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“Excuse me. We’re collecting signatures to support Intro. 86, which replaces horse drawn carriages in the park with electric energy efficient vintage cars. Better for the environment and no animal abuse. Are you interested in signing?” I muttered this phrase all afternoon as I volunteered for New Yorkers for Clean, Livable & Safe Streets (NYCLASS), an organization dedicated to increasing the quality of life for New Yorkers and our horses through “education, advocacy and legislation.”

There are over 200 horses in New York City working nine hour shifts, carrying carriages that weigh hundreds of pounds, breathing in exhaust, and getting spooked by the taxis and buses. New York has the highest horse-drawn carriage accident rate in the country, and many cities including Palm Beach, Biloxi, Key West, Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Paris, London, Beijing, and Toronto have already banned the antiquated practice. There are two pieces of legislation currently being considered in New York’s City Council: Intro. 92, which bans the carriages and Intro. 86, which bans the carriages, but also introduces alternative opportunities for the carriage drivers. This additional proposal is what makes Intro. 86 a viable legislative option.

It costs the city hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to monitor the horse-drawn carriage industry, and a 2007 audit by the city’s Comptroller revealed that the horses are not adequately cared for. They’re kept in rundown buildings, in tiny stables without enough room to comfortably lie down or move around. The buildings do not have adequate fire protection, some are not required to install sprinkler systems, and the horses are forced to use steep ramps to access different floors. Once a horse hits the streets of New York, his life expectancy is cut in half, he doesn’t receive proper veterinary care, he develops respiratory problems, works in extreme weather conditions, and does not have proper access to water. When the horses are no longer capable of carrying the carriages, most are sent to slaughter. NYCLASS has raised enough funds to safely retire the horses to sanctuaries.

Currently 50% of carriage drivers do not have driver’s licenses and each carriage is only required to carry $20,000 in insurance, compared to the $200,000 required of pedicabs. In the past 16 years, horse-drawn carriages have caused 26 accidents, injuring 31 people, and killing five horses. An additional four horses have collapsed and died on the streets, and countless more have been euthanized. Horses commute every day from their stables in midtown, through rush hour traffic to Central Park South. Anyone who’s ever driven through rush hour traffic in NY knows how stressful it is. Imagine a 1000 lb. animal who is easily scared by cars and buses. It is neither safe nor humane. Frommer’s Guide to New York City lists horse-drawn carriages in its “New York Experiences to Avoid” section.

The carriages slow down traffic, increasing exhaust and pollution around Central Park. The energy efficient vintage cars would be able to keep up with traffic, would follow government safety regulations and would be registered with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. Unlike the horse-drawn carriages, the “green” cars would use meters and be able to accept credit and debit card payments. This would ensure that tourists are not over charged, and would provide a revenue stream for the city. It is less expensive to maintain one of the cars than it is to stable a horse. The cars would allow drivers to give more rides in less time, carry more passengers at a time, and charge per individual. Replacing the carriages with the cars would lower the drivers’ overhead, increase their revenue, and allow the city to develop 150,000 square feet where the stables currently stand, which according to NYCLASS, “would result in estimated incremental city-tax revenues of nearly $2 million.”

New York City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito sponsored Intro. 86, stating that “The time has come to put an end to the use of horse-drawn carriages in New York City. The legislation I am sponsoring would provide a viable and exciting alternative to the horse carriage industry. The ‘green’ vintage cars being proposed in Intro. 86 will bring in greater revenue to our City and will make us a leader in eco-tourism.”

This is important legislation that would make a difference in the lives of hundreds of horses, make our streets safer, and improve our environment. Anyone can get involved. If you have a few hours a week or even just a few minutes, here is a list of ways that you can help.

What can you do to help the horses?

