By Mary Scollay, DVM

This past summer while traveling with friends, I came across a field where several Amish families had set up a roadside market selling crafts, jams, baked goods and ice
cream. Remarkably, the ice cream churn was powered by an enormous draft gelding on a treadmill. The horse stood quietly until the farmer chirped at him, whereby he began to plod uphill in a rhythmic and determined manner, the treadmill turning the linkage attached to a churn. Out came the iPhones and we all snapped away at this innovative partnership that resulted in—voila—ice cream. Anything that results in ice cream is a good thing, right?

Several weeks later, a friend alerted me to a post on Facebook that appeared to be of that same horse in that same location, but the Facebook post decried the exploitation of the horse, his enslavement and forced servitude, and the cruelty inflicted in his loss of liberty and free will. How is it possible that two people who observed exactly the same thing reached conclusions so profoundly different? I saw a  well-fed horse, for all appearances sound and in good health. He was not fearful of his handler nor did he demonstrate reluctance to perform his task. So, what did the Facebook poster see that I didn’t? And what did I see that she didn’t?

Publication Type

  • Ethics


  • Ethics

Publish Date

December 1, 2019