New & Announcements

Citizen comments on proposed changes to Chapter 4 of Title 24 of the Rules of the City of New York for horse-drawn carriage     

I want to thank the Department of Health for allowing me, a NYC resident, the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes to Chapter 4 of Title 24 of the Rules of the City of New York.    

I understand that the Advisory Board is proposing “more modern and humane standards for management, care and treatment of rental horses, and protection of the public.”     

The problem is that modern and humane care of carriage horses is not possible in Manhattan. To provide modern and humane care the horses need to…     

    * Be restricted to the confines of Central Park never commuting or working nose to tailpipe in mid-town traffic and Times Square with cars, trucks, and honking taxis racing to get ahead.       

    * Have daily pasture time where these herd animals can freely move EVERY DAY especially after pulling a carriage for 9 or more hours in congested and chaotic Manhattan.    

    * Have stalls with a modern ventilation and temperature system where large horses including draft horses and can turn around, stretch out, and lay down on proper bedding after a long and hard day of work. All animals deserve freedom of movement!    

 The industry touts the vital and iconic importance of these horses to tourism and yet these are just a few basic needs and these basic needs cannot be met.     

So the question begs… Why is the DOH proposing to make some changes to Chapter 4 that in the end will not make an appreciable difference to the horse’s health and well-being and certainly will not make our streets any safer for our residents?     

In the “Notice of Intention to Amend Chapter 4”, DOH states correctly that “an attempt has been made to clarify that enforcement of most of these provisions is within the authority of agents and employees of the Department, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the ASPCA, and the NYPD.”   

This brings home the central point of these proposals – LACK OF TRUE ENFORCEMENT.  The current regulations are not enforced adequately now so why should anyone believe that additional regulations can be enforced?  Have the agencies trained and hired more staff? Have all of the loopholes been addressed in these amendments?  The answer is NO.    

In fact, in the Administrative Requirements section of the proposal (4-02, Subdivision (d) (1), the need for ambient temperature readings is addressed and DOH states clearly and honestly that “no agency has resources to monitor these temperatures several times a day to determine when horses should be relieved of work during extreme temperatures, the responsibility for keeping records of temperatures has been placed on the drivers of horse drawn carriages who take the horse out of the stable each day.”   

This is preposterous. Is DOH really expecting a driver to police himself out of his money for the day? 

The inability to enforce when it is too cold or too hot for horses to work is among a long list of other proposals that can never be enforced. The daily logs and other self-monitoring processes will be end up as a notebook that gets put on a dusty shelf.  I do not pay my hard earned tax dollars for pretend accountability. Unfortunately, it is my opinion that these proposals will simply serve as a political means of putting the issue of carriage horses to rest.     

True political will and ethical leadership means banning this age old practice as did Paris, London, Beijing and other cities. Tourists will not cancel trips because they cannot ride a horse-drawn carriage!     

Equine experts with no financial gain in whether the industry exists or not all agree that the conditions in NYC cannot be changed to make horse drawn carriages safe and humane.     
Listening and compromising with the industry is like listening to the tobacco industry explain why cigarettes are safe and ignoring the American Medical Association.    

While a ban is obviously long overdue, I will still point out a few issues with the proposed amendment:    

   1. Housing (Chapter  4.03)

          * If a potential new stable cannot house horses above the street level due to safety risks, why are the current stables allowed to keep horses above the ground level?  Any rationalization of this measure is just that, a rationalization not protection of health, well being and safety of the horses or residents!         

          o Why are you giving a year and a half for the stables to install sprinkler systems?  This is much too lenient for such an important safety issue putting residents and the horses at continued risk.       

          o There is reference to a minimum temperature of 35 degrees Fahrenheit in the stables, but there is not even a word mentioned about the allowable maximum temperature in the hot weather months. Horses can overly heat easily and need oversight to protect them from doing so. This proposal has a very large and inexcusable gaping hole.      

             o The proposed stall sizes of 8X8 or 7X10 are inadequate for large horses and draft horses. Why stop short from the larger accepted 12X12 stall size for these hard working “icons” of New York City? The only reason to stop short is to pack more horses in the warehouses which is an industry need and does not protect the horses and NYC residents.     

   2. Working Conditions - (Chapter  4.05)

          * Why is wind chill and humidity not considered as a weather factor?  This is gross negligence and ignores any concern for the horse’s health and well-being.    

          o Who will enforce the use of blankets in the winter?  Most of the horses now can be seen standing in pelting cold rain with no rain blanket.  Horses stand in the recent frigid and gusting winds with no blanket. What will change to ensure enforcement?  Which month is the official start of winter and which month is the last month?     

          o Who will enforce fifteen (15) minutes break for every two (2) pulling hours?  This reeks of window dressing to look like you are improving the horse’s lives when no enforcement can be consistently implemented.    

   3. Horse Care (Chapter  4.04)

          * Is DOH going to err on the side of safety for these hard working horses and accept the Advisory Board’s recommendation of two (2) Veterinary visits a year or maintain a maximum of one (1) visit per year?  Preventive care only helps the horses and public.  An upstanding carriage industry would want preventive support of a licensed equine veterinary doctor’s care.    

          o How will the Health Certificate that indicates the number of hours an individual horse can work per day be enforced?  Who is monitoring the horses that need to work fewer hours? The owners and drivers have an interest in working each horse to the maximum. This regulation is window dressing.     

   4. Furloughs – (Chapter  4.03)

          * Who came up with a minimum of 5 weeks of furlough? What about the other 47 weeks a year with no turn out? It makes a mockery of this species need for daily turnout. Turnout is not pulling the carriage full of tourists in NYC.  This is work, not exercise.  All living creatures need some time to move freely!     

          o Where are the horses going to for this so called furlough and to what conditions?  What are the furlough records supposed to contain? If a horse working in NYC cannot have its basic needs accommodated with NYC third party oversight, the environment is not suitable.    

   5. Work and Rest Periods (Chapter  4.05)

          * Why are you allowing horses to work for 10 hours vs. 9 hours and why until 3 am?  Who enforces the industry at that time of night?  The police do not know the laws and tell concerned citizens to call the ASPCA which is overloaded and ill equipped to monitor the industry.      

   6. Identification Number (Chapter  4.02)

          * Why would you remove the hoof branding?  Is it not better to be able to have an external, permanent means for identifying each horse? A microchip is internal and a license tag is not permanent.  This is an odd proposal. The reasons for wanting to know which horse is which is essential for the most basic of oversight and protection.     

   7. Training Program for drivers of horse drawn cabs; fees (Chapter 4-07)

          * Why are only “new persons registering for the driver training course” asked to get a license? What about the current drivers? Is it ok that they not pass the driver’s test and continue operating a carriage on our streets? Does a person need to die for safety to be considered seriously?     

Any amendments without enforcement are a waste of time and in the end ignores the very essential fact that no one can make modern day NYC hospitable to 18th century horse drawn carriages. 

It is time to for NYC to start a new humane, safe and green tradition!

Coalition To Ban
Horse-Drawn Carriages

A Committee of the Coalition For New York City Animals, Inc.

The Coalition for
NYC Animals, Inc.

P.O. Box 20247
Park West Station
New York, NY 10025


To honor
Bobby II Freedom
previously known as Billy
ID# 2873 rescued by the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages and Equine Advocates on June 25, 2010 from the New Holland auctions.

In memory of
Lilly Rose O'Reilly
previously known
as Dada ID# 2711
R.I.P.August, 2007