Hanaeleh was recently made aware of abusive practices that have been taking place at the pony rides at Griffith Park. There are videos of older, arthritic ponies who are clearly in pain being made to carry children around a track.
Dangerous for Kids and Ponies
None of the children have helmets, and they are strapped into the saddle, which is incredibly dangerous, and can lead to children getting dragged. Indeed, according to witnesses, there was a record of at least one instance where a pony jumped over the small track and ran off with a child on his back, and another instance where the saddle slipped and the child was dragged.
At least one pony has collapsed at these rides, and an independent assessment of the ponies was done by an equine vet. This report revealed that the ponies were not only geriatric and arthritic, but also indicated they had dental, medical and hoof issues as well as saddle sores. The assessment also noted inadequate shelter or access to water. The owner of the pony rides has stated that he has addressed these issues, but local citizens have stated that they have not seen any changes in how the ponies are treated or their workload.
There is a concern that these ponies will be asked to work in the excessive summer heat, which can potentially be deadly.
An End to Pony Rides
Ending the pony rides in Griffith Park is not an outrageous concept. For example, in Santa Monica, CA, the city council chose not to renew the pony ride contract at the farmer’s market due to public pressure. At the time, Council Member Kevin McKeown stated, “My heart tells me that the time has come when pony rides are one of those things we remember fondly but do not do anymore.” We cannot agree more. We think that there are better ways for people to have access to animals without forcing ponies to carry children around a track for hours at a time.
The goal of the people in charge of ending the contract with the pony rides at Griffith Park would like to replace the pony rides with a non-animal attraction, such as a train or other option. Exploiting animals at the cost of their health is not how we should be exposing our children to horses.
What You Can Do
Contact the following people and politely ask them to end the contract of the pony rides at Griffith Park:
Ms. Nithya Raman, Councilmember, Council District 4
Jimmy Kim, General Manager of Department of Recreation and Parks
For More Information
If you would like more information about this issue, please contact Sue: firstname.lastname@example.org. She and her husband have been working to try to end the abuse of the ponies for several months and can give you more detailed information about how you might be able to help.