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

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24 June 2007 - Vol. # 36

Volunteer ** horse size ** does a horse like his job?

Tabling on Saturday, June 30th
teresaThe 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. We are also asking passersby to participate in our post card campaign to Mayor Bloomberg. 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: Saturday, June 30th, 2007 WHERE: midtown - information will be given to volunteers. TIME: 1-5 PM

we think so..............
from Donny 1In our brief existence as an organization focusing on the inhumane and exploitative carriage horse trade in NYC - and our efforts to ban it, I have been very fortunate to get to know people from all over the world who support our efforts. Some of these people have never actually seen the carriage horses in NYC (there are over 200) but because of the nature of the work the horses are forced to do, assumed they were big, strong draft horses. This could not be further from the truth.

Draft horse breeds include the Clydesdale, Belgian, Percheron and Shire and were traditionally used for farm work - pulling plows and heavy wagons - largely replaced by tractors. They can weigh about 2000 pounds - more than twice as much as a smaller horse.

small horse 3Some carriage companies in other parts of the US use only draft horses - the "gentle giants" - because they are the largest and strongest of all breeds. This is not the case in NYC. The law does not address the size, breed, age or gender of the horses used. It is not unusual to see a mix - draft horses and small, almost petite horses - pulling carriages packed with tourists. Many of them are breakdowns from the racing industry. The issue of size was brought to our attention when we noticed that most of the horses we see struggling and straining are small and petite.

Of the draft horses we personally know who worked in the carriage trade - two - Lilly O'Reilly and Monty - were not young. Both were about 20 when they were disposed of and each showed severe signs of hard work from bowed legs to permanent scars caused by ill fitting bridles. Juliet, the horse who collapsed and was beaten by her driver last September in Central Park, was said to be well over 20. And Teddy, pictured below , was not considered to be "pretty" any more. (Lilly, Monty and Teddy were rescued by Central New England - Juliet was not so lucky and died in her stall.)

small horse 3While carriages filled with tourists - some quite heavy - can weigh well over 1,000 pounds or more, an honest carriage driver will tell you that the problem is not so much the weight of the carriage, as the effort the horse has to make when he starts up again after a stop. We have seen horses struggling - especially when they pull the carriage west on Central Park South, which is on an incline. Considering the number of starts and stops the driver makes on the busy traffic congested streets of NYC, this effort is continuous.

from Donny - 2After reviewing the pictures I sent to her, an equine expert and horse rescuer remarked "Awful. Truly awful. The horse in the first pic looks like he has something wrong with his legs. A lot of these look like they would be off the track racehorses. Thoroughbreds have awful feet and very delicate legs and simply aren't designed for that sort of work."

A horse working in this industry better be able to make the grade - to pull the weight in the carriage. This could be four sizable adults plus a driver and a trainee. And if the group includes five adults, we have seen the driver agree to squeeze in that fifth person, which is against the law.

Big TeddyUnder no circumstances do we advocate using any kind of horse in the carriage industry. (we support horseless, people propelled pedicabs) However, the picture to the right is that of adorable Teddy, a draft horse now living at Central New England Equine Rescue. He is a former carriage horse given up because he had unsightly sarcoids all over his body. As you can clearly see, Teddy is a big, strong boy with legs like tree trunks and is much bigger than many of the horses we see in NYC. He has made excellent progress at CNEER and is doing very well.

from the web site of a carriage company
horses at workTHEIR ANSWER: "Carriage horses are bred to work in harness In fact, the exercise keeps him healthy. Horses recognize, respond to and develop an affection for their drivers."

OUR ANSWER: The truth is that horses are herd animals and while they do respond to love and attention and develop strong bonds with their humans - they love to be with their own kind. It is the real exercise - such as galloping and bucking on their own, running and socializing with their equine pals, rolling in the dirt, grazing, that keeps them young and healthy. A horse in harness, between the yokes of his carriage and wearing blinders, has severely restricted movement. As for the so called "affection" from their drivers -- When the drivers are waiting for customers they usually ignore their horses while talking with their other driver friends. I will grant that some of the drivers love their horses - but I have not seen evidence of this. The only affection I have seen is when they ham it up in front of their customers.

My "favorite" story of driver "affection" was when a bored horse attached to the carriage was attempting to walk on the sidewalk. The driver who was kibitzing with his cronies, while he waited for customers, yanked the horse back and cursed at her like a drunken sailor - "you **&( - get back here - you g.d. *&@^+%." Enough to make the most hardened person blush. I shudder to think how he treats this horse when people are not watching. Another time I witnessed a horse trying to drink from the filthy water trough in Central Park. The driver, who had passengers in his carriage, pulled the horse's head back from the water and turned to the passengers and said "See - I show her who is boss." Nice guy! And they wonder why we want to see this abusive, exploitative industry end.

"It was a very rare thing for anyone to notice the horse that had been working for him."
-Black Beauty - London, 1877

"The horse is God's gift to man."
-Arabian Proverb

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