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Plastic Muzzles for Vienna's Carriage Horses

From Austria's Association Against Animal Factories

Their ears are plugged, their view is severely restricted and now they have to wear muzzles as well Ė How much can a horse take?

Horses are fight or flight animals, cities are not suitable for such animals. The Austrian Animal Welfare Law demands that animals must be kept in such a way that their natural behavior is not disturbed or compromised.

In practice though, itís a different story. The carriage horsesí senses are severely restricted. Eyes are the most important sense organ, they are positioned on the sides of the horseís head so that they have 360 degree vision, in the city, which so much information this ability leads to the horse being in permanent fear. To this end horses are made to wear blinkers. The constant noise causes horses to be in permanent stress, and for many horses this is simply too much and they react by snapping and biting at the horse next to them or people who come too near to their head.

But this disturbed behavior is still not enough proof that they simply donít belong in a busy city

Instead their movement and senses are further restricted by prolonged use of muzzles. The often ill-fitting muzzles hinder the social contact between horses and can lead to lip problems, such as blisters. Apart from this, the muzzles contravene the regulation that stipulates that tack and equipment used on the horses should not restrict them being able to eat. How much more can these horses take?

The VGT calls for a ban on muzzles amongst other improvements and for the phasing out of horse drawn carriages. The VGT also holds regular info stands near to tourist pick up points where the horses stand. Tourists are informed about the treatment of carriage horses before they make up their mind whether to take a ride or not. After the recent collapse and death of a carriage horse in the middle of a busy city road, the carriage drivers have reacted less aggressively to the presence of the info stand.

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