If Horses Had Wishes…

What comes to your mind when you hear the words “animal cruelty”?

Dogs shrunk down to the bone with hunger, perhaps, or left chained and uncared for in backyards by irresponsible people? Cats with tails burned off by some evil kid? Or, if you read this blog and other animal issues pages, perhaps the cruel treatment of animals raised for food in factory farms?

These are the most obvious instances of animal cruelty and it doesn’t take much understanding nor vision to recognize them as such. It’s the sort of stuff most of us would shrink away from in pain and anger and disgust.

But what if I told you that each day of your life you accept animal cruelty– even perpetrate it– without blinking an eye?

During our road trip this past week, one of our stops was in beautiful Charleston, the grand and historic South Carolinian city of beautiful beaches and awe-inspiring mansions. But in this city where more than once you are reminded about the shameful past of slavery, I saw slavery well and alive, although of another kind. All around us, on the streets, were carriage tours: in other words, a horse dragging a carriage filled with as many as 17 people (yes, I counted them).

The horses themselves look dazed and tired, dragging their heavy cargo of merry tourists, many of who seriously needed to go on cholesterol-free vegan diets. Blinkers on, eyes forward, feet click-clacking with the thick metal “shoes” nailed into their hooves.

Charleston, of course, is not the only place with these carriage tours. They are all around the world and in this country, including in New York City where they continue despite serious concerns raised by animal activists. The horses plod on through their meaningless lives, little more than slaves to the people who own them, irrespective of the weather and often their health. And even assuming, for an instant, that their owners always treat them well, ask yourself this: is this any life for a living, breathing, glorious animal who would rather be free to run, the wind blowing in its mane? Free to nuzzle another horse? If a horse had a wish, what do you think it would want? Freedom or a life of trapped labor?

To me, it’s not so much those who make a livelihood from enslaving these animals that are at fault– they are making a living. It is the people who go on these rides, considering them “romantic” or “beautiful,” who confound me. Horses are among the most abused animals around us, and often we don’t even see what we do to them as abuse. How sad is that? Besides the carriage rides they are raced for entertainment (in my home state Maryland the politicians on either side of the aisle are always making appeals to save the horse-racing industry as if it were a good thing), trained for dumb contests and sports, and butchered for their meat.

But think about it, because it is high time each one of us did. Cruelty is cruelty, no matter how well we dress it up. And do you really want to be part of that?

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  1. says

    Your posts always make me visualise the other side of the coin, which is full of pain and cruelity. I am left in distress. There are thinggs which we have just accepted as part of our lives and when we see that with your eyes, it’s a nightmare. I am in grief for those horses and find myself helpless….

  2. says

    I have felt this each time I see people opting for tanga rides around Talao pali in Thane. You probably remember it too. I hate it when I see those poor animals, saliva dripping form their mouths, tired and unkempt and my heart cries for them. It is one of the most pitiable scenes I witness everyday of my life and believe me, if I could this is one thing I would really really change!

    My friends often ask me why I have never taken my kids for a tanga ride and when I tell them the reason they usually let it pass and say – Oh! Come on. You can let these things keep bothering you.

    What we need is to change that attitude!

  3. rhelune says

    I saw them in Vienna two months ago and felt so sorry for them. That’s not life!

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, it’s awesome, both recipes and other texts. I’ll try some of your recipes soon.

  4. says

    I totally agree with you. I refuse to go on any rides pulled by animals. I live in a place where horse rides are common in the summer. It breaks my heart to see those poor horses pull carts with people too lazy to use their own two feet.

  5. says

    I have never taken a buggy ride for the same reason. And I feel for the camels too … walking all around the town giving rides to screeching kids … their feet are not for concrete roads … but who cares? :-(

  6. says

    You know, I always say no when my daughter asks me for horse rides , precisely for this reason. My husband, a usually rational person, somehow doesn’t “get it”. He thinks I’m making a big deal and that as long as we make sure that the animal is healthy and looks well cared for there is no harm letting a 4 year old ride a horse.
    I feel, if we stop patronizing these people, they will stop getting animals into this business. Yes, what will happen to the animals after that is another question, but atleast new animals will not be brought into it..


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