Horse-fighting has been outlawed in most countries but not in China. Animal activists from the non-profit organization Animals Asia called the tradition a "horrific spectacle," and says that local government officials now actively encourage this cruel event in order to attract tourists to the area.
"Animals Asia opposes this cruelty and will continue to call upon the government to enact animal protection legislation to ban this practice and other ‘traditions' which cause abuse and suffering to animals in the name of entertainment," reads a statement on their website.
Locals argue that horse-fighting is steeped in tradition. "Without horse fighting it wouldn't feel like a new year," Pan Jianming, whose horse won a competition, told AFP. He also added, referring to his horse's bloody bites, "We have medicine to treat his injuries, and he will gradually get better."
Horses are not naturally aggressive and wouldn't normally engage in behavior like this. Says Vetstream:
Horses in the wild show very little overt physical aggression as they normally live in stable social groups. When they do occur, aggressive encounters are normally short-lived and end with one individual retreating away from the situation.