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The Lea Michele Expose
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The Lea Michele Expose

A ride with a horse-drawn carriage is described by a number of people as a wonderful experience, and at times, romantic. But Lea Michele, one of the casts of the much-loved series, Glee, exposed the inhumane conditions these animals experience.

Horse-drawn carriages have been common worldwide. They became popular since 3000 BC, where it was first called as a chariot in Mesopotamia. Horse-drawn carriages were also used by Egyptians mainly for warfare while in the Kingdoms of the Zhou Dynasty of the ancient Chinese civilizations, for transportation.

In the 15th century, these carriages were largely used by royalty and aristocrats, mostly women, and were elaborately decorated and gilded. And throughout the years, wherein people raised and bred horses for carriage use, a bewildering variety of horse-drawn carriages were created.

It is beyond imagination how many horses had been living and working under harsh and bitter circumstances. For centuries and until now, this animal had been living a life of cruelty. They were pushed to do hard physical labor the entire day, not provided with enough water to drink, deprived of clean and comfortable stables, and risked of being exposed to too much heat on the city’s hot asphalt.

Lea Michele, a young American actress and singer, exposed the cruelty horses go through every day. Being active in charity for animal rights, Michele became part of the PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and joined the campaign “Buck Cruelty! Say No to Horse-drawn Carriage Rides”. To help save horses from their tortured life, this Glee actress posed with a rescued horse in a PETA ad to spread the message that horses do not belong in city streets.

Michele pointed out how horses are forced to do hard labor (walking for miles to take tourists for a ride), toil in all weather extremes, dodge traffic every day, and that these animals are not even given a good place to rest. The horses are at risk of getting respiratory diseases and other respiratory-related problems since they are exposed to fumes every day as they walk through the traffic and busy city streets.

As shown in an undercover video, Michele exposed the place where these horses are kept when they are not pulling carriages. The animals are made to climb steep ramps to reach the upper floors of a multi-story rundown building that were not designed to house horses. Michele said on the video that the stables for the horses are so little that it was difficult for them to turn around or move comfortably or even stretch their legs. 

The horses were locked in cramped stalls and tied to their troughs that there was no way for them to lie down comfortably. It was hard for those overworked animals to get the needed restorative sleep after a day’s labor, and that’s why most of them suffer fatigue. Michele even emphasized that the place where these horses are kept are full of flammable bales of hay, and it was very dangerous for these animals because if fire broke out there is no way for them to escape.

It is heartbreaking to see how these horses live a tortured life every day. So Michele, along with PETA, encourages people to not get taken by the ride, and boycott horse-drawn carriages.

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  1. PonyGirl
    Michele Lee may be a nice person, but she's been deceived as to the conditions of the NYC carriage horses. I watched the video that she made and I was quite frankly appalled at what I saw. Do you really think a horse walking up a ramp is abuse? The horses in NYC have 144 pages of rules and regulations governing them. The barns they are in are heated in the winter and have misters and fans all summer. The barns all have sprinkler systems in case of fire, and attendants in residence 24/7 to deal with fire or any other emergency situation. The horses live in box stalls that are big enough for them to lay down in, and can touch their neighbors through the screens and socialize. They are fed free choice hay when in their stalls as well as a grain ration. And almost all the barns were originally designed as stables. The horses are not allowed to work in temps. over 90 or under 18 degrees and do not work in inclement weather. The horses have plenty of water. The city provides several water troughs for the carriage horse's and police horse's use. The drivers carry water as well. Several independent veterinarians have examined the horses and have stated that the horses have an extremely low incidence of respiratory problems, much less than they see in riding horse barns. For the most part the horse's routes are in Central Park . These routes were actually built specifically for carriage horses by the park's founder. Asphalt was also developed before the automobile, specifically to make pulling wheeled vehicles easier for horses. The work the horses do is not particularly taxing to them. They very rarely move faster than a walk. The carriages are light enough for the drivers to move themselves when they park them in the stable for the night. The horses have mandatory schedules for routine vet care and hoof care. They have a mandated 5 week vacation in which they are turned out to pasture. There has been only one driver cited for cruelty in the whole history of the industry, even though the horses have 5 different agencies overseeing their well-being. That driver has since been fired. (He was cited for driving a horse with a bad case of thrush.) When I first heard about the move to ban the NYC carriage horses, I thought there must be something to it, but the more I researched the subject the more I discovered that the accusations put out by PETA were either wildly exaggerated or outright lies. Real abuse does not need a professionally edited video and tear-jerker music to get it's point across. And as I said before, if walking up a ramp is abuse, then every horse who lives in hilly country is abused. And a large percentage of all barns have hay stored in them. They're hardly "death traps." Most of these horses have been with their drivers for years and have developed bonds of respect and caring. Many are kept by the owners after they retire. And there is a retirement home, Blue Star Equiculture, which is specifically for the NYC horses. I know that the picture that has been painted of these horses is ugly, and I can see how people might think they are being abused after reading the accusations put out by PETA. But please check out some of the information put out by other professionals who feel that the horses are some of the best cared for in the industry before making up your mind on this issue.
    1. FreeRein
      Thank you for giving the other side to this story. I don't know enough about the carriage horse industry to add to this discussion other than to say I tend to question the validity of articles using blanket statements about large groups of people such as the ones in this article without something to back them up.

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