England’s Prince Harry has come under fire for his treatment of a horse during a recent polo game.
Photos have appeared in British newspapers of Prince Harry riding a horse that is bleeding from its side, right where the prince’s spurs contact the horse.
Polo players are supposed to take themselves out of the game if their horse is injured. There is also a rule against excessive use of a player’s spurs. Harry has been called out by animal advocacy groups and is under investigation from polo authorities.
It is unclear whether the wound on the horse came from excessive use of Harry’s spurs or whether it was the result of a collision with another horse.
The most serious punishment the prince could possibly face — if he were found guilty of excessive spur use — would be a $75,000 fine, chump change to a man worth forty million dollars.
Polo is a game that is intrinsically cruel to horses. The question is not whether Harry violated polo rules by being too hard on his horse, but whether there is any way to play polo that isn’t cruel to the horses.
From our treatment of animals, it’s obvious humans have trouble empathizing with animals. They do not understand the cruelty of confining an animal in a zoo, killing an animal for food, or training it to do tricks. Additionally, the wealthy have been shown in studies to be less compassionate, less kind than working class people. Harry is a product of a wealthy human lifestyle that many times views the world as commodities to exploit.
It’s unsurprising to know Harry has already been the subject of criticism for his treatment of his polo horses this year. One of Harry’s horses collapsed and died of a heart attack after one of his games.
Training animals for sports is no different than training them in circuses. Putting animals through physical and mental stress for human entertainment is inherently cruel for the animals.
According to experts, it is unlikely that Harry will face disciplinary action related to this particular incident. So the best we as animal advocates can hope for is that people who see the images of that bloody horse, stop to think about the impact polo has on horses.
And hopefully they realize that although polo might be considered classier and wealthier, it’s no different than other forms of animal entertainment such as rodeos and circuses. Animals do not exist for our entertainment anymore than they exist for our consumption.
Photo: Paul Keleher