In my friend’s Cinema Of The Absurd film Zombie! Vs. Mardi Gras there’s a shot of one of the horses (or was it a mule?) that pulls carriages in New Orleans. The animal thinks, ‘The whip is in my head! The whip is in my head! There is no wagon!’
I am a HUGE horse lover and I don’t have a problem with them pulling carriages as long as they are well cared for. It’s what they do. It’s no worse than someone going to work everyday- we may all have that same bored expression on our faces!
You can definitely tell when a horse is interested in something- ears will come forward, muscles tense, the head comes up. Bored horses usually have their lips loos, ears floppy, eyes half closed.
Horses, with a few exceptions, don’t really care much for excitment. They love their routines and knowing what they’re supposed to do. As Telemark notes, the “been there, done that” attitude is a wonderful attribute in a carriage horse! Also, given their druthers they will spend the day a)standing around doing nothing and b)walking around – so what they do “at work” isn’t tremendously different from what they would do “not at work.”
I agree with PapSett - as long as an animal is well cared-for, I don’t have an issue with them being expected to work for their daily bread. Horses wouldn’t have a place in this country if they were all pasture pets. And bored is good in a carriage horse - you can look up “combined driving” if you want to see carriage horses having fun!
Every day I tell my dogs, “I’m off to earn your dogfood”. I’m not thrilled about it either, but between the dogs, cats and horses, I have 15 mouths to feed. Such is life.
Agreed with all of the above - while there have been some cases of mistreated carriage horses, the great majority of them are very well loved and cared for by their drivers. And bored ain’t bad - they look like that most of the time when they’re lounging around a pasture, too. The biggest concern I’m aware of is that turnout space is really limited in the middle of the city, so when they’re not on duty the horses spend most of their time in stalls. They get exercise pulling the carriages, and they may get some time in whatever small arena the carriage facility has, but they don’t get a whole lot of time or space to run around and just be a horse. A lot of carriage companies have a farm somewhere outside the city and try to get the horses out there for a couple of months out of the year (or whenever their driver says they need a vacation), which I think is a good compromise.
I also think it’s really beneficial to humans to have animals in our daily lives. The carriage horses are as close to a horse as most city people will ever get, and I’d hate to see that ended. I think it’s good for all of us.
Carriage horses all sort of have that look here in NYC too. As best as I can tell they are very happy pulling carriages as it gives them something to do and every time I’ve seen a ride end (and on the one ride we actually took) the cabbie gives you a carrot to feed the horse when the ride is over. I know I would like my job a lot more if every time I finished a task my boss gave me a cookie!
Especially if our jobs are highly repetitive. I mean, they walk the same circuit over and over every day, how interested would you really expect them to be?
As for the working, meh. Nobody breeds a horse as a pasture ornament. They either carry people or pull loads; that’s why we domesticated them, that’s why we developed all these different breeds, that’s why we continue breeding them today.
One of the carriage companies in Indianapolis rotates their horses (IIRC) weekly, so they get time off very frequently. Also, they do have an outdoor paddock for daily turn-out. (We visited their facility as vet tech students.) Using Google maps, I see that the other carriage company in town also has paddock space.