It’s strange to think how cruel circuses were to animals, isn’t it? As circus organizers forced elephants, bears, and tigers to ride bikes, stand on their heads, and jump through hoops of fire, the audience cheered, ignoring the cruelty required to train these animals to perform. such towers.
The circus organizers did not tell us about the long cage trips these animals endured from site to site. They just wished we wouldn’t think about it. But ultimately we did, which led to the practice being banned altogether.
Are equestrian sports at the Olympics better? The tournament describes events like dressage as “the essence of partnership as riders compete against highly trained horses, together becoming one”. The horses have a shiny mane, their riders wear elegant costumes. Together they perform breathtaking ballet movements.
In its guidelines for equestrian events at the Tokyo Games, the International Federation of Equestrian Sports (FEI) stated that horses “should not be subjected to abusive or fear-provoking methods” and suggested measures for treatment. “human” of horses.
But Olympics bosses are probably hoping you won’t think about how these horses came to perform in Tokyo in the first place. A total of 325 horsepower were driven – yes, Fly – in Tokyo for the tournament.
Proponents of these modes of transport may have boasted of having flown “in style” due to the scale of the operation, but a child might tell you that stealing horses around the world is unnatural and cruel. During flights unrelated to the Olympics, horses died in the air. These animals are clearly meant to run free in the fields, not confined in cartons for long and arduous air travel, including traumatic turbulence, takeoffs and landings – even if they benefit from ‘meals, snacks and in-flight grooming ”as reported earlier this month.
Equestrian sport has a long history of insensitivity. Two years before the London 2012 Olympics, a video emerged of a training method – the rollkur technique – that even a leading dressage trainer admitted to be “vile” and “cruel”. This involves pulling the horse’s neck in a deep curve so that its nose almost touches its chest. The video in question showed a rider warming his horse for an extended period of time in the position, with the horse’s tongue appearing to unwind and turn blue. After a debate on the issue at the time, the FEI condemned the practice.
In 2002, a report by The telegraph of the day which detailed the “frequent incidents of violence” against dressage horses in competition, including attacks that left horses with “torn mouths and bloody flanks,” plagued the industry for years, though problems at this scale have not been widely reported for some time. The attacks – which had no connection to the Tokyo Olympics – included riders whipping, hitting and kicking horses. Some have used spurs to cut the skin of horses or ripped off the bridle as punishment after the horse did not trot in the manner desired by the rider.
Equipment used in equestrian sports – such as nose bands, spurs and shock collars – can cause serious physical and psychological damage to horses. The training methods can also cause lameness and other long-term injuries to their body and mind. Let’s face it, dressage is like breaking a horse’s mind to convince it to perform unnatural tricks for humans.
So why aren’t people more angry with the inclusion of this “sport” in the Olympics? In most cases, people are simply unaware that there is something cruel about training. But even when we are aware of cruelty to animals, we are good at telling ourselves stories to quell our stubborn guilt. Farm animals, for example, arrive in slaughterhouses terrified and leave cut to pieces, but meat eaters think that what happened between the two was “human.”
When it comes to dressage in particular, people say horses can’t be forced to do things they don’t want – they’re too big and strong to be intimidated. But circuses have shown us that even tigers, elephants and bears can be forced to do all kinds of things they hate, while appearing “happy” in front of the audience.
Horse racing apologists also say horses wouldn’t run and jump if they didn’t want to. But at the equestrian sanctuary where I volunteer, the horses in greatest difficulty are always those that come from the horse racing industry. They show a unique anxiety and lack of confidence that suggests they have been treated with cruelty.
People began to realize these horrors after Panorama revealed last month that thousands of racehorses are sent to UK slaughterhouses every year. At least 2,278 horses have died on UK racetracks since 2007, in addition to all retired horses that have been slaughtered. It is time for people to face the truth about other equestrian sports too.
Whether in slaughterhouses, laboratories or Olympic arenas, animal welfare guidelines are generally more beneficial to humans than to animals. They are meant to make us feel better about the fact that we are mistreating animals. But no amount of fancy words can remove the stain that equestrian events leave on the Olympics. This circus of cruelty must be banned.