Happy Horses Holiday Code

By following this straightforward advice you can quickly assess the condition of a horse or donkey and help to promote better working conditions and a more comfortable ride for you and the animal.

Follow these 10 simple steps and you can:

  • Help prevent animal suffering
  • Help promote animal welfare
  • Enjoy a safer, more comfortable ride
  • Provide valuable income for local people
A large tourist on a donkey

10 simple steps

1. Match sizes

Horses and donkeys in developing countries are not always as strong as you might think, so always match your size to that of the animal and ensure that your weight is evenly balanced when riding.

2. Pay a fair price for the ride

Encouraging owners to undercut each other only devalues the work of the horse or donkey – and means both owner and animal must work even harder to earn a living wage.

Encouraging owners to undercut each other only devalues the work of the horse or donkey – and means both owner and animal must work even harder to earn a living wage.

3. One person per animal

No horse or donkey should carry more than one rider. The animal must accept your weight without discomfort and be able to start, stop and move easily. If it stumbles, staggers or appears to be struggling in any way, please get off.

A horse pulling a carriage in Petra

4. One wheel per person when riding in a carriage

Two people in a two-wheeled cart and so on. Carriages should be driven at a walking pace only or it can run into the animal when it stops.

5. Take a closer look

It's important to look past the decoration or carriage and choose an animal that is fit and healthy - with a good covering of flesh, rather than prominent hip bones, backbones or pelvis.

6. Avoid using animals with sores and wounds

Check places where equipment could rub such as the mouth, shoulders, spine and belly. Wounds might be hidden under a saddle or harness, so if you are concerned, ask to check.

7. Read the comfort signs

A healthy animal will have a high head position, with eyes open and ears forward. It will also stand evenly, so look at all four legs for signs of pain or injury and check for cracked or misshapen hooves.

You can help Brooke promote better working conditions for animals and owners.

8. Speak out

If you see an owner mistreating his animal by riding it hard or whipping it, we urge you not to use their services - and explain why.

9. Offer praise

If an animal seems well looked after, please praise the owner and tell him why you have chosen to give him your trade.

10. Report mistreatment

If you see an animal being severely mistreated, consider making a formal complaint to your tour operator, tourist police or the local authorities.

Tell people about the Happy Horses Holiday Code

There are lots of ways for you to share the Brooke's Happy Horses Holiday Code:

  • Download the Happy Horses Holiday Code (PDF 1.5Mb) and make some copies to share with family and friends.
  • Tell people that you are following the code by linking to this page (just copy and paste the URL) from your Facebook wall.
  • Tweet this page with #ResponsibleTourism.

More information

Everyone has the power to prevent a working horse or donkey from suffering and Brooke is now on hand to help caring travellers and tour operators make responsible choices.

On 30 October 2014 Brooke and the Petra authorities launched the Care for Petra campaign.