Pictured here are two scenes from the Walt Disney movie “The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band.” In the first, I am riding in a horse-drawn wagon with my movie dad Buddy Ebsen and brother Jon Walmsley; in the other, I and all my movie siblings ride in a carriage with our grandpa, Walter Brennan.
In another essay on this site I posted a photo of me posed on a large horse when I was very young, and told you about the horrible cruelty of horse racing. Today I’d like to say a few words about the cruelty of horse-drawn carriages on our streets, like those in New York City.
I’ve always felt sad for the carriage horses, plodding along wearily on the streets as buses and cars go whizzing by, just inches away. Carriage horses are forced to pull heavy loads in extreme weather, dodge traffic, and pound the pavement day in and day out until they get old, injured, or sick, after which they’re sent to the slaughterhouse. These horses lead very sad lives. From constant walking and standing on hard streets, lameness and hoof deterioration are inevitable in carriage horses. Many develop respiratory ailments from breathing in exhaust fumes, and suffer debilitating leg problems from walking on hard surfaces. Weather conditions, too, can prove fatal for working horses. Carriage horses are exposed to long shifts in bitter cold and wet weather in the winter, and scorching heat and debilitating humidity in the summer. Many drop dead on the city streets from dehydration and heatstroke.
In an audit of the New York carriage industry, the city’s comptroller found that horses on the street did not have ready access to water, had insufficient shade during hot weather, and that, because of poor street drainage, “the horses are left to stand in pools of dirty water.”
People around the world are increasingly recognizing that it’s the carriage industry – not just the horses – taking them for a ride. Please don’t patronize carriage rides, and explain to family and friends why they shouldn’t, either. If your city allows carriages on city streets, urge your legislators to propose legislation that will ban them.
Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!