After I finally bought (and installed) my new digital converter on my TV, I started getting a new awesome channel that's all documentaries. This weekend I watched a short half-hour show all about Horse Drawn Carriages in New York City. It was very well done, and so revealing! I can't believe I didn't know about this stuff! I've never taken a carriage ride myself, but I always thought that it seemed wrong somehow that carriages were allowed to walk the streets with cars whizzing by all the time. Here's only a few of the things I learned while watching:
- There is no protection from speeding cars for the animals OR passengers of the carriages (so if you're on a ride, you will be flung out).
- So far there have been no human casualties, but numerous horses have been killed or put down because of an accident.
- Horses are "prey" creatures (as opposed to "predators") so they spook very easily. They shouldn't be surrounded by loud noises, or anything that could cause them stress (sirens, traffic, pedestrians, etc).
- The horses are literally stored in stalls that leave them no room to lie down (and yes, horses do need to lie down to sleep sometime). They're warehouse-type buildings where horses are taken up ramps to their stables. There are no fire precautions, and if something were to happen it's very likely that the horses would be trapped.
- In order to become a carriage driver, it is not required for you to have a valid driver's license. Many times they disobey simple traffic laws simply because they can get away with it.
- The horses feed is stored in buckets beneath the carriage, where pigeons sneak in & eat it. If any droppings get in the food, the drivers aren't supposed to feed it to the horses because it makes them sick & spreads disease. Many still do give the horses the infected feed, usually by dumping it in the street in front of them.
- There are laws set up to prevent problems with carriages and poor treatment of the animals, however they are not enforced. The ASPCA only has a few members that keep a watchful eye on the horse-drawn carriages, which isn't nearly enough.
- Although there are a handful of carriage drivers that appreciate their horses, there are more that do not, and treat them cruelly.
This is only a few tidbits of what I learned, and it's horrifying. The least we can do is not support the business, and not take carriage rides. But if you'd like to learn more, check out this link:
One woman made an excellent point about how people say it's "tradition", and it's part of history. She went on to say that so is bullfighting -- but does that make it right? Does it make it any less cruel? I certainly don't think so.
Ignorance is not bliss! See for yourself!