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

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15 July 2007 - Vol. # 40

Volunteer ** Coverage of July 11th protest at City Hall

next Saturday - July 21st
thirsty horseThe 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. Teresa is out of town this week - so please contact Elizabeth at if you can volunteer. WHEN: Saturday, July 21, 2007 WHERE: midtown - information will be given to volunteers. TIME: 1-5 PM. This picture was taken on a blistering hot day. Is he thirsty - after all, he does not have ready access to water -- or is his bit uncomfortable?

with media coverage and links
groupThe Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages joined with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on Wednesday, July 11th at City Hall to protest the latest carriage horse accident and to ask the Mayor and City Council to ban this inhumane industry. BIG THANKS to PETA for organizing this event and to everyone who came. Considering that this was a workday and it is difficult for some people to get the time to come to the southern part of Manhattan, we had a very good turnout.

The NY Post, NY Daily News, Metro, NY Times and others covered the protest. A reporter from the Chinese language Sing Tao Newspapers was also there and commented on the practice being banned in Beijing, but not NYC. 

Dena & MargaretIn the interest of space, links are provided to the articles about the protest - and I have instead included some actual blogs from the NY Times blog. All the following are from July 12, 2007: NY Post - "Horse & 'Muggy'" by Heidi Singer; NY Daily News - "Say Neigh to Carriage Horses, by Lisa L. Colangelo; NY Press on-line - "Animal Rights Activists Not Horsing Around "; July 11, 2007 - NY Times - Collision Prompts a Call to Ban Horse-Drawn Metro's article - PETA WANTS HORSES OFF THE STREET - by Brian Childs could not be found on line but will soon be up on our web page.
Some of the posts are included below - if you want to see the entire New York Times' blog -click here. The NYT blog will not be taken down and will be continuously available for posting. And if you have something to say - please do not forget our blog. And please write a Letter to the Editor to the following media. Remember to always include your contact information - name, address, telephone and to keep the letter between 100 to 150 words. NYPost -; NYDaily News; Metro - AM-NY - (please note that although an AM-NY reporter was at the protest, nothing was published in the paper.) NY Times -


GraceGood for PETA!! I don't believe horses should be forced to work in a crowded city! Mayor Bloomberg says he wants to make NYC the best city in the county, let's move ahead & remove these poor animals from the busy streets!! If anyone saw the conditions of these stables, which are buildings in fact, it would break your heart! Forced to work in all kinds of conditions & then made to walk up several flights to rest -- I hope I see the day when people become more compassionate! - Posted by Jennifer Spirakis XXXXXXXXX

Anyone with half a brain and any compassion for other living creatures would grasp that the horse carriage industry is a vestige of a bygone era that has no place in today's NYC. FYI Kristopher, we're no longer in the age of the Ingalls and this is not farmland (it is a noisy, congested city with polluted air and exceedingly hot pavement). I agree with Nikki above - why don't people get off their fat behinds and walk - that is the best way to experience the Park. - Posted by Marni XXXXXXXXX

You must have a brain the size of a pin-head if you think it's ok for horses to be in NYC traffic or anywhere in NYC. A horse's first instinct is to bolt at the slightest sound, even a leaf rustling can make them bolt, I know, I grew up around horses! NYC is noise pollution city, and there are accidents involving horses every single year, this is fact. It is up to the carriage stable owners to ensure these horses don't end up slaughtered, after making their living off the sweat of horses they have a DUTY to make sure they aren't slaughtered, but MANY of them HAVE been slaughtered thanks to the industry you knuckle-heads defend!!!! - Posted by Susan Davis XXXXXXXXX

The excuse "that is how it's always been" is no reason to continue something that is so obviously wrong. It's time to right this wrong and ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City! - Posted by Christina MartuscelliXXXXXXXXX

So an apologist from the NYC Health Dept., name of Freedman, claims that "Horse-drawn carriages are a very important part of our city". Well, sure -- as opposed to crime, pollution, corruption, threat of terrorist attack and cockroaches, not to mention Health Commissioner, Dr. Friedan's twin bogeymen, cigarettes and trans-fatty acids. But I would think, just maybe, jobs, health care, affordable housing, politician's with spines and government bureaucrats with better things to offer this city than insipid defenses of animal abuse, might be of higher priority and actually "very important". - Posted by Bob Pomilla XXXXXXXXX

