04/26/2011 02:45 pm ET Updated Jun 25, 2011

Romanian Horse Abuse Videos Raise Somber Questions

Despite the soundtrack of Beavis-and-Butthead-like laughter, videos documenting the abuse of a young farm horse in Romania, posted on YouTube since November 2010, are not in the least bit amusing. Indeed, they are sickening and heartbreaking.

I found these videos after I was Tweeted and Facebooked to sign a petition requesting European Union and Romanian authorities to rescue this horse and sanction its abusers.

Young horse trying to pull sled

In the videos, taken by the abusers' sniggering cohort, a young, slightly built horse tries to pull a farm sled through the snow. In one of the two videos I watched, the horse is trying to pull a fully loaded sled. Clearly it is overfaced. The driver jumps down off the sled and starts whipping the horse forward. The horse heaves, panics and gets caught up in its harness unable to move.

Exhausted young horse collapses

The second video shows the same frail horse drawing the now empty sled. Exhausted, the horse buckles and collapses, still harnessed, still attached to the sled. Again, the driver jumps down, pushing and slapping to get the horse up. Again, the horse is whipped, it struggles to rise but cannot. Horses are creatures of flight, and for that beleaguered animal to stay down rather than flee demonstrates how exhausted and battered it is.

Make no mistake, this is not some old broken down horse too feeble for its job. Not that that would excuse the cruel treatment. This is a young horse, its dark gray color attesting its youth. A guesstimate would put this horse between one and three years old. From its sad condition and abusive treatment, I can't believe this creature will live long enough to lighten in color.

And what about the perpetrators of this abuse? Are they so unaware of their aberrant behaviors that they post it proudly on You Tube? In the United States, agriculture is fervent to keep such videos from the public -- to the extent that corporate agriculture is pushing to criminalize the taking of unauthorized videos of animal abuse, like those taken at Smithfield Food in December 2010.

One question is: how can videos clearly showing animal abuse remain on YouTube? Another more pressing question is: has there been an investigation into this documented abuse in Romania? As part of the European Union, Romania participates in a program funding animal welfare programs. Here's hoping that Romania's "poster child" for horse abuse has been rescued. Sorrowfully, I have my doubts. Someone, anyone, please prove me wrong.