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February 2, 2014: Horse Care

I recently heard that the Central Park, NY carriage horses may get the boot. The new mayor and others contend that the horses are not being cared for correctly. Their proposed solution is to have the horses banned from the park. People will instead get around in small, motorized carts.

Those opposed are saying that this is a cruelty issue – that the horses are having to work long hours for low pay, and they live in substandard housing. They further contend that the horses should instead be treated like wild horses are, and released into areas with a great deal of pasturage.

I am thinking that those who are in opposition to the horses being used as cart horses are not very knowledgeable about horse care. All horses need access to food, water, shelter, veterinary care, and farrier work. They also need to be dewormed several times a year. And they need caretakers whose job it is to provide for their needs, and as well, human contact.

I am a long ways from New York, so I do not know how good or bad off these horses actually are. I have seen photos, and the horses look just fine to me. And I suspect that tourists would not go for carriage rides if the horses appeared to be emaciated or downtrodden.

As for the argument that the horses are being enslaved – most horses like to work. I’m sure that those carriage horses who don’t like to work end up elsewhere. Otherwise, being carted about is just too dangerous a deal.

So what to do? This is an excellent example of how the theory of thirdness might be applied. Thirdness is when those who disagree come up with a third idea. Thirdness isn’t a compromise; rather, it’s the possibility that arises when those on both sides of the fence agree to work together.

This, then, is what really ought to be done. Those opposed and those for should take up a collection, and with the money they can build a new facility for the horses, one that’s on the edge of the city. There would be a large stable area, turn outs, and an educational center, one with a place where people can learn some about the history of the New York City cart horses. I know I’d go and visit there if the opportunity presented itself to me.

But no, this won’t come to be because people tend to think of things in terms of winning and losing. And on this issue, many are never going to budge.

What brings this all to mind is that tomorrow I have to go to court and testify about the horses that appeared across the road a few months ago and then were taken elsewhere. In the time they were here, they were not fed or watered. I called this to the attention of the Alaska Equine Rescue group – they called it to the attention of the Animal Control Center – and I was shortly thereafter asked to testify in court.

Here’s the win/lose mentality raising its head again. Those who back the horses’ owner will argue that she loves her horses and will take good care of them. And those who don’t back her will want her to be fined.

I fear that if she is fined, that she’ll have less money on hand for feeding her horses. So if given the opportunity, I’m going to suggest that she do some volunteer work for animal control and in this way maybe learn some more about large animal care.

This would be for the best. Tomorrow at this time I will have breathed a sigh of relief that this is over.

Next: 34. 2/3/14: Horse Care: An Animal Advocate Speaks