Our friends from Berkeley want to ban “concentrated animal feeding operations” which include the racetrack Golden Gate Fields.
In case anyone with horses at public boarding stables thinks this doesn’t involve them, these are the alleged issues:
“The proposed ordinance–which makes the claim that confining a horse to its stall for the majority of the day is akin to animal abuse–would make it illegal to keep a horse stabled for more than 10 hours a day and requires every horse access to a minimum of one-half acre of pasture turnout.”
The group behind this also openly expressed their goal to pass this in Berkeley first and then try it in the rest of California. I am not aware of a single public stable in LA that would be legal under this ordinance and certainly not the LAEC. Anyone who thinks they would be satisfied with shutting down racing facilities and would leave recreational riders alone are kidding themselves IMO.
Show the voting public the $$$ on employment and taxes collected, as well as sales of hotel rooms and restaurant meals, etc. … put $$$ lowt behind the illustration of what changes if this is enacted, and the politicians and government may see it as less of a cause.
When the activists fling open the gates to allow my horse to ‘gallop free’, he’s galloping all right, straight back to the barn.
My horse (ottb) has made it clear that he’s about as wild as a chihuahua. He likes having his meals delivered on time, his room made up, and his recreation arranged in safe places. And treats, especially the stud muffin horse cookies.
Who loves being stuck in a cubicle for 10 hours a day? The difference is we choose to do that. I agree that horses should not be stalled for long periods of time and should have room to run every day. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement in horse care but the transition needs to happen in a way that gives the industry time to adapt.
I am fortunate to live in a rural area where my horses have lots of room to run and are rarely stalled. I’ll admit that in the bad weather, they choose to spend most of their time in the barn, but in nice weather, they are all over the place. Horses are forgiving creatures of habit, which is why they’ve adapted to confinement, but I’ve always thought it was strange that we are drawn to horses because they give us freedom, and then we confine them.
Unfortunately horses are really vulnerable to appeals like this because they are large and expensive. They are also clearly beasts of burden even if we all make jokes about being their maids and masseuses. The fact that I think it is a bargain the species has made and has prospered under isn’t an argument likely to sway an activist. Unfortunately I have had personal and professional dealings with people who share this philosophy and I have been told that keeping horses is an anachronism, that horses need whips, spurs and metal bits to be tamed and that riding is abuse as is nailing metal shoes on their feet.
It sounds so nice to mandate a bunch of turnout on a half acre for animal welfare but it essentially says to people in the city and suburbs that riding is not for you. It’s like mandating that no one can have kids unless they have a backyard attached to a free standing house.
If people in the broader part of society never see horses in the flesh, they have no reason to support horses or riders or riding. That’s what these people are counting on. I fell in love with the animal when I saw my first police horse when I was 4. I think I ran up and hugged him on the front leg which makes me shiver now.
Stuff like this is an existential threat to modern horseownership. Racing is just a canary in this particular coalmine.
Horses are adaptive to many types of environments. They have been domesticated for a reason and have been human’s workmates for centuries. (Joe Fargis did a wonderful speech on the amazing impact horses have had on human civilization.)
I see the “run free” crowd on Facebook supporting with likes different “wild herds” where the foal survival rate is slim due to predators (sad faces when a mountain lion gets two…“run free little ones” with a heart) and harsh environment, Photos of early spring foals who later are no longer with their dams. Awful video of a grizzly chasing “wild” horses with foals (Canada). Human care and compassion and empathy for horses can be lacking for sure, but nature has no empathy and is harsh and unforgiving.
And all horse people should care about this, whether you think your discipline or style of horse-keeping wouldn’t fall under fire. Horse racing is a $400B global industry. Eliminating that from our country has massive ramifications for both the economy and the entire horse industry.
Plus, how long before well-meaning animal lovers make every horse owner their target?
Not at all. My barn is the complete exception. Except for meals, daily health checks, schooling, and exercise, My barn’s horses are out ALL the time. In Va, the horses are in during the cold nights. They are out 12-14 hours per day. During the hot, sticky summers, they are in the cool barns during the day and out at night. I have known MANY barns that do the same, The horses flourish with limited cases of colic
lic and a bunch of happy horses. Granted, with a million-dollar Grand Prix horse, one may not want to do the same due to the money they are worth and, of course, the gorgeous mane and tail. Many show horses have lousy lives… and are not allowed to be horses. I agree that the lives of showhorses can be much better than hens or dairy cattle. The exception, in general, is that we do not intend to slaughter them… I recall seeing a 6 figure barrel racing national champion who spent his days stall walking in a 14 by 124box stall and was NEVER allowed out other than for schooling. It was sad. The horse was mentally destroyed.
My point was not that all horses live with limited turnout or need limited turnout. Of course it’s healthier for them to be outside, and most of them probably are if you were to look at the entire worldwide horse population.
But unfortunately, living outside full time or the majority of time can’t always be accommodated for any number of reasons, yet you can still maintain a healthy quality of life for horses despite this.
Making it illegal to provide less than 14 hours a day turnout on a minumum of 1/2 acre will become a barrier to ownership for a significant number of horse owners, especially those in high land cost areas.
If it becomes more difficult and more expensive for people to own horses, that isn’t going to help the horse population. It’s just going to mean less homes, more corner cutting, more cases of abandonment or neglect, etc.
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