Battle over horses heats up in New York

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Carriage horse waiting outside Central Park in New YorkAnimal rights activists and carriage drivers in cities across the United States are in the midst of a heightening battle over horses in urban areas.

Many activists maintain that horses do not belong in cities, claiming that the carriage horses work long hours in all weather conditions, are forced to breathe exhaust fumes and risk getting hit in automotive traffic. Carriage drivers counter that they are horsemen making a living through a valuable tradition.

Last week in Chicago, six horses were seized from the JC Cutters carriage company when they were found living in a tent that provided little protection from the winter weather. Animal control inspectors reported that the horses were in poor condition and did not appear to have sufficient food or water available. The city had previously denied JC Cutters a renewal of their carriage license due to several violations, including the horses’ housing not being up to code.

Some cities, including Las Vegas, Toronto, London and Paris have already banned horse-drawn carriages from their streets. Other cities are considering bans, and nowhere is the controversy more heated than in New York City.

City councilman Tony Ayella is spearheading the effort to officially ban carriages from New York, citing accidents that have caused at least three equine deaths and injured several human passengers within the last 18 months. Carriage industry supporters say that banning the horses entirely would slash hundreds of jobs while the unemployment rate is already reaching a record high.

One solution promoted by Councilman Daniel Garodnick is to replace the carriages with replica Model T automobiles. These cars would be either hybrids or fully electric to keep them eco-friendly. Proponents of this plan say that carriage drivers could simply transition into new careers as automobile drivers. Carolyn Daly, spokeswoman for the Horse and Carriage Association, rejected this idea, stating that the carriage drivers “have dedicated their lives to horses.” Additionally it is uncertain whether the cars would have the same appeal to tourists as the horses.

With the closing of the Claremont Riding Academy in April of 2007, carriage horses are the last equines in New York City for recreational purposes. The future of horses in New York City hinges on the Council’s decision.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Imagine a world where there were no cars, just fields & fields of lush green grass, a world where everyone loved & cared for horses, no horse was unwanted, abused, or uncared for, a world with jobs & money for everyone & everyone cared & loved each other. Too bad thats not our world right now huh?

  2. Perhaps it’s time for us to make a decision about what makes life valuable – not just for us, but for our animals, too. And then we should be prepared to pay for these things enough to make them work properly. Examples: art, music, education – and last, but not least, cool and romantic things like horse-drawn carriages for city tours!

  3. I think that the horses may need a few change of rules to ensure their safety and well-being but there is nothing wrong with a working animal. I bet they’re happier than pasture ornaments. I hope that they don’t disappear.

  4. I think that people need to understand that these horses are not pets, they work for a living. Granted there should be standards that the people who work with these animals should meet, but these horses would probably not even be alive if they did not have a job to do. Instead of taking away these horses jobs, and potentially placing them in a worse situation (Starvation?) maybe we should instead look into making their work environment safer, and educating the people of new york and other cities with carriage horses as to how to behave around the horses. Big job, i know.

  5. I am so torn. I think of all the horse crazy kids that go on a carrige ride and such and fall in love with horse. I also see the man driving the carage. Not making alot of money but enjoing what he does and how he loves his horses and they love him. But then again there are always ppl who are just in it for money and such. Als horses hoovs go bad there backs ach adn all sorts of stuff. I guess it is best to ban it.

  6. Horses do not belong in the middle of the city. They are grazers, their feet and skeletal structure are not made to stand on concrete for hours at a time. This is a cruel tradition and should be banned in every city. There are other ways people can make a living without subjecting animals to suffer.

  7. every day I look out my window to see these horses. they look very unhappy and unhealthy! Working long hours, breathing the exhaust from all the vehicles and looking half dead! They also have a horrible place to go home to after a 12 hour work day! How can we torture these wonderful animals? I refuse to look out my window on CPS. And I will do whatever I can to stop this torture to all those beautiful horses! shame on us for allowing this to go on for so long!

  8. As being part of my family’s NYC stable,established well over 45 yrs,I’d like to let the normal public to know,that there are 5 stables in NYC.All horses are licensed,inspected regularly and get the best care money can buy.Our hay deliveried d come to us every 4-5 wks,600-700 bales of hay at 1 time! We go to feed mills ourselves and buy fresh feed bi weekly,senior feed as well.Our bedding comes in a 53 ft tractor trailer,our blacksmiths and vet make house calls to our barns routinely.We have a equine dental tech that comes regulary and examines the horses teeth.They are on a work schedule [speaking for my own stable] work normally a 2-3 days a wk shift,for 6-8 hrs as a normal day.The most a few of my horses work a max of 4 shifts per week,at the most 6 months a yr! These horses in general work2-4 6-8hr shifts a week with a half a yr off,which can be easily proven by daily logs.Urban horses have a very comfortable lifestyle that the public doesn’t even know about.If there are any real horse owners,they’d wonder why we stay in business with the tremendous bills we shell out constantly to maintain our horses.Obviously its a labor of love and part of who we are,when you spend more than you make,thats the true horselover in you!

  9. I have been a horse owner Forest Hills,NY for the past 25 years. I am a firm believer that the Carriage Horses in NYC are more than fairly treated. I know some of the Carriage Horse owner’s personally and they love their horses and make sure they get plenty of food and water. Also the horse do not work very hard. Most of their day is spent just sitting around waiting to take a lovely ride thru Central Park. The most important issue of what will happen to these poor carriage horses if they get banned from the streets of NY. Whom will take them?? Does PETA and the other Animal Rights activists just think someone will take them and they will live on a farm somewhere? Well dream on..because the reality is most unwanted horses get sold to slaughter and shipped to Canada or French and become chopmeat for the French..In this economy who has the money to take horses for free??? What is everyone thinking!! Just continue to let these horse do their job and continue to be a lovely reminder for tourists in NYC. Also the ASPCA should continue to monitor that the horses are well cared for and do not work in over 92 degree weather. Thank you.

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