You are here

Is horseback riding vegan?

This subject was brought up on another forum I was looking at and it made me wonder.  Horses kept as pets need to be ridden for excercise.  I am a horseback rider (as if you couldn't tell) and I still consider myself mostly vegan (90% because I am not the best at reading labels and sometimes goof). 

What do you think?  Can a person be vegan while riding horses?

i think that its like any companion animal...horses do seem to enjoy rides. there are some obvious limitations...the horse should always be well taken care of and comfortable, no violent methods are used in training...I wouldeven go as far as to say that horses that are "rented out" for rides...wouldn't be a vegan option, cause they are probally over-worked....

The only time I ever went horseback riding was when I was inpatient for my eating disorder and we had equine therapy....Those horses were very well cared for, they got lots and lots of love from patients and they genuinely seemed to enjoy the trail. Most animals that humans have domesticated WANT a job to do. And riding serves that purpose for many horses.

So, theres my vote...it depends

0 likes

I guess it does depend. I really don't know - but it's always been something I've wanted to do. I've never gone horseback riding, but I think it would be amazing - to get to know the horse, have a trusting relationship. I don't doubt that it would be therapeutic.

0 likes

I only know a little bit about horses, so this isn't a well developed answer.

I don't like wild horses being captured, but if a horse is born into captivity and won't be released to the wild, then I say it depends on the nature of the horse.  My analogy is a cat.  Some cats are lap cats and some aren't.  Forcing all cats to be lap cats would be abusive (my surly cat would agree - he likes his paws on the terra firma).  In the same way, some horses may like the interaction and some may not.  I don't think people should ride the horses opposed to it.  

I think you also have to consider the type of bit and things.  I've seen some people regularly pull hard on the bit and I think that's abusive.  If you have to be so domineering, it's a sign the horse doesn't want to be ridden.  I'm not sure how horseshoes affect a horse.  I'm also not all that sure about cinching saddles.

My grandparents had a horse that you could ride bareback and he would turn in response to slight pressure by your knees.  He was super intuitive and seemed to like the company.  We'd ride around on natural soil.

By where I work there are horse-driven carriages.  The horses walk around on pavement with cars zooming around them.  I find that disgusting, abusive, and not vegan.

0 likes

I would say that true horseback riding is completely vegan. Then again, I'm an apprenticing horse trainer/rider who firmly believes that riding and training these magnificient animals is a form of communication grounded in respect.

All of the methods I use are rooted in patience, safety, and comfort. The horse is always presented with options, and given time to work through the issue at hand in their mind. I won't say that harsher methods are never used, but they are nonexistent with my horses and my barn. The man I train under is an old Irishman who learned his trade through years and years of work with many different types of horses, and his findings have always been that respect is the only way to go.

Take today for example. I was working with my young horse with spooking. (Spooking is basically desensitizing a horse to "scary" objects like plastic bags, tarps, milk jugs with rocks in them, various things on the ground that make noise, etc.) We worked with plastic bags (like the kind that can be found at Kroger, Walmart, etc). The goal of our session was for her to walk across a few of them on the ground without tension. It took nearly an hour for us to accomplish this. (For those unfamiliar with horses, plastic bags are usually considered monsters by horses.) But that was perfectly fine. I gave her all the time she needed to sniff the bags, paw them, and approach them at her own pace. When she felt comfortable sniffing them, I asked her to walk across them. When she was comfortable with that, I asked her to stand on them with her feet on a bag. She did fine. By the end of the session, she was walking across them with her head down, obviously relaxed and at ease. When she did that, it was over, the bags went up, and she got groomed (which she enjoys).

So, in essense, all of that was to say that horseback riding, when done in the true and correct way, is vegan.

0 likes

Uh I wouldn't do it.  Unfortunately, humans have domesticated horses, and your current horse-friends are different from our wild horse friends.  They don't randomly run around in groups all day guarding their horse territory and searching for food (or whatever wild horses do?).  Domestication upsets me...... :-\

That argument aside, riding a horse doesn't even make sense!  You're putting 100+ pounds of weight on their back, that's got to be some uncomfortable shit.  I would call that animal abuse, sorry.  I bet they suffer from tiny tears in their muscles and maybe even twisted vertebrae!  And you can't ask them if their back hurts.....or even: "Hey Horse, do you like hauling my ass around?  Even though I have 2 legs of my own?  You need your exercise!"   

I think if they MUST be exercised using human intervention, a lead or a very lightweight cart (carrying you) could be just as effective.  I'm no expert.

