NYC Carriage Horse Supporters – Words and Pictures


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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Most people who oppose urban carriages are used to being told that they have “limited horse knowledge” or that they don’t live in New York City, etc. etc. and therefore have no right to render an opinion. But much of the propaganda being churned out in favour of the urban carriage industry is written by so-called journalists who are themselves seriously limited in their understanding not only of the business they are writing about, but of horses in general. Some authors are enviable in their ability to produce 10,000 words per day attesting to the carriage horses’ overall “happiness” and love of their work,  but again, they are also not “horse people.”  This observation does not seem to lend itself to criticism by the urban carriage trade though……

A great many comments I have seen over the last few months have been made by those who support leaving the carriage horses on the streets because they are active in the industry itself. They have made it sound as if a very small minority of animal advocates are the only ones who favour a ban on horse drawn carriages, and everyone else is in it for the big “Real Estate Grab.”

In a recent, blatantly promotional article, published originally on a pro-dog breeding, pro-kennel club website, numbers and statements about the carriage trade are regularly tossed about like pennies into a fountain.  I’ve chosen some of the more unverifiable and outrageous statements from the aforementioned article and provided some real-life context to refute them.  Sometimes,  the most damning statements come from the carriage trade themselves.  So here we go…

“They also have a mandatory five weeks annual vacation that must include unlimited feed and free run of green pastures.”

You can believe in the five weeks “vacation” or not. 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. And what is this ridiculous comment about “unlimited feed?” Haven’t the carriage peeps been telling us forever that horses shouldn’t be on grass or they will founder? Common sense would seem to dictate that you can’t give any horse unlimited feed either, which shows exactly how much the author of this article knows about horses (or has been spoon-fed). No one can say with any certainly that any of the horses are on a green pasture anyway – the pasture, if it exists, is just as likely to be a dirt paddock. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

If the carriage owners have farms as is claimed by this supporter,  then all the more reason to reject claims that they are all of very modest means.  Source -

If the carriage owners have farms as is claimed by this supporter, then all the more reason to reject claims that horses who are no longer employed in the NYC carriage trade will be sent to slaughter.  Also a very strong reason to reject claims that medallion owners are all of such modest means and cannot afford to provide aftercare for their horses. Source –

“Prices usually exceed $200,000 when they do. Most medallions are inherited. Families have carried on this business for generations, and no one is getting rich.”

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

Stop Lies,  See Truth indeed.  Being able to invest in real estate and other businesses implies an income that is at least middle-class or upper middle-class,  or perhaps largely tax-free?  Source -

Stop Lies, See Truth indeed. Being able to invest in real estate and other businesses implies an income that is at least middle-class or upper middle-class, or perhaps largely tax-free? Source –

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)

The problem is that the carriage industry may be talking out of both sides of their feedbag. Perhaps they didn’t anticipate that by arriving at the estimate of $15 – $19 million “investment” into New York City, that there would be people who could do basic arithmetic and figure out what the average gross income would be for 68 medallion owners (or half-medallion owners). So now, the claim that “nobody’s getting rich” is much harder for the average reader to choke down. Especially since the vast majority of that income is cash. To further throw shade on the claim that the medallion owners are just working class people struggling to earn a living in this cash-based economy, we have the testimony of ”StopLiesSeeTruth,” a prolific YouTube videographer and carriage owner, who claims to be earning an exemplary income that affords him the opportunity to invest in “real estate and other businesses.” There seems to be a lot of variation in terms of income, depending on whether one is bragging about it, or declaring it for taxation purposes.

“Horses are kept at four stables in Manhattan. All are currently cooperatively owned and managed within the industry. Even so, expenses for each horse run about $20-$25,000 annually.”

