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Tourism Commission - Carriage Horse Committee considering new regulations

Pat Jones who covers Tourism

The Carriage Horse Committee met on June 30 to discuss a number of issues. Highlights were visits to the city's carriage horse facilities and a general greement amongst committee members that stall size, the weight of horses and heat should be added to the issues dealt with in the new regulations. Also discussed, was the possibility of lowering the external temperature at which the horses' internal temperature must be checked from 95 degrees to 90 degrees. This is to ensure that horses do not suffer from heat exhaustion.

Dealing with these issues are steps in the right direction. Stipulated in the new regulations should be a maximum heat/humidity reading of less than 150. (This figure is reached by adding the ambient temperature and humidity readings) There is ample medical analysis to support this request. The following is an extract from Exercise Physiology and Diseases of Exertion-Equine Med and Surgery by M Mackay Smith and M Cohen.

"When the sum of the ambient temperature and relative humidity is below 130, the combination of the mechanisms (conduction, convection and radiation) is sufficient to provide cooling to all but a few extremely muscular and/or obese horses. As the combination of temperature and humidity rises above 140, significant numbers of horses begin to rely more and more on sweating as conduction and radiation become less effective. When the sum exceeds 150, especially if the humidity contributes more than half the sum, the evaporative cooling of sweating is severely compromised. When the temperature and humidity together total more than 180, the cooling mechanism is almost completely ineffectual and exercise, whether strenuous or aerobic, can be maintained for only relatively short periods before the core temperature and especially muscle temperature rise to dangerous levels of 40.6 C (105 F) or more Very little cooling occurs despite the profuse outpouring of sweat, and panting is common".

A June, 1993 set of guidelines commissioned unanimously by members of the Tourism Commission states " as more data becomes available in regard to ambient temperatures versus heat index, these guidelines will be reviewed and subject to change". The report stated that the guidelines were to be used as "a starting point for carriage horse stewardship under the watchful eyes of a concerned public.

A current member of the Tourism Commission thought the implementing of regulations insuring the humane treatment of the carriage horses "insulting". Insulting to whom?

One hopes that the outcome of the committees' findings will result in a responsible and humane policy, medically verifiable in the treatment of the carriage horses. Let's hope to that we can enter into a more adult dialogue with the carriage operators, free of childish name calling in published letters to the Post and Courier.