(I realize a horse carrying a human is equilivalent to a human carrying around about 13 lbs on their pack--That seems like a LOT.  And the whole argument where horses seem to like riding sounds like bullshit to me.  How do you know what a horse likes?  I'm sure you think you could try to read his body language and in time "know" what he likes--but what if you interpret him wrongly?  Shit, even if he does all his "happy" signs at something isn't a guarantee.  Often cats purr when they are in pain...)

0 likes

I realize a horse carrying a human is equilivalent to a human carrying around about 13 lbs on their pack.  That seems like a LOT

Thanks for the analogy.  I hadn't heard that before. 

In that respect, I backpack with about a 30 pound pack.  It's not overly heavy, but heavy enough to suck on the steep climbs.  If I backpack with someone and divy up carrying the stove and share a tent, I can backpack 20 pounds.  That makes for a nice trip.  A 13 pound pack would be a daypack for a full day's hike, with water, water filter, food, camera, and clothes layers.  That's pretty easy, although I wouldn't want to do it all day, every day.

0 likes

I've never done it before and it's always because I've thought of it like Ashley said...It would be like me carrying 13 lbs on my back.  Like if someone handed you their baby and told you to hold it for a few hours, sure - you could do it...but would you want to?

0 likes

I think it all goes back to the individual horse.  I like backpacking and getting out and seeing things I wouldn't otherwise see.  Other people don't like it.  I'm sure you'd get the same range with horses.

0 likes

Well okay, here's my 93 cents on the subject: back in high school, due to the school throwing out the lockers (for bombs/drugs etc), the average back pack for students was 30-40 pounds....mine was 50!!! Growing up as a city kid who got out to the country regularly (lived in a barn w/o running water or TV for a month each Summer), there's the philosophy that "everyone carries their weight/has a job to do" cats are there for mice, dogs are there for protection/herding/hunting, horses are there for riding/pulling things. When it comes to which gets treated the best, it is a toss up between dogs and horses. Dogs can be cuddled/in bed with the owners, horses can get thermostat controlled stables complete with their own masseuse! As for the whole "it is slavery" philosophy.... I've seen horses worked as slaves, and I've seen them be damn near worshiped! SOME horses DO like to be ridden, some enjoy jumping, all enjoy running (especially when it is towards home/food/bath). They do form bonds with riders/companions/guardians. They have their personalities, quirks, and prejudices (there was this one that just HATED dogs....and would hunt them out just to nip/kick at them.) Okay, well I need to check the status of my flight.... So I guess I should end the rant.

0 likes

Yeah but if you can't communicate with them to find out how they really feel about it, wouldn't it be "wrong" or whatever to just assume that they are one of the ones that wants to be ridden?

0 likes

Yeah but if you can't communicate with them to find out how they really feel about it, wouldn't it be "wrong" or whatever to just assume that they are one of the ones that wants to be ridden?

My grandparents had horses.  The ones that seemed to like be ridden the most would run out to meet you when they saw you coming, they would get frisky and "happy" when heading out, and they wouldn't keep trying to turn back to the stable - they were in it for the adventure and the company.  I think in being sensitive to their behavior and body language they can communicate with us and tell us how they feel.  It's like my cat.  He just meows, but I know him well enough to know his meows and what different walks mean.

I also think there are more and less athletic horses.  When I was younger I'd look forward to the weekends I could backpack, get sore, and bust a lung.  That was fun for me.  I have had friends who wouldn't walk a half mile only carrying a water bottle.  I think a person could monitor a horse's signs to determne if they like it or not.  With the horses I've been around, it's pretty obvious.

As a side note, I don't ride horses.  I used to when I was a kid and it's out of my system, so I'm not defending an activity in which I engage.

0 likes

I think riding horses is totally okay, especially if they are loved and cared for.  ::)  And especially if their owners are pretty, because girls look so sexy riding horses!  Er, anyways, I hate seeing the down casted donkeys and ponies at fairs or whatever though.  When people are making profits from the horses they own, theres a good chance they are being exploited.  Maybe not always though  :)

0 likes

I'd say in some cases it is most certainly not vegan, and in those cases, the rider isn't either.

Judging by your posts, the fact that you are vegan, and your compassion (you were the little-kid-who-beat-the-cat critic right???), then I would say your horse is in safe hands.

I think many people treat their horses right, but there must be an awful lot of people who don't. 

We have moved long past the era where horses were 'needed' as beasts of burden (pulling plows, pulling carriages, etc).  Now they are primarily for sport, entertainment, and leisure.  In my opinion, it's something we could do without (horse racing, horse-drawn carriages for ourism, etc), and it would be so beautiful if horses were undomesticated and back free to run on the plains.  But then again, those plains are lost under tract housing, so.....

