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NYC Bar Association's Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals  
May 11. 2009    

Elizabeth Forel - Presentation in part on Misconceptions of the public   


It is assumed by many that the horses must live in Central Park.  The reality is quite different.  These horses live in multi storied stables on the far west side of Manhattan between 11th and 12th Avenues – there is a stable on 37th and 38th St., 45th, 48th and 52nd St.  The furthest is about 2 miles away from Central Park   

The horses live in  small stalls – the law requires they be 4 x 10 (yet a recommended size for a large horse is 12 x 12)  - that is 104 sq ft, short for a horse to be able to lie down and sleep.  By law they work 9 hours a day 7 days a week – they go home to their small stalls only to be ready to go out again the next day. 


Even if this is true  – it is only for some of the horses  – it still means that these same horses are working with no break for 8-9 months a year with no daily turnout, which is more important.  In other words the horses are kept prisoners for 8-9 months a year with no turnout, no opportunity to express their equine nature.  And most do not get any break at all.   


From time to time, well-intentioned people think they have come up with a compromise – Let’s just keep the horses in the park – build some stables and problem solved!  Even a NY Times editorial made that suggestion.  We are against horses being worked between the shafts of their carriages for 9 hours a day as horse slaves, with bits and blinders and tack  - not even being able to scratch an itch.  We advocate for the right of animals to live free according to their own terms – as indicated on Friends of Animals home page.

So even if this were possible, we would still be opposed to it for ethical reasons but the idea needs to be debunked.  

So let’s do the math.  Presently, the horses live in cramped quarters in five multi-storied stables that we just saw.  There are over 200 horses.  One would assume that if this were to happen, the city would require that there be state-of-the-art stables built with turnout – something that does not now exist – with 12 x 12 stalls minimum and turnout at 1 acre per horse minimum.  And this does not even take into account storage for hay, carriages, office space and all the related facilities required for a working stable. 

Central Park consists of 843 acres.  The requirement for carriage horse stables would be about 202 acres – approximately ¼ of the park. 


This is a map of Central Park showing that such an     endeavor would require the land up to and possibly beyond 72nd St,   This means that the Tavern on the Green restaurant would need to be relocated along with Wollman Skating rink, Strawberry Fields, the Rumsey Play field, the Central Park zoo – and even the Sheep meadow would be turned over to this venture.  Would the city be willing to take this on for a tiny private industry – sacrificing all of these areas that people enjoy. 

The reality is that Central Park has been a national historic landmark since 1963.  The Central Park Conservancy provides 85% of the operating budget for the park.  It is highly unlikely that this would happen. 

    < from here down would be the new area for the              horses


It is amazing to me that people think that we would even allow something like this to happen – as if we never thought it through.    

This is interesting on several levels.  Some people seem so concerned about what may happen to the horses without being aware of the present situation and what happens to them now.  They see the horses on the street and must assume that they are always the same horses – they never change.  The reality is that about 1/3 of the horses disappear from the Department of Health registry every year – about 70 horses. 

Where do all of these horses go?  The industry would like to have you think that their horses do not go to slaughter – that they are all rescued and live out their lives on an idyllic farm some place.  This is undoubtedly true for some of them, the favorites.  But this is a business and it is not economically feasible to save all of their horses.  70 horses per year in only five years is 350 horses.  Does anyone really expect us to believe that these horses are all being saved?  What is more likely to happen is that when a horse slows down and is not able to make the grade anymore, he or she is sold and the revenue used to buy a new horse.  These horses are commodities first.   

The present law only requires that a horse be disposed of in a humane matter, but it does not provide a definition of what humane means.   It only requires the name and address of the buyer if sold within NYC.  When horses are sold outside of NYC – to brokers and dealers in Pennsylvania or upstate NY or directly to auction – that information is not required.  And a horse does not have to be taken directly to the auctions, instead it is generally taken to a middleman.   

Sometime this past March, we learned of a horse who had been rescued from a slaughter auction on January 19th by a horse rescue in Maryland.  He had a 4-digit number on his hoof, which identified him as a NYC carriage horse.  He had a condition known as Laryngeal Paralysis, where half of his vocal cords ceased opening enough to allow him to breath comfortably. He is not the first horse we have located like this.  Lilly O’Reilly who is on our web site and was a former NYC carriage horse,  was also purchased at a slaughter auction. 

This is Lilly.  She was 200 pounds underweight when she was rescued.  Her engraved ID hoof number was 2711



The bad news is that there is no protection for the horses in the  present law.  As long as there are loopholes in the law, the industry can say anything it wants.  If Intro 658 passes, this issue will be addressed.   

The section of the bill that addresses the disposition of horses in the six month phase out will now require that all contact information of the buyer regardless of where they live, be provided to the DoH within five days.    It also requires that the owner sell or donate his horse to a private individual, a duly incorporated animal sanctuary or animal protection organization,  and that a paper is signed assuring  that the horse will not be sold and shall be kept solely as a companion animal and not employed in another horse-drawn carriage business or as a work horse and will be cared for humanely for the rest of the horse’s natural life. 

Coalition To Ban
Horse-Drawn Carriages

A Committee of the Coalition For New York City Animals, Inc.

The Coalition for
NYC Animals, Inc.

P.O. Box 20247
Park West Station
New York, NY 10025


In memory of
Rescued former Boston carriage horse R.I.P. July 20, 2013

To honor
Bobby II Freedom
former NYC carriage horse previously known as Billy ID# 2873 rescued by the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages and Equine Advocates on June 25, 2010 from the New Holland auctions.

In memory of
Lilly Rose O'Reilly
former NYC carriage horse previously known as Dada ID# 2711 R.I.P.August, 2007