Weekly updates about issues and actions concerning New York City's Carriage Horses

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27 May 2007 - Vol. # 30

Saturday * Volunteering * Toronto supports us * R Rools 4 Fools * Boston

the good and the bad
Tour busses on CPSSaturday was an an inspiring and hopeful day. From the moment we began to set up our table, we were overtaken with people who wanted to sign our petition to ban the industry ... not only from NYC , but from states like California, Florida, Virginia and Louisiana and countries like England, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Israel and France. Many people told us that they had horses and it was very distressing to see how depressed and tired the carriage horses looked; how they do not understand why NYC still allows horses to work in such a crowded and smog filled environment. We got pages and pages of signatures, sold several t-shirts and actually sold out our buttons.

Apologies to the horses because it is not their fault - but Saturday was so hot and humid that the smell of horse waste on Central Park South was overwhelming. In a more compassionate and intelligent world, these horses would be in a grass filled pasture - well taken care of and groomed everyday, with their stalls mucked out. It is beyond my understanding how the people who live on this high priced boulevard -- or those who dine in the outdoor restaurants - put up with this. In plain English -- it stinks!

The carriage drivers often just hang around waiting for passengers. But Saturday had tour buses unloading tourists on Central Park South - providing passengers for carriage rides. The buses pull into the hack line and discharge not only passengers but harmful diesel exhaust fumes. We wonder if money is changing hands. There are so many other things to see when one gets off the bus at this location -- a few blocks to the finest shopping and restaurants in NYC; an actual amusement park right in Central Park; or just a walk through the park to appreciate its beauty.

Tabling on Sunday, June 3rd
teresaNote Day Change - The weather is great and the horses need your help. The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages needs volunteers to help get signatures on petitions to the Mayor and City Council -- and to hold posters. This is not a demonstration but an educational event. It is an excellent opportunity to help the horses and to see how supportive both tourists and New Yorkers are. You can volunteer for one hour or four. We need to know when you will be there so we are sure to have coverage. Please contact Teresa at if you can volunteer.

WHEN: Sunday, June 3rd, 2007 WHERE: midtown - information will be given to volunteers. TIME: 1-5 PM

thank you Toronto
carriage horseWe love Tim Trow and his organization, the Toronto Humane Society. He gets it! Why? ... because he successfully worked on ridding Toronto of the carriage horse trade in the 1970s and wants to see it end in NYC. He knows how inhumane it is for the horse slaves who are in this industry. He is our role model. Please read a new section on their web site in which, as president of this progressive organization, he invites people to support our cause.

From their web site: "Attention 'Non'-New Yorkers! This topic was started on April 27, 2007. Help the carriage horses of Manhattan and the courageous people of New York who are fighting for them. New York carriage horses toil in traffic, in all four seasons, and this is done to them in our name as potential tourists. We owe it to the horses to speak up. We need New York's authorities to know that these carriage horse do not make us want to come to New York, instead they make us sad."

we think not.......
Driver on phoneCarriage drivers in NYC are not required to have a NYS drivers license. Instead, applicants are given a book with the rules of the road and are required to take a written test administered by the Department of Health. A carriage driving test is not a requirement. They must do only a five-day apprenticeship with a driver who then completes the Affidavit Recommending an Applicant for A Horse Drawn Carriage License. That's all it take. Outrageous? Yes - but here's the rub? Just what rules of the road are they required to observe?

Answer: Apparently not the NYS cell phone law, which states: "No person shall operate a motor vehicle while using a mobile telephone to engage in a call while a vehicle is in motion." The operative words here are "motor vehicle," which the carriage is not. On many occasions, we have seen drivers on hand held cell phones engaged in conversation while they are driving their carriage. We have also seen them stand up while driving and turn around to take pictures of their passengers - all while the carriage is moving. The horse-drawn carriage operator's manual states "The driver should never allow his attention to be distracted. The horse's ears, or some change in his gait, may give forewarning of shying, kicking or balking" - but this appears to be a suggestion, not a law. The photo above shows a driver talking on a cell phone while standing and operating his carriage.

The NYS law banning hand-held cell phones for drivers of motor vehicles is an intelligent and thoughtful law. In 1997, the New England Journal of Medicine published the Association between Cellular-Telephone Calls and Motor Vehicle Collisions. The report concluded that "the use of cellular telephones in motor vehicles is associated with a quadrupling of the risk of a collision during the brief period of a call." The Safe.NY website asks motor vehicle drivers to use common sense because any task a driver performs while driving is a potential distraction.

We have tried to get to the bottom of this with marginal success. "Cell phones" are apparently not mentioned with respect to drivers of horse-drawn carriages in any of the laws we have reviewed. It remains a gray area. Section 4-12 - Miscellaneous - of the Traffic Rules from the Department of Transportation's web site states: "A person riding or leading a horse or driving a horse drawn carriage shall have the reins in his or her hand continuously" The operative word is "hand" and could be construed to mean that it is legal for a driver to hold the reins in one hand while talking on a cell phone with the other? Since horse carriages operate in heavy NYC traffic, drivers should be required to obey the same laws that apply to motor vehicle drivers.

carriage industry not welcome
MontyCarriage horses in Boston are not treated any better than those in NYC. We know one former Boston carriage horse quite well - he is the ambassador of good will to horses - Ambassador Montague - or Monty for short. Monty is a clear picture of the typical suffering of carriage horses. The black marks on Monty's nose and sides of his jaw are permanent scars -- skin where the white hair shafts wore away from sweat and a bridle that was too tight for too long. Read Monty's story.

A recent poll in the Boston Herald asked the question "Should horse-drawn carriages be banned in Boston?" The results revealed that 60% voted YES - "Horses should be kept free from city duty and only work in country settings." Only 40% voted NO "Keep the horses and carriages in Boston. The carriage operators are regulated and that should be enough to keep the horses safe." It is clear to us that people are becoming more sophisticated about the "rules" regulating the carriage industry and recognize that many are simply impossible to enforce ... and that this is an inherently inhumane industry that has no place in modern day cities.

"If we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt." -Black Beauty - London, 1877

Thank you for caring about the horses, Elizabeth Forel - Coalition for NYC Animals, Inc. for the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages