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Stop Making Horses Small

Mar 14 2017 8:35 PM
Stop Making Horses Small

Photo via Wikipedia

During the snow storm this morning, two ponies escaped their stable on Staten Island. But they will never be able to escape the prison of their tiny, man-made bodies.

This morning, the humans of New York who had the luxury of taking a snow day mentally prepared themselves to spend a full day indoors by wasting more time than usual online before showering and thinking fondly about the bulk snacks they brought the night prior. Personally, I used the privilege to wake up just a few minutes before I needed to "be at work" (open up my laptop and log-on) and wear a robe.

A couple of the ponies of New York, however, just could not relax. It seemed that the snow had an opposite effect on them: It called them away from the comforts of their home, in Staten Island, and into the suburban streets. After bystanders, and the local news, noted and tweeted the iconic duo crossing into traffic, the NYPD was called in to wrangle them and return them to their owners.

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But this incident highlights something else besides the subtle differences between pony- and humankind: It reminds us that people keep ponies as pets.

Ponies are generally considered to be small to extremely small horses. (According to most sources, any horse under "14 hands 2 inches" is a pony, so I'm going to use "miniature horse" and "pony" interchangeably.) They were bred specifically in the 17th century to be tiny versions of the big guys so that rich people could keep them around in their weird personal zoos. The squat animals, in other words, were consciously engineered to be useless—like corgis, another favorite of the ruling class, which often suffer from severe health problems because their bodies don't make any sense. (They're much too short and long.)

There is no reason we should keep up this tradition. Miniature horses just aren't good. Every kid has at one point growing up demanded a pony from their parents, but most did not get one! There's a reason for this: You basically have to build an entirely separate house for them, on a large plot of land, and they smell bad. And for what? Having a regular-sized horse as a pet is bad enough. A very small one? Inexcusable. Ponies provide none of the benefits of a large horse (you can't ride them), more of the health problems, and all of the same labor and expense. Some people might argue that the cuteness of mini horses is reason enough to get one, but I disagree.

At best, ponies are beefy dogs, so I don't really understand why people would choose a mini horse when they could just get a dog. It seems like miniature horse owners are just showing off. It's "extra," as the teens say. People use ponies as guide animals, but they're not even as practical. Though the pony lobby pushes a list of reasons why the hoofed creatures are superior guides for the blind, this clearly hasn't caught on.

"They eat far more often than dogs, and go to the bathroom about every two or three hours... Plus, they can't curl up in small places, which makes going to the movies or riding in airplanes a challenge. (When miniature horses fly, they stand in first class or bulkhead because they don't fit in standard coach.)," The New York Times noted in a 2009 article about guide horses.

Ponies, however, excel at being cops—which is just another reason why we should stop breeding them. Let horses be free. Let horses be big.

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