My letter-to-the-editor for The Sun was published regarding a recent trip by the Budweiser Clydes to Lake George, New York. Thank you, to the editor, for running my letter just as I wrote it. Hopefully, I reached a few more people. Education is a wonderful thing when trying to combat this kind of cruelty to horses.
Link to the online edition: http://www.suncommunitynews.com/opinions/letters-to-the-editor/boycott-the-budweiser-clydesdales/
To the Editor:
The Budweiser Clydesdales are appearing at Lake George on Aug. 18, with stable viewing before then at the Saratoga State Park Aug. 16-21. Please boycott these events. Budweiser amputates the tails of these magnificent horses even though they do not have to.
This amputation is called docking, and it is a cruel and useless procedure that is done so that the horse looks a certain way. So much of the tail is cut off - bones (15 of their 18 vertebra), muscles and skin - the horse is left with a tiny stub. Some horses are forced to live with chronic or phantom pain.
The tail never grows back and I have seen many of these mutilated horses, miserable, when they have been turned out to pasture.
Instead of enjoying their retirement, they are forced to move all day long, stamping their feet, and shaking their heads to try to keep biting insects from feasting on them. Their useless little stub of a tail can do nothing. Imagine you are covered in mosquitoes or wasps but cannot use your arms. That is how these horses are left to suffer because of the ridiculous, brutal procedure.
Docking of horses’ tails was originally performed for safety reasons when horses were harnessed for activities such as hauling, logging or pulling carriages (Tozzini, 2003). The rationale given for this was to prevent possible difficulties in controlling a horse whose tail had tangled in the harness or reins (Tozzini, 2003; Lefebvre et al, 2007).
However, not all draught horses are docked and the inconsistent application of the practice implies that these horses can be managed adequately without the need to remove the tail. Simple and practical alternatives, such as plaiting or bandaging the tail, are available if necessary.
Fourteen US states have banned it along with five Canadian provinces and 11 countries.
The AAEP policy states, in part, that: “The American Association of Equine Practitioners is opposed to the alteration of the tail of the horse for cosmetic or competitive purposes.”
From the United States Humane Society: “We agree that unless medically indicated for the horse’s health, this procedure is unnecessary and limits natural movement of the tail, to the extent that it cannot be used to fend off flies and biting insects and prevents horses from displaying mental and physiological states of mind.” - Marty Irby, Senior Director of Rural Outreach and Equine Protection, The Humane Society of the US.
Please, stop supporting this cruelty towards horses. As long as you go to these events, Budweiser will continue to mutilate their horses.
Briar Lee Mitchell, MA, EdD