A local Tengger man sits astride his horse in the Sea of Sand while waiting for customers to lead across the caldera at Mt. Bromo.

At Taman Nasional Bromo Tengger Semeru, thousands of tourists from around the globe flock daily to watch the sun rise over the valley. The two main points of interest here are the Sunrise Viewpoint and the Bromo Crater. At each of these points, tourists can pay locals to ride horses along the trails rather than walking. However, although this business may support tourism and the local economy, it is quite controversial. The animals here are clearly treated poorly for the personal gain of local families.

You can see from simple observation that the horses exploited here are stressed and suffering. Many of them exhibit behaviors such as persistent stomping and foaming at the mouth. A large amount are starving, with ribs and other bones sticking out of their bodies. Many are lame, either limping or walking with hooves flailing out at strange angles. A good number are clearly sick and dying. However, the locals don’t show much regard for the welfare of these animals. Under the right conditions, riding a horse across the crater holds great appeal for many tourists. However, if you’re making the journey to Mt. Bromo, make sure you do your research and understand the whole picture before agreeing (or, hopefully, disagreeing) to ride a horse. Situations such as this one can be difficult, because on one hand, you want to support the livelihoods of the local people, but on the other hand, you don’t want to enable animal abuse. Do you have any thoughts as to what a possible solution might be?

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