Do you live in a city where there are horse drawn carriage rides? While some places have banned horse drawn carriage rides, in many cities that get a lot of tourists, horse-drawn carriages are still big business. If you think there’s nothing romantic about seeing a horse pull a carriage through busy city streets, you’re not alone. Animal welfare advocates have been fighting for a ban on horse drawn carriages for years.
The Animal Welfare Institute has outlined some of the key animal welfare issues surrounding the horse drawn carriage industry. Here are some facts every animal lover should know:
- Carriage drivers often purchase older farm horses that are used to pulling loads, but no longer in the best condition for farm work. This means that their lives as urban carriage horses tend to be short and very unpleasant. Former carriage horses are either sold back into farm work or to slaughterhouses. Very few enjoy a peaceful “retirement.”
- Horses’ hooves can be severely damaged from long hours of walking on hard pavement. Veterinarians recommend that horses be regularly pastured on soft ground to keep their hooves healthy. The hooves of urban carriage horses very rarely touch soft grass. If they do get time away from the city streets, it is often to work pulling wagons at fairs.
- Carriage horses in big cities breathe in the pollution and vehicle exhaust fumes all around them. They also walk on surfaces covered in substances like oil and road salt. When they are off the streets and in their often poorly ventilated stables, the indoor air pollution, full of mold and dust, is often just as bad.
- Loud urban street noise is just as upsetting for horses as it is for people. Experts suspect carriage horses have hearing loss, cardiovascular issues, and high levels of stress. Loud, sudden noises often startle carriage horses, leading to accidents and injuries.
- Carriage horses are made to work in extreme weather conditions, from snow and freezing temperatures to high heat and humidity. In the case of heat, some cities allow horses to work until the air temperature is 90 degrees. But that means that the asphalt temperature could be many degrees higher. Horses can suffer from dehydration and overheating. They need much more water than can be easily supplied to them while working on city streets.
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Interested in learning more about the issue and finding out how you can help carriage horses? New York City’s Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages has lots of valuable information. You can sign a petition currently up on the Victoria Horse Alliance website to ban horse drawn carriages in Victoria, British Columbia.
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