicrous as it will only force people to polute the atmosphere and do away with natural sources of transport and business means.
If they stop horses from being used as a means for their business and livlihood then they are crazy!

Adrian Ghereben

I'm a romanian myself and really fell bad for all those romanian fellows that have only horse carts as transportation and are pretty much getting out of business when this law makers in Bucharest are not considering them as part of old tradition and not trying to prezerve it.


Beautiful horses from Romania for sale - www.calderasa.ro

Jeff Henderson

This is the most insane thing i ever heard, I live in Alberta Canada, I have a farm and use draft horses ( shires & percheron, by choice i do about 85% of the work by horses and love it and so they, and i damn well challeng anyone here to tell me that my horses arent healthy and happy doing what they were suppose to. It tree huggers like Edward, who make it hard for some ppl. These ppl they depend on their animals and vice versa. i hope these tree huggers like Edward are happy now that these horses are being sent to slaughter and the families not knowing how they can work the land and provide for their family. I cant get over the fact that some say buy a car, those coments leave me speachless this is a poor country if they could they would.and others saying that using horses is bad and abusive to the animals, look at the Amish people of america thats all they used for how many 100's of years and they do very well. anyone that knows anything about horses know that if they are being abused and mistreated they wont work hard for you how can they, and if your live depedns on yoru horse to put food on your table you really think they would mistreat their animals?

Zdenka Petrickova

The treatement of horses in Romania is pure cruelty. It is inhuman and shameful. Horses are working very hard during a whole day at the end of which they get no food or very little. They are overworked, underfed, exhausted and often beaten. When they become useless during the dead season they are abandoned, left to die of starvation. Horses are not considered as living creatures that can feel pain and fear. Everywhere in the country one can see dead or nearly dead stray horses. Animal welfare organizations do what they can but they don't have the means to help these hundreds of horses. Your government is not willing to take action.
You make a mockery of the most elementary animal welfare standards. In their lives and their unspeakable deaths, these animals have been denied even the simplest acts of kindness.
Shame on you!!!



To start with, I am not Romanian. I left Romania shortly after writing this post, having been harassed and threatened by too many Romanian people - in part, becuse I challenged the status quo, in part through their envy of my business. What I can say is that horses in the area where I lived were NOT overworked or maltreated, in general. I know becuse I saw with my own eyes. In the south of the country, in gypsy areas, doubtless there were problems. It seems to me - and others have told me this too - that problems have multiplied over the past year or more as a result of the ban on horse carts (which made rural life untenable for many), and also to some degree the international financial crisis (resulting in salaries not being paid, people losing their jobs, etc). There was also a drought in the south of the country that cased many animals to starve, and alost nothing was done to help these animals or their owners. This all suits the Romanian government, which will happily see the peasants liquidated - finishing the job that the communists started.

I did also organise trining for farriers and did promote good standards of animal welfare. In the area where I lived, I never saw an abandoned or serioulsy maltreated horse or one that had died from neglect. Actually a good horse cost several months income, so only a fool (or a thief who had not paid for his horse) would neglect a horse in such a severe way.

So I suggest that you withdraw your attack on me personally (save it for the Romanians and gypsies who deserve to be criticised, and the government that wants to see an end to family farms) and enter into dialogue with me. I could tell you some useful information if you really are keen to help Romanian horses.

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