Sarah Moulds

Sarah Moulds case shines a light on speciesism in the UK

Cottesmore Hunt rider Sarah Moulds was found not guilty on 25 August for punching and kicking her horse Bruce. Her defence argument, and the subsequent verdict, once again highlights the speciesism that is rampant in society.

As I already covered in a recent article, speciesism is where someone sees one species as superior to others, and puts the rights of that species first.

We saw speciesism playing out when the video of Moulds kicking her horse went viral. The public was (rightfully) outraged by Moulds’ actions. But let’s face it: we wouldn’t have seen the same disgust, or mainstream news coverage, if she had punched a cow.

Humans over everyone else

And now, through her not guilty verdict, we see speciesism playing out in a different way.

In court, Moulds claimed that before she had attacked her pony Bruce, he had been standing on a roadside verge with a child holding onto his rope. Bruce then started moving into the road, pulling the child with him. The child then let go of the rope.

Moulds said that:

“Bruce is a child’s pony and I had left him stood in a safe place with the two children. If I hadn’t chastised him and he continued to behave in this manner, then it would not be appropriate for him to be handled by children.”

Rather than admitting that she shouldn’t have left a fully-grown horse in the care of a child, Moulds blamed Bruce for her own abusive actions.

Before delivering their verdict, the jury deliberated for five hours. Of course, we’ll never know how they came to their not guilty decision. But we can assume that they believed Moulds when she said that she had to “chastise” Bruce by physically abusing him. Moulds implied that violence was her only option, or Bruce simply wouldn’t have been safe to be a child’s pony. Yet imagine if Moulds had punched and kicked a child, and tried to use the defence of having to do it for the child’s own good! A jury would never have found her not guilty.

Bruce is clearly seen as a pony whose purpose in life is for human gratification: a being to be ridden, who has to tow the line, whose job in life is to serve Moulds and the children he is forced ride around.

A pyramid of speciesism

Through this case, we’re seeing a pyramid of speciesism in the UK. Humans come above everyone else. Below that are the pets that are purchased to gratify said humans, such as cats, dogs and horses. These animals are loved enough that if they’re mistreated, the case might make mainstream news headlines. Then below this are the millions of mammals and birds shot and killed for pleasure in this country (foxes, badgers, deer, grouse, pheasants and more). And, of course, at the very bottom of the pyramid comes the animals who are industrially farmed for the pleasure of us having a tasty meal.

The mainstream media, and the public, were outraged that Moulds punched a horse, yet there was zero attention on the fact that Moulds was – and likely still is – a fox hunter. She was a field rider with the Cottesmore Hunt when the assault took place. The Cottesmore is a notoriously violent hunt, which – like all hunts in this country – continues to illegally hunt foxes for sick pleasure (see here, here or here, for example). Moulds gets kicks from seeing foxes being chased then torn apart. Yet because of the hierarchy of speciesism, it is her abuse of a horse that causes national outrage.

‘Misinformation’… really?

Since Moulds was found not guilty, the mainstream media has done a complete u-turn. It has finished demonising her, and is now giving her a platform to express how she has been the victim all along: expressing how her life has been torn apart, how the video of her assaulting Bruce was “misinformation” and “falsehoods”, how she adores animals, and how Bruce lives “an idyllic life” with her.

Yes, she has been acquitted of animal cruelty. But the fact remains that she repeatedly kicked and punched her horse. I am incredulous that the video evidence showing this abuse can be so readily accepted as “misinformation” by the media. But this is the speciesist world we live in: humans come above all other animals.

Step up

As a nation, it’s time we take a look at ourselves and question the narrative drilled into us from birth that other animals’ lives are less important than ours. All beings have an equal right to live free from mistreatment. The time has come for us to step up and defend the rights of all animals, not just humans and our beloved pets. As Peter Singer wrote in his famous book Animal Liberation:

“We have to speak up on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.”

Featured image via PA News video / screenshot