To the editor:
On Sept. 15, Lawrence was visited by some magnificent Clydesdale horses that were used to pull Budweiser beer wagons along Massachusetts Street. We were there when the horses were hitched to the wagons. These beautiful animals were unloaded from trucks, within which they had been confined for who knows how long and subjected to attachment to a variety of gear.
We could not help but notice the struggles ensuing with several of them when bits were forced into their mouths. Their handlers succeeded, but it was easy for anyone to see the horses' protests, head shaking, grimacing and foaming at the bits. We asked why they had to be so tight and were told that the bits and reins were adjusted to "keep their heads up." Our complaints were unheeded, and the show went on for the people of Lawrence.
The exhibition of animals for people's pleasure has been constrained in many venues (zoos and circuses, for example) in order to provide maximum care and comfort for animals, if indeed they must be "kept" for our viewing and entertainment. There are clearly costs and benefits to be considered in any activity that involves humans and animals.
We witnessed what can only be called mistreatment of horses for public entertainment, and for what benefit? For advertising beer? To encourage more drinking in a college town? Maybe the horses should be retired to a gentle pasture and the money otherwise spent on their rigging and transportation diverted to substance abuse prevention programs in our schools.
Jim and Sonia Juola,