Pacia Purcell: Placing Animals

This book dealt with the interactions and relationships between humans and animals. One of these interactions deals with horses and their interactions in all ways dealing with humans. As an avid horse-lover and rider I feel as if I must weigh in on this issue and how I personally interact with them.

For years throughout my childhood, I rode and showed horses. I still continue to ride today, however not to the seriousness that I once did. I cringe slightly to think back on how how much money was spent on and for horses. This was talked about in the book. The horse economy is insane. People watch shows like Dance Moms and Toddlers and Tiaras and think wow those moms are crazy. That’s like going to a horse show. Except instead of one child the parents have two, their child and the horse. People spend crazy amounts of money on getting perfectly trained that come from amazing bloodlines and are trained to perform in ways that horses don’t naturally move. People spend thousands of dollars on an outfit to show in. After spending all this money on horses and their child, parents go crazy if their child doesn’t win or at least place. Horses are dressed up, shaved, banded and braided, shot up with drugs, and paraded around. Horse shows are crazy.

Upon looking at my relationship with horses I feel a bit like a hypocrite. I am a vegetarian for the reasons of how animals are treated. Yet, at least once a week I put on my leather boots and gloves made from the skin of cows. I put my leather saddle (I’ve owned probably close to 15 over the years) on my horse and and bridle him with my leather bridle. Occasionally if my horse is acting up, I strap on my spurs with leather straps. Sometimes I feel bad about all the leather that I own, but I also think to myself, what else would I use. All of these materials are made with synthetic material, but if you showed up at a show with these materials you would definitely not win a thing. I have owned synthetic boots before and honestly they sucked. They fell apart within a year. Yet they were cheaper and not made of animal products.

Additionally, the book talks about the morals in riding and using horses the way that humans do, especially in racing. I cannot speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself and my own horse. My horse is a thoroughbred, the breed usually used for horses who race. He was bred to be a racehorse, but his times during training were too slow. He is now used as a hunter jumper horse. He is crazy and loves to throw fits, however despite this I know that he enjoys what he does. He loves to jump. When riding him you can tell. I can’t explain it, but I can feel it. Additionally he loves to run. He runs for fun. When he needs to burn off some steam, he runs. When he is unsure of what to do he runs and he runs fast. As a horse bred to run, he loves it. I believe that race horses love to run and probably enjoy racing.

The book also brings up bestiality, with some people being known to believe that animals can consent to sexual acts with humans, which is absurd. Sexual consent means saying yes to sexual acts. The vast majority of animals cannot speak and so therefore cannot consent. The book also brings up the topic of why consent would matter here, but not in our other relationships of animals, such as eating them. I’m sure if we were able to reason with animals and asked them if they were okay with humans killing them to eat them, they would definitely say no. So even if they do “want it” and are able to consent why would that matter. We take everything else from animals why should sex be any different.

A whole chapter was devoted to farming and animal agriculture. Once again, the concept that some animals are treated like gods while others are viewed as property was brought up. Additionally religions that don’t eat meat were brought up and their biased towards certain animals that they literally view as gods and worship. One specific instance of this bias was brought up with tigers. When a restaurant in Texas tried to sell tiger, there was an uproar. However, in some Asian countries tigers are bred and sold for consumption. What you eat is dependent upon the culture that you live in, however one thing doesn’t change, some animals are treated as objects, while others are treated like family.

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