Source -

For the average person yes,  perhaps many could not afford this type of monthly expenditure.  But it’s been pointed out elsewhere that the largely cash income derived from operating a hackline carriage is not “average.” Apples to oranges. Source –

A feature of this blog post is obviously to quote the carriage people back to themselves and point out the ridiculousness of both their overstated claims and the claims of their propagandists. So again I’m using the assertions of a NYC carriage supporter who obligingly provides estimates of the basic costs of looking after and providing stabling for an urban horse in the city. Obviously, the supporter providing these numbers has omitted many other expenses in the operation of a carriage business, such as Insurance, wages, haulage, and other potential medical expenses, but even with the addition of these other costs, the cost for caring for one urban horse in no way approaches $25,000. And these costs are gross expenses from business income (again, predominately cash) while people such as myself who have taxes deducted at source, pay for board and veterinary expenses using after tax dollars. The minimum requirements for insurance coverages are also very modest:

$25,000 for bodily injury of any one person resulting from any one accident

$50,000 for bodily injury of two or more persons resulting from any one accident

$50,000 for death of any one person resulting from any one accident

$100,000 for death of two or more persons resulting from any one accident

$10,000 for destruction of property resulting from any one accident

These are not high liability coverages by any stretch of the imagination. Coverage for only $50,000 for the death of one person is ridiculously low.   By comparison,  I have an all-perils liability policy for $5 million,  at a cost of about $200 per year in premiums.  God help any carriage owner who has the misfortune of being the cause of serious injury or death of a young, professional, high income earner in a carriage accident,  someone who has a young family or years of income earning potential curtailed by a disabling injury…..

Despite having insurance,  this carriage driver might have been worried about an insurance claim, since he apparently left the scene of an accident without providing details of his insurance coverage to the other parties in the vehicle:

From the same source, we also get an idea of the various permit fees required, which again, will not bring the total expenses anywhere near $25,000. Carriage Operators of North America – CONA also has sourced out several equine insurance providers that can cover mortality, business insurance, life insurance, excess coverages, and insurance against crime. Again, most business people pay for these (with the possible exception of equine mortality) off their pre-tax income, so the carriage trade is not really any different from most other sole-proprietor businesses or partnerships (but apparently would like most people to think their expenses are greater than other comparable businesses).

Other incidental permit fees may be referenced by viewing the  List of Permit Fees.

  • $100: License Fee for applicants who file for a new Horse Drawn Cab Owner License from April 1 of years that end in an even number to September 30 of years that end in an even number.
  • $75: License Fee for applicants who file for a new Horse Drawn Cab Owner License from October 1 of years that end in an even number to March 31 of years that end in an odd number.
  • $50: License Fee for applicants who file for a Horse Drawn Cab Owner License from April 1 of years that end in an odd number to September 30 of years that end in an odd number.
  • $25: License Fee for applicants who file for a new Horse Drawn Cab Owner License from October 1 of years that end in an odd number to March 31 of years that end in an even number.
  • 2.49% of credit card payment amount: Non-Refundable Convenience Fee for paying with a credit card
  • $100: License Renewal Fee

From the carriage supporter’s basic estimate, we can see that, per horse, basic housing and feed for a horse would be anywhere from $4,740 – $7,740, or possibly more. Neither figures are out-of-line with what horse owners pay to board their personal horses.

Some carriage operators have benefited by subsidized rents as well. In 2001, the City of New York leased a stable on W. 45th St. to a carriage operator and his partner charging him a rent of only $5,000 a month while a comparable stable could easily have brought the City $60,000 a month.   Even if you consider that the city played a role in displacing the original tenants of this stable, this is a very advantageous cost savings for the carriage operators, but not so much for the City.

“Central Park as a rare car free oasis….”I love horse shit

I wonder what tourist brochures the author is looking at? Cars are allowed in Central Park at certain times. I daresay this writer hasn’t been to New York City (the hue and cry of the carriage supporters, many of whom haven’t been there either). Not only is the park not vehicle-free, the route to and from the stables is teeming with cars, taxis, snow removal vehicles, buses, and emergency vehicles.

“Despite AR rhetoric to the contrary, these owners love their horses and dread the thought of surrendering them to a city-appointed agency for adoption. “

There is no requirement to surrender any horses to anyone. I may be wrong but I’ve never heard of a “city-appointed agency” that has been established for surrendered 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.  And since one supporter’s comment included here asserts that the carriage operators have farms, one can only wonder, if true, why they would need to rehome any horse anywhere else?

