Written by: Heather Clemenceau
In 2007, Bill Thompson, then New York City Comptroller, announced the findings of an audit that cited numerous problems in the carriage horse industry. That same year, Queens councilman Tony Avella introduced a Bill to abolish the carriages outright. Several years later the carriage-horse industry and some of its opponents got together and hammered out a Bill raising carriage fares and mandating larger stable stalls and the five-week vacation for horses. It now became law that the working horses must fall between five and 26 years old, and they have been banned from traversing certain streets and from working from 3 and 7 a.m. But now, the carriage industry, long the subject of controversy, seems poised to end. The deaths and injuries of the horses has prompted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, to vow to eliminate them completely as part of his campaign promise.
Many people feel that the carriages themselves are at odds with the dense traffic and sounds of the city. Horses and cars do not mix well and when there is a collision it is always the horse (and passengers) who will be worse off for it. The carriage trade likes to represent that there have been only three horse deaths due to vehicular traffic since 1985, but there is documentation for many more accidents even in the last few years. In addition, several horses died of heatstroke, and one horse died crashing into a tree, but the industry typically excludes these from their “death count” because they don’t consider them “traffic related.” But if a carriage horse dies while in harness and put to a carriage – it is indeed a carriage industry death, and to parlay it otherwise is just obfuscation on the part of the industry. There is no law requiring the ASPCA to release the details of carriage accidents and therefore it is impossible to know how many have occurred that have not been directly witnessed or documented by animal advocates such as those working with The Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages, NYCLASS, and others.
Since the carriage industry has resisted reform in the past and insists on churning out falsehoods and half-truths, they’re fair game for some myth-busting. Disconcertingly, a small minority of industry supporters are also prepared to malign and harass horsepeople who dare to disagree with their stance. There seems to be an unwritten rule that carriage drivers in particular MUST support this industry no matter what infractions are observed. Anti-slaughter proponents will be dismayed to note that the industry, represented by the Teamsters union, have aligned themselves with a few characters from the United Horsemen’s group as well as the anti-animal puppymill promoters and horse-soring defenders, the Cavalry Group. Working with a group that generally opposes any type of minimal animal protection as a rule will have animal lovers reject your position outright and fail to give you any support whatsoever.
I’ve always had a interest in debunking false lore and hoaxes. Usually I’ve spent my time debunking pseudo science, near-death experiences, and alien abductions, but the same flaws in thinking/rationalizing that lead to those belief systems can be found elsewhere. And the carriage horse proponents don’t disappoint! They continue to be dogmatic in their approach and persist in their beliefs even after shown evidence to the contrary.
1. Will Bill S5013-2011 Permit the Seizure of the Privately Owned Carriage Horses?
Making it so that you cannot operate a carriage in NYC is not seizing your property. The Bill does not require that horses be sold or donated, but the Bill does define the circumstances under which sale or disposal or the horse shall be deemed humane. While it does attempt to control what happens to the horses IF they are sold, it does not compel them to be sold. The Bill attempts to restrict the sale or donation of a horse to persons or groups who will keep them as “companion” animals and not “work horses,” obviously, in an attempt to keep them from being slaughtered. It doesn’t seem to bother the fanatical carriage supporters that their new friends in the pro-slaughter Cavalry Group, who are now handling some questionable public relations for them, would put all their horses in an express lane to the slaughter plants either.
Elsewhere in the Bill the definition of “work horse” is given as one who is presented for paid work as a carriage horse. “Companion animal” is not defined in the Bill, but there is no restriction given on using the horse personally as a riding or driving horse. Most animal advocates would understand that a “companion animal” is a horse that is a pet and not considered livestock; a great many of us will describe our riding horses as companion animals. There is also a legal definition that describes such an animal as “an animal that serves as a domestic pet,” but goes on to provide examples in case law that may include or exclude horses, depending on the evidence of the relationship between the animal and its owner. In any case, there is no need to perpetuate the hue and cry that the carriage horses will be seized, but it is worth noting that the whole Bill is open to challenge on several issues and is unenforceable outside of New York State. Although the Bill states that horses would not be “employable” as carriage horses, I don’t see why a carriage horse could not be subsequently employed as a livery horse outside of high-density city.
