NYC Carriage Horse Panel on 2/23

David Cassuto

More from the NYLHV email:
2/23 Panel Discussion: Protecting Animals and Humans: The Past, Present and Future of Horse Carriages in NYC

Since the 1970’s, New York City residents and animal protection organizations have advocated to protect horses used in the carriage industry and ensure public safety; however, the dangers created by animal-pulled vehicles in the streets of a major city threaten the safety of both people and animals. Horses, which weigh more than 1,000 pounds, continue to get spooked and collide with cars and pedestrians. They collapse on the streets. They die prematurely in stables. They suffer from punishing pavement, extreme weather conditions, and a lack of water.  Continue reading

Factory “Farmaceuticals”

Jessica Morowitz

Premarin® is a hormone replacement therapy drug manufactured by Wyeth-Ayerst Pharmaceuticals.  The drug is widely prescribed to an estimated nine million women to help them cope with the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats.  Premarin® gets its name by virtue of what it is made from—PREgnant MARes’ urINe (PMU).  That means that in order to manufacture this drug, Wyeth needs a constant supply of pregnant mares.

It is not surprising that the conditions these mares experience are not unlike those experienced by animals raised for food in factory farms.  According to the Humane Society of the United States, the mares enter the barns in September, and remain tethered in their stalls until March or April.  The stalls are very narrow, and do not allow the mares to turn around or move more than a step or two in any direction.  While inside they are constantly hooked up to a collection system that even further restricts their movements, and can make it uncomfortable to even lie down.  Moreover, the mares are often denied access to an adequate supply of water in an effort to concentrate the hormones in their urine and increase profits.  Typically, the mares will be ‘in production’ for about eight or nine years consecutively, getting pregnant and giving birth year after year.

What is just as bad if not worse than the way these mares are treated, is the inevitable by-product of all these pregnant mares—the foals.  Sadly, they are usually weaned from their mothers too early, at around three or four months of age instead of six months.  This is due to the nature of the production system.  The mares are usually bred-back right after giving birth (within a few weeks), and need to move back into the barns in September to begin urine collection.  Like the fate of many of the mares when they are no longer able to produce, these foals are often sent to auction.  From auction these horses often find their way to into feedlots, and eventually slaughterhouses.    While there are a few rescue organizations out there dedicated to the adoption of PMU mares and foals, there are not nearly enough of them to keep up with the estimated 40,000 PMU foals born each year.

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The Horses Aren’t the Only Ones Wearing Blinders

Elizabeth Bennett

business-man-wearing_~dpr0002Strolling along Central Park South, one is overcome by the rancid smell of horse urine and manure.  Looking up, there are ornate carriages that mimic fairy tales and majestic horses who would love to go for a stroll.  To many, this is picturesque and the perfect addition to a romantic getaway in New York City.  But if you look closer… you will see that most of these horses look scared, tired, injured, and just want a break from their nine hour workdays.

There has long been public outcry against horse drawn carriages in New York City.  Numerous protests, dangerous accidents, and the death of countless horses have not been enough to convince City Hall that the time has come for these rides to end.  Horse drawn carriage rides have been banned in many cities in the United States and various countries and New York City remains behind the trend.  It seems to me that it would be common sense that these horses must be in pain and that they surely could not enjoy pulling a carriage along a busy, uneven street full of loud noises, speeding cars, and flashing lights, as this clearly goes against a horse’s nature.  However, many do not stop to think about this before boarding their magical, romantic carriage ride.  This is not to say that these people, many of them tourists, are bad people who care little for animals- many of them likely love animals and are drawn to this form of entertainment for that purpose, not thinking about how cruel the practice really is.  As with most forms of animal cruelty, the cruelty part is usually as well hidden as possible.

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Racing “At” (Not “To”) the Airport

MIAToday, I learned that county officials would like to install slot machines in Miami International Airport (MIA).  Generally, I disapprove of slot machines; they embody all the bad about gambling (anti-social, no skill involved & you can’t beat the house) and none of the good (skill involved, you can beat the house, and it’s social).  However, the thing that makes this issue blawg-worthy lies with the Florida law that only permits slots at places where there is quarter horse racing.

That’s right, in order to have slot machines at MIA, there must also be horse racing.  One would think that would end the matter — it’s a ridiculous law, but it’s the law nonetheless, and horse racing and airports do not mix.  That’s what one would think but . . . Not so much.

County officials are currently considering a plan to hold horse races in the airport’s employee parking lot.  I kid you not.  Of course, holding races in the employee parking lot (the law requires 20-40 per year) would raise a host of problems — not least of them where employees would then park.  Nevertheless, officials, seeing the $17 million/year in revenue that slots will supposedly pour into county coffers, push on undeterred.  They are also negotiating with other tracks to hold the airport’s races there — whatever that means.

If this goes through and MIA starts having races in the parking lot, I have some other great ideas.  Cock-fighting in the VIP lounge?  Canned hunting in baggage claim?  I also think the security area would make a great CAFO.  If any airport officials read this blawg, let’s talk asap; we need to get in front of this thing.

–David Cassuto

The Underbelly of Horse Racing

8bellesSummer Bird won the Preakness yesterday.  So, perhaps now would be a good time to revisit the world of thoroughbred racing (Luis first posted about it here).

A Few Basic facts:

– Horse racing is a $4 Billion industry

– racehorses weigh over 1000 pounds, but have been selectively bred to have smaller legs – you do the math

– over 3000 horses have died at the track in the last five years

(read more here)

The most prevalent race horse injuries that result from the actual race are bowed tendons, knee injuries, bucked and split shins, and various other bone fractures. These injuries are usually critical, often ending in euthanasia (more here).

From PETA’s website:

“Finding an American racehorse trained on the traditional hay, oats, and water probably would be impossible,” commented one reporter.

There are trainers pumping horses full of illegal drugs every day,” says a former Churchill Downs public relations director.

Which drugs are legal varies from state to state, with Kentucky holding the reputation as the most lenient state.

According to the The New York Sun, because “thoroughbreds are bred for flashy speed and to look good in the sales ring … the animal itself has become more fragile” and that “to keep the horses going,” they’re all given Lasix (which controls bleeding in the lungs), phenylbutazone (an anti-inflammatory), and cortiscosteroids (for pain and inflammation).

The trainer of Big Brown, the 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, openly admits to giving his horses Winstrol, a steroid that is illegal for equine use in 10 states, although not in the three that host the Triple Crown. Before it was banned in Pennsylvania, nearly 1,000 horses were tested for steroids and more than 60 percent tested positive.

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In light of the above, I could do with fewer equine encomia and more oversight and regulation of the industry or — better still — less of the industry.

–David Cassuto

h/t Joe Edgar