I came across this article on One Green Planet. Two of the misconceptions you most likely already know about. I am going to highlight the one that I think still lurks in the thoughts of many, even horse and other animal advocates. It is not because people are unkind but they have grown up with animal exploitation so they see it is as normal. Although imperceivable at first glance society is becoming more enlightened. Let’s keep this work going.
One of the first questions I get on a regular basis when people come to visit the horses in my sanctuary is “which ones do you ride?” My answer is straightforward – none. To most, this is almost incomprehensible. They cannot understand the point of having a horse if it cannot be ridden. It is almost as if they have been programmed to believe that a horse must have a job, a purpose.
A stigma exists that horses are here to entertain, to meet human necessity and always be useful. This is far from the truth and thankfully, more people are beginning to see this. It is a rare opportunity to see them in a more natural environment, bonding with others of their kind without always having to please their human counterparts.
If two horses form an inseparable bond, it is seen as a negative behavior which must be corrected, however, horses are herd-bound animals; they do not do well when separated from others of their kind. Keeping a horse stalled for a long periods of time goes against all of their natural instincts. They require grazing space to explore and friends to socialize with on a regular basis.
A horse is not a toy that can be “put away” when not in use. A horse is a living, breathing creature and has every right to enjoy freedom as we do. Seeing them as mere object rather than emotional, sentient beings causes great risk as many are “disposed” of once they are no longer useful. This leads to the next big misunderstanding – “rehoming”.
I will sum up with Karyn’s opening statement that caught my attention right away.
The horse is likely one of the most misunderstood animals on the planet that has carried a biased reputation for centuries – a reputation for being a working animal and existing for mere human entertainment.
There are many misconceptions about the NYC horse-drawn carriage trade.
The primary reason for this is because the media are mostly on the side of the carriage horse industry and have not reported fairly or honestly on this issue.
Here are what I see as the top five most common misconceptions concerning the horse-drawn carriage industry in New York City.
1. If there is a ban, all the horses will go to slaughter.
Intro 573 — the new bill to ban horse-drawn carriages in NYC — prohibits the owners from sending their horses to slaughter. However, although the fine is high, the horses are privately owned and it will be up to the drivers whether they send their horses to slaughter or not. It will be difficult to track.
Many organizations have offered homes for these horses. If the owners are willing, there is sanctuary space for all carriage horses.
Since 2005, 581 horses have passed through the NYC carriage trade. The Department of Health does not require sales records for horses sold outside of NYC. We believe many have gone on to livestock auctions and then to slaughter.
These are not “good union jobs.” The Teamsters represent the drivers but as a lobbyist group, for which they charge $60 a month dues. Not everyone is a member and those who are get no benefits – no medical, vacation or sick days.
Intro 573, the bill to ban horse-drawn carriages, will provide the drivers customized job training tailored to their needs and also offer medallions for green taxis to the owners.
This peculiar union effort is to protect the Entitled 68 – the owners – with no consideration for the more than 200 workers, most of whom are nothing more than independent contractors.
3. This is not an animal rights issue – it is about the stable property.
False. Our organization began this campaign in 2006 because of the inhumane conditions endured by the horses. We have no interest in the stable property.
However, because the head of one of the organizations involved with the ban is a retired real estate developer, this unfounded rumor got started.
The stables are privately owned and it will be up to the owners to decide when, if, and to whom they want to sell.
Furthermore, the stables located on W. 37th and W. 38th Street are in the path of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment project, which has been going on for more than ten years.
— Elizabeth Forel is the president of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages in NYC, which was founded in 2006 in response to a horrific accident involving a spooked carriage horse who was killed. A long time vegan and advocate for all animals, she has been involved with the carriage horse issue since the early 1990s. She is the author of many articles and opinion pieces on this topic, most of which can be found on the website www.banhdc.org.