“New Yorkers, long accustomed to the horses, are horrified by the possibility of losing their only direct contact with this beloved species. “

INS?  Immigration and Naturalization Service?  Probably not a good idea to display too much braggadoccio about the IRS and the INS as it relates to the carriage trade.  Source -

INS? Immigration and Naturalization Service? Probably not a good idea to display too much braggadoccio about the IRS and the INS as it relates to the carriage trade. Source –

Perhaps, or perhaps not. Don’t forget that, for more than a year, until a week to 10 days before the mayoral primary, the same Quinnipiac polling had a certain former City Council speaker as a “sure thing.”

The “right” of the carriage horse operators to use any city streets is one that can be revoked. The carriage owners and drivers, who enjoy one of the last cash businesses in the city, need to wake up and smell the road apples.  Stop lies,  see truth indeed…

“It is the certainty that they possess the truth that makes men cruel.” ― Anatole France

Irish Spring horsie



About heatherclemenceau

Hopefully as I've grown older I've also grown wiser, but one thing I've definitely become cognizant of is the difference between making a living and making a life. Frequently outraged by some of life's cruelties, and respect diversity. But.....I don't suffer fools gladly, and occasionally, this does get me into some trouble! I have the distinction of being the world's worst golfer - no wait, I do believe that there is a gypsy in Moldavia who is a worse golfer than I. Nor am I much of a dancer - you won't see a booty-shakin' flygirl routine from me! I'm also not the kind of cook who can whip up a five-course meal on a radiator either! And I've never figured out how to get an orchid to bloom a second time. I love to discuss literature, science, philosophy, and sci-fi , or even why Seinfeld is funny on so many levels. Words move me. I'm very soft-hearted about most things, especially animals, but I have a stoicism about me that is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. I do have a definite edge and an often "retro-adolescent" sense of humour at times. I'm a big advocate of distributed computing projects to advance science. Check out if you want to find out more. I'm an eclectic plant-based eater, and as such, it's a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity. You would be powerless to resist. I was recently surprised to find that a computer algorithm concluded that I write like Dan Brown, which is funny because I didn't think Dan Brown could actually write. Check out your own style - Oh, and I love impractical shoes and funky hats.

9 responses »

  1. This is from 2010 regarding a carriage horse rescued from slaughter. “Bobby II, New York City Carriage Horse Rescued from Slaughter”

    I have accidentally interacted with a carriage rep online and was surprised by the sudden appearance of aggression and constant denials. No horse or animal belongs in a setting of traffic, constant vehicle exhaust and noise and substandard care, which seems to be typical. I do not want to see any animal subjected to this kind of abuse.
    Atlanta seems to have this issue as well as New York. Apparently this kind of situation is typical for this trade. There is no need for the carriage trade whatsoever.

    Slaughter needs to end now. For the US Congress, an easy site to use is

    The SAFE Act and the PAST Act are waiting. Congress refuses to act.

    • I agree that there are many hostile carriage people out there. When I mentioned to one person that my main objection to the industry was the traffic and accidents, she told me “shit happens.” Not much of a connection to her carriage horse perhaps.

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  3. Oh mercy! Okay, I waded through all the inflammatory adjectives and phrasings designed to evoke a negative image to see if there were any facts here. There weren’t. I grew up among horses. In the early 1900’s, my grandfather made his living training horses to do farm work in an area where everyone’s survival depended on horses pulling the farm machinery. I understand (from firsthand experience) that you cannot get a reliable performance from a working animal without having a strong, positive relationship with that animal. Carriage horse owners have the same partnership type relationship with their horses that a police officer has with his K9 partner or a disabled person has with their service dog. The horses are, of course, loved, respected, and well cared for. So, I thought I would drop by and refute whatever Heather has cooked up now. I’m sorry, this is just too berserk. There are so many inaccuracies and outright lies in this silly piece that it would take days. However, congratulations on the title, Heather. It perfectly sums up what you have written.

    • Well thanks for stopping by Lynnette. It appears to me that you have limited experience with horses. You can’t learn about horses via osmosis, despite the fact that your grandfather made a living with them. And growing up with horses doesn’t give you enough time to really learn much about them, at least, that’s what I’ve been told by the carriage folk. I can see from your IP that you don’t live anywhere near New York state, which makes whatever experience you have with horses meaningless. Have you even been to NYC? Seen the stables? See how that works? Third strike, you haven’t actually refuted even one point I’ve made, which you could easily have attempted instead of this meandering reply about life in the 1900s.

