Photo of the day: Horses say ‘neigh’ to Hollande

Protests and strikes have swept France in recent weeks and on Sunday it was the turn of a new breed of demonstrator to show their opposition to the French government - the horse. Find out why they had the bit between their teeth.

Photo of the day: Horses say 'neigh' to Hollande
Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

Thousands of angry horse and pony riders descended on Paris along with their animals to complain about tax hikes that they say will put many of them out of business.

The "cavaliers" as they are known rode into town and set up roads blocks at various locations throughout the city including Place de la Bastille and Place de la Nation.

The image above shows a man wearing a horse shaped mask holds a placard reading "Hollande you are not the right horse" as he  takes part in the demonstration against the French government's proposed raising of the Value-Added Tax (VAT) for equestrian centers, in the streets of Paris on Sunday.

According to the government's plan, from 2014 equestrian centers will no longer benefit from the reduced VAT rate of 7% and will have to provide services while including the highest VAT rate of 20% in their prices.

Serge Lecomte, the president of the Fédération Française d'Équitation, has warned the measure "will send 80,000 horses to the abattoir."

Sunday's march, follows a farmers blockade of Paris last Thursday and comes after weeks of vigorous demonstrations with agrifood and road transport workers in the Brittany region of western France.


Dubbed the “Bonnets Rouges” after their emblematic red hats, a reference to a 17th-century tax revolt, the movement has itself blockaded major motorways in and around Brittany, and clashed with riot police.

Some frustrated members of the movement have also destroyed dozens of speed radars and metal toll gates set to be used to enforce the ecotax.

The protests in Brittany forced French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to back down last month, and he suspended the ecotax, which would have been implemented from January 1st 2014, pending a “dialogue” with the movement.

The Bonnets Rouges blockades and protests, however, have continued, as the movement’s leaders demand the total abandonment of the ecotax, which they fear would cripple the agrifood sector, which is crucial in the region.

On Saturday, around 2,000 trucks caused significant disruption to traffic in and out of several French cities including Paris, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon and Lille.

Last week, around 2,000 protestors brought horses and ponies to protest in Dijon, eastern France, against the planned VAT hike on the equine sector.

Thursday’s planned blockade by farmers, then, will take place in an atmosphere of widespread anger in France and near-revolutionary levels of opposition to the policies of the Socialist-led government.

One French newspaper last week even went so far as to warn that the country was “on the brink of social explosion.”

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