If you’re someone who’s really into astrology and blaming bad moods on the position of the sun, the moon, or, I dunno, Mars, you might already know that Friday, January 31st marks the beginning of the Year of the Horse, according to the Chinese zodiac calendar. And if you’re not one of those people … well, now you know anyhow. 😉

year of the horse
Photo: Stormsignal | CC by 2.0 

Now, you’d think that these dignified, kind, and gentle animals would get the respect that they deserve—I mean, HELLO, they have their own Chinese zodiac sign—but that, unfortunately, is not always the case.

In cities across the U.S., like New York CitySalt Lake City, and Nashville, Tennessee—as well as in cities around the world—countless horses are forced to pull lazy humans around in carriages, which cause the horses a great deal of pain and suffering.

horse-drawn carriage

Horses used in the carriage industry are forced to work in all weather extremes, dodge traffic, and pound the pavement all day long. These gentle animals suffer from respiratory ailments because they breathe in exhaust fumes, and they develop debilitating leg problems from walking on hard surfaces.

In some cases, horses have even died from heatstroke after working in scorching summer heat and humidity, like Jerry did: 

carriage horse collapse

Accidents have occurred in nearly every city where carriage rides are allowed.

When horses grow too old, tired, or ill to continue pulling heavy loads, they aren’t retired to green pastures and loving homes, as many people are led to believe. Instead, many worn-out horses are slaughtered and turned into food for dogs or for carnivores in zoos or their flesh is shipped overseas for human consumption.

Horses in the carriage industry are deprived of everything that makes their lives worth living. Don’t get taken for a ride. –Lea Michele

The only way to end this cruelty is to ban it permanently and give these horses the freedom that they deserve. So the next time you see a horse-drawn carriage, remember this:

horse-drawn carriage

If you live in a city where carriage rides are still allowed, contact your local legislators to ask if they’ll sponsor a ban. Many cities—including Biloxi, Mississippi; Camden, New Jersey; and Palm Beach, Pompano Beach, Key West, and Treasure Island, Florida—have already banned the cruel practice.

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Happy Year of the Horse, y’all! Let’s make it a good one for horses and all animals.