Horse collapses from exhaustion in Cianjur, West Java

Colorful horse carriages dating from the Dutch colonial era, also called delman, are a familiar sight on Indonesian streets today. However, the tourist attraction has caused concern for the welfare of the animals pulling the heavy carriages around in crowded cities.

In an Instagram video originally posted by @cianjurtoday, a horse collapsed in the middle of a busy street in Cianjur, West Java, allegedly due to exhaustion after pulling a carriage for human passengers.

The video of the horse worried many viewers

cianjur horse carriage 1
Video adapted from @cianjurtoday

Eyewitnesses that spoke to local media said that the horse had collapsed on the Cianjur street after it had been pulling some passengers on the carriage attached to its back. The video shows the horse lying on the street, virtually immobile at first.

cianjur horse carriage 2
Video adapted from @cianjurtoday

Many cars and motorcycles were held up as the carriage and horse obstructed the busy road, so the carriage driver and passers-by had to move them out of everyone’s way.

From @cianjurtoday’s video, however, we can see that the horse was struggling to even stand up as the people tried to pull it up from the street.

cianjur horse collapsed 3
Video adapted from @cianjurtoday

After the carriage was removed, the horse continued to lie on the road. The driver was seen hitting the horse with a leash and pulling its head and tail to get it to move out of dangerous traffic.

cianjur horse carriage 4
Video adapted from @cianjurtoday

The last part of the video shows the horse standing on the side of the road, presumably after being pulled over by the driver and bystanders, and people replacing the saddle onto its back.

Netizens criticize horse owner, called for a ban on horse carriages

Netizens took to Instagram to express their anger towards the delman owner and his companions, who were forcefully pulling and tugging the collapsed horse to make it get back up. Some also called for a ban on the use of horses as a means of transportation and as a tourist attraction.

netizens against delman horse carriages 1
A netizen calling for an end to horse carriage transport in Indonesia

Image adapted from @jakartaanimalaidnetwork

One netizen, @_devinathania_, said she would rather walk or take a bicycle than use a horse to get around: “Please, no one should want to get on a delman again. Poor horse, made to work like a slave. I’d prefer to use a bicycle or walk rather than torturing a horse like that. How can you earn money like this, pak?”.

She addressed her comment to the delman owner, referring to him as pak, a common term of address towards men.

netizens against delman horse carriages 2
Image adapted from @jakartaanimalaidnetwork

Others criticized the practice of delman horse carriages, calling it backward and inhuman, and that we should adapt to modern times by ending it.

Netizen @suzananindy asked the government of Cianjur to step in: “Stop the use of delmans! It’s already 2021! Delmans were used long ago because there were no vehicles! Please, government in charge, stop the practice of delmans. I pity the horse!”

netizens against delman horse carriages 3
Image adapted from @jakartaanimalaidnetwork

@andriasandi18 added, “Until when will horses be used to work like this in Indonesia? I wonder why Indonesians are not thinking ahead and still stuck in the old times. In modern times, why still make horses work like this? Stupid! #stopmakinghorseswork”

An animal welfare organization has stepped in

The original video of the collapsed horse went viral and received attention from the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) that has since sent its team to check on the animal and its owner. In a recent media interview, the owner of the horse said that he did not have enough money to feed the horse due to a lack of demand for delman horse carriage transport during the pandemic.

In a post today, the Jakarta Animal Aid Network updated followers about what they learned when they paid a visit to the horse and its owner. After 12 years of working with its owner, the horse is occasionally pulling delman carriages with the owner’s son to make a living, as the owner is now working in rice fields due to economic hardship.

JAAN representatives brought food to the horse and asked the owner not to let the horse work. The horse will be monitored by a representative every two days, and the organization aims to find him a new home.

Delman carriages were first used for transportation during the Dutch colonial era

delman horse in colonial era indonesia
Image credit: matakota

The delman is a carriage that was used as a mode of transport during the time of Dutch colonisation in Indonesia. Back in the day, the delman was seen as a status symbol that only the wealthy could afford. It consists of a horse and a carriage that is attached to the horse, with seating space for passengers.

modern delman horse cart in indonesia
A Jakarta horse carriage in a 2018 photo. Photo for illustration purposes only.
Image credit: ANTARA/Rivan Awal Lingga via Mediaindonesia

Over the years, this tradition stuck around in Indonesia, was turned into a business, and is now used as a local attraction. Delman horses can be found almost everywhere in our country, and the horses are even embellished with jewelry and headgear to represent the culture of each city.

The video raises awareness of animal welfare in Indonesia

Although much attention has been brought to the horse’s suffering and its owner who is financially struggling, more public attention needs to be given to animal welfare in Indonesia.

There are many organisations in Indonesia that provide support and assistance to animals in Indonesia, such as Profauna Indonesia, Animal Sanctuary Trust Indonesia, and Yayasan Pencinta Satwa to name a few.

We hope that incidents such as this one will not occur again, and that authorities, animal welfare groups, and animal lovers can continue working together to bring attention to them.

Cover image adapted from: ANTARA/Rivan Awal Lingga via Mediaindonesia (for illustration purposes only) & @CanjurToday

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