I live in Saint Louis, Missouri, which is an old city with old traditions. One of those traditions is riding in horse-driven carriages. Visitors from all over come to visit the Arch monument, and while here, often grab a carriage ride through the historic cobblestone streets. This is, unfortunately, a ride that is fun for everyone but the horse.
I live downtown, so I have to see them daily while out walking, and it breaks my heart. While waiting for the next customer to pay for their service, I see the horses just standing there looking depressed, strapped to a carriage with blinders on and their head bowed. They are often decorated in ridiculous costumes, and have their hooves painted metallic colors – so demeaning to such a majestic animal.
During rides, I see the drivers talking on their phone or texting while navigating through traffic with cars zooming around. Sometimes horses are hit and have to be put down, and we even had an incident where a horse took off on his own and dragged the carriage through an intersection. They are worked day and night in extreme cold and extreme heat. I snapped this picture the other day while out on a walk. I hurts me every time I see them standing there looking so sad.
Horse-driven carriage rides are a modern form of slavery and have been banned in cities in New Jersey, Mississippi, Utah, Florida and others. The next time you are traveling in a city that still supports horse-driven carriage rides, such as New York, Chicago, and any other, I hope you will choose not to support this outdated and cruel form of entertainment. There are plenty of amazing horse sanctuaries where these horses could be retired to live in fields and not be forced to work for profit.
To read more about the horse carriage industry and the groups working to end this practice, check out information from PETA and this Facebook page about the issue.