“B. A horse shall not be sold or disposed of except in a humane manner, WHICH, FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SUBCHAPTER SHALL MEAN ONE OF THE FOLLOWING: 1. THE OWNER SHALL SELL OR DONATE THE HORSE TO A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL WHO SIGNS AN ASSURANCE THAT THE HORSE WILL NOT BE SOLD AND SHALL BE KEPT SOLELY AS A COMPANION ANIMAL AND NOT EMPLOYED IN ANOTHER HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE BUSINESS OR AS A WORK HORSE AND WILL BE CARED FOR HUMANELY FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE HORSE'S NATURAL LIFE; OR 2. THE OWNER SHALL SELL OR DONATE THE HORSE TO A DULY INCORPORATED ANIMAL SANCTUARY OR DULY INCORPORATED ANIMAL PROTECTION ORGANIZATION WHOSE PRESIDENT OR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SIGNS AN ASSURANCE THAT THE HORSE WILL NOT BE SOLD AND SHALL BE KEPT SOLELY AS A COMPANION ANIMAL AND NOT EMPLOYED IN ANOTHER HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE BUSINESS OR AS A WORK HORSE AND WILL BE CARED FOR HUMANELY FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE HORSE'S NATURAL LIFE. 3. RECORDS INDICATING THE NAME, ADDRESS AND TELEPHONE NUMBER OF THE PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL, DULY INCORPORATED ANIMAL SANCTUARY OR DULY INCORPO- RATED ANIMAL PROTECTION ORGANIZATION TO WHOM THE HORSE WAS SOLD OR DONATED TOGETHER WITH THE ASSURANCE SPECIFIED ABOVE SHALL BE SENT BY THE OWNER TO THE DEPARTMENT WITHIN FIVE DAYS AFTER SUCH SALE OR DONATION. A COPY OF SUCH RECORD SHALL ALSO BE MAINTAINED AT THE STABLE.”
2. Quoting Celebrities Does Not Give One’s Point More Authority
Quite a few celebs have stepped forward to either condemn or praise the NYC carriage horse industry. Neither side is particularly compelling in my opinion, at least, no more so that the average person. The carriage supporters all loathe celebs such as Pamela Anderson, Lea Michele, Kathy Najimy, and Alex Baldwin, but they’ve really embraced Liam Neeson, who apparently counts several carriage drivers among his close personal friends. “They’ll die, you know, darlin,’ The horses are incredibly well-treated. They’re regulated up the wazoo. They get five weeks’ holiday every year. Tourists love them.” Along with former Mayor Bloomberg, Neeson also perpetuates the opinion that they’ll all be slaughtered too, and it’ll be the fault of meddling big city liberals, according to him. Well if that were to happen, responsibility for that action would have to lie with the owners of the horses and nobody else.
Of all the celebs peripherally involved in the carriage trade, few are more hypocritical than Neeson. I’m calling out Neeson as a hypocrite since he ate the meat of a trapped wolf to get in character for a role in the movie “The Grey” and then tried to fearmonger about horse slaughter. If anything, maybe he should become an anti-trapping spokesperson? I didn’t realize that actors had to directly experience something like this to be considered a true method actor. If he needed help to channel his rage for the movie, somebody should have suggested that he stick his hand in the trap instead. Eating trapped animals, especially for something as trifling as a movie role is not cool.
And since he’s Irish, I hope he also concerned about the fate of horses in Ireland and elsewhere in Great Britain, where it’s popular to race horses on the M4 highways and evade the garda (police), often crashing the horses and abandoning them, injured. What about the huge problems with fly-grazing, where horses are illegally grazed on private property without the knowledge or consent of the owners of the property? Indeed, Ireland has a huge crisis of horses, with up to 20,000 of the animals currently needing immediate intervention by authorities for abuse and cruelty. But the next time he’s in town and hanging with his buddies on 59th street, perhaps he can get in-character by eating some oats that have been spilled out into the street amongst the pigeon droppings, just for authenticity’s sake of course.
3. Is the NYC Carriage Trade Really a 155+ Year-Old Historic Occupation Built by Working Class Heroes?
Disclaimer: The video below is NSFW (Not Safe for Work – due to language. Well, it may be SFW if you work in an office where the “eff”word gets spit out more than any other word (examples: Bill O’Reilly’s office, Alec Baldwin’s office, etc…)) Otherwise it’s headphones material. And we should be clear – it is not a criticism of the Irish or of immigrants in general. I don’t know what if anything preceded it, but it is not exactly characteristic of the pastoral charm that tourists envision when they think of Central Park and carriage horses.
But over 100 years ago, everyone was driving a horse and carriage in New York. By the twenties, the horse-drawn carriage had been almost entirely replaced by the automobile. So the current industry can hardly say that they harken back to those days, since the current medallion ownership/licensing scheme is much more recent. It’s rather analogous to saying that the airline industry is 87 years old as a result of Charles Lindbergh’s flight from New York to Paris in 1927. While it’s true that many of the carriage drivers (who are employed by the 68 medallion holders) who drive approximately 220 horses could probably be described as “working class,” the business operators in their primarily cash based business (no one knows exactly how much the industry contributes to NYC tax revenue) are hardly in that category. They own the stables in which the horses reside in NYC and in my opinion, are living quite well. Several of them own more than one lucrative medallion.
It’s unclear what a medallion (license to operate a carriage business in NYC) is actually worth in present value terms. Some drivers said they paid $30,000 for their medallions 25 years ago. So obviously they are worth a considerable sum of money, given what the average income must be for the 68 medallion holders bringing in an estimated $15-$19 million dollars to the economy – an amount that has been corroborated by the Communications Liaison for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York City. Therefore, to determine how “working class” the industry is as a whole, a little arithmetic can be applied as follows:
$15,000,000/68 medallions = average gross income of $220,588 per medallion owner (low-balling the industry estimate)
$19,000,000/68 medallions = average gross income of $279,412 per medallion owner (applying the upper limit of the estimate)
That’s per medallion, so if someone or a corporation owns more than one or half a medallion, the calculations can be adjusted accordingly. As a comparison, the NYC tourism industry as a whole, in 2011, brought in about 34.5 billion dollars Therefore, statements made in some of the glowing pro-carriage trade articles to the effect that the carriages are the main tourist attraction in NYC would seem to be unsupported.
