Domestication Of The Horse – Is It Immoral?By Jeffrey Rolo
I can safely say that the overwhelming majority of horse enthusiasts that visit AlphaHorse firmly believe that through natural horsemanship, horses and humans can create a close bond that benefits both parties tremendously. But there are some that believe domestication of the horse is inappropriate, undesirable, and even immoral. Rather than dismiss such beliefs outright, which I admit is easy for many of us to do, I will play devil's advocate for a moment and lay out the common arguments I hear as to why horse domestication is a bad thing.
Domesticated Horses Are Not Meant To Be Servants
Humans do not have the right to own and/or impose their will upon a horse, or any other species of animal for that matter. All living, sentient beings deserve respect and complete independence; humans are wrong to consider themselves a superior species that has an unwritten right to dominate another sentient species. Such a belief is especially offensive when you consider that horses possess their own desires and emotions; who are we to arrogantly dismiss these emotions, pains and desires for our own amusement.
Domestication Of The Horse Is Not Natural
There is nothing natural about the term "natural horsemanship," because horses were never meant to be pack animals or servants. By nature they are prey animals, and flee the encroachment of humanity if given the opportunity. There is no genuine horse-human bond in a relationship, but rather a forced relationship where a horse is unwillingly trained to succumb to the will of his owner. The horse never has a choice in the matter, and no matter how much a horse owner will try and convince himself otherwise, the horse doesn't develop a true bond with his human owner – it's a forced relationship where the horse succumbs to his owner's wishes in order to avoid the negative pressures or consequences that would arise from defiance.
Horse Domestication Leads To Horse Abuse
Even if one were to concede that some horse owners genuinely treat their horses well, the simple fact of the matter is that many do not. Countless horses live lives of neglect and abuse, simply because society turns a blind eye to horse domestication. Although most areas do have laws on the books regarding animal abuse, the reality is that very few animals are rescued from a non-ideal living situation when compared to the whole.
For this reason, humans need to reconsider horse breeding and horse ownership. With the advent of the automobile and other technological advances, there is no longer a historical need for horse domestication, and as such we should be willing to sacrifice our personal desires for horse ownership if it will lead to less horses being neglected by abusive horse owners in the future.
Horse Domestication Leads To Greater Evils
Once people turn a blind eye to horse domestication, or accept the common belief that it is acceptable for a human to own a horse, they travel down a slippery slope where it becomes acceptable to place horses in harm's way in the name of entertainment.
Horses can become seriously injured when forced into the sports of horse racing, jumping, or rodeo. In each of those sports, a horse forced to perform can accidentally sprain a muscle or break a bone, and if the injury is severe enough, some horse owners will even elect to "euthanize" the horse rather than take responsibility for the injury they imposed upon the equine.
Just as humanity moved beyond the brutality of gladiator games and other blood sports, so too should we move away from unnecessary and often barbaric sports that force unwilling horses to put their well-being at risk.
Domestication Leads To Horse Overpopulation
When horses are treated as a marketable horse product, breeders will intentionally produce as much product as possible, which eventually leads to an overpopulation as the sicker or less physically gifted specimens are disregarded, pushed to the side, and neglected due to a perceived lack of value by most buyers. This leads to cruel practices such releasing unwanted horses so that they are left to fend for themselves, or possibly worse, horse slaughter.
Until domestication of the horse is ended, breeders will have no incentive to cease breeding excessive quantities of horses while chasing the almighty dollar.
In summary, the domestication of the horse ignores the laws of nature, dismisses the emotions and desires of a fellow sentient species, and opens the door to neglectful or abusive treatment of horses by their human owners. Horses are a national treasure, and mankind should push aside its selfishness for the benefit of the horse.
Now that I am finished playing devil's advocate, let's look at the other side of the argument: Are domesticated horses actually experiencing benefits denied to their wild counterparts?