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Santa Monica To Ban Pony Rides [Video]
 By Winniefield Park   •   22nd Sep 2014   •   2,802 views   •   1 comments


There is a news story on the Santa Monica Times website about a proposal to ban pony rides, part of a petting zoo display, at a local farmers' market. Individuals are protesting because the ponies must walk in endless circles, on hard pavement, in the heat of the sun each market day. The ponies endure band music echoing through the market grounds, and the fumes from nearby cars.

Poor ponies tied in the hot sun, walking endless circles on unyielding pavement while carrying rounds of excited children sounds like a grim picture. But the operator of the pony ride explains that the market lasts three hours, one day a week and is the only work these ponies do with the exception of the odd kidís party. The other 165 hours of the week, the ponies live idle, with every need provided for. The owner's farm is visited by a federal inspector four times a year, she has a business license and a city official to inspects her operation. She is working hard to do everything right. The pony ride operation makes up a major percentage of her income.

A petition has been started by an activist who is claiming that the pony detracts from the market because they are near the front entrance where all visitors must pass, that they are taking market space away from local artisans, and that the ponies are generally being exploited. An interview of the activist explains she objects to the fact that while the ponies are tethered they cannot get their own water. An alternative to the pony rides, she suggests, is to offer trail rides at a nearby park. But this comes with a large number of problems including hand walking ponies around playgrounds, dog parks and unrestrained children.

I'm not wild about pony rides. But, any I've seen over the last few years have taken care to make sure their ponies are well cared for. Often, they put rubber matting on the pavement, a canopy overhead and the ponies are traded out to give each a rest and a chance to eat and drink. Occasionally, you see a pony that is a bit 'overloaded' with a child that is too big, but beyond this, I haven't seen much abuse from the riders, although I'm sure it must happen.

I know there are people who believe that we shouldn't keep animals at all. We should open our gates and free our cattle, horses and other livestock. That we should throw open our doors and free our cats and dogs. But, I also know that no one gets a free ride on this earth. Everyday, you and I have to work, or go to school as part of earning our place in the world. Why should this be different for animals? If they were wild animals, their purpose would be to continue the species and they'd be subject to all of the glories and hazards of life in the wild. Domestic animals don't have those hazards. They have us. Exploitation does happen. It happens to ponies and it happens to people. But I think there is a difference between exploitation and earning your keep. And what I see are ponies earning their keep. What do you see?
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Ref: losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/09/09/santa-monica-city-council-to-vote-on-ending-pony-rides-at-farmers-market
Ref: losangelesregister.com/articles/market-604574-pony-animals.html
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If it's three hours a week ten there is no reason why it should be banned. A horse can walk/stand on pavement for three hours a week no worries at all. I've helped out doing pony rides that are six or seven hours a day for two days at an A&P show where the ponies only got a few short breaks (thankfully, though, this was only a once off and they were lesson ponies anyway so were used to working for most of the day). It isn't going to kill a horse to walk around for a few hours, even if it is hot.

BUT I don't approve of the whole "walk in a circle tethered to something" style of these kinds of pony rides. I've seen videos where a pony was bitten by a horsefly and started bucking wildly. The kid riding it could have been badly hurt. The pony rides I've helped at always involved one or two people per horse - one leading, and the other to hold smaller or nervous children. That way we could vary things, change things up, make things shorter, give kids a little trot etc.
  Sep 23, 2014  •  3,456 views
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