Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Horse Dies in the Street

Over the weekend, a 23-year old horse was pulling newlyweds in a carriage with a "just married" sign on back when it collapsed in front of the Portland library and died. The incident happened while Portland was experiencing a heat wave with temperatures well above 90 degrees. The horse, Balatore, reportedly suffered a heart attack in the sweltering heat.

This story was so disturbing on so many levels. First, the owner of the horse should have canceled the gig, citing the horses well-being was more important than a few bucks. Second, the people renting the carriage even said, the horse "looked really bad" prior to collapsing, yet they happily got in carriage. Third, this horse died a horrific death. I saw his lips pulled back against white gums and I feel horrified and sick that any owner can calmly drape a small white sheet over their horse and wench him down the street into a rusty old trailer. As he was dragged across the street, they looked at him like he was garbage. Balatore's years of service were poorly repaid as he was hauled away for disposal. Finally, because of a horse owners negligent, idiotic behavior the lines have been drawn and PETA is riled up calling for a ban on horse drawn carriages.

I have talked about carriage horse ban before. This is an excerpt from a previous post.

For me, I would hate to see a ban as opposed to an overhaul of the system. I think the more uses we find for horses, the better. I see the jobs for draft horses diminishing and it would be nice if the world had uses for these beautiful, big horses. If the city could implement some sort of equine labor law and limit hours on the job, mandatory vet checks, and since they are such a tourist draw, maybe the city should subsidise the cost of transport and care of horses into the city from boarding stables with turnout. I would be happy if my tax dollars went to help these horses have a better life. Easy fix--and people can going on enjoying the beauty of these horses and the joy of just being around them and the horses are treated fairly and humanely.

PETA has taken this stance.

Horses do not belong in the city. There is nothing romantic about pulling heavy loads on pavement in the middle of traffic. They walk on hard pavement, inhale exhaust, and spend their days dodging cars and buses. Balatore's death should be a wake-up call to make the compassionate choice to ban the carriage horse industry.

My anger is directed solely at the owner and driver of that carriage. They clearly made poor choices about his well-being and it cost Balatore his life.

How do you guys feel about ban on horse drawn carriages? If interested, here is a link to the story that aired on our news channel and here is a link to a documentary about the carriage industry. It is called "Blinders."


Drillrider said...

I don't think carriage horses should be banned. This is an unfortunate event and agree the owner of the horse was responsible for his welfare, but banning all carriage horses as a result is not the answer.

There are some animal activists that believe horses shouldn't even be ridden. If we allow more bans, will our right to horseback ride be next?

No matter how many bans, regulations, rules, laws and oversight committees made, it will not stop people from being heartless and neglectful when it comes to animals (or even their own children)!

More laws and bans are not the solution!

Drillrider said...

P.S. It is unfortunate that we even need animal cruelty laws, child abuse laws, etc. Treating each other, children and animals with dignity should be a "given".

Anonymous said...

We were in Savannah, Ga. last summer and watched the horse drawn carriages in the heat. They do have rules there about how long and what temps horses can work in but the horses were still too hot I think. They had plenty of water tubs for them around the city. I really think when it reaches a certain temp. the horses should be taken to the barns.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I don't think horse drawn carriages should be banned, but I do think there should be some laws in place to protect the poor animals from their owners. How long they could work and in what temps should also come into play.

Unfortunately, there are too many a**holes out there who are out to make a buck and couldn't care less about the animal. I'm also sure there are some driver/owners who do care about their horses. It's a hard problem with no easy solution.

PETA people are just plain nuts in my opinion, and take things too far. There is a place for advocacy groups for animals but they seem to be a tad over zealous.

Such a shame about the poor old guy who worked his whole life and didn't seem to be appreciated. I'm sure he's in a better place now and at peace.

Mikey said...

I read about Blinders and I'm conflicted. I think horse drawn carriages should be allowed, but with rules and regulations. But there's always someone who's an idiot out there and who doesn't give a shit about the horse. Makes me ill to see a horse die like that. No one takes into account all the years of service that horse gave. Makes me want to cry for them. So much cruelty in our world, all around.

William Nobles said...

Is Balatore's owner going ot be charged with anything? ANimal neglect or breaking any laws regarding service animals?

OnTheBit said...

I don't think that carriage's should be banned, but I do think that the whole system needs looking at. I live near NYC and have had the unfortunate privilege of seeing about half a dozen carriage horses from the city go to rescue. All were drafts, all were under 10, and all could hardly walk from the pain. The thing that got these horses was not just lack of care, but especially lack of proper foot care. If these horses had been trimmed in a timly manner or had rubber shoes I don't think they would have been crippled at such a young age. Luckily they all found a home together as lawn ornaments who are very loved. I have also been to little town like New Hope, PA where carriage rides are offered and it is like a whole different ball game. The horses looked fat, sleek, and loved and were ADORABLE with the crowds (sniffing kids with interest, etc). I think the problems have more to do with the people running the facilities and less to do with location.

I am horrified thinking about how that poor horse had to suffer. How it was clearly not feeling well, but tried to do its job anyway. What a brave heart.

Drillrider said...

OnTheBit: I agree....horses consistently on pavement would take special hoof care. That is sad to ruin 10 year old horses needlessly.

Adventures of a Horse Crazed Mind said...

Such a sad story. The bottom line is that making laws and banning things like this will not stop people from neglecting and abusing their animals...that abuse is a reflection of a lack of moral and social conscience that you can not govern in to existence. And typical of PETA- they dont consider what happens to all the carriage horses once they are banned from working!!! What do they think that these horses will all get to go live the good life on green pastures? I think not. Just like people, most horses are valued when they have a job... taking a job away from those horse who ARE being provided with good, loving care, proper treatment, reasonable work conditions etc. is not the answer. Who, doese PETA suppose, is going to care for all the horses if we no longer use? There should be better laws to protect their welfare of working horses but then we also have to ask what the work conditions are of...lets say, miners, loggers and sweat shop workers? I wish that people would be better, not just act better... if they did these horses would not be neglected.

lytha said...

oh, good topic! i drove carriage horses in downtown seattle for a few months, ...long enough to realize horses do not belong downtown pulling tourists around in traffic. death traps these carriages can be, and the tourists can turn into victims so easily, cuz even a sedate old draft horse will have its moment.

one of the draft horses i drove was dangerous most of the time, rearing up at red lights when he saw his buddy up ahead, this horse was actually banned from pulling carriages in the city of victoria. (sigh)

but the thing that got to me most was the best horse of all, the slowest old plug you can imagine, he just changed one moment when a homeless person walked in front of him with a painting. something about that painting, i don't know, but he freaked. i told the lady to just keep walking please, and tried not to let the passengers know how dangerous that moment was.

the carriage horses i drove were healthy and all had padded shoes, water offered every hour, and did not work in hot weather. but every horse has its "crazy point" and carriage driving downtown in traffic is too risky.

stanley park in vancouver, central park in NY, IMO these are way better solutions than driving through traffic. but even then, i think the tourists have a right to understand the risks.


JohnLand said...

"As he was dragged across the street, they looked at him like he was garbage."

That's absolutely horrifc!

That wasn't literally, was it?