New & Announcements

Testimony of Elizabeth Forel  
Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages 2/03/10

My name is Elizabeth Forel and I am president of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages.  My comments are specific to carriage horses.  Our organization represents thousands of New Yorkers and tourists and more than 50,000 people from New York City and over 55 countries who have signed our petition to close down the horse-drawn carriage industry in NYC because of humane and public safety issues.  Carriage horses do not belong in a congested city like New York and  there is nothing that can be done to make this industry more humane.  We advocate banning the industry and not to phase it out, which would be harmful to the horses.  Most recently, New Delhi in India and Tel Aviv in Israel banned horse drawn carriages and cart horses respectively.  It was not a phase out.  They did it because it was the right thing to do and they made a clean break by finding other employment for the drivers and owners.  If these countries can do it, so can New York City.      

However, I would like to commend the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for their efforts in trying to make life better for the horses by these proposed amendments and inviting the public to comment.  We also recognize that these proposals were made with a huge caveat  – and that is not to make the additional proposals so strict that the industry would not be able to function.  And because of that, they remain, by their very nature, disingenuous and inadequate. 

Chapter 4 – Title 24

Chapter  4.02  Administrative Requirements – (1) provides a requirement for micro chipping the carriage horses and for phasing out hoof branding by January 2011.  The purpose of this is not clear.   When a dog and cat is turned into animal control, they are wanded to reveal if there is a microchip number.    This information can reunite them with their guardian.  This is not going to  happen at horse auctions.  Besides with large animals, microchips are known to migrate so it might be difficult to later determine if there is actually a microchip in place. 

In the past few years, we have identified a few horses who were sent to auction by the 4-digit engraved number on their hoof.  This has also proven helpful to those who see problems with a horse on the street.  They can get the hoof number and report it to the  ASPCA.  The industry claims that they do not send their horses to auction – that they are all retired to pasture.  However, Lilly O’Reilly, (known as Dada when she was a NYC carriage horse, was sent to New Holland auction by Clinton Stables, but was eventually rescued by Central New England Equine Rescue.  Her number was #2711.  Her story is on our web site  Another horse, Star #2961 from West Side Livery and Miley #3022 from Shamrock Stables were found with brokers where, if they were not adopted by a certain day, would be sent to auction.  Hoof branding is a very handy tool to keep the industry honest.  By eliminating it, it further erodes transparency.  We ask that you do not eliminate hoof branding. 

Chapter 4.02  - (c) Disposition. (2) This will require that horse owners notify the Department of Health if a horse is sold by providing the names and addresses of the buyer – regardless of where they live.  Previously, this information was only required if the sale was in NYC.  This was a huge loophole and allowed many horses to slip through the cracks into the auctions, which are located outside of NYC.  We agree with this proposal.  However, since the Administrative Code is not being changed, which will take precedence?  The Administrative code only requires that sale records be given to the Department of Health if the sale was in NYC. 

Chapter 4.03 – Housing – Stall Size – The existing DoH regulations call for stalls to be a minimum of 4’ wide x 10’ long – 40 sq. ft, which is very small and essentially a tie stall.  Many of the drivers will say that all the stables are equipped with box stalls, but this is not the case as you can see in the attached pictures of West Side Livery, which show tie stalls.  Besides, a box stall is simply an enclosed stall  - the word “box” says nothing about its size.   After July 1, 2011, the new proposal requires that stalls must be at least 64 sq. ft – either 8 x 8 or 7 x 10.  This is still grossly inadequate and still inhumane.  The stalls will still be too small.

Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences states that a 12 x 12 foot stall is the minimum standard recommendation for a 1,000 pound horse.”1   The concurs, stating that a 12’ x 12’ is the accepted standard.  However, they recommend 14’ x 14’ as the standard for the large draft breeds.2  From my observation, I’ve noticed that although there are a few rather petite horses on the street that look like they should not be pulling anything –there are also a fair number of draft horses, which, because of their size do not receive basic humane care.  See foot notes below for more recommendations of at least a 14’ x 14’ stall for draft horses.3 also recommends a ceiling height of at least 12’ for all horses.  The  “in terms of ceiling height, more is better, both in terms of horse safety and ventilation. Ten feet is considered a bare minimum.” 

These recommendations appear to be the best the DoH could come up with considering that the Advisory Board is influenced by the carriage industry and they were involved in these proposals.  To require the industry standard would result in some of the stables not being able to comply because of space restrictions.  But it simply shows that it is impossible to make this industry humane.  The stalls and ceiling height will still be grossly inadequate for the horses.  These accommodations are in answer to pressure from horse advocates but they are also all the DoH can recommend and still have the industry be viable. 

