Thousands of people are protesting against an annual Spanish bull-spearing event that activists claim is extreme animal abuse.

The demonstrators broke makeshift spears as they marched Saturday in downtown Madrid to rail against the Toro de la Vega event where men on horseback chase down a bull and spear it to death.

The bull spearing will happen Tuesday in the town of Tordesillas, about 190 kilometers (118 miles) northwest of Madrid.

It has been held for centuries and is defended by supporters as an important historical tradition.

During the event, a bull is driven by men on horses with spears to a field where it is killed. The person who kills it gets a medal.