As a kid, I remember riding a pony around and ’round in a circle at the fair. The ride didn’t last long, and when it was over, I moved on to the next attraction. The pony, however, had to keep working.
These days, I look at pony rides differently. Sure children aren’t heavy, but the ponies slave away in a boring circle. Maybe it’s a hot day, or a cold one. Maybe they didn’t want to get packed up in a trailer and sent to the fair. Too bad. Ponies don’t have a say.
Their hooves can be injured, and they can suffer from ill-fitting saddles, bridles, and bits (a bit is a metal bar that people put into a horse’s mouth, behind his or her front teeth and molars, to steer and stop the animal). And equines are exempt from protection under the Federal Animal Welfare Act, leaving welfare up to local authorities.
I recently saw a horse and pony standing out in the rain on a cold day, waiting for their shift to begin. I felt so different upon seeing them compared to when I was a kid. Of course kids love ponies–I still do. But I can’t justify a life of labor and stress for a short ride.
A carousel with replica animals and chariots is a great alternative. For those of you who like more of a rush, swings will do the trick.
Wherever you go, look for the animals. Think about what their day is like–and choose animal-free entertainment.
Thanks for another thought provoking post Jean. Just tonight Angus told me that when he grows up he wants to be a scientist and a worker at Farm Sanctuary. He said he wouldn’t milk any of the animals and that he would give them their favorite foods. I love that at 5 he is already thinking about these things. And now I am inspired to bring up how ponies are treated next time I have the chance. Great conversations to have with little animal lovers. (He also recently asked if I knew which animals were treated the best, and when I gave up he told me: Santa’s reindeer. 🙂
Aw, Angus rocks! We need more kids like him. I think he’s absolutely right: Santa’s reindeers are treated very well. Like family 😉