There is nothing quintessentially "New York" about a carriage ride. There is nothing even remotely "romantic" about the suffering these poor horses endure. There are other means of carriage owner/operators earning a living than exploiting animals. These horses are forced into the slavery of pulling a carriage full of tourists, many times weighing over the "legal" limit for them to pull, in temperatures over ninety degrees, plus humidity. There have been many accidents over the years involving carriage horses. And many horses have had to be removed from the streets via ASPCA truck due to overheating. Unfortunately, it is back to their stifling stable over 25 blocks away, with not even a fan to cool them. For these horses, a turn out doesn't exist. No agency conducts background checks on the carriage owner/operators. Who could imagine that an owner of these horses could be a convicted animal abuser? In 2006, a New York Post investigation regarding a life-threatening crash involving a carriage horse that bolted and collided with a car, reveals the owner of the hansom cab had been found guilty of starving horses by a judge in Gap, PA. The carriage driver was critically injured and two of the car passengers were hurt. The horse, "Spotty", a 5 year old, had to be destroyed. The ASPCA patrols the Central Park carriage horses, but unless their officers personally witness an abuse, they are powerless to take any action against the owner/operator. What will it take to get them removed from the streets permanently? More human injuries, or even a death? This is the twenty-first century. Nothing can justify the existence horse drawn carriages in New York City. But apparently nothing will change as long as the Mayor and City Council want carriage horses. I think they should be harnessed up and forced to pull a carriage around for 8 plus hours a day in 90 degree heat. Take action and write Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council with the message: NO MORE CARRIAGE HORSES IN NEW YORK CITY!!! - Posted by Merrilee XXXXXXXXX

horse in constumeI was in New York last week and went to Central Park. My husband was insistent that we ride a horse drawn carriage. The driver charged us $40.00 for the ride saying the additional $6.00 was for some other fees or taxes. I was so upset because I didn't really want to ride anyway and I didn't notice the horse until the ride was over-it was so very, very thin. The driver told us the hours these horses work and that is a shame on New York that this is allowed. But everything comes down to making money. I was ashamed of letting that poor horse pull us through the park. When we stopped and go out, it tried to keep going when the other horse ahead of it started out. Poor animals. Mahatma Gandhi said, "The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way it's ANIMALS are treated." The worst part of my visit to New York was the horse drawn carriages. - Posted by Robin Hall - Virginia XXXXXXXXX

How disappointing to see that NYC continues to allow this mistreatment of horses. Surely most visitors to the city would prefer not to be confronted with the sad spectacle of dispirited carriage horses waiting in line - not to mention the accident scenes! What can the tourism office be thinking? - Posted by Deborah Chalmers - Canada XXXXXXXXX

A profit. That's all people think about these days. Let's see how much money we can make by working these horses in extreme conditions that are not natural to them. How about doing the right thing for once and thank and reward these horses for their hard work by letting them live the life every horse should -- out in a pasture running around and eating grass. It has been long overdue. - Posted by Marika J XXXXXXXXX

I suggest that anyone who doubts that these animals are suffering to walk the hack line on Central Park South. Notice the horses with exposed ribs, the standard breeds and thoroughbreds straining because they are too small to pull heavy draft-horse rigs, see how exhausted the horses are, and notice that they do not have ready access to water-even on hot days. Just look in their eyes and you'll see that their spirits are broken. I went to the hack line on June 27, when it was 90 degrees. I saw a horse in distress from the heat. She was breathing hard, mouth slightly open, head down, couldn't move. It took the ASPCA officer an hour to cool her down with water before they took her back to the oven-hot stable in a trailer. Two drivers were out looking for passengers despite the fact that the ASPCA called the other drivers in. If the owners and drivers cared about the welfare of the horses why would they subject them to such heat? Why did they take them out into a blizzard on February 14? Remember, it's a business. [ed. note - the ASPCA allowed the horses to work for several hours in this blizzard before they sent them in - WHY?] These animals are viewed as disposable objects. This is also a public safety issue that Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council refuse to address. How many accidents will it take before they finally take action? address. How many accidents will it take before they finally take action? - Posted by Jill XXXXXXXXX

crowd at demoThere have been many "mainstays" in the United States that were eventually banned once the inhumanity or injustice of a practice became obvious to the public and a few courageous political leaders went against the tide (think about the civil rights movement) If anything, the fact that this 19th century practice is still going on in a 21st century urban environment shows how inappropriate it is! What is truly absurd is the idea that live horses are permitted to pull 19th century carriages alongside double decker tour buses, taxi cabs, trucks, ambulances, fire engines, and SUVs. Think, Times Square. Horses are known to be fearful animals and they weigh about 2000 pounds. Talk about a prescription for disaster!

