Thursday, March 6, 2014

Working Livestock

I've been following the New York City carriage horse controversy for several weeks so far via the NYC Post and Jon Katz's blog .....
(You can sort out just the carriage horse posts by typing in the word "carriage" into the search engine at the top left of the blog entries. )

This morning I received an email asking me where I stand on this "horrible abusive issue" and would I be willing to host a home for some of these "rescued abused horses". The person in question knows that I came from the general NYC area, worked in veterinary medicine, came to the rescue of many an abused animal, and provided life long homes for many animals destined to die otherwise. Shipping a few of the horses here is not an issue, nor would setting my farm as a quarantine location for the few months needed for Hawaii State quarantine. Plus she knows that I have a soft spot in my heart for horses, especially harness horses. She was wrongly informed that I am an animal rights activist. 

I'm not going to beat around the bush. I firmly do NOT believe that the NYC carriage horses are abused. Although I have had no contact with them in 12 years, I know that there are laws and regulations in place ensuring their care, health, and safety. Veterinarians routinely visit those horses and would report signs of abuse, if any existed. Based upon my past experience, I do not believe that those horses need rescuing. This is not a situation of animal abuse in any shape or form. You can read Jon's blog for a current assessment of the care and situation of these horses. 

The whole issue is generated by animal rights groups who have successfully used money to place a person into the office of mayor. They are now using this person as a puppet to grandstand their "animal rights" movement. I put the term animal rights into parentheses because in this case the horses already have far more rights than afforded people who live in NYC. The activists wish to push their movement beyond the right to food/shelter/care, now to no-work/no-purpose. This is the next level in the animal rights movement, who sees a vegan style future with no work animals, no food animals, no use of animals, and ultimately no pet animals. 

This NYC carriage horse controversy is just another manifestation of our society's disconnection with the natural world. And more importantly by far, people's willingness to form an opinion based upon unsubstantiatable claims, a willingness to believe stuff without considering the source and without checking for oneself. Simply a case of fighting to the death for something based on gossip and lies. 

So how does this relate to my homestead story? Plenty! If working a horse in harness is illegal one place, how long will it be until it is illegal in other places. Will the working horse become illegal? I could no longer use my horse to pull a log out of the woods, pull a garden cart, nor take for a ride. What about my working collie dog? Is that next? If PETA and animal rights activists rule, then even keeping a  farm dog or farm cat will frowned upon. No flocks of sheep. No milking goats. No laying hens. All some day to be banned. No, I put my foot down here. I don't see work as abuse. Hubby and I work every day in order to earn a living. I see no problem with an animal working to earn its living too. 


  1. I can't resist: New York's mayor is a jack-ass!

  2. I totally agree, Sue. Actually, most animals are happiest if they have a job, and take pride in their work.

  3. From a veterinary viewpoint, the light exercise that these carriage horses get is actually beneficial to their health. Much healthier than cropping grass all day long. Just think about it, the medical front is constantly telling us humans to exercise more. That its important for good health and longevity. Look how many people spend hard earned cash on gyms and health clubs just to have regular exercise workouts.

    I've worked with animals practically all my life. Well cared for working animals who understand their jobs are content. Since most people are most familiar with dogs, then think of some working dogs. Hunting dogs, border collies, security dogs all love to work. Show a sleddog a harness and it will go crazy with excitement. Service dogs of all sorts eagerly work. I've never worked horses or oxen in harness but I've witnessed plenty at their jobs. They willingly work without any prodding or abuse. The abuse comes from an unhappy human handler, not an unhappy animal.

  4. Jon Katz has been continually investigating and reporting on the NYC carriage horse fiasco. If you want to follow the story, check his blog
    He is also on Facebook.