In my twenties, I was editor of several vegan websites and I was a strict vegan myself (is there any other kind)? I came to the lifestyle like many young women of my generation:
1. I read Skinny Bitch
2. Felt outraged
3. Saw a chance to lose weight and be right about everything all the time
As an editor and community manager, I learned there are two types of vegans: lifelong, committed vegans looking for incremental progress on animal welfare, and new vegans armed with questionable research and a need to troll. I started off in the latter camp, but over the years I’ve evolved (or my family would have disowned me by now).
The vegan creed is that animals do not exist to provide entertainment or assist in the survival of humans. They are autonomous beings with the right to live as nature intended. Sounds nice, but I have two big problems with this theory. One is that it ignores the inherent cruelty of nature. Let’s break down what it means for all horses alive today to be “wild.” You won’t get very far before envisioning fields of starving, neglected horses. The other problem with this theory is that horses and humans have been partners for centuries. No vegan would deny there’s a spiritual connection between the two species.
“Saying horses shouldn’t be ridden is like saying humans shouldn’t work.”
As horse people, we know there’s a world of difference between a well-cared for working horse, and an abused or neglected horse. If vegans really want to help horses, they should take the time to learn about horse care, behavior, and training methods like positive reinforcement. They should volunteer at a horse rescue. Protesting horse shows or the idea of not riding horses at all does not help horses. It’s just an ego trip.
Saying horses shouldn’t be ridden is like saying humans shouldn’t work. If all I had to do was eat, sleep, and spend an hour a day learning how to communicate better with my work wife, I’d be fine. I wouldn’t be happy if I had to constantly change herds, work through pain, fear physical punishment, end up on a meat truck…these are the practices vegans can work to change.
I support a style of veganism that embraces a world where people ride horses, and I encourage vegans to educate themselves about the horse world so they can understand the abuses that truly merit activism. As a bonus, they will experience the joy of bonding with a horse. Isn’t that love for animals why we become vegan in the first place?
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Writer and aspiring horse lady. She lives in Texas with her husband, daughter, and dogs Thunder & Coco.