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Looking at the Arguments Against the Carriage Trade
 By Winniefield Park   •   5th Jun 2016   •   1,306 views   •   0 comments
Looking at the Arguments Against the Carriage Trade

While I fundamentally agree that the time for the carriage trade in its present form is past, some of the arguments you see online against it donít make sense.The public often doesnít see horses in the same way Ďhorse peopleí do, which can result in some unfortunate misconceptions. Hereís a few Iíve come across lately.

The Horses are Underfed and Dehydrated
One blogger despaired of a carriage horse that was dripping foam from its mouth - surely it was terribly thirsty. These horses, while they may not get water at the exact time they want it are not foaming at the mouth because of dehydration. A horse that is badly dehydrated will not be able to foam - and will quickly develop severe problems. Many horses chew on the bit, a habit which might be a lot like someone who fiddles with their rings, or chews the strings on their hoodie, and that causes the foaming. It may be a bad habit, but it likely isnít overly harmful. Generally, the horse world sees a wet mouth as a good thing.

And, some of these horses may be lean, but most arenít unhealthy looking. Horses are healthier on the lean side and not as prone to obesity related problems like equine metabolic syndrome.

Related: Is it Time To End Horse Drawn Carriages in New York City
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Related: Paraguay Bans Work Horses in City Streets After Outcry From Animal Rights Groups

Horses Have to Wear Tight Bridles With Chains in Their Mouth
A bit, which of which you can only see the outside rings is not a thick chain, and does not cut into the skin in any way. As to their heads being tied down, or their bridles are too tight, that is simply untrue.

Horses Have to Pull Heavy Loads
Those carriages look heavy, and even more so filled with tourists. But, a 1000 lbs on wheels is a small load for a draft horse. It may be tedious work, but weight-wise, it isnít strenuous.

Horses Have Horrible Accidents On City Streets
Horses are involved in accidents on city streets. These get a lot of negative press. But, one of the most common news headlines announcing horses/ traffic accidents include horses used by certain religious sects. These horses pound down the pavement daily, yet few voice concern over their treatment. (If you think they are universally well treated, think again.) The sight of a horse pulling a buggy carrying bonneted occupants down the side of a road may be quaint, but itís also dangerous for both horse and occupants. Because of the temperament and training of carriage horses, the actual number of accidents is far fewer. And, you have to consider the plight of performances horses. The public is generally uninformed with regard to the number of horses that are badly injured and die in sports like flat racing and steeplechasing, eventing, show jumping, and other Ďextremeí horse sports. Horses and people have horrible accidents everywhere.

Old Carriage Horses Go for Dog Meat
Whether a dead horse goes for dog meat or fertilizer, or buried with full honours and a gravestone is irrelevant. We need to use all resources responsibly and rendering is a wise use of resources. Far more relevant is how horses are treated when they are alive. Some carriage owners are mindful that their horses need turn out on regularly and a happy retirement and do the best they can to provide both. Itís the rotten apples that taint the barrel.

Carriage Horses Breath Car Fumes
Pointing out the bad the fumes a horse must breathe is relevant. Their head carriage puts their faces at the level of a lot of exhaust. Horse lungs are delicate. But far more worrisome is the possibility of a horse slipping and injuring itself - somewhat mitigated by shoes with non-slip material on them, and the gradual effects of concussion that will cause joint problems over time.

I think itís fair to be concerned about carriage horses working in extreme hot or cold. Most of us would rather not see horses working in hot humid weather on sweltering city streets, or during Arctic-frigid cold. The heat actually the more worrisome condition.

Horses Never Get Green Grass and Adequate Rest
Green grass is rare for many horses, but the argument that the horses donít get adequate turnout may be valid. Ideally horses should get rotated so they arenít pounding the pavement every day. A roomy stall isnít exactly being locked in a closet, but it isnít a sunny pasture either. Unfortunately, money is a big obstacle to an operator owning double the number of horses they are actually using. And green pastures near major urban areas donít come cheap.

Can The Carriage Trade Be Done Right?
I think it is possible to run the carriage trade so that it takes the best possible care of the horses and is safe and enjoyable for the humans involved. First, horses need to travel in low traffic areas. Unfortunately, these arenít always the places tourists want to see. Horses should be rotated regularly, so that they get pasture and recovery time. Every consideration should be given to shoeing and leg support to reduce the effects of standing and travelling on hard surfaces.Carriage horses should be banned from the streets during extremes in weather. Standards of stabling need to be improved. These are just a few of the things that could be done to make the carriage trade better, but unfortunately, the biggest obstacle is money.

What do you think?
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