Sunday, January 05, 2014

An Open Letter To Bill De Blasio about the Central Park Carriage Horses

Dear Bill,

You don't know me, but we went to the same high school. Not at the same time, just a few years apart. But we definitely had some of the same teachers. Did you learn US and Vietnam from Larry? Yeah, Me Too. I also spent many formative years on the fifth floor of CRLS.

One thing you don't learn in the Cambridge Public Schools is ANYTHING about horses. Trust me. If there had been any equine opportunity available to us, I would have ferreted it out. I was a horse crazy kid in a city. Now as an adult I have the privilege of owning and caring for my own horse. So, it is safe to say that I know a little something about horses.

I can pretty safely assume that you know NOTHING about horses other than what you've been told. You've probably never ridden one or brushed one or sat in a field and let a horse walk up and sniff you. You've probably never seen a horse who has clearly been abused, protecting his head from gentle hands with rolling eyes. You just see horses in the city and think "that's not right."

The carriage horses are not abused. They are working for a living, just like a child's pony or any school horse upstate. In exchange for that work, they are well fed, they have clean, calm stables (I've seen them) and lots and lots of love and attention. They get turned out in a field a few months a year. This is not a bad life for a horse. Trust me. I spend a huge chunk of my salary ensuring a quality life for the horse that I love. The animal rights activists trying to take the horses out of the park don't know any more about horses than you do. They just see an animal working and think it's inherently wrong. They think this regardless of the conditions or circumstances.

Let me tell you something about equine body language. The carriage horses are not stressed. They stand relaxed with their heads down, with one back leg cocked. Their ears are drooped at a 45 degree angle to their heads or swiveling around a bit listening to sounds. If you look at their faces their eyes are "soft" meaning you can see no or very little white. This is not the language of a stressed prey animal. A stressed horse is snorting, head high eyes rolling looking for the lion or whatever is about to land on its back. It's ears are either all the way forward or back. It's feet are dancing and it is ready to bolt.

You also need to know something about horse "rescues" in general. I believe that is your solution to house the carriage horses after you have taken away their jobs. There are very few reputable horse rescues in the US. Keep in mind that the ASPCA is under funded and under resourced in many rural areas. Many "rescues" are underfunded and go begging for funds for hay to get them through the winter on the Internet. Some are run by animal hoarders posing as a rescue.

Horse "rescues" can't and don't keep the horses indefinitely. Their mission is to place horses with loving families. Sometimes those families lose their jobs and the horses end up at auction. Did you know that the most popular horse to be sent to slaughter up in the feed lots in Canada is a heavy draft horse just like the NYC carriage horses? The chances of those horses ending up in a feed lot in Canada or Mexico after an exhausting four day drive without food or water increases exponentially if you take away their jobs. And that is unequivocally, objectively from any standard you use abuse. Once they leave their owners hands anything could happen to them. Instead of trotting around pulling a light carriage and sleeping in a warm, dry stall at night, they'll be on their own. Who is going to track them?

There is a reason that people who know about horses think the carriage horses are in good hands NOW. Let them keep their jobs. Let the little kids like me with the crazy horse gene who grow up in the city get to see real horses from time to time. Let the horses be loved on by those kids and not be ripped from their lives to parts unknown.

Good luck and congratulations,

Margaret Sanford
Melrose, MA


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing this and for taking care of horses. If you are able, could you change the abbreviation for ASPCA to SPCA? The "A" is in New York and they are against carriage horses and very well funded. But many individual spca and humane groups are underfunded because they're not affiliated with the national groups that have plenty of money and oppose using animals for work. D

8:26 PM  
Anonymous lindawthehorses said...

Thank-you for writing that letter and telling the truth about the outcome for many of those horses.
I totally agree with you, there's no better place for them.
I've also visited their home and was very impressed with the stable.
I know my horse would LOVE to live like that, and I wish he could.
Thank-you again I hope he gets it.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Brenda said...

Oh, Bill gets it. He promised his high rolling real estate supporters during his election campaign that he would get those horses out of the city. The stables are worth millions. He gets it and horse "rights" has nothing to do with it. I am a harness horse stable owner (racing). It is so frustrating dealing with the likes of him as well as the folks screaming for horse "rights" and I do mean screaming. If you get to the city, what a fiasco you will see if they are out in force. Agree with Anon: Please change ASPCA to SPCA. The A's are worse than worthless, they have no equine vets on staff, they receive high salaries and huge pensions paid for with the funds from folks driven to tears by those sad commercials and they are against working horses. After all those big animals take up an awful lot of real estate and money that could be used to buy stuff like donating heavily to ASPCA. Love your blog . Thanks for putting this issue out there.

7:45 PM  

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