Chapter 4.03 (c) Furloughs – It is meaningless to require that horses get five weeks off a year, when experts recommend daily turnout.  This works out to be about one week off every 9-10 weeks of hard work, nine hours a day, seven days a week between the shafts of their carriage.   After the work day is over, they go back to the confinement of their stalls – most very small – eat a bit, often while tied up –then sleep – often standing up because it is impossible or uncomfortable to lie down in such a small space.  Most come back to their stalls after a long day’s work, sweating and dirty.  Most are not washed until the next day just before they go out to work. 

Horses need daily turnout – this means time in a pasture to run, buck, roll, play with other horses and sleep in the pasture.  The pasture can also be the source of very nutritious grasses.  It is inhumane and disingenuous to suggest anything else.  Of course, we know it is impossible to provide for this in NYC, which is yet another reason that even with the intervention of the Department of Health, it is impossible for this trade to operate humanely. 

These are some articles from The, which speak to the value of daily turnout and how it positively affects colic, tying up disease and the horses well being in general.  From Research Shows Exercised Horses Have Fewer Unwanted Behaviors – 8/6/09 - "Providing horses with a daily exercise regime, as well as regular positive interactions with other horses and people, is likely to improve their welfare and make them safer to handle," said Raf Freire, PhD, of Charles Sturt University in Australia.4  Another article from a study done at Michigan State University – Department of Animal Sciences, titled Colic:  Updates and Prevention says that “

“The best strategy for minimizing colic is to offer free-choice grass hay so a horse can "graze" intermittently through the day, and to limit grain, while providing daily turnout and regular exercise. “  5  Tying-up in Horses from the 7/1/02 – talks about the need for daily turnout in horses to prevent this disease.  Juliet, the West Side Livery carriage horse, died in September 2006 as a result of complications of Tying up Disease.6

(f) Exercise – to further prove that the Department of Health cannot do anything to make this industry more humane, they actually require that a rental horse be “exercised outside of its stall for at least one hour per day, five days a week.”  However, because this is physically impossible for the stable/horse owners to do, it goes on to say “exercising may include time spent driving a carriage on a work shift.”   This is utterly absurd.  A horse is not exercising when he is loaded down with tack , between the shafts of his carriage and wearing blinders. 

4-04 – Horse Care.  This section states that while at work, horses must be provided with adequate supplies of potable water and shall be allowed to drink.  From “Horse Health Depends on Water” – an article published by David Marshall, VMD from the University of Delaware7 – recommends at minimum 8-10 gallons, but preferably 20 gallons a day for a 1,000 to 1,200 pound horse.  A draft horse would require a lot more.  And because a horse’s stomach is small, he needs many opportunities throughout the day to get water.  Where does the horse get water in the evening when he is working in Times Square?   How does he get enough water in the winter when the troughs are turned off in Central Park?   Potable water is drinking water of a high quality and uncontaminated.  When it is actually working, the water in the troughs in Central Park is often filthy.    People have been seen bathing in the water and urinating in the troughs.

This is yet another reason why this does not work and is inhumane. 

4.05 Working Conditions

(1)    This needs clarification.  It reads that horses being worked when such conditions such as adverse weather develop, the horse should be returned to the stable immediately.  We agree with this, but in actuality, when a driver takes on a fare, he is allowed to finish that fare.  The ride should be stopped and the passenger asked to respect the law and the horse.   

(2)    There is no value in providing the drivers with a thermometer even if it is supposed to provide an additional layer of oversight to the ASPCA’s responsibility.  It will not.  It is a conflict of interest between the welfare of the horse and the need of the driver to make money.  A driver is going to have his financial interests at heart – not the horse's.  A better solution would be for a large thermometer to be installed at the hack line -- along with a listing of fares. 

(3)    The administrative code calls out for horses to be sent back to the stables when it is 90 degrees and 18 degrees.  There is no consideration for wind chill or humidity index.  This is wrong.  The only reason these considerations are not included in the law is because it would reduce the number of days a year that the drivers could work.  An excellent article “Too Hot to Trot – Heat stress in horses” by Jenifer Nadeau  -Equine Extension Specialist – University of Connecticut     goes on to say “The cooling mechanism of the horse is most effective when the sum of the ambient (outside) temperature and relative humidity is less than 130. Efficiency of cooling decreases between 130 and 150. When the sum of the ambient temperature and relative humidity is greater than 150, the horse's ability to cool itself is greatly reduced. When the sum is greater than 180, horse owners need to be cautious, since these conditions could be fatal if the horse is stressed.  This is a method that is being used more and more. 8

