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

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12 August 2007 - Vol. # 44

Volunteer ** Nellie McKay ** A Day at the Hack Line ** Accident Report ** Other Cities ** What You Can Do

next Saturday - August 18th

volunteers - august 2007 - #3The 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, August 18, 2007 WHERE: midtown - information will be given to volunteers. TIME: 1-5 PM.

If you would like to participate in our postcard campaign, please contact us. Tell us how many you want and provide your mailing address. The card is addressed to Mayor Bloomberg and asks him to ban the horse-drawn carriage industry. We ask that you have your friends, family and coworkers sign the card and mail it in. To date, we have sent thousands of post cards to Mayor Bloomberg from New Yorkers and tourists alike. You may read more about it in a previous newsletter by clicking on the link above.

NOTICE: we are looking for a place nearby (Central Park South) to store our materials from week to week. We have a portfolio with posters and a pull suitcase. If anyone can offer a space, please contact us at We would pick up the material on Saturday about 1:00 and bring it back between 4:00 and 5:30.

Debuts New Album at Joe's pub - August 22nd.
If you should happen to come by our table one Saturday on 5th Avenue near Central Park, you might see a young blond woman asking people to sign a petition, handing out literature or holding one of our posters. That would be Nellie McKay - singer, song writer, Broadway actress and animal activist. Nellie is a big supporter of our campaign to ban horse-drawn carriages in NYC and comes out to join us any chance she gets. She has worked hard to get many signatures on our petitions to Mayor Bloomberg and her participation is always welcome. Nellie is performing at Joe's Pub on Wednesday, August 22nd - see below for more information. - August 6, 2007 - Joe's Pub presents Nellie McKay in two concerts on Wednesday, August 8 and Wednesday, August 22 at 11:30PM. "Performer, songwriter and activist Nellie McKay is set to release her new album 'Obligatory Villagers,' the follow up to 'Pretty Little Head,' one of the best-reviewed records of 2006," state press notes, "Like its predecessor, this 9-song odyssey was produced, written and arranged by McKay - only this time, an ensemble of jazz greats including Phil Woods, David Liebman and Bob Dorough were enlisted to a studio deep in the Pocono Mountains. "In addition to scoring the movie-musical The Amazing True Story of a Teenage Single Mom, McKay has been active in supporting get-out-the-vote efforts, the campaign to close Columbia University's primate laboratories, and working to ban carriage horses throughout the country. She is a contributor to The Onion and The New York Times Book Review and recently won a Theatre World Award for her portrayal of Polly Peachum in the Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera."

Tickets ($20) for either of the Wednesday concerts at 11:30PM can be purchased by phone at 212-967-7555, online at or in person at The Public Theater Box Office from 1-6PM and at Joe's Pub from 6-10PM. Joe's Pub is located at 425 Lafayette Street (between East 4th and Astor Place) NYC; adjacent to The Public.

Horses + Drivers + HLE Officers
August 2007 - hot summer day hack lineWe had crazy weather last week in NYC -- ranging from unbearably hot and humid to flooding and tornados to chilly. Several days last week were very hot with high humidity - unbearable for horses and people alike. The drivers, of course, were out on the hack line - sq-u-e-e-z-ing out that last fare or two before being sent back to the stables. The drivers always claim to love their horses - but we maintain that anyone who really loves their horse would not have forced him or her to pull a cart full of lazy ignorant tourists in such hot and humid weather. It is clearly inhumane. But it is all about money to them.

On Thursday, one of our colleagues went to the hack line on Central Park South to monitor the situation. She took the temperature at the asphalt - it was 100 degrees, while the temperature was 90 degrees at the level of the horse's head. The law requires that horses be sent back to their stable when it is 90 degrees according to the ASPCA's super duper, special state-of-the-art modern thermometer, which of course did not hit 90 degrees when our friend's did.

driver at hack lineThe ASPCA's Humane Law Enforcement Officers come to the hack line to enforce the laws dealing with the carriage horse industry. We have observed that they often joke with the drivers and appear to have quiet a cordial relationship. The following is a typical scenario and is what happened on Thursday. The temperature finally read 90 on the "special" ASPCA thermometer. There were many carriages out that day. Sometimes there can be as many as 68 - the maximum. The officer ordered some of the drivers back to the stables. He allowed those who already had passengers to complete their rides. This is legal. And it is the game the drivers play with the HLE officers - If you can catch me - I will be forced to go back - but just try.