So, in my opinion, the medallion owners, some of whom appear to be corporations or don’t even reside in the US, are doing very well for themselves and their incomes are hardly typical of what we would consider “working class.” I’m hardly opposed to any entrepreneur who can earn a comfortable living, but let’s be honest at least about what a “working class” income really is and what it is not. The medallion owners are contractors or licensees, and not actual employees of the city.
4. How Restorative is the Mandated Five Weeks Vacation for NYC Carriage Horses?
There are many reasons why, in my opinion, this mandated “vacation” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Especially if it isn’t actually a holiday if horses are sent to Amish country for their R&R, where they are, unbeknownst to the average person, used as work horses on farms they are loaned to.
Many drafts and draft-crosses, the breeds typically used by the carriage trade, have some heritable muscle problems, such as equine polysaccharide storage myopathy (EPSM), which has been confirmed or suspected in virtually every draft horse breed, draft cross-bred, and draft mule. The disease is responsible for severe muscle wasting and weakness, causing poor performance and abnormal hind limb gaits. Afflicted horses benefit more greatly from daily turnout and structured breaks at regular intervals, and not all at once. If they are furloughed, it also becomes more difficult to treat them for this condition as well, and they may tie-up when they come back to work. Also, since the vast majority of furloughed horses go to New Jersey and Pennsylvania or upstate NY – disease control may not be optimal when they come back. Also consider that these horses have no grass during the majority of the year – transferring them suddenly to any sort of pasture and onto grass that they are not used to eating can have serious consequences such as colic or laminitis.
This study suggests that pastured horses maintained a similar level of fitness as stalled horses after 14 weeks. However, the research, by Dr. Patty Graham-Thiers of Virginia Intermont College, involved comparing two groups of horses to horses turned out on a hilly 100 acre pasture. It could be relevant if the carriage horses were turned out on similar circumstances and property and not standing in small paddocks or sent to work on Amish farms, as has often been cited. And the study doesn’t exactly support ASPCA Veterinarian Dr. Corey’s comments about furloughing horses, as she has said that when the horses return from furlough, they often look worse than when they first went on vacation – “We have observed some horses returning to New York City after furloughs on a farm in worse condition than when they left.” If the study concludes that these pastured horses were able to maintain a similar level of fitness as the stalled, exercised horses, in addition to having greater bone mineral content at the end of the study, then why do the carriage horses tend to look worse, in the words of Dr. Corey? How are they maintained on the “holiday” paddocks? Or are the draft crosses tendency to have metabolic issues not being addressed? Or are the paddocks not large enough to facilitate the exercise that was observed in the study? Lots of questions with no answers, as the horses aren’t monitored while away from the City.
5. How Can an Association With the Cavalry Group Be a Good Thing?
Think “Waterloo” and immediately the phrase, “catastrophic failure” comes to mind…… On its website, the extreme right-wing Cavalry Group declares that animal rights “extremists” are working to advance a “vegan agenda.” They have opposed several “animal rights” measures around the U.S., including a ballot question in Missouri to crack down on puppymills and a referendum in North Dakota that would make it a felony to maliciously and intentionally harm dogs, cats or horses. They also oppose the SAFE Act to stop sending American horses to be slaughtered, and they have resisted anti-soring legislation for Big Lick horses, and they resist pretty much any and all efforts to upgrade anti-cruelty laws. It should come as no surprise that The Cavalry Group is based in Missouri which has the worst puppy mills in the nation. Even the Better Business Bureau refers to Missouri as the “capital of puppy mills in the US.” Any group that aligns themselves with people who find Big Lick soring in any way acceptable and who mount a charge to OPPOSE the passage of this Bill deserve failure. Here’s a list of what they oppose.
Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society of the United States, added, “It’s a very bad selection by the carriage horse drivers to associate with a group of zealots that oppose the most basic animal welfare standards.” Utilizing an anti-animal lobbying group shows that they are not the animal lovers that they claim to be and are more interested in promoting the status quo.
The Cavalry group made a laughing stock out of itself the last time it went up to Washington to lobby against HR 1418S In their “USDA Approved” campaign to resist legislation against horse soring. The Cavalry Group saddled up and put a Big Lick horse, Mr. Heisman, on its poster, and proudly proclaimed he was “USDA APPROVED.” Mr. Heisman is trained by Brandye Mills and he is owned by Randall Baskin. It just so happens that Brandye Mills and owner Randall Baskin have HPA violations! Trainer Mills has been cited numerous times for “foreign substances, scars, unilateral sores, low chains,” etc. on multiple animals. Violation of the Horse Protection Act is already a crime, so Mills and Baskin are anything but USDA approved.
