How does PETA feel about horseback riding?
In a perfect world, horses would be free to pursue their own lives without human interference. Horses are herd animals, who naturally associate with large numbers of other horses, graze in meadows, trot great distances, play, and court. Domestication has certainly not benefited horses, as they’ve long been exploited as beasts of burden and are kept constantly constrained and only allowed to move about at the will of others.
When there is a respectful, loving bond between horse and human, then horseback riding can be as much an act of companionship and exercise as walking one’s dog. However, just as we oppose the use of choke collars on dogs, we also oppose the use of whips, spurs, and other devices that cause discomfort and pain to horses.
With domesticated horses, PETA supports humane, interactive training. Horses are not equipment and can suffer from the heat, humidity, and overexertion. Horses don’t enjoy constant work any more than a human being enjoys being forced to do manual labor all day long. Just as a dog can be housetrained in a positive manner, gentle methods can be employed to teach a horse to tolerate a rider on his or her back. PETA does not support training methods based on punishment.
We do not support keeping horses in isolation and believe that they are happiest when kept in social groups.