Treatment of horses is very poor

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 7, 2009

I have an issue that I would love to see covered thoroughly in our newspaper. I am an avid animal lover, and I think the readers need to be informed about the negative sides of horse-drawn carriages. I wrote The Democrat last year about this same topic, and an article was published, but it only focused on the non-controversial aspects. The article basically stated that horses are meant for this kind of thing, and that they can handle the heat, but I am still very concerned, and I know other people who are too.

The horses that are being used appear unhealthy and are very small. I know that horses in general are strong animals, but individually some are weaker and smaller than others. You can look at them and tell that they are tired, and the traffic that goes by them causes unnecessary stress. I help out downtown sometimes, and I hate driving down Canal Street. It literally breaks my heart to see the horses standing there, and that is why I am speaking out for them. I have to do something about it.

Another negative truth is that the horses have to stand there all day attached to their carriages in the sun. It gets hot enough in this town, especially when you are not standing in the shade, so why are the horses treated any differently? In the summer, the heat is so bad that you can look around and not see a single person, and there those horses are, stuck in the sun.

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The horses that are used do not even have room to run around after a hard day’s work, they are kept in a rundown stable right around the corner from their spot on the street. They should at least have their off-time to actually get the chance to be horses, instead of just an object of transportation for tourists. I read on the PETA Web site that when the horses are “retired” they do not get to go live in a pasture; they are often slaughtered and used for dog food, fed to animals in zoos or shipped overseas for humans to eat.

My ultimate goal is to get a ban on horse-drawn carriages in Natchez. Many cities have already banned horse-drawn vehicles, including Camden, N.J.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Palm Beach, Deerfield Beach, Key West and Panama City Beach, Fla.; Biloxi; Venice, Fla.; Toronto; and London. Groups are also working to get a ban on them in New York City. I do not want anyone to lose a job over this, but someone has got to speak up for these horses.

Not all business is good business, and the safety of the animals should come first. It is cruel to force the horses to breathe in the exhaust fumes put off from vehicles. Also, the manure bags are not good for the horses; a horse can put out up to 50 pounds of manure a day and the bags chafe, and add even more extra weight for the horse to carry.

If the city is not willing to put a ban on the horse-drawn carriages, rules should at least be made in favor of the horses, such as better living conditions, a weight minimum, a more shaded area to wait, rider limits, temperature limits, cooler hours of the day to work, etc. But a ban is going to be the easiest and least expensive way to deal with this issue.

The horse-drawn carriages’ only purpose is for human enjoyment. Horses were work animals back in the day when people had no other choice, but we have a choice now. Farmers use tractors now, and everyday people use cars for transportation. Some tourists may enjoy the feel of the “old south” but it they knew the harm and stress it caused the horses, I am sure they would not miss it and could enjoy the city just as much by walking. Hopefully you will see my point and write an article with the information I have provided. I would greatly appreciate it, and I am sure the horses would too.

Amanda Trippe

Natchez resident