Is it okay to train an animal just because we can?

So on my trip to Florida I took a day to go to Sea World. I LOVE sea animals and used to dream of being a Sea Lion trainer so I was really looking forward to a great day, and I had one…until I saw the Orca show. I had been to see some of the other shows in the day and had a great time seeing such well trained animals. I also enjoyed watching the “pet the dolphins exhibit” where people were given a fish so they could “pet THEN feed” these amazing creatures. While watching that both of my traveling companions looked at me and said “too bad they don’t have something like this for horses, Gen would be PERFECT at that”. He would happily pose for pictures and go over to strangers and let them pet him for treats all day!

Anyway, one of the shows I did not get to see until the end of the day was the Orca show. I sat down in the splash zone excited to see the beautiful whales up close and was looking forward to the show. When it started though, I began to stop having fun…it was horrible to watch these majestic creatures doing stupid tricks. I sat there paralyzed with a guilt that is hard to describe. Like it was my fault that these beautiful Orcas were humiliating themselves for human pleasure. It was so disgusting that I wanted out of the show and fast.

It got me thinking. Are we just as wrong for training horses? They are wild creatures and we make them do our biding. I know that PETA has come out saying that domesticating horses is wrong. I had always thought that was laughable, until seeing that Orca show. After that PETA didn’t seem quite so crazy.

I left that show wondering what I had done. Who gave me the right to train something so magical? I don’t know any person who has seen a horse running in the wild who has not stopped to take a breath and marvel at their beauty. Is that same feeling of awe there when you watch domesticated horses? I don’t know.

After a little while I was able to justify domesticated horses to myself by reminding myself that my horse would have died 3 and a half years ago if he was out in the wild, and considering he hurt himself running in the field it is not like he would never have gotten hurt. I also feel that my horse has defied the odds and kept his spirit, not something all domesticated horses still have intact.

So what do you think? Is it wrong of us humans to train horses? Do you ever think about how your horse would survive in the wild? Is there any way you can ensure that a horse keeps their spirit?