If the pony rides offered in Parisian parks are a delight for children, they are also a nightmare for these animals. This is what the Paris Animal Zoopolis Association (PAZ) denounces, through a petition demanding the end of these “attractions”.
The text calls on the Council of Paris to take this decision in line with “historic measures” recently taken “in favor of the interests of animals exploited for our leisure”. PAZ cites the “ban on wild animals in circuses”, the “closure of the bird market”, the “ban on live fishing” or even “the end of the sale of pets in The city of Paris”.
According to the association, the ponies that we see in the parks deserve the same “benevolence”. Currently, they are treated as “consumer goods,” the petition laments. “It teaches children that you can buy a pony ride like you buy a ride”, instead of showing them that “they are sentient beings”.
Not to mention that the pace and conditions imposed on these animals amount to abuse, according to PAZ. They who “need a calm and stable environment”, with very regular access to grass or hay “according to the rhythm of a herbivore”, in fact evolve “in an urban environment, noisy and stressful “.
So that they accept “to be ridden at any time and by anyone”, these ponies are also broken in (training for equines, editor’s note) “from a young age”. “Their docility should not make us forget the daily constraint that they undergo”, can we read in the petition.
Under the impetus of the association, the City of Paris has drawn up a general “animal welfare” charter, and another specific to these pony rides. By signing agreements with the town hall, the companies that exploit these animals have undertaken to follow these rules. However, today, the members of PAZ assure that “several points are not respected at all”.
Children ‘at risk’
The majority of offenses ‘demonstrate the complete lack of consideration for ponies’, who are ‘exploited like objects’. The petition cites in particular the lack of water and hay available to animals whose bit is not removed during breaks, working days of more than 13 hours and unsuitable or even harmful equipment.
On this last point, the association makes a “zoom” on a practice: that of “Colbert lanyard-type reining”. This system, used on ponies in Parisian parks, “allows them to submit completely” and is “totally out of step with the docility” of these animals. It induces a “compression” in the ears which is “particularly uncomfortable” for the pony.
Other shortcomings are also accused of putting “children in danger”: non-systematic wearing of helmets, incorrect installation of riders on the animal’s back or even dangerous overloading, with ponies both mounted and harnessed.
In 2021, PAZ made different proposals to improve the existing “animal welfare” charter. Among their suggestions, only that of not sending ponies to the slaughterhouse when they are no longer useful was adopted.
The abandonment of the bit, the accompaniment of the outings by professionals or even the reduction in the number of ponies exploited were, on the other hand, refused. With this new action, the association, which has requested an interview with the Animal Condition deputy of the city of Paris, is asking for a pure and simple ban on these walks.