I remember when I was really young, I used to think horse carriage rides were so cute. I’d see couples in romance movies laughing and cuddling while seated in the back of them, and I used to fantasize about what that would be like.
It wasn’t until I got a little older that I started to realize just how cruel many of these carriage rides are for the actual horses pulling them. They are forced to pull extreme amounts of weight through all types of weather conditions, all while dodging traffic and pedestrians.
They often develop respiratory conditions from breathing in exhaust fumes all day and excruciating pain in their legs from the overuse of pounding the pavement. Many horses have even died from this inhumane practice, often from heatstroke, and for what? Just so we can get from point A to point B or get a cute photo?
Just last week, another horse collapsed from heat exhaustion in Italy. The couple rode to their wedding in a horse-driven carriage, but the horse tragically fell outside of the church they were married in.
Someone recorded the incident, and you can watch the groom trying to help the horse back up. Thankfully, traffic was blocked off, so cars wouldn’t accidentally hit the animal. The horse, which had climbed an extremely steep hill pulling the bridge and groom along with a total of 400 kilograms, was overwhelmed by heat and exhastion.
Can you imagine dragging 400 kilograms, let alone up a steep incline? It’s no wonder this animal collapsed.
The incident has not gone unnoticed though. Italian animal rights charities have threatened to file a lawsuit against the company involved, and a spokesman for the Italian Nucleus Operational Protection of Animals stated, “We have already written to local authorities to ask them to confirm the current conditions of the horse.”
You can watch the video footage of the collapsed horse below:
Why We Need to End Animal Cruelty
We need to stop romanticizing animal cruelty. It’s not a piece of machinery that pulls heavy loads on these carriages, it’s a living, breathing animal. In today’s world, we no longer need to use horses, or any animal for that matter, for transportation purposes. We have cars, wagons, public transit, and other options for transportation.
Keep in mind that horse-drawn carriages are quite different from simply riding on horses. These horses are forced to bear heavy loads, breathe in toxic fumes, and endure injuries as a result of this practice.
We wouldn’t expect a human being to run through traffic and hope they wouldn’t get hit, so why do we expect horses to do so? Tons of horses have been injured or killed as a result of being hit by a car.
What’s worse is that these horses are not protected under the U.S. federal Animal Welfare Act, and so if animal cruelty is an issue with this practice (which it clearly is), the responsibility falls on local animal control.
Some policies are in place to prevent these horses from injury, but they are woefully inadequate. For example, in Charleston, South Carolina, drivers of horse carriages must take the rectal temperature of the horses after a tour when the temperature is hotter than 85 degrees. Keep in mind that this is done after the tour, so the horse could already be suffering from overheating or heatstroke.
Other places like Philadelphia have absolutely no regulations in regards to heat for horse-drawn carriages, and many other states are more lenient with their maximum temperatures for horse-drawn carriages. For example, in St. Augustine, Florida, horses wouldn’t be removed from their duties until the heat index reaches 105.
The worst part is that horses are considered property by law, and so older or injured horses are often slaughtered so their owners don’t need to spend any money on their medical bills. This happens all too often with horses all over the world, and in different industries, too. For example, horses used in horse racing are often slaughtered when they’re old or injured.
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Ultimately, horse-driven carriages are completely unnecessary in this day and age. We have far more sophisticated technology that’s not only more humane, but more efficient in getting us from place to place.
Ultimately, we should not want to perpetuate a society that condones animal cruelty. We need to start reflecting more on how our actions affect everyone and everything. Every action has a direct impact on something, whether that be another human, an animal, the environment, or whatever else!
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