As a tribute to the “Hoover Carts” of the Great Depression, New York artist Jeremy Dean has created a horse-drawn Hummer cart for display in Central Park. He explained his motivation in a recent interview with the Daily Mail of London:
‘I came up with the idea during the global economic meltdown,’ Mr Dean said.
‘I thought these hummers are the pinnacle of consumerism and a powerful status symbol, so what will happen when they are no longer sustainable?’
Dean’s answer may be more provocative than realistic, but it’s certainly something to think about as the Hummer becomes ever more obsolete. Excessive (and worthless) luxury can always be put to good use. Maybe we can think of a better function than horse-drawn carriage since, personally, I’d rather see people make use of pedicabs than put a poor animal to work.
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“Putting a poor animal to work”?
Are you sure you’re not projecting your own disdain for honest work onto the horses?
You obviously know nothing about horses – what they like, what they can do, and what needs they have.
The horses pictured above are WORK horses – that is what they were bred for, that is what they do, and in work they get the physical and mental stimulation they need, their requirements met.
Horses and man have had a symbiotic relationship since the dawn of time.
Nothing is greener or more honest than horsepower.
A horse with a job helps to earn his considerable keep, thus making him less likely to become unwanted, abandoned, or sold for slaughter.
Wake up and grow up.
I’m not sure any animal is made to be mistreated.
Michaleen, I genuinely appreciate your passionate comment, but you really just narrowed in on a passing thought of mine. Without taking the discussion even further away from the main point of the post, I’ll simply say that I don’t think there’s a need for horses in Central Park. There are so many other modes of transportation available. And if the alternative is selling them for slaughter than clearly horse-lovers such as yourself need to come up with a better alternative.
Horse-drawn carriage rides are not a mode of transportation, like taxicabs–that’s comparing apples and oranges. They offer an experience, an intangible, somewhat ephemeral and evocative experience. They are about as necessary as a fabulous meal at a restaurant, an absorbing conversation with an interesting person, a scarf hand-knit of wool and angora. Carriage rides preserve the past against the incongruous backdrop of the present. Because they make us confront animals where we least expect them, we are given the opportunity to question everything about the city, our society, the mad pace of our lives in counterpoint to the seductively steady pace of the horse’s hooves–the opportunity to question everything about ourselves. Transportation? What do you want from life–do you expect nothing, do you strive for nothing? Wake up, come alive! People that love and support and respect the NYC horse-drawn carriage industry know that our connection to nature is at once fragile and enduring and mysterious. We can and must remind ourselves of this and nurture this connection–where a plain carriage, drawn by a humble, living, breathing, inscrutable horse, is able to confound and stir our cool and modern souls to life again.
Bryan – I deliberately “narrowed in” exactly BECAUSE it was just a “passing thought”. Passing comments that contain no truth need to be challenged; people need to employ critical thought before casually stating falsehoods – and if they do not, it is up to the other guy who knows the truth to speak up.
If you didn’t want it to be discussed, then you shouldn’t have made it part of your post.
The second part of your response reflects a dearth of critical and linear thought, and the usage of fallacy.
Firstly, “need” depends on perspective – certainly to the people and horses in the carriage business, there is an obvious “need”. Others would say there is a “need” to keep part of our history alive, or that there is a “need” to continue a tradition that utilizes the park drives for which they were created; still others say there is a “need” to have the choice and enjoyment of a family-friendly, world-renowned NYC attraction.
Another funny thing about “need” – who gets to decide? There are lots of things we don’t “need” in life – perhaps most things! In the NYC environment, there is no “need” for a hot dog vendor, no “need” for an art museum, no “need” for massive neon signs, no “need” for people to have dogs cooped up in tiny apartments who get to see their owners only when they get home from work, and then take a nice walk on the concrete, and back to the apartment. Nope, no “need” at all for any of these things – but it’s about CHOICE and FREEDOM to live one’s life as one chooses. When it comes right down to it, our “needs” are food, shelter, water, a source of income, and laws. Everything else – well, it’s not an actual “need”.