Just as stupid is the carriage horse association with the various cast-offs from United Horsemen, who live even further away from NYC than I do – several of them parroted false information about colicking Salt Lake City carriage horse Jerry, whose illness and death was concealed for several days/weeks, unbeknownst to those who personally attested to him being alive, days after he had died. This just goes to show that you can’t expect members of the pro-slaughter group United Horsemen to have knowledge of anything that requires them to READ. If you’re still not sure that the Cavalry Group is anti-animal, check out these ridiculous tweets, compiled by Buzzfeed and made during their “Tweet Storm” campaign.
6. Is the Stabling for the NYC Carriage Horses as Adequate as We’ve Been Told?
These are NOT pets of the carriage operators – they are tools of a business. By law their stalls must be a minimum of 64 square feet, which is pretty small by most people’s standards unless you own a pony or a couple of minis. The horses do manage to lie down though, not that they have much room to spare. But the smaller the stall the greater the risk of getting cast in the stall too. Prior to conversion, the West Side Livery stables had standing stalls that made it difficult, albeit not impossible, for horses to lie down. While photographs of the Clinton stables reveal that the operators are very good at managing small spaces, I don’t believe any of the buildings have sufficiently large enough stalls for these larger breeds of horses.
7. Are the NYC Carriage Horses Really “The Most Regulated Horses in the Country, if Not The World?”
This is the same facile argument that pro-slaughter use to justify the continuation of the slaughter industry. Regulations on the books mean nothing if they are largely unenforced. Anti-cruelty regulations provide few safeguards for horses, and many humane authorities just don’t have the resources or the time to monitor the carriages in order to ensure that horses are not being overworked and that operators are following regulations.
Furthermore the ASPCA has recently dismantled its Humane Law Enforcement Division in NYC. Over the past few years, the ASPCA’s humane law enforcement division has handled about 4,000 investigations annually and made about one arrest per week (for all species of animal). The agents wore uniforms, flashed badges, carried guns, traveled in blue-and-white squad cars, and for years starred in “Animal Precinct,” but now the ASPCA has laid off almost all of its 18 law enforcement agents and is now leaving those responsibilities solely to the New York City Police Department. Without a team focused on animal abuse, enforcement will almost certainly be given a lower priority by officers dealing with the full spectrum of human crimes.
Since the ASPCA is not obligated to share information about the general health and well-being of the carriage horses in New York, we really have no idea how healthy they are, or are not. And yet it was not the Teamsters Union, nor the carriage people, or even the ASPCA who spotted a lame horse driven by Saverio Colarusso, but the police, who ultimately charged him with cruelty to animals. Apparently the horse, who had thrush, had been driven for several days before being spotted struggling. Now, it’s difficult to keep a horse’s stall entirely dry at the best of times, but thrush is predisposed by moist, damp, dirty stable conditions. But it is treated by scrubbing with anti-fungal/antiseptic and by moving the animal to a DRY stall. Whoever was cleaning the horse’s feet should have been alerted to the condition by the smell and/or discharge, which makes me wonder how often they all get their feet picked out and how mucky the stalls are. Several photographs, of the West Side livery in particular, don’t show much of a base of shavings that would absorb a lot of urine.
It’s also not the first time Mr. Colarusso has gotten in trouble either. In 2010, he was charged with drinking while on duty after being spotted with a beer while standing next to his carriage (I guess we should be gratified that a driver was actually standing near their carriage though). Two other bottles of liquor were found inside the carriage. He has also been fined for driving his horse through city streets at unauthorized times, failing to keep a daily log and not turning on the lamps on the side of his carriage after dark. The urban carriage people sure don’t like to talk about Mr. Colarusso, because now the fact that he’s been charged is a huge problem for them – they can’t exactly tout that no one in the industry has ever been charged with abuse! But it was correct procedure to suspend him, since the horses and tourists both deserve to be driven about by someone who is not likely intoxicated.
What’s also odd is that Colarusso was arrested by for animal cruelty not by the ASPCA, but by the police. It seems probable then that the ASPCA went easy on the drivers in the past because they had the “protection” of Bloomberg, who is now gone. Therefore, it’s not necessarily true that the industry is upholding any great standard, only that some individuals have never been caught.
8. Will a Ban On City Carriage Horses Mean That There Will Ultimately be a Ban on all Privately-Owned Horses?
A classic slippery slope fallacy made by the true property-rights fanatic dedicated to creating a pandemonium that doesn’t exist. That slippery slope fallacy they love involves constructing a scenario in which one thing leads ultimately to an end so extreme that the first step should never be taken. For example: Eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream will cause you to put on weight. Putting on weight will make you overweight. Soon you will weigh 450 pounds and then you will die of heart disease. Therefore, eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream leads to death. If you want to live, don’t even try it. And even though horses were declared a dangerous species in Connecticut, it’s not exactly a foregone conclusion that people will rise up to ban private ownership of horses across the continent. Just because many people don’t want circuses, aquariums, zoos, rodeos (there are valid reasons to eliminate many aspects of these things), there is absolutely no sign that pleasure horses will be eliminated as some sort of ever-present vegan conspiracy.
