Eye Witness Report

By Sir Alfred Munnings (President of the Royal Academy from 1944 to 1949)

He visited some bullfights in Spain, and here are some excerpts from his AUTOBIOGRAPHY (Museum Press) Witnessed before the introduction of ‘PETO’ protected wicker apron worn by horses.

“I have sat at dinners given by the American Ambassador in Spain with a titled Spaniard as my neighbour, hearing things of bullfighting not written in books. Have we read in those novels extolling the matador, of living skeletons - once horses - ridden not only to slaughter but in a tawdry procession? Have we read of punching, horning, or weeks of durance between Sundays, with flies crawling over festered wounds, as the victims, not killed, await in the stables NEXT SUNDAY’S SPORT? Watch such a procession, and see some fifteen sorry steeds, doomed, starved, carrying heavy, stuffed out picadors. No wonder the horses are hurled to the ground, overweighted, weak and half-dead.

Passing the tall archway, I had seen a little white horse. To my surprise it was in the procession, carrying a great picador, and the next thing we saw was the little white horse and another in the ring. This humble white horse stood there blindfolded, his ears stuffed and tied, little knowing what he was there for. Oh, little white horse; Little White Horse!’ I kept repeating to myself, as the bull put a long horn right through the little horses neck, just above the windpipe.

Imagine the fright of the horse, blindfolded and deaf, at the sudden stab. Then the bull, his horn through the neck of the horse began dragging it slowly round with him, the picador dismounting and others in the ring trying to free the horse, now no longer a horse, but a HOLIDAY VICTIM, the blood running down its white jaw and neck.

When cleared, and the picador REMOUNTED, the bull CHARGED, hurling man and horse backwards with a crash against the wooden barrier. ‘Oh little white horse.’ I said to myself and, the picador being rescued, and the bull attracted away, THEY BEAT THE HORSE TO IT’S FEET with blood streaming from a wound in its chest, down its white legs. The time was up for the horses, and the white horse and the other - A STARVED EMACIATED BAY MARE were lead out to come in again. The little white horse’s end came later.

The bay, its teeth chattering with fear, having been in before, stood near the barrier below us, the motley red and white striped bandage over its offside eye, its ears stuffed with tow, and tied with what seemed to be old electric wire. The Bull made short work of the bay horning the horse from behind. The picador cleared, and the horse beaten to its feet by red-shirted attendants. There, from the underpart of its belly hung a large protruberance of bowels. With head outstretched a man hauling it along on the end of the rein, another hitting it with a stick, it was led out.

Not a soul cared, excepting ourselves.

But what of the white horse? He too was lifted and hurled on his back, to the CHEERS OF THE CROWD, and when beaten to his feet was STOMPING ON HIS OWN ENTRAILS, WHICH STRETCHED AND SPLIT LIKE PINK TISSUE PAPER…”

FREE LITERATURE AND PICTURES from Mrs. Dorothy Kirwan, 6 Marford Row Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Clwyd.