Skip to content

On Horse Blogs and Bird Sites

I was going through footage for a documentary I’m working on and the editor wanted to use a clip of me saying: I work with a lot of non-profits, and all of them are close to my heart, but this is the one issue that we can resolve in my lifetime (the issue is the terrible prospects for emancipated foster youth). Meanwhile, I get that that’s powerful and it will make the audience feel hopeful, but it’s not true.

I think about Greyhound racing and horse-drawn carriages and say: those are two uses of nonhuman animals that we can abolish in my lifetime.

There are two new blogs, one called The Central Park Blogger, which makes me long for Manhattan. That is, until I think about the horses. The video posted, which is a trailer for Blinders, is of course disturbing, as are most videos about animal use. In the May 23 post, the blog’s author (John B. Moore) writes:

During the past few months I’ve been forced to confront the awful truth of the matter – that, no matter how quaint or traditional, there is no defense for making horses live in squalid cells and have to walk through traffic behind buses and trucks.   That’s without even considering the accidents that occur.

Predictably, the first commenter (Sean Flaherty) insists the horses are happy and the tradition of the carriages is "lovely." Don’t think for a moment that I let that one go in my comment. There’s also the person (Liam McM.) who writes that it’s legal, and actually thinks: "If it is so bad why is it not against the law?" There is a desperate need for Critical Thinking 101 regarding this issue, and fortunately Mr. Moore is providing it.

Note that I did not miss the photo in the banner space of a polar bear at the zoo. Perhaps the bear’s captivity in a most unnatural environment might one day also be a topic of concern for The Central Park Blogger.

Next we have Horsewatch NYC, a blog focused on the carriage-horse industry, with a tagline that reads:
Time to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City! You can make a difference for NYC horses." It has photos, stories, interviews, links and things you can do.

Finally, I must admit that one thing I never thought of was bird mills. Check out Bird Mills: The Hidden Truth for footage of the kinds of operations that produce the birds sold in pet stores. There’s so much attention given to the canine and feline "pets" we create, and birds certainly suffer just as terribly. This site is  also the site of Project Perry, which is a rescue and sanctuary operation in Virginia.

The horse-drawn carriage issue might not sound like a big deal if you don’t live in Manhattan or another city that has them (we have them here, where it is regularly 85+ degrees, and we might have the country’s worst and most dangerous drivers). But when you have to see them regularly they move into a space, not just in your heart, but in your stomach, and cause a low-grade, ever-present nausea. This might be a single issue, but for the horses it’s the only issue.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Fredrik Fält #

    Isn't focusing on traffic and pollution, when trying to abolish horse carriages, much like focusing on suffering when trying to abolish the animal agriculture?

    Speaking of unnatural environments for polar bears. I live in Singapore on the equator, where the temperature never drops below +25 degrees C. In this tropical climate the Zoo keeps two polar bears… outdoors… in a small confinement… So sad! Even sadder is that Singapore Zoo is supposed to be one of the "best" zoo's in SE Asia.

    May 25, 2008
  2. Fredrik,
    Absolutely–focusing on traffic and pollution is a welfarist argument. The difference is that for the first time a welfarist argument might actually lead to the abolition of a use of an animal. I always raise some version of "we've taken enough from them and we should leave them alone," as do many others, but it's clear that most of the people in support of the ban are regular, meat-eating, leather-wearing folk, and their message isn't an abolitionist one at all. But they're getting the job done and that's what matters to me.

    A man in Blinders at one point makes a crucial point that I bet is lost on most people in favor of the ban. He says: "There are certain things about New York City that can't be corrected in such a way that would make the industry humane." That may be true (the industry cannot be humane), but it's also true for animals used for other "cultural" activities, and certainly for the farmed animal exploitation industry.

    May 25, 2008
  3. Yes, it is certainly the most important issue to these horses…. Their "property status" of course dovetails into all animal exploitation – rodeos, zoos, factory farms, etc. – It's another evil layer in this "animals-pay-their-way" human(e) bargain. Absurd and irrational – justified once again not by morality but by greed. Hopefully my comment to Liam McM discredits his view of "legal" = "right".

    Interesting story about the bird-breeding operation. I just read this about Monk Parrots – Seen as far North as Connecticut. I know these "Quaker" parrots are destroyed here in Florida as well. Seems their unfortunate habit of building nests on top of electrical poles is causing power outages and possible fires.
    Ironic, isn't it – that on one hand "breeders" are multiplying exotic birds in awful conditions for profit – while these kissing-cousin Monk Parrots are being exterminated? What is a speciesist to do with these many roads of exploitation from which to choose?

    May 25, 2008

Leave a Reply

You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS