equine advocates

From Equine Advocates: 

“Pat, a rescued Miniature Donkey, was pregnant when rescued. She was a wonderful Mom and a pleasure to have here. We lost our Pat but she lives on in our hearts and minds forever. Casey resides on Pony Hill with his buddies, Reggie & Franklin (also donks), plus four miniature horses.”

Riding horses is not vegan.

Veganism is the idea that non-human animals do not exist for human purposes or consumption. The practice of being vegan involves doing whatever we possibly can to reduce our contribution to animal exploitation and suffering. People need to remember that exploitation of animals does not just equal physical abuse. Exploitation means taking advantage of the resources and labour of someone else. Anyone riding a horse is partaking in their exploitation.

Like all animals, horses belong in the wild. Unfortunately because of humans, domesticated horses now exist. These horses of course deserve to be loved and cared for the rest of their lives and very importantly, prevented from further breeding in to the horse industry. Like any other companion animal, horses should always be rescues. Far too many horses experience abuse and neglect from their ‘owners’, this is something I have seen first hand, and far too many times. Just because you care for a horse, that does not give you justification for ownership. Horses only belong to themselves, they find their own food, go anywhere they please, become a part of a herd, chose a mate and be free. None of this natural behaviour is possible when locked in a stable or paddock. They are under human command, they are told when they can go, stop, turn, run, walk, eat and sleep. It doesn’t matter how happy they may seem, because at the end of the day, they are not free.

Do people honestly think that by training a horse and altering their biological make-up to suit our egotistical desires is very ethical? Of course not, it is completely immoral. Do you really think that a non-altered, non-mentally conditioned wild horse would let a human ride on their back? The fact that horses are bred for agriculture, transportation and sport so that they are more willing and able to satisfy human needs is incredibly exploitative. Continuing on with this behaviour is not ethical. There is never any justification for enslaving an animal and forcing it to work for you. Yes there are more 'humane’ and 'positive’ ways to train a horse instead of using tools such as spurs and whips, but this still does not excuse the fact that you are still training, coercing, and conditioning horses to use for riding.

For example, when a rider takes a horse out and encounters a situation where the horse will not move forward for whatever reason, fear of what may be behind a bush or tree for instance, the rider will push the horse forward against its will. How is this any different to the thoroughbred who resists going into the gate before a race? How is this not unethical? To push an animal even though he is experiencing fear and distress? The two situations are basically the same.

Some claim that through training they are simply providing 'cues’ for a horse to display natural behaviour, but in the wild horses don’t allow other animals to sit on their backs, or to perform behaviours such as displayed in dressage. These are all completely unnatural and devised by humans.

When a young horse is 'broken in’ or 'started’, he resists. He resists for a reason. He resists because to wear a halter or to carry a saddle goes against his natural instinct. He bucks and tries to run away from the bonds strapped to his body. He is worked until he submits. This is not consent. This is defeat and an acceptance of his predicament.

Whether it be receiving pleasure through financial gain as in the racing industry or pleasure through riding horses it is basically the same ideal. The pursuit of selfish pleasure and the use of an animal without consent.

As with canines, horses have been selectively bred for specific human desires. This is unethical. Vegans are against breeding of dogs and should feel the same about equines. To advocate for one and not the other is a speciesist behaviour.

For those who claim that walking a dog is no different to riding a horse there are other ways to exercise a horse without placing bonds on his body or sitting on his back. I know this as I have shared my life with horses. Humans can share bonding experiences with horses through other forms of communication such as body language and grooming. Horses should no more have been domesticated than dogs. The superior human and his ego have caused both to suffer immensely. And for those who hide under the excuse that they ride as the space they are in is limited, if you have space to ride, the horse has space to be lunged or run on his own. It is just another rationalization for exploitation.

When vegans encourage others to 'adopt don’t shop’ they do so because there are many animals here already. Many who need to be cared for. The same applies for horses. Thousands of horses are viewed as unworthy of the racing industry and are destroyed. We need those who are able to rescue them ensuring reproduction does not occur. Horses belong where they began, in the wild. Not under the control of humans. Riding these animals because it gives us pleasure is in no way any different to eating animals because they taste good. Both acts are done for the shallow reasons of entertainment and personal pleasure.

Vegans should not cherry pick what kind of exploitation suits their personal situation. We are either against it all or none of it. To advocate for riding horses for personal pleasure but not for financial gain speaks to the mindset of the welfarist which is always asking “how can we exploit them while feeling good about doing so?”

When humans continue to ride and train horses they are ensuring the entitlement of 'ownership’ ideal continues and the belief that these animals are here for humans to use. If we continue down this path horses will remain in bonds, domesticated and not free to live naturally.


Meet Zoe! A cute, stocky paint mix.

These pictures were taken in the winter of 2008/09. I haven’t seen her since I moved from my old farmhouse and Equine Advocates took her from us, in the spring of 2010.

She was my absolute favorite horse. We took her under our wing in 2002 when my mom became affiliated with Equine Advocates. We would take abused and/or malnourished horses, nurse them back to health with food and lots of love, and then send them back to go to a loving home. Zoe however, was sent to us when they didn’t have room at the facility she was in. She quickly became a member of our horse family with her sassy attitude and charm.

After 8 years of her practically being our horse, we made plans to move houses and Equine Advocates decided to let us keep her since she’d been living with us for so long. When we realized we could keep her and went to accept the offer, they quickly changed their minds and took her from us shortly after we moved our horses to another farm.

It was one of the saddest things I’d ever seen. The horse trailer came to take our three horses to their new, temporary home and she was left alone, whinnying and running around the paddock for hours on end hoping for their return. Two days later Equine Advocates came and took her.

Since then my mom resigned from the board of the affiliation as she was so upset that they put a horse through all that unnecessary and frankly cruel anxiety. But she’s never left our hearts.

I really hope you’re happy baby girl, I miss you always.