The only being who was not a willing participant in the Anti-Calèche (Carriage) demonstration this past Sunday in Vieux Montreal, is KnockOut, the horse. He is a handsome, large fellow, weighing in at 1800 pounds. Judging from his golden coat and whitish mane, I would hazard a guess that KnockOut is a Palomino.
He arrived about half an hour after the protestors who, equipped with their signs, determination and fervor, began to congregate at Place Vauquelin, situated in the heart of the horse carriage (Calèche) trade. Of course, KnockOut, or KAO as he is sometimes called, did not come here on his own. He arrived with his master, hooked up to a black carriage resplendent with Skull and Crossbones imagery. The driver came slowly down the street and created a big and seemingly intentional show of making a U Turn (which is illegal), parking directly in front of me and my fellow picketers.
Even though the driver, Pierre Lauzier dove right in to engaging the protesters in a weak and persistent bid to justify his relationship with his equine friend, my attention turned immediately to KAO and his plight. There he was with an uncomfortable bit in his mouth which he worked against every few minutes, moving his lips and his jaw about in a effort to obtain some relief from the hard steel edges. His large, shoe clad hooves were cracked in places and he continually shifted his weight as we most certainly would do if forced to stand still on pavement for a long period of time.
KAO looked the part of a circus clown with a bowler hat affixed to his head and silly, giant, lime green gag glasses perched slightly below on his forehead. Adorning his neck, was an oversized black tie emblazoned with a skull and crossbones, hanging loosely and blowing about in the light, spring breeze. I was as embarrassed for him as he seemed to be, standing there with a somewhat sheepish, yet resigned and sad look on his face. Of course there was all the standard regalia (tack): blinders, emblem in the middle of the forehead, harness and reins.
It is not often that I come face to face with the animals for whom I advocate, but when I do it is a stark reminder to me of all that is wrong about the intentional exploitation of other species for human profit, whether it be personal and/or financial.
KAO is representative of every horse in every city that insists on supporting the carriage trade, either in the name of tradition, or of providing employment for its citizens or even worse, doing it for the sake of the horses who love to work and be with humans. Yes, I have heard that come out of the mouths of unseeing people. Knock Out’s master and driver, whose narrative was mostly industry spin and drivel had this to say:
This is an animal. It is not a human being, and we should not treat animals as human beings. If you project your feelings into an animal, it’s called anthropomorphism and that’s a bad thing to do
After yet another accident in Old Montreal last Saturday when poor Mimi the horse took off while unattended and was hit by a car, people are continuing to demand that Mayor
Denis Coderre end once and for all, the horrific and cruel tradition of ferrying tourists around our fair city in horse drawn carriages. We are not looking for improved conditions for the horses when they are on the streets and in the stables. We are not looking for more taxpayer funded studies, more lame and unsupportable excuses. We are looking for a complete ban because the carriage trade is exploitative, antiquated, outmoded and completely unnecessary. There are other methods of taking people on a tour without negatively affecting the livelihood of the carriage drivers who could man electric and bicycle operated carriages, antique cars, double decker buses.
FACTS ABOUT THE Montréal Calèche (carriage) Industry:
are worked for nine hour shifts every 24 hours while standing and walking on hard pavement, sharing the road with cars and trucks, enduring all the busy sights, lights and loud city sounds which may frighten them.
are fed during this time, but no mention of being watered is made in the city by laws.
are covered, from November 1 to April 30, with a blanket when at his or her stand.
may not be hitched up to a vehicle between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. when the outside air
temperature recorded by Environment Canada at the Dorval Weather Office reaches or exceeds 32 degrees Celsius (86.9 Fahrenheit)
live in terrible and un-monitored conditions at stables such as Lucky Luc.
Annie’s Vegan View
We are so much more than the Calèche industry.
Let us be remembered as a city that cared enough about the well-being of these horses to end their exploitation and abuse.
May all beings be happy and free.