My answer to this question was “other.”
I grew up riding and owning a horse (before I was vegan). It gave me a window into that world. This is not a black and white issue, like many, so I voted “other.” Here’s my comment, all of which is probably obvious.
The horse I bought, for $100, I was 10, was severely depressed, neglected, abused. Named Eeyore, appropriately. I renamed her Prancing Star, because when she was happy she pranced, and she had a star on her forehead. We rode her often, which she loved, and she cheered up under loving care, and lived a long life.
But many of the cowboys I rode with “broke” horses. Many were abusive, or rough, or old school at best. Many, too, were kind, gentle, patient, grounded.
So, the answer’s yes, and no. Depends. Some horses work under immense strain, without sufficient water, in heat and cold (carriage rides, say, pulling oblivious instagramming tourists up a steep hill, as I saw last summer in Lunenberg). Some touristed horses carry way-too-heavy riders, and developed bowed backs (awful).
Some are loved and cared for and given freedom and socialization and good food. Some work in therapeutic capacities with children or adults who need that powerful relationship, beyond words.
Then, there’s the issue of wild horses, rounding them up via helicopter, shipping them (painful, tough travels) to slaughter for our glue or meat.
That’s all I got. Open to learning from others in the comments.
Personally, I don’t ride anymore, as it feels…not okay. There’s no need I have that is important enough to merit the exploitation of a horse for my pleasure.
Relephant: Horse racing isn’t.