UPDATE: When I originally posted this story, I mentioned that my own horse had fallen on concrete two days prior. Here we are over a week later and she's still sore. Today we'll be ultrasounding Sweetheart to make sure she didn't crack any ribs. She'll also be assessed for soft tissue injuries. Thankfully I wasn't mounted when she fell on the concrete or it could have been much worse. I guess this speaks directly to the safety of riding on paved surfaces when a horse who is stationary in wash rack can hurt themselves so easily.

A lot of people also pointed out mounted patrol riding horses on paved surfaces. Those horses are outfitted with special shoes and they're given plenty of days rest in between days on duty for the safety of both the horse and their rider.

Lastly, it's illegal to ride a horse on Shreveport city streets:

Shreveport City Ordinance, Chapter 14, Article II, Sec. 14-45. Driving through streets.
(a)
It shall be unlawful for any person to drive or ride any animal classed as livestock through the streets or public places of the city.
(b)
Any person found in violation of this section shall be subject to the following fines and penalties:
(1)
First offense—$100.00 fine plus the impoundment of the animal;
(2)
Second offense—$300.00 fine plus the impoundment of the animal;
(3)
Third offense—$500.00 fine plus the impoundment of the animal;
(4)
Fourth offense—Forfeiture of the animal.
(c)
Subsection (a) of this section shall not apply to horses being used by on-duty law enforcement officers.
(d)
Subsection (a) of this section shall not apply to livestock used or ridden in properly permitted special events.
(Ord. No. 77, 2015, 10-13-15)

Original Story posted Tuesday, May 31, 2016:

A horse and rider are causing controversy in the Highland area of Shreveport.

Chris Redford texted me about this last night, I'm assuming because he knows I'm a horse owner. From what I can tell, there is a man in the Highland area who rides his horse on our city streets and some are so disturbed that they've called the police.

Yes, I am a horse owner and I love them dearly. I'd wrap them in bubble wrap if I could. When most people see horses, they see a large, powerful animal. As a horse owner, I know how truly fragile they can be. While I personally believe riding on paved surfaces is dangerous and I avoid it if possible, I know many don't have that opportunity available to them. Still, I will assert that it's not optimal for either horse or rider. I say that fully acknowledging I have no degree in horse management or veterinary medicine. Being an owner doesn't make me an expert, but it does make me the crazy horse lady on the radio.

What I can say with no qualms is that horses are prey animals and have a deep, ingrained sense of flight, which can make riding, especially in urban areas, dangerous for both horse and rider. I can also tell you from personal experience that something as seemingly innocuous as a plastic grocery bag can be cause for panic on the horse's part. If this man was unseated, he is both shirtless and riding without a helmet. Best case scenario, he's looking at some serious road rash and you just have to pray he doesn't hit his head.

Horses just don't have the traction on concrete that they do on natural surfaces. Case in point, just this past Sunday, my mare fell while standing in a concrete wash rack. I have absolutely no idea what caused her to fall. She's an incredible level headed horse so the only thing I can figure is that she was bitten by a horse fly and lost her footing on the slick surface, even without wearing shoes. Regardless, she's still sore and will be on anti-inflammatories and painkillers for the next several days.

You may think I'm bashing this guy, but I'm not. His horse looks to be in good condition and fairly relaxed, although it's hard to tell much from this picture. I also know a lot of people who ride their horses on paved surfaces with no problems in parades, etc... The caveat is that they don't do it often and they don't ride their horses hard. There's an old saying around horse people... 'No hoof, no horse or no leg, no horse.' Concussive injuries are real. Ask any runner you know. However, I'd much rather see this horse on the streets of Shreveport then in a kill pen or headed to Mexico.

What I want to know is what you think? And please, as a favor to me, if you see a horse and rider on the side of the road, for the love of God, please don't honk at them or yell out your window. If  you spook that horse and someone gets hurt, you'll feel horrible about it for the rest of your life and please, please slow down!