When asked the question if horse riding is vegan, your first thought probably jumps to a confident ‘yes’ because it’s not like they’re eating the horse, right?
However, there’s more that goes into this question because you need to take a bit of a closer look at what it means to be vegan and how horse riding affects the horses themselves, then we can come to a conclusion as to whether horse riding is vegan.
What Does It Mean to Be Vegan?
It becomes a little bit complicated when we talk about what it means to be vegan because it can be quite flexible depending on the diet and consumer choices.
Generally, being vegan means that you do not eat meat or dairy.
However, some people who class themselves as vegans eat eggs and honey even though they are a product of an animal, but the argument is that it is a natural product, and the animal has not gone through any pain or human intervention.
Being vegan all comes down to the refusal to exploit animals and many vegans believe that if we don’t need milk or meat from an animal to survive then we shouldn’t take it from them.
The diet of a vegan usually consists of beans, fruits, vegetables, and legumes which can be combined to make some tasty meals, hearty meals.
There are also a lot of food items that are made to be vegan-friendly such as veggie burgers, vegan mayonnaise, and vegan chicken which makes it much easier for them to swap out real meat for vegan substitutes in conventional recipes.
As time goes on and more and more people are becoming vegan, substitutes such as oat milk, nutritional yeast, and hemp tofu are becoming more popular and even if you are not vegan, you can still enjoy these products that usually have lots of health benefits.
Being vegan is more than a dietary choice too, most vegans will not use any products that were tested on animals or materials that were made from animals such as wool, fur, and leather.
It’s not all black and white though as some vegans think that if the fur coat is second-hand from a thrift store, then it’s not so bad.
The main reason why vegans choose not to eat animal by-products is because of how a lot of major animal factories and farms operate and how they treat their animals.
They are kept in horrible conditions that barely leave them enough room to turn around and are force-fed until they are fat enough to slaughter.
These conditions are also incredibly unsanitary which can lead to infections especially if there are open sores on the animals caused by abuse.
There is plenty of evidence that also shows that a lot of the workers prod and taunt the animals just to be evil and this video evidence, that has been filmed and shown on various websites, including the news, is a major reason why people turn vegan.
It’s not just meat, dairy, and egg farms that can be just as bad with newborn calves being forcibly removed from their mothers so that the cows can begin milking straight away.
This is traumatic for both the mother and the calf but as long as the milk is being produced, it doesn’t seem to be a problem.
Is Horse Riding Vegan?
Now that we have gone over what it means to be vegan, where does horse riding come into it?
Well, some people believe that horses should be left alone to roam the plains, but others believe that if the horse is being well looked after and is having positive experiences then they are more than happy being kept as a pet.
If the horse is not being abused and is being looked after well, horse riding is considered vegan.
If the horse rider is skilled, there is no pain, the horse is experienced in riding, and the horse’s choices are respected, then it can be confidently said that horses enjoy being ridden because it gives them good exercise, mental stimulation, and bonding time with their owner.
It is said that even though horses don’t form an attachment bond with their owner, they still see them as ‘safe havens’.
If the horse is being punished with whips for example, then that is animal abuse and goes against vegan beliefs.
Other things that negatively affect the horse such as being pushed past its limits or made to carry too much weight also causes argument toward horse riding not being vegan.
Arguments against horse riding say that you are riding the horse to entertain yourself which in turn means that you are exploiting it, and this goes against veganism.
When it comes to other domesticated pets such as cats and dogs, the thoughts are a bit different because it is a mutually beneficial relationship, and dogs, and cats wouldn’t cope as well as horses would out in the wild.
With this logic, it would be vegan to own and care for a horse but if you ride it then it becomes exploitation.
Horse tacks such as bridles and saddles are usually made from leather which is not vegan friendly which we discussed earlier but nowadays it is becoming easier to get horse tack that is completely vegan and synthetic.
There are some risks that come with ditching the leather though because if the horse gets caught in a tree, for example, the leather will snap and the horse can get free, but synthetic material is much harder to break which could result in the horse being stuck for much longer.
You may have to come to a middle ground with this one as the horse could suffer if you choose a synthetic bridle but choosing a leather bridle is the practice of using animal by-products.
In conclusion, horse riding is considered vegan by most people as long as you are not hurting the horse and know what you are doing.
However, some people think that this is the exploitation of the animal as you are riding it purely for your own entertainment even though others would argue that the horse enjoys being ridden.