Our blog shall offer you an extended view into the world of Riding Dinner and treats various topics around Vienna, cuisine, horse-drawn carriages, animal welfare.
After the great feedback to the first part of our blog around the topic animal welfare and horse-drawn carriages, you can now read the second part with more exciting myths from the traditional trade. Also for this article applies: Who takes a closer look and informs him- or herself knows that carriages and animal protection don’t have to be a contradiction – completely on the contrary. So, let’s investigate some of the most common myths and misconceptions about this topic together!
Admittedly, this is probably one of the most frequently asked questions we are confronted with. Because of that, it’s even more important to us that we can “break” and eliminate this myth.
In fact, asphalt is not more stressful to the horses’ joints than any other surface. Quite the opposite is the case – horses which run on soft or uneven ground, for example, are definitely exposed to higher loads. But why should you believe that now?
Well, the thing about joint stress is basically very similar to human’s characteristics. For example, if we walk in the forest on uneven terrain, it’s much more exhausting for our feet, joint ligaments and tendons than if we walk on asphalt. That’s because the unevenness in the ground must be permanently compensated by our muscles, tendons and ligaments. It’s precisely for this reason that at some point, something like hiking shoes or sport shoes were invented, in order to better prevent such additional stresses. The same applies for our horses! As long as we are on the road at the usual (step) pace, the horses can always place the hoof evenly on the asphalt without having to put great strain on the joints.
However, it would be completely different if our horses had to perform at the highest level, such as trotting racehorses or vaulting horses. Theses horses usually wear bandages on their joints for support, since on one hand, they move on soft, irregular ground and on the other hand, they make fast and powerful movements – which is why you rarely see these bandages on fiaker horses in the city centre.
Interesting Fact: Most fiaker horses actually get older on average than wild horses or sport horses, which is directly related to the physical strain.
This myth is also probably one of the most widespread myths of all. Who believed in it, we have to disappoint, unfortunately.
The blinders have absolutely nothing to do with traffic. Even if the horses are unable to see to the side through the blinders, this would not change the fact that horses perceive their surroundings mainly via bio-energetic currents and via hearing. They can hear cars, trams and the like long before they are near them anyway.
(How it’s going exactly with traffic and horses, you can of course also read in the first part of the Blog anytime)
But then, why are there these weird blinders? It’s a fact that blinders (also called blinkers) on horses had existed far earlier than cars or similar forms of transportation. The blinkers have their origin in traditional double-team driving. As is still the case today with carriages, two horses are harnessed in front of the carriage, one on the left and the other one on the right.Accordingly, this driving style requires a great deal of attention and skill on part of the coachman, since he has to lead both horses at the same time. Above all, the coachman must communicate sufficiently with the horses and give them the necessary commands for the planned maneuvers. Often it happens that the horses don*t walk in the same rhythm or pull unevenly. In order to compensate these irregularities, the coachman then has his switch with which he can give commands to the horses. To give each horse commands without the other horse knowing about it, the blinders exist. So, they are simply there to prevent the left horse from noticing what the right horse is doing (or should be doing) and vice versa. Especially in bends, it’s very important that the horses are addressed differently.
We now take this accusation very calmly. 😊 If you deal with horses yourself, you know that this claim is not true. The horses’ foaming at the mouth doesn’t mean that they’re thirsty, exhausted or exploited – nor do the horse have rabies. So, there’s no need to worry.
In short: foam in front of a horse’s mouth is actually a good sign and means that the horse is comfortable, physically fit and the bite in the horse’s mouth fits well. The foaming is primarily caused by the chewing of the horse. Chewing in turn activates all the muscles in the horse’s body that are related to the mouth.
We have picked out a video for you, in which it is again explained quite well what it is really about the foam.
Whoever believes that, is wrong! The city of Vienna has one of the strictest animal welfare laws and regulations in the world and that’s a good thing. This guarantees that the horses are treated fairly and kept in a manner appropriate to their species.
Of course, we have to mention again here, that there are “black sheep” in the fiaker business, just like in any other industry, who unfortunately don’t comply with the legal regulations – at the same time, we assure you that such cases will also be reported within the fiaker business. Because “he who doesn’t honour his horses is worth nothing as a fiaker” – full stop.
Here are some examples of legal requirements that you must comply with, as well as interesting things to know if you want to open a fiaker company:
• Each horse must have its own box.
• Every horse must have unrestricted access to water in its box.
• There must be natural daylight in the stable.
• Every fiaker company is obliged to have an outdoor paddock where the horses can spend their free time.
• 2 times a year, there are stable inspections – one time announced and one time unannounced.
• During the summer months, the horses are checked by the official veterinarian in the city center about once a week.
Of course, there are several other laws that would probably go beyond the scope of this blog, so let’s leave it like that…
A statistic from the City of Vienna may also be of interest. It shows the convicted charges against fiakers in the year of 2018:
It is quite clear that, fortunately, there are relatively few breaches of animal welfare laws. However, perhaps some coachmen should familiarize themselves with the road traffic regulation. Here, the proportion of charges is already significantly higher. In addition, there are probably also some industry colleagues who do not fully adhere to the fiaker tradition law. This describes, for example, how a coachman should be dressed, how the carriages should look, etc.
If you have read this article completely and still think that we are cruel to horses, then be it and we accept that. Because we know that we cannot please everybody and only you are able to change your mind on an issue. We can only express our point of view, but at the same time, we would also like to signal to everyone that we are always open for dialogue. It is very important for us that you understand that working with animals is transparent and that you always have the opportunity to contact us and ask your critical questions.
You are also always welcome to drop by our stable and take a deeper look into our daily work with our “Secrets of the Fiaker” tour.
You have another myth or question for us?