While horses do better in cold weather than in hot, horses should be blanketed when it is very cold.  In Vienna, Austria, carriage horses work wearing coats when it is very cold.  In NYC, they do not.  Sometimes the drivers put a blanket over the horse while standing, but never while working or going back to the stables.    In early January, the weather in NYC was very cold.  On Sunday, January 3rd,  the weather did not drop below 18 degrees so it was legal for the horses to be out working.  However, at 1:18 pm, according to, it was 23 degrees but felt like 7 degrees; at 3:04, it was 21 degrees but felt like 4 degrees, and a few hours later at 5:45, it was 20 degrees and still felt like 4 degrees.  This kind of weather continued for several days.  Bone chilling cold and the drivers were out working.  The drivers are generally bundled up but the horses are not.  I have also observed drivers out when it is raining, covered in rain garb and umbrellas while the horse gets drenched.  I do not believe I have ever seen a driver put a rain sheet over the horse.  And I have seen them still out working when the rain stops, with a horse with a drenched coat.  

This is what the article from North Carolina State University “Extension Horse News says about this issue:  “When the temperature outside, including the wind chill factor, drops below 45°F (which is referred to as the “critical temperature”), large amounts of energy are needed by the horse to help maintain his internal body temperature. The critical temperature is affected by wind chill, amount of moisture in the air, and thickness of the horse’s coat, which is very good at insulating against the cold and wind. If the horse’s coat becomes wet, this will increase the critical temperature by 10-15°F!”9

Again, this shows that the Department of Health can never do enough for the horses to live a humane life. 

(c)    Work and rest periods – (1)  This section indicates that carriage horses shall not work for more than 10 hours in any continuous 24-hour period.  This is in conflict with the Administrative code §  17-330  (g) Regulations, which cites 9 hours, not 10.

(1)     this section states that the night shift shall end at 3 am.  Who is going to enforce this?  The ASPCA Humane Law Officers are not working at this time and the NYPD look the other way. 

(e)    (1) Age – this section states that a horse shall not be licensed to work unless it is older than four and less than 20.  There should be a requirement that a horse should be retired at 18 to 20, not to begin working.  Let the horses live out their senior years away from the stress of NYC.  Why is this proposal different from Intro 653A, which indicated five years and not four.  The average age a horse fully matures, both mentally and physically, is 4-5 years.  Why not err on the side of the horse? 

4.06 – Owners, Riders and Operators:  At last the DoH is acknowledging all the dangerous foolish things the drivers do while working.  We agree whole heartedly that cell phones, electronic music players connected to ear phones or ear buds, e-mail or texting messages, still or video or motion picture cameras or any other electronic or mechanical device that might interfere with the operator’s ability to give undivided attention to and safely operate the carriage and control the carriage horse – are no longer allowed.  This must also include the recording devices many of the drivers use trying to record and intimidate anyone who is opposed to them.  The  reading of newspapers, books and periodicals while driving the carriage must also be included.

We also suggest that no driver should stand up or turn around while driving.  When a driver stands up while driving his carriage, he is putting himself, the horse and pedestrians in danger.  His high center of gravity in relation to the carriage and the lack of the front of the carriage seat to brace his feet against for strength in hauling back on the reins is not safe.  If a driver is hit while in this position, he does not have as much control and can easily cause a bad accident.  The American Driving Society Rulebook 10. states that “The driver should be seated comfortably on the box so as to be relaxed and effective.” 

Additionally, drivers continuously make u-turns on Central Park South sometimes coming very close to an accident.  Who is to enforce any of these rules if the police look the other way?

Smoking – we find this to be a non-issue and will do virtually nothing for the horse.  The real issue is that the carriage horses work a nose to tailpipe existence meaning that they work directly behind the cars, buses and taxis inhaling noxious exhaust fumes. 

4.07 – it is about time that the DoH required carriage drivers to have a NYS driver’s license and we agree with this.  We often see them go through red lights – use their horses as battering rams to squeeze into small spaces and make u-turns.  Of course, maybe they just do not know how to drive a carriage and the license will not help. 

161.21 Horse Stables

(11)    On or after 1/31/11, new stables shall be equipped with stalls that are located above the first or street level of the stable.  This is very interesting because it will not affect any of the existing five stables.  But it officially acknowledges that it is both inhumane and dangerous to house horses on upper levels as they are all housed how.  It is difficult on older horses to make the ramp every day and it becomes a fire hazard if there were a fire on the ground level.  The ramp would act as a chimney.

1 Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences -   

2 The – Stall Design 11/1/99 -    

3    - 

 4 Research Shows Exercised Horses Have Fewer Unwanted Behaviors -  8/6/09:

5 Colic: Updates and Prevention -  

6 Tying-Up in Horses – 7/1/02  - 

7 Horse Health Depends on Water – University of Delaware Cooperative Extension – 6/2004 -

8 Heat Stress  - Too Hot to Trot  -  

9 Extension Horse News -  

10 American Driving Society Rulebook -

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