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

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22 July 2007 - Vol. # 41

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

next Saturday - July 28th
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. Please contact Teresa at if you can volunteer. . WHEN: Saturday, July 28, 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?

continues to get press - Asia + NYC
rsized into parkSOUTH CHINA MORNING POST - BID TO CLOSE THE STABLE DOOR AFTER HORSES HAVE BOLTED - Rong Xiaoqing Updated on Jul 17, 2007 Rebecca, a nine-year-old brown mare, waited patiently for customers in a line of horse-drawn carriages on a street next to Central Park. The air was heavy with farm-like odours. Such sights and smells have been part of New York for as long as the city has existed. But Rebecca and her peers are the subject of almost constant controversy. In the past six weeks, two carriage horses have bolted on busy streets, hitting cars and injuring themselves and the drivers. These incidents triggered a protest at City Hall last week as activists against animal cruelty called on the mayor to ban horse-drawn carriages. "These horses have to work in extreme heat and cold. They work long hours and they are overloaded. It's very cruel," said Elizabeth Forel, of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, set up early last year. Although the city does have laws to protect the 200 or so horses in the carriage business, such as mandating breaks when the temperature is above 32 degrees Celsius or below minus 7 degrees, enforcement relies on a volunteer inspector who has to witness violations to issue a summons.

Jill Weitz, who co-founded the coalition with Ms Forel, says she has seen many cases of cruelty when the inspectors are not around, including a carriage driver pulling the head of his drinking horse from a water bucket because customers were waiting. "I heard him saying, `I'll show him who's the boss'." She also says she saw horses forced to work in a recent heat wave. When the horses get injured, they often end up in slaughterhouses in Canada or Mexico, Ms Weitz says.

But people in the industry paint a different picture. "These horses are taken care of very well. They are happy, and they sometimes even get an attitude," says David Sansoucie, of Chateau Stables, a company that provides carriage services. He says the 16 horses his company hires out work eight hours a day and get nutritious food and health check-ups every week. And the driver always carries a bucket of about 5 litres of fresh water. "Too much water will give a horse bad indigestion," he says. Although he does not oppose the city's regulations, Mr Sansoucie says a horse's body temperature is normally higher than that of a human, and 32 degrees is merely "balmy" to them. "Most people who don't understand horses feel sorry for them. When they see a horse dropping his head down they'll say, `Look, he's sad'. But actually he's only sleeping." Attempts to ban horse-drawn carriages have failed in the city council before. And Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is known for treating his guests with rides, considers the horse-drawn carriages an important tourist attraction. Ms Forel says the coalition has collected more than 10,000 signatures backing a ban, and many of them are from tourists. Back at Central Park, Rebecca is moving forward in the line with her driver, a student from Cornell University who only wants to be identified as Jonathan. He says working with Rebecca is how he pays for his tuition, and if Rebecca gets sick, he is out of work. "So of course I take care of her. We are team colleagues," Jonathan says. (this paper is the most established English language newspaper in Hong Kong and circulates in Asia.)

horse sideCARRIAGEHORSESNYC - That Beijing, capitol of China, a country infamous for it's horrific treatment of animals, should deem the carriage horse industry worthy of banishment, illustrates just how New York City degrades itself by allowing the continuation of this unspeakable trade. That the mayor and city council will not put an end to this civic embarrassment and it's attendant cruelties, is unfathomable. Is it acceptable to we New Yorkers, for our four-legged creatures to be treated any less kindly than in other cities of the world? Does it not tarnish our reputation for so-called sophistication? Yes where is the ASPCA? The same ASPCA whose current administration came to town promising to assume the vanguard in abolishing this abhorrent industry. I wonder: Could the current A leadership look into the reproachful eye, should he return, of stalwart equine defender and ASPCA founder, Henry Bergh, without blushing? posted by Bob Pomilla

Some of the many entries to the NY Times blog 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.

horses at workOfficials in NYC believe that horse-drawn carriages are part of what attracts tourists to the city. The reality is that tourists, horrified by the traffic, think it's cruel to force horses to dodge cars or stand next to cars that are whizzing by. The heat in NYC is unbearable during the summer. The city is a hot box. Walking outside is like being in a steam room. Pity the poor horses who are forced to endure the heat so that greedy carriage drivers can line their pockets. Bravo to the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages and PETA for taking a stand against animal abuse. - Posted by Glickman / Florida XXXXXXXX

