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Horseback Riding and Animal Rights:
Can They Ever Be in Harmony?
Comments by: Erin Oldford - 25 Feb 2002
I wanted to comment on the issue of riding horses. I grew up riding and showing Morgan horses. I know for a fact that the training methods used were and are often cruel and torturous. "Saddle" hoses such as Morgans, Arabians, Saddlebreds, Tennessee Walkers, etc. are asked to perform in ways (in my opinion) that they just are not physically built for.
Trainers use leaded weights and chains on their hooves, biting rigs, shackles, very severe bits, drugs, ointments that burn, whips, beatings, etc., etc., to make them perform. It should be a crime. I have seen horrible things in my horse showing days. Not all trainers subscribe to these methods but I would say the majority do. I have also spent a fair amount of time around the "racehorse" world which is equally as abusive. The act of "breaking" a horse sickens me.
If any of you are familiar with Monty Roberts you know that this type of abuse is not necessary. Monty, himself, was abused by his father and watched him abuse many animals. He swore he would never be so cruel. Now he travels the world teaching people how to, as he calls it, "join up" with their horse, to gain respect and trust, which is a necessity if you want to have a happy horse.
I do believe that horses, under the right circumstances, enjoy being ridden and exercised. I have developed deeply close relationships with my horses over the years and, as Anna said as well, they seem to look forward to our time together. I no longer "show" so it is a matter of "traipsing" through fields and woods, "no pressure" riding. I find it fascinating trying to "get to know" my horses, learn what makes them tick, to truly understand them, to gain their trust. They are amazing creatures.
I will never approve of circuses, zoos or using animals for entertainment. My children are just starting school. I'm not looking forward to the first field trip that I have to keep my child home from. I'm going to do my best to "head off" any ideas about zoo's and circuses and make alternate suggestions. There are so many other educational field trips available.
I am saddened by all the hundreds of ways animals are used by people to make money. I don't even subscribe to breeding animals. I work with our local humane society and so many animals are euthanized because there is no place for them. There is huge money to be made in purebred animal breeding. I know not all do it for the money but I do believe it is irresponsible to continually bring more animals into the world when so many are being euthanized!!
In Christ, Erin
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