Saturday, August 16, 2008

Treats, and terror

Bourbon didn't like being a Philadelphia carriage horse...
His driver was none too thrilled about the job, either. She writes in The Washington Post about the claustrophobia of being in traffic, the searing heat, the people yelling at them. Bourbon worked in a world of things he feared: jackhammers, skateboarders, and Dumpsters, to name a few. He was a stressed-out eater and often succeeded in getting people to turn over to him the treats they were munching on.

And just like that, his days as a Philadelphia carriage horse were over. One winter, he was sold by Adele's boss to a carriage company in Minneapolis. She says they both loved Bourbon, and the thinking was that he would find a place that was more enjoyable.

His driver, Adele Levine, wrote fondly of her days working with Bourbon, even though she says they both hated the job. I guess they were both desperate. She, however, surely had more options that being bought and sold like an old car. We can only hope that Bourbon enjoyed a new life somewhere, but we are not so optimistic.

In an industry that is too cheap to euthanize the horses when they deemed unable to do the job, horses often come to a terrible end.

Read: "The City Was His Feedbag" (Aug. 15, 2008)
Photo credit: George Widman, The Associated Press


Anonymous said...

Carriage horses are slaves ... used and abused to entertain people. It does not matter what the horse wants; what may be good for him; the fact that he is a HERD ANIMAL and needs to be with his own kind. Money is what matters and how many more rides can be squeezed from this horse. But from Philadelphia to Minneapolis to work is like going from the frying pan to the fire. I wonder if this horse is still alive.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I can't speak to the treatment of the Carriage Horses in NYC, but the Carriage Company I worked for ('76 Carriage Company) prided themselves on th humane treatment of their horses. We used only Belgian Draft horses - not broken up race horses. Our horses worked less then 8 hours a day and never more then 5 days in a row. They got a month off every year and were rotated out to the country. Better then most Americans and better then he would have been treated pulling a plow on an Amish farm all day long. I loved Bourbon and so did my Boss who made the decision to send him somewhere he would have a happier life. He was a real character and greeted me everyday with a big kiss - especially if I was wearing tropical scented sunscreen.
Adele Levine, Wheaton.

Mary Alice said...

Thank you, Adele, for your comments. [Adele is the former driver who wrote the feature in the Washington Post.]

Horses in NYC lead miserable lives and are warehoused in multistory building up to 2 miles from Central Park. They are often double-shifted, and they get no shade and precious little water. Traffic is a constant danger. We are coming up on the anniversary of Smoothie's death, a somber reminder that horses spook.

We couldn't agree with you more in your wish that Bourbon found a better life. Alas, I can't be optimistic that the place to find it was Minneapolis. Still saying a prayer for this very special horse. Your account was touching.

Wheaton, Maryland said...

Sorry, didn't mean to post anonymously. Best wishes,