As for your statement regarding horses and slaughter, you either did not grasp the concept, or are being disingenuous.
I repeat: A horse with a job helps to earn his considerable keep, thus making him less likely to become unwanted, abandoned, or sold for slaughter. There is an epidemic of abandoned horses across the country right now, due to what is being called a “perfect storm” of a slow economy, highfeed prices, & recent national outlawing of U.S. slaughterhouses.
This is a MAMMOTH crisis – thousands of horses being left to waste away in fields & paddocks, or surrendered to over-crowded rescues. Don’t take my word for it – Google it. Closing down a business where horses lead content & exceedingly reasonable existences will only ADD to this problem.
Anybody who thinks that putting carriages out of business is a good idea should hop on down to the auction & buy a slaughter-bound horse and care for it for the rest of its natural life. That would actually be doing something to HELP a horse, not hurt it by taking away it’s place in this world.
A well-loved, cared-for horse with a job is a lucky horse.
Our horses are lucky, and we are lucky to have them.
My hats off to this poster he/she says it like it is! I am a life long 40+yrs horse owner and take their words to heart, everything said here is 100% right on. Hrslady
hrslady – thank you for the kind words! Come over to my blog & leave me a message, do you have a Facebook?
In fact, Bryan, while we’re on the subject of “luxury,” working carriage horses are NOT luxury items to their owners and drivers. They are necessities. The carriage driver who loves his/her horse also NEEDS that horse to earn a living. The horse also helps pay for his keep. As a result, the possibility of neglect is much reduced compared to the horse who is kept as a pet, for recreation or as an investment. In this economy, such horses who are luxury items are the first horses to be “thrown away” when the expense gets too great. They are the first ones to be neglected because the cost of feed goes up. The market for “unwanted” horses is oversaturated right now. Quality horses are being sold for slaughter for pennies on the pound. There aren’t enough homes for the ones given up by families who could no longer afford the “luxury” of a horse. Why destroy the livelihoods of horses and carriage drivers alike and add to the problem? Carriage horses have homes and people who love them. Why rip them away from that?
I recently was involved in the rescue of a Percheron draft horse who had been neglected. His feet were in horrible shape and he was skinny. He supposedly was once a NYC carriage horse who had been sold to a family who wanted a pet. Obviously, they either did not know how much it costs to keep a horse, or were unwilling or unable to pay for basic needs such as farrier care or proper nutrition. After bouncing from auction to auction in KY and NJ, he was sold to the kill pen for $330. Thankfully, a carriage operator in FL looked past his present condition and adopted him. He is now being cared for properly and when he was first harnessed up at her farm, he perked up immediately, as if he knew he was back where he belonged. Now this horse has returned to the level of care he once enjoyed as a working horse.
Your comment also completely missed the point of the artist’s creation. Driving a Hummer is often about not only luxury but also a complete lack of respect for one’s surroundings (be it the environment or other drivers). Hooking up horses to a Hummer inverts that. Working with horses is about mutual respect. In order to work harmoniously and effectively with horses who weigh 10 times what one does requires care and respect, as well as considering the experience of other living beings. Working with horses reconnects one to the whole of creation, with our own human history, and with Mother Earth.
Your so-called “passing comment” is a thoughtless comment made without considering the consequences of giving voice to and reinforcing such a misguided belief. Comments such as yours actually put healthy, well-cared-for, and beloved working horses in danger of neglect or slaughter. THINK before you write.
Beautifully said, drafthorse!
P.S. I find it ironic that a blog titled “Waging Nonviolence” would advocate a position that would do violence to horses and their human families. New York City carriage horses are doing no harm to anyone, nor are they being harmed in doing their jobs. In fact, they thrive in it.
The stress of being sent to horse auctions and the violence and terror of the slaughterhouse has no place on a blog dedicated to your mission of waging non-violence.
You seem to think that there are options other than being sold to slaughter. Any horse who finds himself homeless in this country presently is at risk of finding his way to the slaughter. Why do you advocate a position that would put these horses at risk for violence?
Beautifully, beautifully stated, Drafthorse!
And terrific point about the artist’s intention!