Why didn't the reporter ask the DCA associate commissioner to explain HOW they ensure the safety and care of the horses? The fact is that none of these agencies, including the police, inspect the horses on the hack line, enforce the temperature limits, respond to accidents or calls to 311. This is done by the ASPCA, a private organization, and they are not in a position to do an adequate job. The ASPCA has only one humane officer assigned to oversee 68 medallions, 200 or so horses, five stables, and all of central park. Why didn't the reporter ask the carriage horse and stable owner why the horse injured in the accident on July 4-and quickly retired-was forced to walk a mile back to his stable, rather than being transported in a trailer? Why didn't he learn and report on the miserable day to day lives of these horses-the fact that they work 9 hours a day, 7 days a week in temperatures between 18 and 90 degrees, regardless of humidity and wind chill; their stables are dilapidated warehouses on the far west side, up to 2 miles from the park that are like ovens during the summer (compare them to the new police horse stables), and many of their stalls are too small for them to lie down. By the way, restricting the horses to the park won't solve the horses in traffic problem, since they still would be required to commute back and forth to the stables. Why didn't the reporter go to the hack line on Central Park South and observe the condition of the horses? Why didn't he go to the stables? It's because the NY Times and other media are not getting out the facts and searching for the truth that it takes so long for our society to move beyond the "mainstays." - Posted by Alan XXXXXXXXX

horses at workThe NY Times article focused too much on the latest incident as the reason some of us are asking for a ban. Although we greatly appreciate Peta's position on this issue and their willingness to organization a protest at a moment's notice - no member of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages was interviewed and we have been the organization of record in NYC on this issue. If we had been we would have said that we want a ban of this industry because it is inherently inhumane - this is the core issue. While accidents are always a turning point in bringing public attention to this industry, they are not the driving force in wanting a ban. There is no amount of legislation that would make this industry acceptable since it is virtually impossible to enforce the existing laws now. Even something as seemingly simple as adding a humidity and wind chill factor to the existing laws - or sprinklers in the stables - was opposed by the carriage industry. In reading all the comments on this blog - it appears that there are not only many "experts" out there, but many others seem to believe every thing they read in the media- such as that the driver who beat his horse, Juliet, was talking on the phone to his veterinarian - or that all the drivers love and care for their horses. It is also not true that the horses are all old and ready to drop. Many are young - breakdowns from the racetrack - or from Amish country. Spotty, the horse who was euthanized in the horrendous accident on January 2, 2006 was only five years old.

The question is often asked "what will happen to the horses if a ban is enacted - will they go to slaughter?" I ask, "Where do you think they go now?" Do people honestly think these horses work for years and years and retire to some wonderful pasture? While some undoubtedly do, because this is all about profit, most go to the auctions in PA where they are exposed to killer buyers who work for slaughterhouses. Our proposed legislation will phase this industry out over a few years and provide some time to find good homes for these horses. The average work life of a horse on the streets of NYC is only four years. It is possible that Mr. Byrne has horses who work for a longer time - but comparison of lists of horses from the Department of Health don't lie. The horses simply do not last long on the streets of NYC. It is a hard life. The carriage horses are forced to work nine hours a day, seven days a week between the shafts of their carriages. They live in multi-storied stables mostly in stalls too small to lie down - and the stalls are accessed by steep ramps. They have no opportunity for turnout. How humane is that? We never see them get water on the hack like. Sometimes they are allowed to drink from the filthy microbe infested water trough off 6th Avenue. Horse-drawn carriages are a thing of the past and have no place on the traffic-congested street of NYC. Many tourists to this wonderful city stay away from Central Park South because the site of these horses is so troubling. Our petitions have been signed not only by New Yorkers - but by people from all 50 states and over 40 countries. And we have thousands upon thousands of signatures! Cities like London, Paris, Toronto, Beijing - and many smaller US cities - have banned this industry. NYC should do the same and move into the 21st century. - Posted by Elizabeth XXXXXXXXX

"Cowardice asks the question, Is it safe? Expediency asks the question, Is it politic? Vanity asks the question, Is it popular? But conscience asks the question, Is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him that it is right."   -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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