Our colleague went on: "It appeared that the HLE officer had issued an order to return to the stable and some of the drivers left. Some continued to return from their last fares, but they did not leave and waited to pick up new passengers. I told them that they had to go back, but they insisted that they could stay and noted that the ASPCA car had gone" The license numbers of these carriages are 1085, 1101 and 1063 - all associated with West Side Livery - and 1008 - origins not known. West Side Livery is the stable that housed Spotty - victim of the January 2, 2006 accident in which he was later euthanized - owned by one of the Riccobono brothers. Lorenzo Riccobono, owner of the carriage, has a record of animal cruelty convictions in Pennsylvania. It was also the home of Juliet, the elderly, sick horse who collapsed and was beaten by her driver last September only to die in her stall some time later. Nice bunch of folks. When it appeared that the carriages had gone, our friend asked the HLE officer it he had really ordered them back to the stable this time. He sarcastically responded "they're all gone, we have the park to ourselves".

other cities do better
water trough - 2There are two separately located water troughs in Central Park from which the horses can drink - the cleanliness and purity of the water is questionable. As the drivers enter the park, they pass the trough and may allow the horse to drink - or they may not. I once saw a driver let his horse drink but only for a second. He pulled her head back and turned to his passengers saying "See - I show her who's boss." We never see the drivers with any water for their horses. It has been rumored that the reason they do this is to prevent the horse from urinating - and contributing to the bad smell in the area.

In St. Louis the "Drivers carry 10 gallons of water in their carriages to give to and splash on their horses. That supply is replenished throughout the night. After a three-hour shift, the horses are hosed down and returned to their fan-cooled stalls."

Horse spooked by jack-hammer
Cal?he crashes in Old Montreal - Sue Montgomery - The Gazette - Tuesday, August 07, 2007 A spooked horse pulling a caleche raced down Notre Dame St. W. in crowded Old Montreal today, tore through a red light and smashed into a transport truck, sending the cart's driver hurtling through the air and onto the sidewalk. Tour bus driver Jacques Belisle had just unloaded his Italian passengers onto the sidewalk when the horse went racing by. "It was just like in a movie," he said. The truck driver, a shaken Abderrahim Rabii, said he was driving south on St. Pierre St. and stopped at the red light at the corner of Notre Dame. When the light turned green, he turned left onto St. Pierre and the caleche ran the red light, slamming into the front corner of his eight-wheel Kenmore truck. "The driver, a woman, was very young and she just flew through the air," he said. "It happened so quickly." There were no passengers in the caleche, which are very popular with tourists in Old Montreal. The caleche driver was taken away by ambulance, but didn't suffer any serious injuries. The horse, which continued east on Notre Dame St. before coming to a stop, wasn't injured. But the caleche was ruined - all four wheels were broken and the horse's harness snapped. A woman working at a nearby shop said the horse was spooked by the sound of a jack-hammer at a construction site on Notre Dame St.

town's plan challenged by FoA Animal Activists Protest Buggy Rides By ANN MARIE SOMMA Courant Staff Writer August 10, 2007 WETHERSFIELDAn animal rights advocacy group is challenging the town's plan to offer horse-drawn carriage rides in historic Old Wethersfield. The Darien-based Friends of Animals has publicly urged the Wethersfield tourism commission and local and state officials to stop what it considers an " exploitative and archaic practice." "People generally think of horse-and-buggy rides as romantic and beautiful, but the bottom line is it is exploiting animals. It's forcing horses to pull people on the street. The horses wouldn't be doing it if they had the choice," said Nancy Rice, the group's outreach coordinator. The town plans to use a $25,000 state grant to offer horse-and-buggy rides in the historic district beginning in the fall. The hope is that the carriage rides will attract more tourists and promote downtown commerce. State Sen. John Fonfara, D-Wethersfield, pushed for state money to offer the rides. Rice said the group plans to urge its members to write to the town council and state lawmakers to voice their opposition. Rice said she wrote Gov. M. Jodi Rell a letter this week asking her to revisit the state grant. The group is considering demonstrating in the historic district. Town Manager Bonnie Therrien said the request for proposals prepared for the job asks horse and carriage operators how they intend to care for the horses. The proposals will be passed to the state Department of Agriculture's animal control division for review. The bids are due Aug. 20. "We are very conscious that the animals are treated correctly and humanely," Therrien said. Contact Ann Marie Somma at

what you can do
thirsty horseMore 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. You can discuss the issue in general; the heat; lack of water; how other cities have banned the industry. NYPost -; NYDaily News; Metro - AM-NY - NY Times -, NY Newsday And don't forget to contact Mayor Bloomberg and your City Council member - even if you already have.

The New York Times blog on Humane Law Enforcement is no longer available for posting but may still be viewed. The NYTimes blog on carriage horses is still available for posting. You are also welcome to post on our carriage horse blog . If you have not signed our online petition - please do so now and forward it to everyone you know. The petition is directed to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYC Council and asks them to support a ban of the horse-drawn carriage industry.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

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