9 How Well Can Two Grain Meals During a Work Shift Suffice for Working Carriage Horses?
With the exception of Przewalski’s horses (who have a different number of chromosomes) domestic horses and wild horses are genetically exactly the same animal. That means that the horse living in your back yard or at a stable somewhere is genetically the same as the horse who evolved in the wild and those still living in the wild. It makes no difference that most horses we have were all born in captivity. Our horse’s genetics are still the same as those horses who roamed across North America thousands of years ago.
Some people believe that a few hundred years of selective breeding can change all that, but we know that it takes a few thousand years to even begin to change the genetics of any species. Which means the horses in our back yard have been programmed for hundreds of thousands of years to live in wide open spaces where they can see predators coming, eat grass and other forage for 18 hours a day, move 10 miles a day on unshod feet and spend the day with multiple other horses for safety and security. Of course, it’s not just the carriage horses who live a lifestyle at odds with their genetics – virtually all companion horses do.
We feed them diets of grain and molasses which are converted to sugars once eaten. The horse’s gut is programmed to release digestive acid around the clock – not just when two small grain meals are offered. It’s a scientific fact that hay is digested by gut microbes and bacteria which generate heat during the process and actually helps keep horses warm. The problem is that horses working a shift of 9 hours do not get the opportunity to eat hay and are offered a couple of grain meals instead until they return to the stable where they will be given hay. A horse needs more forage when the temperature drops, so it follows that two grain meals per shift, especially in winter weather, will be insufficient. And when grass or hay is not available, stomach acid has nothing to process but the horse’s gut itself, hence a reason for ulcers.
“Things that make horses most at risk for ulcer disease are sporadic feeding with periods of an empty stomach, or irregular feeding with long periods of no intake, high starch diets, exercise at speed, concurrent illness, especially of a gastrointestinal nature, and use of NSAIDS,” notes internal medicine specialist Carol Clark, DVM, Dipl ACVIM, of Peterson & Smith Equine Hospital in Ocala.
Charlie, a middle-aged NYC carriage horse who died enroute to work, had a cracked tooth and ulceration of the stomach, as revealed in his necropsy. Horses need to eat free choice. And if they drink too little because they’re working a 9 hour shift, they can be both underfed, cold, and susceptible to colic.
Now if you listen to many commercial carriage supporters, they’ll tell you that two grain meals are perfectly fine and natural, and horses probably shouldn’t spend too much time on grass anyway because they will founder. Of course, there are exceptions to being on grass, especially rich spring grass…….already laminitic horses, overweight horses, certain pony breeds, cushinoid/pituitary pars intermedia dysfunctional (PPID) or insulin-resistant horses may have to be dry-lotted or dry-lotted part of the time, but these are the exceptions that must be managed. For more info on horses’ natural diets, check out the eBooks Horses Were Born to Be On Grass and Horses Without Grass.
- Maintenance for body temperature
- To renew the body’s tissues
- Maintaining body condition and weight
- For energy for movement and life
10. As an Alternative, Could the Horses Live And Work Only Within Central Park?
There are more than 200 carriage horses – stabling them in Central Park, providing storage for the carriages, storage for hay, straw, and temporary storage for manure, in addition to space for turn-out would require taking at least 100 acres of public green space and turning it over to this small, private industry. And the horses could not realistically spend all their time in the park either, even spread out over several shifts. The medallion holders own the 4 stables that the horses currently live in, so who would pay for the land use and the construction of a stable and paddocks? Would they sell their properties in order to finance such an undertaking?
11. Will a Ban Mean That the Carriage Horses in NYC Will All Go to Slaughter?
“We do not have enough rescue space in this country for the horses we have now.” At a press conference that day, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg took the Daily News story and ran with it. “I assume all the horses will go to slaughter,” he said. Bloomberg fueled the story, and it’s been picked up continuously since, with many news outlets — from TIME to Metro to, most recently, The Daily Beast – claiming that the horses may go to slaughter after the ban. And so too did Liam Neeson.
Why do they have to go anywhere? As I stated early on in this blog post, the owners are not compelled to sell them. But seeing as they are assets of a business that could be eliminated, most of them probably wouldn’t keep the horses anyway. Elizabeth Forel of the Coalition to Ban Carriage Horses, has said that the threat is a scare tactic done to persuade people not to support a ban. “If any of the horses go to the slaughter auctions, make no mistake – it will be the drivers who bring them there.” The carriage owners claim that they do not send their horses to auctions or kill buyers. But they certainly do sell them to the Amish on occasion, and the Amish are often middle men or kill buyers themselves who work these horses hard and then send the old and/or unsound horses directly to auction or sell directly to a kill buyer. The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition has in its video library, numerous examples of draft and draft crosses being slaughtered in Canada after being shipped from New Holland auction.
Allie Feldman, Executive Director of NYClass, said that several organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA and her own group, are dedicated to providing homes for the retired horses. In a recent blog post, Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS, offered Cleveland Armory Black Beauty Ranch in Texas as a sanctuary for some of the horses. He believes he can reasonably place 40-50 of the horses. And Matt Bershadker, CEO of ASPCA, did the same in a statement: “We would gladly get involved — including tapping into our network of rescue partners and resources — to help with the transition.” Jackie Beckstead, Director of Accreditation and Field Operations for the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries has also publicly stated that she has contacted her network of sanctuaries that take draft horses and found space available for horses as well.