      There are many examples I can think of off the top of my head where horses are clearly not happy yet, they are performing adequately. There are quite a few sored Big Lickers out there who are tops in their class. A sored horse is the perfect example of a horse who performs despite pain or more appropriately – because of it. Horses stand still for uncomfortable treatments and therapies. Most horses don’t even like to be wormed – why don’t they all just refuse to cooperate when we try to worm them? In any case, this blog post has nothing to do with our relationship with our horses, so why you chose to mention that, police horses, or your grandfather kinda eludes me.

      I respect dissenters who at least make a half-hearted effort to offer up some actual facts to bolster their complaint about my blog post. But that hasn’t happened here, and you’ve only offered anecdotal commentary. So I think you’ve wasted your post entirely. Have a good day….

  4. Since you are a New Yorker, Heather, you KNOW the price of an apartment in NYC does not correspond with the cost of an apartment elsewhere. The “carriage supporter” cited in your article is giving estimates of what they, most likely, pay for their own horses , elsewhere. The “Board” alone for a NYC carriage horse, while living in NYC, is over $1,000. per month. Even in NJ, were I live, Board varies from $200. to $950. per month, depending on where the stabling is located. NYC real state and taxes cost far more than “elsewhere”. Services also cost more in NYC than “elsewhere”. I am sure you are aware of this fact. “Farrier” services are needed approximately every 6 weeks. I can tell you that in NJ, my Farrier cost for shoes every six weeks is $200. This annualizes to close to $2,000.
    Feed costs about $22. per 50 pound bag. Then there is the cost of hay. I buy directly from my neighbor. I do not have it trucked in from outside NYC, so my cost is far less than others. On Wednesday, I heard that a local NJ horse rescue is paying $7.75 per bale, delivered to, and stacked in, their barn. How much do you think a 12000-1500 pound carriage horse eat in a month? Do the math. Or better, why not actually ask the carriage horse owners how much it costs them? Your claim that these are not working class people driving working class horses is unfounded.

    Please, do some real research. Then report back.

    • Susan, you have missed the point of this blog post. While I appreciate your numbers, and suspected that the real numbers were higher than the “carriage supporter” quoted (but not $25,000), the point of the blog post is that carriage supporters themselves produce highly inaccurate or even outright false information. The “research” except for my calculations and links to comments, has already been done for me by people supporting the industry – I did not misquote anyone and did not pull any numbers out of the air. The $15 – $19 million in “income” has been validated by the industry. The individual quotes were made by people in the industry or those who support the industry. We know there are 68 medallions, with some being owned in multiples or in halves. The entire blog post features only the statements, artwork, and actions of people in the carriage trade (i.e. the vehicular accident) and supporters of urban horses, so claims of accuracy or inaccuracy must be owned by them.

      Insofar as feed goes, draft horses may eat pounds of concentrates a day, but hay intake is considerably lower than for drafts employed in say, a livery service, because they are on the road for 9 hours a day and have no opportunity to eat hay.

      At the top end of the quote, the numbers you have provided are roughly equivalent to the board fees for an “A” circuit barn where I live, provided that they included all hay and concentrates. At the low end, you could not even get outside board for $200 within 500 miles of where I live. And board for $200 a month, even if it includes nothing else, will not bring you anywhere near $25,000 per year per horse. This is not out-of-means for anyone employed in a largely cash business which affords them the opportunity to “invest in other businesses and real estate.” Stable owners charging $950 per month with a high density of horses in a small area are also making a good supplementary income on top of what they make running one or two shifts, even if that income is divided amongst multiple owners. You might be interested in this article as well, where even drivers acknowledge earning $250 per day. Obviously this is not an hourly rate but more incentivized based on volume of customers. Primarily cash-based too. So I’m not changing my position on my assertion that for carriage owners – a full shift or two translates into an upper-middle class income –

      Again, I appreciate responses that include actual facts and not anecdotes, so thanks for your post.

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