Horseback Riding and Animal Rights: Can They Ever Be in Harmony?
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Comments by: Anne-Marie Thompson - 27 Feb 2002

Hello, all ~  

I haven't been following this topic with too much dedication, but throughout have found myself completely siding with James.   Horses and other animals that are capable of living wild in our world nowadays, (as opposed to a house-cat in an urban setting) can have their own agendas and are fully capable of taking care of themselves as THEY decide, that is if humans refrain from completely destroying their natural habitats.  Their agendas will never include people of their own accord.  This is for good and natural reasons -- look at the usually awful things people are inclined to do to them!   I live with a bird as a pet, a Quaker parrot.  I bought him five years ago.  He has the biggest cage we could find and is treated with the utmost respect for his "birdness", although I'm sure he has needs I am not meeting.  However, just looking at the bird is beginning to fill me with guilt and deep sorrow.  Once I told my avian veterinarian that I didn't think people should have birds as pets and she responded,  "But they enjoy our company, and we enjoy theirs."  I said, with painful conviction in my heart, that they enjoy their life in the wild so much more.  

These feelings started about a year ago when I came across a picture of a colony of Quaker parrots in their natural habitat.  They live together in large numbers and exist in a hierarchy of sorts.  They build huge homes for themselves that many families of Quaker parrots can live in.  Once in a bird documentary I saw a Quaker parrot in the wild waddling through a tunnel that was part of the big nest that he might have helped build.  I set out to buy something that I had seen at the pet supply shop; it was a small tunnel wrapped in brown fuzzy fabric that could be hung in the bird's cage.  When I brought it home my bird went right in and started chirping up a storm.  He loves going into any small enclosed space like a small box and making a lot of noise!  It's very cute to watch. 

I can never forget that the life my bird could have had adds shame to the one he lives now.  He lives alone, when he could have companionship and relationship with other Quaker parrots -- I am really stuck between a rock and a hard place because I REALLY don't want to do this to another bird (although I have been looking into adopting one from a parrot rescue organization).  And, even though, yes, he does enjoy Mommy's company very much, he could have had a much better life had he never seen me or any other human.  While I was not responsible for smuggling the first Quaker parrots into the country, I cannot shake the guilt that I have condoned stripping him of all his power and freedom to dictate the events of his life. 

  What a joy it is to be independent!  I could move back home and live with my parents and they would probably take care of me fairly well, but the joy I experience in shaking that handicap of dependence off my back and making my OWN decisions for my OWN life and dealing with the consequences as and when I see fit is the truest mark of my freedom.  That freedom is something we value for ourselves, for our children, and is something we should not steal from other creatures who are capable of taking care of themselves in their natural environments.   Thank you, James.   ~ Anne-Marie Thompson

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