NOT SO ROMANTIC
The True Story Behind the Carriage Horse Industry in New York City
By Elizabeth Forel
HORSE NATION ? FALL 2006
The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages believes that the horse-drawn
carriage industry is an anachronism and has no place in the 21st century,
particularly on the crowded and congested streets of New York City. Horse-drawn
carriages constitute a danger to people in vehicles, on bicycles and on foot.
They impede the flow of traffic, particularly with respect to emergency
vehicles. The horses are forced to work in dangerous, unhealthy and unnatural
The Coalition was formed in January 2006 in response to one of the more
hideous traffic accidents involving a carriage horse.
On the cold and wet evening of January 2, 2006, Spotty, a young horse who had
only worked as a NYC carriage horse for a few months, was on his way back to
this stable when he unexpectedly ran out of control and threw his driver (who
ended up on a coma). Perhaps spooked by a loud noise, and still attached to his
carriage, Spotty wildly galloped several blocks before crashing head-on into a
station wagon. He was seriously injured and later euthanized.
There had been numerous other carriage horse accidents over the years, but
this event was the deciding factor in turning public opinion against the
industry. London, Paris and Toronto have all banned horse-drawn carriages.
The carriage horse trade in New York City has long been considered a
politically protected institution. Politicians have accepted the industry as a
tourist attraction without delving into its actual popularity. Over the years,
animal welfare groups have tried numerous times to improve conditions for the
horses ? mostly to no avail. The status quo changed after the January 2nd
The accident also prompted the creation of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn
Carriages, an organization made up of several groups and individuals, with two
goals ? to pass legislation to phase out the carriage horse industry and to find
good homes for the horses.
Every weekend, the Coalition engages in outreach near Central Park and the
hack-line, obtaining petition signatures from both tourists and NYC residents.
(the petition is directed to the Mayor and City Council.) The response has been
overwhelming. Tourists tell Coalition activists they have never seen such sad
horses and it spoils their trip, while New Yorkers confess that they are glad
someone is finally doing something about the dangers inherent in the carriage
To learn more about and to sign the Coalition?s petition, please visit
COALITION ACTIVITIES & ACTIONS
The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages has received quality media
coverage in the widely read daily newspapers New York Newsday and AM-NY, as well
as an interview on ?Henican and White? of WOR Radio, and additional coverage in
the New York Sun. Particularly because of the article in AM-NY, a popular paper
freely given away at subway stations and in newspaper boxes throughout NYC, many
people are now aware of the plight of New York City?s carriage horses.
The Coalition?s press release and coverage prompted WCBS TV Channel 2 to do
an online poll on May 12 asking ?Should horse-drawn carriages be banned from
Manhattan streets?? The results of that poll that the Coalition presented to
City Council members indicated 77% in favor and only 23% against such a ban. In
addition, The Coalition for New York City Animals, which is the founding member
of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, was instrumental in persuading
Council Members Gale Brewer and Leticia James to withdraw their sponsorship of a
bill that was lobbied hard by the Carriage industry and would put the burgeoning
Pedicab industry - their competition ? out of business. Visit the Coalition?s
web site to read a draft of legislation that would effectively put an end to the
horse-drawn carriage industry in New York City.
ABOUT THE COALITION
The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages is a coalition of five founding
member organization and several individuals. The Coalition depends on volunteers
and donations from caring people like you to enable it to succeed. Funding is
needed for advertising, campaign materials, research and to launch its Expert
Witness Fund. For more information, visit the Coalition?s web site.
The Coalition for New York City Animals, a 501 (c ) 4 not for profit
corporation, is accepting donations on behalf of the Coalition?s efforts. You
may send your donation to the Coalition for New York City Animals, Inc. PO Box
20247 Park West Station, New York, NY 10025 ? or you may donate online by credit
card through Paypal via the Coalition?s web site
Elizabeth Forel is an activist and director of the Coalition for New York
City Animals in New York City. Along with her editorial, additional information
from the Coalition?s to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages? web site was used in this
Return to NEWS
Your Comments are Welcome