On The Job
In January of this year, before the epidemic affected travel, I spent a few days in New Orleans. In anticipation of my visit, and realizing that I am not much of a sight see-er, I contacted Royal Carriage Company and set up a photo shoot so that I could do what I love. Ben Speight, the barn manager was reluctant, at first, to open his barn so that I may have access to his beautiful mules. Here's why: The carriage industry has been under great fire by animal activists. In fact, recently Chicago has banned carriages beginning 2021. And so have other popular cites such as Biloxi and Salt Lake City. Mr Speight did not know if I was foe posing as friend. I am so happy I was able to convince him that I am a true animal lover who totally supports the horse drawn carriage industry. I was beyond impressed with the care of the mules and the pride that the owners and staff of Royal Carriage Company had in their facility and of their lovely animals. I think my photos will speak to that.
A mule is a cross between a donkey and a horse. Mules themselves are born sterile. So you will not get offspring from a breeding two mules. A male mule is known as a John and a mare is a Molly. ( A male Donkey is a Jack and a mare is a Jenny) Since donkeys and horses come in many sizes, so do mules depending on their lineage. Royal Carriage Company used mostly draft horse/ donkey crosses. Draft horses are huge and sturdy, but also they are gentle giants, mostly. A draft mule is a great choice for a carriage horse.
This mule was obviously a Belgian / Donkey cross as evident of his color. He does look stunning in red! Mr. Speight gave me a tour of the facility which was surrounded by a tall wooden privacy fence, right in the heart of a New Orleans neighborhood. I cannot imagine that the neighbors would have any complaints as a tourist would have no idea it was there. It was clean and free of any unpleasant odors. Each animal had it's own stall but no pasture to graze on. Mr. Speight explains that for this reason, each mule is allowed a yearly vacation to enjoy pasture living in the country.
Ben Speight, the barn manager, is a Quarter Horse man. He grew up around working horses in the cowboy world. Which brings me back to my support of carriage horses. Man has evolved with the horse at his side. Give this some thought. If you took your history lessons seriously, I have no need to explain this. So in our modern life what is left for the horse? Cowboys still work cattle with horses and most horses are bred for that work...mostly AQHA horses. Animal rights activist don't stand a chance against ranch owners that rely heavily on their horses. Why is the carriage horse treated differently? They are bred for their work and have no trouble performing their job. Let them work!
In closing, I want to thank Royal Carriages for trusting me. I really enjoyed this photo shoot. But I also want to thank Royal Carriages and other carriage companies for taking such great care of their animals and for allowing them to work. When the carriage companies close where will the carriage horses go, what will be their purpose....you may have guessed it: meat. A damn shame.
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