  • Spread the word by sharing this article and emailing people you know.
  • Call your City Council Member and ask them to support Intro. 86.
  • Become a Fan of Stopping NYC Horse Abuse and NYCLASS on Facebook
  • Non-New Yorkers can write to Mayor Bloomberg reminding him of all the other cities who have banned horse-drawn carriages, and asking him to please support Intro. 86. Make sure to tell him that you would be more inclined to come visit NY if you could take a ride in one of the eco-friendly vintage cars.
  • Become a member of NYCLASS or volunteer for them.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to help your friends and coworkers who love animals and oppose the cruelty of horse-drawn carriages to also make connections between this and other unnecessary forms of animal exploitation that are prevalent in modern society (such as food, clothing and entertainment).

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29 comments on “The Truth About Horse-Drawn Carriages in New York City”

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Francesca
2 Years Ago


Being an avid horse lover and a horseback rider since the age of five, I myself thought that the horses in New York City were abused and neglected. However, my point of view was changed drastically when I educated myself in one eye opening afternoon. These people who call themselves " animal activists" know nothing about the care and basic needs of horses and their singular argument is that horses should be "running free. " That is a quote from the flyer that they shove with anger into the face of every passerby. I think it is safe to presume that the activists do not know what it takes to keep a horse happy and healthy and the cost needed to take proper care of these animals. If we were to abolish the cabbies from New York, most of these horses, now working happily, would be sent to slaughter houses. Because you know how many people want to pay for a horse that is "running free?" Nobody. THIS is the truth. The stables where they reside are immaculate. Nicer, in fact, than most barns in VT where I ride.
These activists need to find another target for their passion against animal cruelty. The race track is a good place to start...


Reply
J
2 Years Ago

"suffice to say it will never happen" It happened. Finally.


Reply
Stacey
5 Years Ago

I am an equine professional. I was once a farrier/blacksmith and am currently a trainer and riding instructor. Having my income depend on my 4 legged friends, my equals, my working partners I object to the statements from the proposer. I make sure my horses are vetted, have farrier work done, supplements when needed, proper fitting tack and so on. I've been in the business for over 20 years now and seen horses from back yard to city, non-working and working, broodmare to stallion, trail horse to race horse. The most commonly abused horse is the horse owned by people who know nothing about horses. Every last working horse I have ever met has been well cared for, has had proper hoof care, proper vetting. When one depends on the health and well being of their working animal the likely hood of abuse drops significantly. I can not say the same for back yard horses. These are not the days of Black Beauty. My NYC counterparts most assuredly feel the same and attend to their horses with the same care and concern. A question to the readers; How I wonder, has the author come about the information that the NYC carriage horses have not gotten proper veterinary care? Try to get that information from a racetrack vet, or a private vet. See if you can get that information from your neighbor's family physician. You will have about the same luck. Where has the author gotten the statistics? How old are they and in what method were they gathered? Who drew up the statistics? In addition to those questions, where are the sources? Another few items. Horses travel up and down steep grades regularly. It is not uncommon for horses living in MN, KY, CO, CA, NM, UT, WY, IL, IN, HI, AK, NC or any other state that has mountains or foot hills. Mustangs can do it, so can a draft. A ramp, as long as the footing is not slick is no problem for any size horse that is fit and healthy. One last comment; Has any reader of this blog and replies been put out of a job? How did it make you feel? Did you spend months years maybe looking for a job with little to do in the mean time that made you feel worth while? Again, how did that make you feel? Horses have feelings and can be depressed. A horse that is out of a meaningful job becomes board, listless, out of shape, depressed, and in some cases angry. Why? because al live needs to have meaning and purpose. A life working with horses is meaningful, purposeful. It is a wondrous thing to wake up in the morning, go to the barn and work with and for your horse(s). That feeling goes both ways when a horse is your partner in work. A car does not nicker to you when you walk in the garage, a car does not look forward to spending the day with it's handlers, a car has no soul. I certainly would not pay to ride in an eco car with a carriage, driver and fine draft at the ready. If this topic is of concern to the reader I implore the reader to spend a day with a driver and horse. Look at the horse with opened mind and see if you would sign this bill after spending the day with these fortunate souls. Talk to a mounted police officer and ask them how their horses like the work. You may find out something that surprises you.