Dependent animals, already past their dotage, forced to pull heavy carriages, deprived of water most of the day, sentenced to stand 24 hours a day, most of those hours in dreadful traces and the rest in claustrophobic stalls, why are we even talking about this? The carriage industry, like child labor, casts an ugly pall over well-intentioned citizens and it ought to be banned. It does none of us - except for the unreported cash influx to the owners - any good. Want to see Central Park without walking? Hire a pedicab, powered by people who choose to do the work. E - - Posted by Elizabeth XXXXXXXX

I now live in WV, but lived in Manhattan for almost 30 years. I was constantly dismayed, horrified and upset at how I saw these horses abused, misused and overused. I have been around horses for many years, owning two in my youth and I know what is humane and inhumane treatment of a horse - the treatment of these horses is outrageously inhumane, including their living conditions (I have seen photographs of their stalls and it is, by any standards, woefully unacceptable. When I moved out of the City and bought a farm in Upstate New York I tried very hard to offer a retirement home for one or two carriage horses, to no avail. It would seem that these horses are not made available for retirement when age or injure render them useless to the carriage industry, but rather they are shipped direction to auction which invariably means they are bought for slaughter (for human consumption abroad). I have been told by those involved with the industry (wishing to remain anonymous for obvious reasons) that these horses are sent to auction to avoid any possible bad publicity. Shipping them directly to auction avoids the embarrassment of any harness wounds or other evidence of abuse. Shame on Mayor Bloomberg and New York City for allowing this archaic atrocity to continue. - Posted by GINA FRANKLYN XXXXXXXX

I challenge the fine citizens of NYC to ask themselves how much they really know about the carriage industry before lobbying an opinion. For instance, did you know that the horses are not supposed to be out working when the temperature rises over 90 degrees? Have you seen them working in higher temperatures yet this summer? I have. How about the stables? How many of you have ever taken it upon yourselves to locate and examine the facilities in which these horses are kept when they aren't carting tourists through heavy exhaust-laden traffic in the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter? I urge you to do so. You will find that they are stacked into stables in multi-storied, run-down buildings all night, every night. What happens to the horses when they are blind-sided by an automobile? Are they whisked away to safety and tender, loving care? I think not. Have any of you researched whether NYC carriage horses are slaughtered when they are no longer profitable? How can all of the agencies that are currently charged with regulating the industry do so effectively when the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing? And at whose expense are the misconceptions about this industry? The horses. Open your eyes. Horses are not city-dwellers. Horses are not meant to fall in line with an endless array of smoky tail-pipes. It doesn't matter whether you believe PETA, or the ASPCA, or the DCA, or anyone else. The need for a ban is obvious. - Posted by Jackie XXXXXXXX

Tour busses on CPSIn post #67, Gina Franklyn states that rather than for owners to place horses with people who care about them, "horses are sent to auction [by their owners] to avoid any possible bad publicity." This may well be true. Sara Whalan, the founder of Pets Alive, an animal sanctuary in Middletown, NY, passed away several months ago. Sara's sanctuary was the home of several former carriage horses. This is not meant to disparage Sara in any way, but in order to continue to take these horses, she could not speak out about the industry or the condition of the horses when she received them. This was her choice and I know that she often felt frustrated - like she was stuck between a rock and a hard place. While a contract with the devil may help a few horses, it does nothing for the overall picture and the majority of the horses that do not get helped. Those who have chosen to take this course are obstacles to real progress - for all the horses. The other side of this coin, can be found on our other web site - Copy and paste the following link into your browser - ch-hap.shtml - and read about Lilly O'Reilly, former NYC carriage horses - see her before and after pictures. It is a disgrace. Read about Monty, former Boston carriage horse. Those black marks are not natural but scars from a bridle that fit too tightly for too long. These horses were obviously not rescued directly from the owners for all the reasons Gina mentions. Lilly (and we checked her origins from the engraved number, which was still on her hoof) was sent to auction. And read about the giant, Teddy - his fear to this day of any men. In their new life, these horses must feel like they have died and gone to heaven. - Posted by Elizabeth XXXXXXXX

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 standardbreds 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. 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? - Posted by Jill XXXXXXXX

