I fully understand the appeal of a horse-drawn carriage ride. It’s romantic, sort of nostalgic and a seemingly lovely way to sight see. However, when you consider the pathetic circumstances of the actual horse that is leading you through those busy city streets, things get dismal pretty quick.
Every year, horses forced to pull carriages in cities across the country die or are injured “on the job.” Among some of the leading issues that contribute to their misfortune, the fact that these animals have an innate tendency to “spook” is one of the best examples of why they are so unsuitable for the task. Dozens of examples abound of horses who have been killed or injured (or caused the death or injury of a human) as a result of being spooked by common street noises like a honking horn or the drumbeat of a street musician. Considering that a typical horse can weigh over a thousand pounds and is made up almost entirely of muscle, it’s easy to see how things can get out of control fairly quick.
Additionally, carriage horses very commonly suffer lameness and hoof deterioration as a result of constantly walking and standing on the hard surface of the street. Tragically, this is an issue made worse by yet another problem with the carriage horse industry: inexperienced owners and drivers – who are often incapable or unwilling to recognize lameness and other health and safety issues.
To add insult to (serious) injury, it’s also very common for cities to have absolute bare bones regulations that govern the welfare and working conditions of carriage horses – you can guess how the story on actual enforcement goes (Hint: it ain’t good). What this means for the horse pulling you down the street is inadequate medical care, access to water and shade and protection from extreme temperatures.
The bottom line is: horses don’t belong on city streets. Not only is it an accident waiting to happen, it is a sad and cruel existence for a horse. So, the next time you or your posse is considering a leisurely carriage ride through the streets of St. Louis, (insert name of different city here) pipe up for the plight of the horse and use your own two legs to see the sights. The horse (and your waistline!) will thank you!