And since we know that the horses have regular veterinary care, this will occasionally mean that they are given drugs that make them ineligible for slaughter, such as phenylbutazone. Apparently former Mayor Bloomberg hasn’t heard about the prohibitions against sending drugged horses into the food chain!
12. Is it True That a “Land Grab” by Real-Estate Tycoons is the Primary Reason to End the Industry?”
This doesn’t explain why people like myself and others who have no vested interest in NYC real estate would like to see it end. But this accusation has finally been debunked. Steve Nislick, president of NYCLASS and a real estate developer, has answered the charges made by the carriage trade and the media that he wants the stable property. He not only said it is not true but that if the property were ever to come onto the market, he pledges that he will not bid on it. He further goes on to say that neither will anyone from his company or organization.
The media has presented the carriage driver as a poor, marginalized, struggling blue collar worker whose business is being taken away by people who know nothing at all about horses and who covet their stable property. While I think that provisions need to be made for any drivers who are employees of the medallion holders, some of the medallion holders own the buildings that house the horses, and two of the four stables happen to be sitting on prime real estate across from a Convention Center, near the Hudson Yards development. Under the circumstances, cries that they would be victimized if they are sold ring hollow. If the owners wanted to sell these properties, they would get market value for them and nothing less, and they cannot be forced to sell them either. So there is no “land grab.”
13. Should Mayor De Blasio be More Concerned That Horses are Dying at Aqueduct Racetrack?
Horse racing, like other gaming activities, is under the jurisdiction of the State of New York, not New York City. I suspect that Mayor de Blasio has very limited, if any, input into the legislative/judicial actions of NY State. That is Governor Cuomo’s domain.
14. Are Most Complaints About the Carriage Horses Made by People Who Don’t Live in NYC or Haven’t Visited the Stables?
I’m sure that this is true, but social media has made it irrelevant. First of all, scheduled visits are worthless to see the true conditions for these animals. If you think scheduled inspections look the same as unscheduled inspections, try making a surprise visit to a nursing home. Photographic evidence is abundantly available to allow others to judge for themselves. Check out photos of the West Side Livery, BEFORE the stalls were enlarged and it was added to the Clip Clop NYC Tour in 2013.
15. There Is An Active Carriage Horse Trade in Toronto
Sorry, this is just wrong. We have no urban horses here. Still, some people will insist that we do, and will google and find a half dozen or so carriage companies that provide LIVERY service in the Greater Toronto Area but do not stable horses here. The horses are all stabled outside Toronto, in most cases at least an hour’s drive away – in the country. The fact that people can google “carriage horses Toronto” and find anything at all is a testament to the carriage companies’ use of Google Adwords campaigns driving internet searchers to their businesses. Also, some companies advertise their limousine services as “carriage livery” and they actually have no horses at all.
16. How Safe is the Industry?
The industry and its supporters like to tell us that there have been only 3 horses killed as a result of vehicular accidents in the last 30 years. But smartphones haven’t existed for 30 years have they? Most accidents that happened before smart phones and social media platforms existed were cleared before the media could report on them. But now that we have smart phones, you’ll find there are a lot more accidents being revealed. In any case, there have been many injuries to both horses and people in the last 30 years, and some horses were killed even though other vehicles were not involved. On September 27, 2013 there was another widely-reported accident where a frightened carriage horse bolted and ran into traffic on heavily trafficked 57th St. Fortunately no one was in the carriage which slammed into a car, flipped and landed on the horse pinning his legs. Pedestrians helped to lift the carriage off the horse who was not seriously injured. Prior to this incident, this driver had been cited for over-charging customers in addition to operating the carriage for more than 12 hours within a 20 hour period. While no horse activity is completely safe, the potential injury for both horses, passengers, as well as property damage to other cars and the carriages themselves is greater due to the density of traffic, the noises of the city, and the number of things that in the city that a horse and carriage can collide with.
