Monday, February 8, 2010

The Facebook Anti-Equestrienne Eco-Terrorists:

I'm a Facebook user. That’s right, I regularly connect with both friends and strangers using social networking sites. Why? Because with a high speed internet connection and a laptop, I can. And because I have acquaintances scattered across the globe I like to keep in touch with and it's easier then calling up someone in Algonquin, Illinois or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and telling them the same thing ("I'm so F*cking happy that Football season is over!" or "Slave Driver is watching Zombieland again…") over and over. Plus it cuts down on my cell phone minutes.

The other day I came across a Facebook group that advocates the eradication of carriage horses in Salt Lake City. No surprise there, that particular group is all over the world, wanting to ban the legal practice of offering carriage rides in numerous cities and countries. And yes I know, everyone is entitled to their opinion, it's just that their argument is so incredibly weak and baseless.

For example, here is their "Mission Statement":

This group is for you if...

-you feel bad for the horses when it's so cold out that you see icicles hanging from the horse's mouth.

First of all, simpleton, they get icicles on their nose, not their mouth. Because horses that pull carriages are the only horses in a cold climate like, say, Utah, that feel weather. All the rest of them have a magical personal heat retention system that allows them to remain toasty warm all winter long.

Oh, wait, no they don't. The feral horses out on the range that the RARA's aspire our carriage horses to become have to forage for their food, and live outside, subjected to the elements every single day of their lives. At least my co-workers have food and shelter, which they get in exchange for doing a little work a couple of days a week. And for a horse like Jerry, who used to be employed on an Amish farm working from sunup to sundown, it's a really easy gig.

-you cringe when you see a carriage rider whip a horse.

There are three sets of participants in a carriage ride: The Horse, the Driver and the Passengers, who "ride" in the passenger compartment of the carriage. We don’t typically give the passengers (riders) whips; First, because they don't need them. Second, because they wouldn’t know how to correctly use them, and third, depending on the maturity level of the individuals, they'd just end up smacking each other around which would result in a lot of screaming and crying. So there is no cringing during one of our rides, because we don't whip the horses. That whip on my carriage? It's reserved for stupid people. Like drunken panhandlers. And RARA's.

-you think the riders should get off their butts and walk.

That would make them walkers, not riders. Really, it's semantics. And by the way, it is easier on horse to pull something then it is for that same animal to be ridden. The identical principal applies to humans, that's why people put their kids in strollers or Radio Flyer wagons. It's way easier than hiking them around on their shoulders. So if you are a horse owner I'll tell you right now, my co-worker is better off as a drafting animal then yours is as a riding one.

-you believe horses would go south for the winter if they weren't held captive.

Okay, this sentence is the entire reason I had to respond to this ludicrous Facebook group to begin with. So, hold onto your butts while I expound: First of all, horses, even wild ones, are not migratory animals. If you don't believe me, google it. According to Wikipedia, "No wild horses do not migrate, In fact wild horses move around a "track" on a 24hour schedule, Meaning they are in the same exact place at the same time every day of the year."

Now, I wouldn’t go as far as saying that they are in "the same exact place at the same time every day", because horses, due to the fact that they have hooves and not fingers, are unable to use a TomTom or Garmin GPS device and navigate themselves to "the same exact place at the same time every day" while roaming around out in the wild. They do, however, stay in their same geographic area.

So, if "unleashed", and no longer held "captive," would a horse like Cletus decide to head down to Tucson or Boca for the winter and graze on a golf course? No. Herds of Horses are not like flocks of geese. And besides, could you imagine how inconvenient it would be if they did? Just navigating around the piles of horse crap on the fairway would be an absolute nightmare…

-you don't believe the argument that horses like it.

Then you've never met Charlie, Jerry, or Hank. In other words, you have no clue about horses, other than they are big, and pretty.

-you think it's dangerous to be on the busy streets and that the cars scare the horses.

If everyone thought this way, no one would ever go anywhere. Life is inherently dangerous. Fortunately for us, the incidents of horse vs vehicle accidents are very low, especially when compared to vehicle vs vehicle accidents. Why? Because we're watching for motorists who are not paying attention to what the heck they are doing, that's why. And the "cars" don’t scare the horses. If that was the case, every time any operator drove past a horse the horse would freak out. Horses become accustomed to their environment; this is why humans were able to domesticate them thousands of years ago.


Now, this is a pet peeve of mine, when someone uses "etc" to pad an argument. By invoking the shorthand "etc," the reader is forced to use their imagination to fill in the gaping "etc" blank with... what? Really it indicates that there might be more, the writer is just too damn lazy to come up with additional bullet points.

So while I will still enjoy using my social media to network I have to remind myself that the internet is, in fact, the Devil's playground, full of people who have no idea what they are talking about, but, like me, they too have a computer and internet access.


The Merry said...

You could use most of the same arguments to ban cyclists from the road. Especially the part about how cars scare them. (Some drivers scare the hell out of me, anyway.)

Lisa Deon said...

