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To Ban or Not to Ban; The Horse Drawn Carriage Issue

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Lately, the news has been inundated with the issue of banning horse drawn carriages from the streets of New York City. A it is, NYC is becoming more and more populated and fast moving with traffic and people alike. It's not as safe as it used to be for horses to be in the streets or in Central Park.

Personally, I am not 100% against horse drawn carriages, but I am 100% against unhealthy working conditions, horses that are worked for too long, not allowed to be horses and get proper grazing, enough water or good rest time. I have seen some of these horses work long hours in extreme temperatures, and some have been in horrific accidents. However, I have also seen healthy horses, well fed and well groomed that seemed to enjoy having a job. Like people, some horses prefer to work, others want to laze about. Humans are simply not put together with the mindset to know the difference, nor to care. Not when it comes to the bottom line--making money!

Let's take a look at some of the "fors" and "againsts" that have been in the news as of late, and what conclusion we can come to from these thoughts.

On syracuse.com, people expressed their thoughts on the carriage issue. Some were quite valid. Others were obviously from people who do not know nor understand the mind of a horse.

Putting people out of business? Over horses? Animal cruelty laws make no sense. You can shoot a deer but you can't shoot your dog. You can rip the mouth of a fish, but you can't rip a cat's mouth. You can whip a horse to make it run faster in a race, but you can't earn an honest living giving rides in the park. They should make ALL animal cruelty illegal, or none of it.

This reader has a point, but has taken that point to extremes. I personally think ALL animal cruelty should be illegal. But there are variables in place between the differences in owning a pet and the rights of wild animals. So, as seen that way, these horses are not wild animals. I agree ALL animals deserve rights. But, the "rights" of a wild animal is too much into the grey area to come into question or to use as a reference in this case. NYC carriage horses, however, are domestic animals. They deserve to be treated with fairness and respect. All animals that live within the human domain, whether pets or for work, deserve to be treated in a manner that fills the requirements of their natural instinct and satisfies both their physical as well as emotional needs. Horses are extremely intelligent animals, and people need to start realizing this and stop treating them as if they have no clue what's going on, as if they can't feel and as if they don't care.

Maybe someone will do a story on the fate of the horses once they are starving or euthanized after they no longer have work.

What will happen to the carriage horses once they no longer have jobs? Meat market? Auction (which often leads to the meat market)? Or will someone care enough to make sure they all find good homes in the country?

This isn't a liberal or conservative issue, it's a stupid vs. not stupid issue. Horses are bred to be working animals. Just like dog breeds in the working group, they are happier when working. It's more cruel to these animals to take away the purpose for which they were bred. Putting these animals in a pasture is as cruel as putting an Irish wolf hound in an apartment.

All horses... and I mean ALL horses are essentially "made" for work (in that they are big and muscled and can work well). This does not mean they need to be worked into the ground or have to endure long hours standing on hot pavement on burning days or in extreme cold (although horses can handle the cold much better than the heat). A recent study I read proved that all horses have an essentially lazy nature (read http://www.examiner.com/article/horses-are-not-vicious-they-are-lazy). Don't forget, horses are grazing animals, all of them. Of course they would prefer to be a horse, which means grazing up to 18 hours a day, with some light work thrown in there.

A smarter solution would be to limit them to Central Park -- and back to the routes that were once reserved for the horse-drawn carriages. To boost ridership, they moved them out onto the busy streets and that's where the problems happened. Many (not all) of the horses are treated like family. He is just making a political statement without knowing or wanting to know all the facts.

An interesting point. I actually thought the same thing. When I was in Central Park, I enjoyed watching the horse drawn carriages (simply because I love horses). They did not seem upset, scared, underfed or miserable. But, out in the heavy traffic areas, I can see where this might become a bigger issue.

I say give the horses less hours pulling, more time to graze (where do NYC horses live anyway? In a barn unless they are working? If this is true, then this is no better than race horses, who also are confined to stalls. This lifestyle is against a horse's natural need to graze, to be outside, to run and to play). Keep carriages to Central Park, in the paths that wind around the grassy areas of the park. It's a humongous place, so there's plenty to satisfy the tourists without having to subject the horses to the busy and insane traffic and dangers outside the park.

There is a solution to this, and it is not necessarily to remove the horse drawn carriages, but to take a good hard look at the life of each horse, choose the right horses for the job, and don't make them work so hard that they are worn out, lamed or sour. Make sure they are always provided with water and forage, and never work them on hot days or extreme weather. After a few years, find them a nice home to "retire" in the country where they can live out their lives as a horse.

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