(Not all incidents occurred in NYC or even in North America)
- Another NYC Carriage Horse Accident 26 Sep 2013
- Another Horse Collapses 4 Jan 2013
- Horse’s Death May Have Been Caused By Age 8 Nov 2012
- Carriage Horse Accident in Midtown 20 Sep 2012
- Carriage horse banged up in crash with car and motorcycle at Columbus Circle 7 Jun 2012
- Crash gashes hansom horse 7 Jun 2012
- Horse causes damage, takes woman on terrifying caleche ride 28 Apr 2012
- Carriage Horse Accidents in the UK and Austria 16 Apr 2012
- Valentine’s Day 2012 – Horse breaks his leg! City tries to hide it 19 Mar 2012
- Horse Carriage Crash on 11th Avenue, NY 3 Mar 2012
- Another Carriage Horse Collapses in NYC – 4 Nov 2011
- Carriage horse collapses, dies in midtown NYC – 23 Oct 2011
- Central Park horse-drawn carriage smacked by taxi cab, four people hurt – 26 Jul 2011
- Horse Spooks at Central Park West – 18 Jul 2011
- Carriage Horse vs. Bus in Midtown NYC – 6 Nov 2010
- Tourist Killed by Bolting Horse – 8 Aug 2010
- Horses Kill 1, Injure 23 at Iowa 4th of July Parade – 4 Jul 2010
- Unreported Carriage Accident in New York City – 1 May 2010
- Car Crashes Into Horse Carriages in Philadelphia’s Old City – 19 Apr 2010
- Carriage Crash Victims Identified – 19 Apr 2010
- Unmanned Horse Carriage Bolts in Vienna – 9 Apr 2010
- Broken Ribs, Smashed Carriage and Spooked Horse Mar Spring Night – 6 Apr 2010
- Horse Drawn Carriage Involved In Hit-and-Run – 25 Dec 2009
- Horse Breaks Free from Carriage in Cincinnati’s Hyde Park Square – 23 Dec 2009
- Car Hits Horse-drawn Virginia Holiday Wagon; 14 Hurt – 15 Dec 2009
- Runaway Carriage Horse Scatters Crowd at Peddlers Village – 6 Dec 2009
- Two Hurt as Taxi Hits Carriage – 20 Sep 2009
- Horse Leads Tourists on Wild Ride Through Downtown Salt Lake City – 30 Aug 2009
- Carriage Crash Injures Horse in Philadelphia – 29 Aug 2009
- Pony-cart Driver Injured Near Quebec City – 29 Aug 2009
- Spooked Horse Collides with Carriage; Bystanders Injured – 7 Aug 2009
- Car Hits Horse and Buggy in Coventry RI – 26 Jul 2009
- Carriage Horse Runs Loose in Downtown San Antonio – 4 Jul 2009
- Buggy Mishap Kills Harness Racer – 23 Jun 2009
- Horse Runs Buck Wild Through S.F. – 6 Jun 2009
- Boy Dies in Horse and Carriage Accident – 6 Jun 2009
- Two Horses Killed and Two Women Injured – 1 Jun 2009
- Spooked Horse Tosses Carriage Driver at Ogden Point – 29 Mar 2009
- Vienna Tourists Hang on as Carriage Horses Bolt – 1 Jan 2009
- Horse-Drawn Carriage Runs Amok in Berlin – 27 Dec 2008
- Woman trampled in horse carriage in Britain – 1 Dec 2008
- Another Carriage Horse Accident In Charleston – 22 Oct 2008
- Horses Pulling Funeral Carriage Crashes Into Car – 17 Oct 2008
- Panicked Horses Bolt with Wedding Carriage – 1 Sep 2008
- Car Rear Ends Horse and Buggy in Colorado
- Horse Spooks in New Holland, PA – 19 Aug 2008
- Horse-drawn carriage drove over man during film shoot in Riga – 8 Aug 2008
- Horse spooked; surrey riders dumped in street – 7 Aug 2008
- After Throwing Rider, Police Horse Returns Home Alone – 3 May 2008
- CINCINNATI CARRIAGE ACCIDENT – 13 Apr 2008
- Woman dies in carriage accident in Kentucky – 22 Mar 2008
- Carriage crashes on Aspen street – 13 Mar 2008
- Man dies after horse-drawn carriage is struck by vehicle – 10 Mar 2008
- HORSE SPOOKS IN QUEENS ST. PAT’S DAY PARADE – 2 Mar 2008
- Spooked horses bolt at a funeral – 8 Feb 2008
- Charlotte, SC – Carriage Accident Injures Six – 11 January 2008
- Horse-Drawn Carriage Accident, Alton, TX – 22 December 2007
- Plaza Horse Carriage Crash Raises Concerns – 16 December 2007
- Horse and carriage rides will resume after accident, Brampton, Ontario, Canada – 14 December 2007
- Horse dies in bizarre accident – 14 December 2007
- Man, 76, dies in horse and carriage accident – 10 October 2007
- Investigating the Death of Smoothie – 17 September 2007
- Carriage horse dies in accident near Central Park – 14 September 2007
- 9 Injured in Buggy Accident – 28 August 2007
- 9 Hurt at County Nursing Home Event: Horse-and-Wagon Accident Occurs During Picnic – 17 August 2007
- CALECHE CRASHES IN OLD MONTREAL – 7 August 2007
- Child Killed in Carriage Crash – 24 July 2007
- HORSE and TAXI IN TALE OF WHOA – 5 July 2007
- Carriage horse spooks on Central Park South – 4 July 2007
- HORSE RUNS LOOSE ON CARRIAGE RIDE – 12 June 2007
- Accident on Seventh Avenue and 56th Street – 2 June 2007
- Accident on Central Park South at Grand Army Plaza – 13 April 2007
- Downtown Carriage Driver Run Over by Runaway Buggy – 15 March 2007
- LITTLE GIRL DIES IN TRAGIC ACCIDENT – 22 February 2007
