Two more letters of support have arrived from vets familiar with the horses working in Chicago!
Many thanks to Drs. Smith and Beatty for taking time out of their busy schedules to support working horses in Chicago!
Let’s face it–horse drawn carriages are an easy target for radical animal rights activists and grandstanding politicians. Carriages operate beneath the magnifying glass of a sensationalist public eye. They thrive in a marketplace crowded with cabs, pedicabs, tour buses, Segways, bicycles, and so many other ways to view the city. Horses are farm animals planted in the middle of the least-rural environment possible. They don’t smell like the city, they don’t look like the city, and they don’t sound like the city.
City dwellers’ senses are dulled by an endless expanse of concrete and glass, the inescapable drone of gas powered engines. No silent places exist in the city, and no organic soundtrack accompanies the rat race. Humans create urban jungles as giant repositories of man-made ingenuity. Residents lose themselves and their histories in the never-ending march to work, eat, buy, repeat.
Put someone in the back of a horse drawn carriage and take them to the quietest street possible, where the city speaks in a whisper. The hollow, rhythmic footfalls of the horse entice the heartbeat to slow, the muscles to relax. Anxiety melts, if only for a while, and people breathe deeper, easier. Children often fall asleep in the back of a carriage, and conversations lull. Magic. Peace. Harmony.
Humans didn’t always molder away beneath fluorescent lights, parked in ergonomic seats, cultivating lists of friends they’ll never meet, and money they’ll never touch. We once enjoyed the sunlight, earned our lives from the soil we nurtured and the creatures who walked beside us.
The horse is a simple animal. They like to eat, they like to sleep, and they enjoy being horses. Hundreds of years of domestication have developed in them an expectation of human assistance: we bring the food, we soothe them when they become nervous, we are a part of their normal. Domestication happened, and in the process, animals became our cohorts in life. No matter what Peta believes, horses need us, and in return, we share their experience of the world. Stand next to a horse and feel their quiet strength. Place an ear against their side and listen to the vast expanse of their breath. The hand cannot resist the softness of horse’s nose.
Perhaps they need us less than we need them, and for this, we owe them our unflagging loyalty. We are caretakers for the wildness they no longer possess. We incorporate them into our lives and businesses, and in exchange, they remind us of who we once were. To eliminate horses from our cities at the insistence of extremists seeking to sever our ties with the animals who journey with us through life, destroys another link to a time when we were better: happier, healthier, calmer, and wiser.
Worst case scenario, let’s say the radical animal rights activists manage to shut down urban carriage operations. Let’s disregard for a moment the thousands of carriage horses suddenly flooding an already saturated market, and the uncertain fate that would await them. Put aside the many hundreds of drivers forced to find other employment and a way to support their families.
Big deal. Life goes on, and everyone faces hardship–why should carriage horses and drivers be any different?
But here’s the thing: give an extremist an inch, show them a weakness, and they will never stop. Horse drawn carriages are merely the start for those in our society who believe animals should not be property, should not exist as domesticated individuals in symbiotic partnerships with the human race.
Think I’m being dramatic? Read this.
Ok, don’t read it. I did and my eyes crossed, first from boredom, then from shock.
Try this instead.
It’s concise, and they put a disclaimer in that last paragraph. Not too bad, I suppose.
What about this?
I quote, “It’s cost-prohibitive to maintain a permanent sanctuary for the countless numbers of horses who break down in this industry.” But then the NYC extremist group proposed this:
“A horse shall not be sold or disposed of except in a humane manner
[.], WHICH, FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SUBCHAPTER SHALL MEAN ONE OF THE FOLLOWING: 1. THE OWNER SHALL SELL OR DONATE THE HORSE TO A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL WHO SIGNS AN ASSURANCE THAT THE HORSE WILL NOT BE SOLD AND SHALL BE KEPT SOLELY AS A COMPANION ANIMAL AND NOT EMPLOYED IN ANOTHER HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE BUSINESS OR AS A WORK HORSE AND WILL BE CARED FOR HUMANELY FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE HORSE’S NATURAL LIFE; OR 2. THE OWNER SHALL SELL OR DONATE THE HORSE TO A DULY INCORPORATED ANIMAL SANCTUARY OR DULY INCORPORATED ANIMAL PROTECTION ORGANIZATION WHOSE PRESIDENT OR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SIGNS AN ASSURANCE THAT THE HORSE WILL NOT BE SOLD AND SHALL BE KEPT SOLELY AS A COMPANION ANIMAL AND NOT EMPLOYED IN ANOTHER HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE BUSINESS OR AS A WORK HORSE AND WILL BE CARED FOR HUMANELY FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE HORSE’S NATURAL LIFE. 3. RECORDS INDICATING THE NAME, ADDRESS AND TELEPHONE NUMBER OF THE PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL, DULY INCORPORATED ANIMAL SANCTUARY OR DULY INCORPO- RATED ANIMAL PROTECTION ORGANIZATION TO WHOM THE HORSE WAS SOLD OR DONATED TOGETHER WITH THE ASSURANCE SPECIFIED ABOVE SHALL BE SENT BY THE OWNER TO THE DEPARTMENT WITHIN FIVE DAYS AFTER SUCH SALE OR DONATION. A COPY OF SUCH RECORD SHALL ALSO BE MAINTAINED AT THE STABLE.”
So, the groups who oppose carriages want to mandate what they themselves say is essentially impossible?
Sure, this is in NYC, but if Alderman Burke wants to “beat NYC to the punch” by banning carriages, one must assume he and PETA, the ones who originally contacted him, have a plan for taking care of the Chicago horses, right?
More to follow…
A few years ago, a Medill Journalism student filmed an Antique Coach driver, Don Geldernick, about his routine and passion for driving carriages in Chicago.
Today an article was released by The Horse, a reputable equine health care magazine, which addresses the proposed bans on horse drawn carriages in three US cities.
From the article:
“The lack of work is just one reason why veterinarian Sarah Ralston, VMD, PhD, Dipl. ACVN, a professor in the Rutgers University Department of Animal Sciences, opposes legislation that would take these horses from their owners and force them into permanent retirement on yet unspecified farms. Ralston said regular work and a set routine helps to keeps horses healthy and enhances the animals’ quality of life.
“The carriage horses, on the whole, are showing no signs of distress or unwillingness to work when asked to do so,” asserted Ralston. “They are well adapted to their environment. If they weren’t, they would not last long on the streets.”
More importantly, Ralston said, such legislation sets a dangerous precedent for horses as well as for the humans who look after them.
“If a horse is in its stall without access to pasture, but is getting quality basic care and regular exercise, should we say that this horse is being abused, or is it cruel to ask a horse to do a job that it is well-trained for and capable of doing without distress?” Ralston said. “This is the norm for a majority of the horses kept in urban and suburban settings, and this (kind of legislation) sends a terrible precedent that should have the entire horse industry up in arms.””
It is notable that Dr. Ralston points out the danger these proposed bans pose to equestrianism as a whole.
On February 5, 2014, Alderman Ed Burke stated his intention to ban horse drawn carriages in the city of Chicago: “They’re a nuisance, they’re a traffic hazard, it’s cruel to the animals, and we should be able to beat New York City to the punch,” said Burke, 14th.
As concerned drivers, owners, and fans of the horse drawn carriages became aware of Burke’s intentions, a movement began, one to protect the horses from the destruction of their livelihood.
Stay tuned for more…but we will not go quietly into the night.