Friday, December 28, 2007

Visit to the City

Yesterday, my daughter and I spent the day in New York City. My husband took care of the horses, my mom and our old dog while I was gone. I love the city. It was my home for over 15 years, and it is one of the main reasons that we live in Connecticut. My daughter feels the same magnetic attraction to Manhattan that I do. When we go there and visit my friends, I love to share all my favorite haunts with her.

It was drizzling and icy as we wandered around. We ended up walking across Central Park West, where all the carriage horses stand waiting to take tourists into the Park. The horses were soaked and dirty, and my daughter’s heart went out to them. Although, she did tell me that she’d rather go uptown in a horse drawn carriage than a taxi or the subway. I insisted that we walk, and my feet are feeling the effects of that unforgiving concrete this morning.

My friend told me that in her building, which has rent control, an apartment that becomes available now rents for between $12,000 and $15,000 a month. How insane is that? I realized that as much as I still love New York City, I wouldn’t want to live there. I love waking up in the country, feeding the horses and hopping on the train to go to the city.

More important, at the end of the day, I am so glad to come home. Last night, it was very foggy. When I got out of the car, I announced to my husband that I was going to check on the horses. As they heard my voice, in the darkness, Silk neighed a greeting. “Good, Silkie really missed you,” he told me. As I rubbed my face against my horse’s nose and she murmured, “Nnnhhh, nnhhh, nnnhhh” to me, I knew I was in the right place.


perceval said...

I'm so glad you decided to walk instead of taking a horse-drawn carriage ride. It was the right choice. I wish others did the same.

A horse died in September because she was scared by a loud noise on the street. The horses have a grueling life walking on hard pavement, breathing in exhaust, working in extreme weather. In the summer the horses have no shade or water on the hack line. Some of them collapse from heat exhaustion.

When they're done working for the day they travel through heavy traffic to warehouses, where they have to walk up steep ramps to get to tiny stalls. Some are so small they can't even lie down in them.

The average life of a carriage horse in NYC is 4 years. Many horses go to auction where they are exposed to killer buyers.

A Council Member has introduced a bill to ban horse-drawn carriages. We all hope that this horrific practice is eliminated from New York City.

Victoria Cummings said...

That's why I lost touch with horses in my life during the time I lived in NYC. It was too cruel and painful. We saw people walking their big dogs - St. Bernards and labs - yesterday, and I felt so sorry for those animals. Not to be able to run free or not lay down to sleep. The horses in the stable on the Upper West Side -now closed - used to go up and down to their stalls in an elevator. While I appreciate my years in NYC, I am so glad that I've recovered the part of my soul that loves horses.

Transylvanian horseman said...

I visited NYC for the first time exactly a year ago. It certainly is a fascinating city.

I couldn't help but notice how badly shod most the carriage horses were. Nor did the middle of a metropolis seem like a good place for them.

We also visited a riding stable in Brooklyn where the manager was busy grinding up bute tablets to add to the feed.

In this world practically everything has been made into a commodity. Seemingly horses and riding too. It makes horses into mere objects, renders them disposable, valuable only in monetary terms. This is all very sad.

A difficult part of being in the equestrian business is dealing with people who see horses as a commodity. People who just want to gallop or jump, who are rough with their horses, who are straight off to the bar as soon as they dismount. Too often, it is the operators who turn a blind eye to malpractice who make the money. There are riding holiday centres in Europe where the average working life of a horse is much less than NYC's shocking four years.

Victoria Cummings said...

It is tragic and also dangerous for unexperienced riders. When these poor horses can't take it anymore and fight back, everyone says it's the horse's fault. Silk was abused before I bought her. I hate to think about what would have happened to her if I hadn't come along.