- Horse Recovers After Getting Hit By Car – 3 December 2006
- Horse wedged on roadside railings – 30 November 2006
- For Central Park Carriage Horse, Death Arrives Inelegantly – 16 September 2006
- Horse Collapses in Central Park – 15 September 2006
- BARN FIRE IN MEMPHIS KILLS SEVEN SHOW HORSES – 8 July 2006
- Carriage Horse Breaks Free in City Streets Again – 22 June 2006
- Wild West Side Horse Crash – 5 May 2006
- MAN INJURED BY SPOOKED HORSE IN CENTRAL PARK – 29 April 2006
- Spooked horse ran wild in Central Park – 28 April 2006
- BARN FIRE RULED ACCIDENTAL, BUT CAUSE UNKNOWN – 11 April 2006
- TWO DOZEN HORSES PERISH IN STABLE FIRE – 24 March 2006
- 13 HORSES PERISH IN CHARLESTOWN FIRE – 20 March 2006
- HORSES PERISH IN HUNTERDON COUNTY FIRE – 15 March 2006
- RUNAWAY HORSES HURT TUCSON MAYOR, WIFE – 24 February 2006
- HORSE BOLTS and INJURES 3 IN MIDTOWN – 3 January 2006
- Horrific hansom cab accident – 2 January 2006
- HORSE COLLAPSES ON STREET – 1 October 2005
- FEAR UNBRIDLED; 2 HORSES ASTRAY IN CITY – 14 May 2005
- CARRIAGE RIDES GONE WILD – 25 October 2003
- STUCK IN TRAFFIC – 22 January 2002
- A taxi cab collided with a horse-drawn carriage – 26 November 2001
- HORSE MAKES IMPRESSION – 9 November 2000
- HANSOM HORSE’S TALE OF WHOA – 2 November 2000
- CARRIAGE HORSE ESCAPES DRAFT – 5 September 2000
- BUGGY TUMBLES TOSSES TOURISTS – 28 August 2000
- 32 HORSES ARE KILLED IN WESTCHESTER FIRE – 11 July 2000
- BROOKLYN STABLE FIRE KILLS 54 HORSES – 11 June 2000
- BROOKLYN STABLE FIRE KILLS 21 HORSES TRAPPED IN STALLS – 11 June 2000
- BRONCO GOES BONKERS ON AVENUE – 27 April 2000
- BOLTING CARRIAGE HORSE HURTS 2 – 9 August 1999
- CARRIAGE HIT – 1 July 1999
- HORSE BUGGY DRIVER HURT IN HIT-RUN – 28 June 1999
- A HERO AND TWO HORSES – 21 June 1999
- CARRIAGE HORSE IS ELECTROCUTED ON STREET – 1 January 1999
- 3 HORSES DIED IN ONE YEAR – 16 August 1998
- ANOTHER HORSE WHO COLLAPSED FROM HUMID HEAT DIED – 16 August 1998
- WHITEY IN THE PINK – 16 August 1998
- RUNAWAY HORSE KILLED BY VAN – 29 April 1998
- CARRIAGE RIDE TURNS INTO BRONCO BUST – 13 January 1998
- TOURIST RUN OVER BY HORSE – 24 November 1997
- An elderly woman was seriously injured – 4 September 1997
- HANSOM HORSE DIES IN HARNESS – 1 May 1997
- HANSOM-CAB HORSE DIES ON STREET – 2 September 1996
- Picture of injured or dead carriage horse on NYC TV station – 7 May 1994
- END OF THE ROAD – 21 April 1994
- DEATH OF CARRIAGE HORSE PROBED SAME OWNER HAD ONE DIE 2 WEEKS AGO – 26 August 1991
- Accident Diagram – 15 May 1990
- TOO HOT TO TROT A HORSE – 15 August 1988
- LOST HIS STEP – 23 May 1988
- Frightened by a passing car – 9 November 1986
- ANOTHER RUNAWAY CARRIAGE HORSE – 9 December 1985
- HORSE BOLTS, HITS CAR – 9 December 1985
- 13 HURT AS FRIGHTENED HORSE HITS RUNNERS IN PARK – 2 January 1983
17. Some Commercial Carriage Drivers Get Really Upset When They Perceive That They Don’t Have Support of Other Carriage Drivers or Horse People.
Well this is certainly not a myth! They will try to convince you that whatever you are doing with your horse, it is more dangerous than what they are doing in NYC. If you wear a helmet, you should stop that shit because you are a wimp. Real horse people aren’t afraid of traumatic brain injuries. If you prefer not to work your horse into a lather after riding or driving, your horse is a pansy. At the very least they will make personal attacks about people’s character.
If caring for not only my own horse but other horses makes me a “loony” then please throw me in the bin. Nobody cares if professional bloggers threaten to use the Huffington Post platform to write about us – it’s not news to anyone but a dozen or so harassers. However, maybe the people setting up fake Facebook pages pretending to advocacy groups should get some (professional) legal advice before they start interfering with the private business of people who disagree with the concept of urban carriage horses. Harassment is not a protected form of speech.
You may recall the scene in Manhattan where Woody Allen and Mariel Hemingway take a romantic, private, horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park, quipping their way through the leafy quiet. We regret to inform you that your carriage ride will be nothing like that experience. The horse will seem tired, the driver’s patter will be even less entertaining than Mia Farrow’s memoirs, and you’ll spend the entire ride crawling along the park’s main drives, staring at the back of another carriage, and enduring dirty looks from locals and animal lovers.—Siobhan Adcock