Someone once suggested to me that greyhound racing is essential in order to ensure the perpetuation of this elegant breed, and that furthermore, if we didn't keep the dogs on the track, many of them would be killed (as there are not enough homes for all of them). But that's the nature of progress, isn't it? Some short term pain is often necessary for long term gain. In this case, perhaps not all the carriage horses would be adopted - perhaps some would have to be euthanized and unfortunately, some would probably be conscripted elsewhere (as carriage horses, as field laborers) - but the misery of NYC's carriage horse industry would be over. For how long do cruelties have to be perpetuated before we admit that nothing is going to change - that as long as NYC has a carriage horse industry, the horses will be treated cruelly - and that it's simply time to hang up our spurs (even if it means a bad end for some of the current carriage horses)? -As much one of the earlier poster's empathy with factory farmed animals is admirable, we should be able to do two things at once - champion their cause and ALSO that of carriage horses. -It is true that as healthy as walking is, some people are unable to walk instead of take some form of transportation. And there is also the issue that a slow turn around NYC can be a very nice alternative to the buses and subways. But what about pedicabs?? Unlike horse carriages, pedicabs provide the only surefire way to know that the living creatures powering the vehicles are not being forced to do it against their will. - Posted by doglove XXXXXXXX

horse pulling carriageRe some of the posts above concerning the possibility of the horses being in Central Park - the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages and PETA consider this industry to be inherently inhumane - we are working to bring it to an end - much as they have done in Toronto, Paris, London and even Beijing - not to create "bigger cages." Besides, Central Park has landmark status. No additional building is allowed so this is not even a possibility and certainly not something for which we would even consider fighting. The horses would STILL be exploited as horse slaves, working between the shafts of their carriages for nine hours straight and seven days a week. This is not just about their stabling conditions - but about so much more. It is about their worth as sentient beings. This issue did not just begin in the last few years - it has been going on for some time. Its history was about compromise - and it got us nowhere. We think post #48 is the most sensible solution and will bring NYC into the 21st century - not mired in the anachronism of horse-drawn carriages. - Posted by Elizabeth XXXXXXXX

POST #48 - July 11th, 2007 7:33 pm This is 2007. This is a major congested city. Horse drawn carriages being steered through the streets is wrong. The horses have no paddock, etc. etc. etc. Yes, the are "just" horse to most - but where is the humanity? Let's approach it this way shall we: 1. Remove the horses and arrange for proper retirement. 2. Replace the carriages with electric vehicles in which tourists can tour. These vehicles can be referred to as "horseless carriage." How novel. This will be environmentally friendly and humane. Tourists will flock to ride in this funky, jeep like car (think safari/Fantasy Island), with canopy electric vehicles. 3. Mr. Trump can sponsor the business. 4. Advertising can be put on the vehicles. 5. It's a win win situations for animal lovers and politicians. 6. You can also give the carriage owners first option to the electric cars. Picture it people - a fleet of environmental friendly Trump electric cars serving the tourists, the environment and animal lovers. There has got to be a reasonable and smart person who likes this idea - Take this idea and run with it. I could never have an audience with Bloomberg or Trump. A connected person out there should be smart enough to see that this is a brilliant idea. M. Bolan Westchester, NY - Posted by Mel

Metro - New York
July 19, 2007 - Horse and Buggy must Stop Now: Regarding "PETA wants Horses off City Streets" - (7/12): It's time for the horse and buggy to go. It's not quaint, romantic or fun when an overworked horse dies on the street. We need to change our perception of what is considered a good pastime. The horse-and-buggy business must stop now. Percy Harbour NYC

July 20, 2007 - Horses Not Fit for Extreme Weather: - Regarding "PETA wants horses off city streets." (7/12) In this great city, in the 21st century, do we really need animals hauling us around for entertainment? We ought to be ashamed for allowing the horse-drawn carriage industry to thrive at the expense of suffering animals. How many folks have stood in the fierce cold or desert-like heat for 10 hours at a time and thought it bearable? It is not bearable for horse or human - and we ought to hang our heads in horror that it has been permitted and even encouraged. Judy Purcell

Metro highlighted the following excerpts from both letters on the days they were printed. The excerpt was made the size of a column and it stood out. "It's not quaint, romantic or fun when an overworked horse dies on the street. We need to change our perception of what is considered a good pastime." Percy Harbour on the horse and buggy. "We ought to hang our heads in horror." Judy Purcell on the horse-drawn carriage industry

what you can do
More pressure and more exposure is needed. Please continue to 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 -

"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