Reply
Jane
12 May 2011

Excellent!

michaleenflynn
18 May 2011

WOW, Stacey, what a terrific post. Please come and join our FB page! http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_116185128409729

Karen Seligman
29 Oct 2011

Please...all of you pro carriage people can argue all you want. Bottom line here...YOU'RE NOT A HORSE! I love the way people always "speak" for animals. So unless your horse is Mr. Ed...I wouldn't be so sure of your assumptions..you really think a horse loves working 9 hr shifts and shlepping a carriage weighing hundreds of pounds as breathing in and choking on those lovely fumes from cars, trucks, and buses? I'm sure they can't wait to start each workin' day.

Informed Horse Lover
5 Years Ago

Steve Nislick of NYCLASS cares nothing about horses -- or animal welfare for that matter. He just wants the land that the carriage barns are sitting on to develop more buildings and parking lots (hello, it's easy to google Edison Properties and figure it out). Anyone who thinks this is about animal welfare is gullible and needs to check the facts. How can Liubov Grechen regurgitate lies on a website that is supposed to be "ecologically ethical"? Carriage driving in NYC is highly regulated. Please check your ethics of spreading capitalist lies for Nislick. Why doesn't he give his "ban carriage horses" lobbying $ to an equine rescue instead -- IF it is really about animal welfare.


Reply
Jane
12 May 2011

He wants to build parking garages so MORE people can bring their fossil-fuel spewing vehicles into NYC rather than use mass transit. How is this environmentally-friendly? Perhaps if NYCLASS came out against the use of motor vehicles in Manhattan and against more parking garages to encourage such use it would have some credibility. Suffice to say, that will never happen.

Edward
5 Years Ago

http://www.youtube.com/user/horsesinnyc Worked to Death


Reply
michaleenflynn
29 Apr 2011

Drama queen much?

abigail
5 Years Ago

This article amounts to nothing more than libel. you would think people would do SOME amount of research before writing about a subject on their blog.....yuk.


Reply
Julia
5 Years Ago

You are very WRONG here. As a LOVER of horses, I know there is absolutely NO animal abuse any where that I have seen - and I watch a LOT. I imagine that there might be some somewhere - since there are bad priests, bad doctors, bad teachers, etc, among the good, there may be bad some carriage owners out there. Just as you cannot judge any profession by the bad few, the same is true of carriage driving. MOST (all that I have seen) carriage driving businesses are caring of their horses, and their horses enjoy the work. I know of one company where the horse did NOT enjoy the work, and the horse was not forced to continue. He was responsibly given to someone who loved him - he was NOT sent off to auction. Your emotions are based on faulty prejudice, and you have believe the WRONG side here. You would rather believe someone (Steve Neslick from NY-CLASS) who wants to get rich out of the destruction of this business?! You really think he's inventing all these lies because he cares about the horses?! But will get rich when they're gone?! Oh, Please.


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miguelmiquel
02 Mar 2012

even if the horse did go to auction( a legitimate part of the horse trade ) there is nothing cruel about auctions as it insures the horse can go to the highest bidder , hence someone with the money to take care of the horse.

Edward
5 Years Ago

i see most of the carriage drivers posted here. what are they afraid of? the truth?


Reply
Jane
28 Apr 2011

As Jack Nicholson famously said in A Few Good Men - "You can't handle the truth," which is that NYC carriage horses are highly regulated, well-cared for animals. You're getting your info from a Trump wannabe.

tami
11 May 2011

No we are not afraid of the truth We are trying to inform you of the TRUTH. We know our animals Most have worked with horses our whole lives what about you???

miguelmiquel
02 Mar 2012

the truth is never something to be afraid of and in this case the truth is those horses are well loved and taken care of . if nothing else out of pure greed to take care of an investment. the carriage drivers are posting here so the real truth get's out and not that of a very vocal minority who knows nothing about horses or their care, but yet pretend to be able to make statements about the industry.

adminonegreenplanet
5 Years Ago

While we welcome and encourage debate, hate speech and personal attacks will not be tolerated and such comments will be moderated. Please keep it civil, people. Thank you.


Reply
Jane
5 Years Ago

Well, Liebov, isn't it wonderful for you to have charming and well-informed supporters like tihis?


Reply


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