FRANCE – NEWS AND OPINION: At night, across France, there have been 18 ritualistic mutilations of horses and donkeys. Investigators believe that they are part of sadistic rituals. My first impression is that they almost appear to be copycat crimes based upon the controversial play which was aired in 1973, written by Sir Peter Shaffer, called Equus.
The play caused a scandal and it is based upon the true story of a 17-year-old boy, Alan Strang, who blinded six horses in a small town in the country in the UK. The play tells the story of a psychiatrist, Dr Martin Dysart who tries to understand Strang’s mind which I’m told was the product of his intense religious upbringing. There are sex and religious connotations combine with a fascination with a horse, Equus.
My theory is probably too high blown, fanciful and discredited because, apparently, two suspects, in their 40s, were seen slashing two ponies and a horse. They attacked their owner with a machete in a refuge for animals. It took place in the Burgundy village of Villefranche-Saint-Phal. The owner of the ranch, Nicholas Demajean confronted two men who gashed his arm. They ran off. He set his dog on them but failed to catch them.
He believes that they came to kill the animals and that it was some kind of ritual. One pony was severely hurt with a deep and long cut. Investigators don’t have an idea as to what the motive is. But there appears to be ritualistic, sadistic and sexual connotations similar to those in the play Equus.
Some horses have been badly harmed and many have died as a consequence. For example one horse had its eyes gouged and another it’s genitals cut.
In August, this year, an 18-month-old horse was stabbed in the heart and a riding school in eastern France. The horse was killed in body parts removed. They believe that it is more than one person acting because of the difficulty in restraining a horse while it is being harmed.
In a place called Dreux, which is 55 miles south-west of Paris, a farmer said that his horse had been tied to a tree and its throat cut. He called the criminals barbarians.
My research comes up blank for the motives behind horse ripping. Perhaps there are no fancy motives or motives from the mind of a troubled young man. Perhaps it is simply another variant of what we see over and over again; the abuse of animals by developing criminals who end up harming people. Animal abuse is very widespread, we know that. Why do people abuse animals? My theory is that it is a release for people who are angry. It is akin to self harming. When they harm and kill animals they feel better for a while until the motive builds up again. They are of course damaged people but they are also barbaric criminals who need both rehabilitation and punishment.
Mutilating horses is not confined to France, obviously. Between 1983 and 1993, in Britain, there were 160 alleged cases of “horse ripping” as it appears to be referred to.