0 likes

I have had this conversation with the boy many times.  He is a vet student, finishing his fourth year, and has had significant face time with horses, as well as learning about their anatomy and behavior.  He has long wanted to rescue a horse and I haven't been totally on board because I just wasn't sure how I felt about riding them (although I LOVED riding them when I was younger).  He repeatedly has told me that most horses love to be ridden and that it is a bonding experience with their rider.  The weight of the person is not stressful to them (within reason I would suppose), and as long as they are treated well and respected, riding is not stressful for most horses.  Just like any living thing with a brain, I am sure there are some horses that do not enjoy it and I am thinking they probably make that clear with their behavior.  So as long as you are a compassionate rider, it's vegan as far as I can tell. 

0 likes

After reading through these posts it seems that most people agree that riding  horses is vegan as long as the horses arn't abused.  As far as the horse not being able to comunicate, anybody who knows horses know very well that horses can and do communicate.  If  you pull too hard on the bit they toss their head, if way to hard on the bit they may rear up on you or even start bucking.  So for the riders own safety it is important to be gentle.  Billy Jack, for instance, hates running behind other horses, how do I know?  He bucks.  Those back feet come up off the ground and I damn near go flying out of the saddle.  Yes horses communicate well.  If his cinch is too tight he will stop on the trial and bring his  head back and look at it.  Other things too, like they are irritated and about to bite when the ears are back.  They are happy when the ears are up and alert.  But maybe I am biased becasue I know Billy so well (the horse in the picture is my mom's horse she has had for about 10 years now).  That is the only horse I ever ride. 

0 likes

I'm sorry, but anyone who thinks it's impossible for humans to communicate with other animals... must not have spent much time around other animals! Especially domesticated ones. I communicate with the dogs at my work every day. I understand them, they understand me. We show pain, fear and joy in much the same ways. We're all animals, after all.

To be more on-topic: Horseback riding is only as vegan as the one riding the horse. Animal-human relations can be abusive and exploitive, but they can also be mutually beneficial - and when it comes to horseback riding I think it can only be judged on a case by case basis.

0 likes

I didn't say it's impossible...just that you can never truly know what they think because they can't vocalize it.  The same way I don't think some cows mind being milked, it's just that without expressed permission - I wouldn't want to do it.
But I don't doubt that most people know their horses well enough to know if they want to be ridden, if you don't feel that you are honestly doing any harm then you probably aren't.

0 likes

I didn't say it's impossible...just that you can never truly know what they think because they can't vocalize it.  The same way I don't think some cows mind being milked, it's just that without expressed permission - I wouldn't want to do it.
But I don't doubt that most people know their horses well enough to know if they want to be ridden, if you don't feel that you are honestly doing any harm then you probably aren't.

That's the reason some people think companion animal "pets" is unethical and isn't vegan.  The viewpoint is that having a cat or a dog is abusive because the animals haven't given us their express permission.

Here's something that will piss you off:  FlexPetz.  It's a rent-a-pet place.

0 likes

So do you guys think its wrong to ride a horse if the horse doesnt want to be riden?  Or is it okay to benefit at the horses expense as long as you give the horse a real good life, and that its sorta a give/take relationship?

0 likes

I didn't say it's impossible...just that you can never truly know what they think because they can't vocalize it.  The same way I don't think some cows mind being milked, it's just that without expressed permission - I wouldn't want to do it.
But I don't doubt that most people know their horses well enough to know if they want to be ridden, if you don't feel that you are honestly doing any harm then you probably aren't.

That's the reason some people think companion animal "pets" is unethical and isn't vegan.  The viewpoint is that having a cat or a dog is abusive because the animals haven't given us their express permission.

Here's something that will piss you off:  FlexPetz.  It's a rent-a-pet place.

I don't get it...why would one rent a pet for a few weeks? I guess for disabilities I could see that, but I can't figure out what that site is advertising really...I think there are a lot of great things animals and people can do to work together.  Animals that are used to assist or comfort people that are sick or disabled in some way, that's awesome.  I couldn't be happier for the animals or the people involved...but horseback riding - for me - would be pure entertainment.  I don't need it, it's not necessary. I can understand how people that keep horses as pets would feel that it's an equal give and take relationship, just how I give my dog love and affection, he gives it right back by doing things that he knows make me happy (toe licking and high fives).
But it's kind of different when you move onto a horse that's toting people around that it doesn't even know, I just don't think it would feel right for me

0 likes

Pages

Log in or register to post comments

More Posts Like This