Very true. And Joggers, and Deer, and stray cats.

Belle's personal assistant said...

This is why I hate people as a group. Individuals may be ok, but only in small doses. I think that I will just go work for fish and game and count deer and avoid all human exposure except for my family (they are only half human anyway)

lorses -- the robots that the FAEET would like to replace the horses with in SLC

Texanne said...

Now, me, if I weren't held captive and forced to make lunches and pay bills in all kinds of horrible weather, I would go south for the winter. So, point me to the Granny's Rights Activists Campground. What? Me hang out with those geezers? Eww.

Take 'em apart, SD. You do a much better Internet Presence than they do, anyway, and blogging well is the best revenge.

michelleblackler said...

Stupidity is a sexually transmitted disease...I have been told that putting 'blindfolds and blankets' [fly masks and sheets] on horses in the summer is cruel. I have been told my horses are 'on fire' [after a good frolic in the pasture on a chilly winter day]. These people who think horses are caged in a stall have never witnessed my horses waiting impatiently at the gate when I am 15 minutes late to let them into their freshly cleaned stall for dinner. Oh, yeah, I know where they are going to be at the same time every day! Or how crabby carriage show horses become every winter when they don't get worked regularly. "I am a SHOW HORSE, damn it! I need my training! What is WRONG with you? Put on some more clothes and stop YOUR bloody whining!"

Which just goes to show that horses are much more intelligent than most people. In fact, domestication was a horse's idea.

Lisa Deon said...

Michelle, "Stupidity is a sexually transmitted disease..."

ROTFLMAO, truer words were never spoken, er, written. Me thinks if I ever get another tattoo THAT will be it...

What scares me is the mentality people who see a horse and decide for it what it should or should not be doing. As I'm sure you can attest, if your animals were not willing to do what we ask of them, all 150 pounds of me could not (and would not) be able to force all 1400-2000 pounds of them into it. It's a numbers game. And all anyone ever has to do is stand by the gate when a speed horse is waiting to race out into an arena and run barrels, pole or any of the other speed games done at shows.

Hell, Dreamer would run the poles by himself if we left them out in the arena. And he's have a fine old time doing it.

Sagebrusheq said...

Good words Slaver. It goes against my grain to argue with fools but this sort of thing must be confronted. Not to shake the opposition out of their ignorance- I doubt that is possible- but to keep it from spreading. That said, I would suggest a different tack than the one in which this ship seems to be heading.

My horses evince the same enthusiasm for their jobs that anyone else's do. Yet despite those examples that seem like evidence to the contrary, I am far from convinced that horses love to jump, drive, race, or do any number of the things that we ask them to do, nor that they have any particular emotion like love that they confer on us humans. I like to think that they do but, honestly, I don't even know that love is a term that can be applied to their inscrutable psyche. For many of us who love them dearly the thought that our love is unrequited is a concept too painful to contemplate. At least, it was a difficult hurdle for me. I am undecided on the question, yet I would ask you to consider that it is a healthy one to entertain as a possibility, and one which can and should inspire us to better horsemanship. For how much more, then, are we beholden to them for so generously doing those things we ask of them.

Furthermore, love is a shaky argument on which to base one's justification for using them as we do. If it could ever be demonstrated that they don't love these things or at the very least-and very easy to make the case for- that they would RATHER be out in some pastoral setting munching grass with their buddies, all justification for using them falls apart. It is enough that we horsemen love doing these things with them and that they are not ill disposed to it; that they live longer less painful lives than they would in the wild; and that they are treated well.


Lisa Deon said...


You are correct, and I am as guilty as the RARA's in assigning an emotion to my animal based on how "I" feel. Horses have a totally different agenda then we do, and trying to inject human thoughts/feelings into their daily routine is as baseless as the RARA whose arguement for NOT wanting the carriage horses to be worked was "They look sad."

I do know that, as stated above, if my co worker was not willing to do what I ask of him, then I could not and would not force him to. However, like a hunting dog who must be restrained when he see's his owner preparing to leave for hunting, being followed around the pen by Jerry, or watching Hank run the other horses off so you will, presumably, put your halter on him, tells me that many of these animals know cause and effect, and want or some horse version of want, motivates them to act as they do.

On the other hand, Ralphie, once the novelty of pulling carriage wore off, decided he was not cut out for the job and would show us by sitting down, dog like, in the shafts when he was done.

And so he was retired. Because contrary to the Facebook AEET, we do not beat/whip our horses.

Suzanne said...

I love the book "Black Beauty" as much as the next girl, but c'mon. It was written in the 1800's. (I assume this book is these people's only resource for their expertise in carriage driving).

It's extra maddening because if there IS abuse happening to a carriage horse, we'd want to put a stop to it. But if you can't tell the difference between a well-cared for horse and an abused one, then real abuse is less likely to be noticed/reported. Meanwhile, these thoughtless morons are busy harassing upstanding folk such as yourself. You'd think there was enough REAL animal abuse in this country that they could pick their battles a little better, but that would involve using logic, I suppose.