Bobby rolls carriage horse

Although there are currently no slaughter facilities in the United States to process horses for human food, it is not illegal to truck American horses to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered for meat.

" /> Bobby rolls carriage horse Although there are currently no slaughter facilities in the United States to process horses for human food, it is not illegal to truck American horses to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered for meat.">
Welcome Green Monsters! We're your online guide to making conscious choices that help people, animals and the planet.
Download food monster: the biggest, baddest, yummiest vegan food app!
Buy the #EatForThePlanet book



New Council Bill Will Prevent Carriage Horses From Going to Kill Auctions

Bobby rolls carriage horse

On the morning of June 24th of last year, I turned on my computer to see an e-mail that immediately caught my attention.

The subject line was “ex-carriage horse in kill broker lot PA.”

The e-mail asked if I knew anyone who could help to “save this gentle gelding from slaughter” since they had only two days until Saturday at 6 p.m. to find a secure home.

If one was not found in that time, the horse would return to the slaughter pen.

His description read “Bay gelding ex carriage horse has license plate on front left hoof quiet, gentle broke to ride/drive.” He had already been purchased by a kill buyer but a Good Samaritan was trying to find a home for him.

Knowing the urgency, I quickly went into high gear and reached out to several people to see who might rescue this horse. Fortunately, Susan Wagner of Equine Advocates accepted the challenge. With all the paper work involved, it was not until Monday that the horse, who later became known as Bobby II Freedom, arrived at their sanctuary in Chatham, NY.

HORSE SLAUGHTER IN THE US:  For years, polls have shown that the majority of Americans are opposed to horse slaughter.

The horse has a special place in our history. We don’t eat him and we don’t like to see him slaughtered. And we do not tolerate seeing him abused.

Although there are currently no slaughter facilities in the United States to process horses for human food, it is not illegal to truck  American horses to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered for meat that is shipped to countries like France, Italy, Belgium and Japan where it is considered a delicacy.

In 2010,  53,104 horses from the United States were sent to Mexico and 59,693 were sent to Canada to be slaughtered.   So far this year, almost 70,000 horses have been exported for slaughter.  This information was reported by the Equine Welfare Alliance.

Kill auctions like New Holland in Pennsylvania and Unadilla in upstate New York, to name a few,  are the first stop on the way to the slaughter facilities.  These two are convenient to NYC carriage owners.  Auctions are hazardous places and the horses are in danger of being injured, killed, becoming ill – and being purchased for slaughter as Bobby was.

The NYC carriage industry has often been accused of sending their horses to auction, but we did not have proof until now.  This was a careless transaction by the owner where the horse was dumped at a public auction – New Holland – with a visible 4-digit ID number engraved on his left front hoof.  But it was good fortune for Bobby and was the means I used to track him back to West Side Livery stable, one of four carriage horse stables in NYC.

These kinds of transactions are usually not so open. Over the years we have heard rumors that this ID number is sanded off when the horse is taken to auction so there is no way to identify a NYC horse.

WHERE DO ALL THE HORSES GO? Since 2005, I have been analyzing Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DoH) horse registry lists, which I obtain through the Freedom of Information Law. At any given time, there are approximately 200-220 registered NYC carriage horses in the system. My analysis has revealed that at least 1/3 of the carriage horses,  between 60 and 70, who are in the system one year, are not the following year. And because this is a snap shot comparing two dates, which are usually about one year apart, it is probably on the low side since some horses come into and leave the system in that period of time.

The carriage horse owners claim that they find homes for all their horses.  But the law is written in such a way to support a closed door secretive industry. If they do find homes, then the industry should not mind a system where they need to provide records and do the best thing for the horses.

The existing law requires that if a horse is sold within New York City, the seller must provide the name and address of the buyer to the DoH within ten days.  Horses sold within NYC are generally sold within the industry to another driver.  NYC is not a horse buying town.

However, if the horse is sold outside NYC, the only requirement is to let the DoH know that the horse is no longer in the system.  There are no protections and no controls for the horses.

It is no mystery why the existing law does not regulate horses being sold outside of NYC.  This way, the owner can make his living in a system that has as few controls as possible on his business.  He can sell the horse to another carriage horse business, to work on an Amish farm or bring the horse directly to the slaughter auctions.  Or he might even retire the favorites to a sanctuary or his own farm if he has one.

But the horse has no protection and his fate is entirely at the discretion of his owner.

LILLY’S STORY:  The late Lilly O’Reilly was a NYC carriage horse sold to a carriage business in Boston in 2006 via New Holland.  She was fortunately rescued along the way and her story can be seen on the web site of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages.  She was 200 pounds underweight. She was also very depressed and distant and did not come out of her shell until she was adopted by an equine veterinarian and went to live with another horse and a rescued donkey who quickly became her pals.   She only lived a short time after that, but at least she was loved and wanted. Both she and the other horse had gotten sick but she did not recover.  Her caretaker said it was due to her previous hard life on the streets.

PUT UP OR SHUT UP:  The new bill, Intro 670, introduced by Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, finally has the horses’ welfare at heart. Owners will be required to sell or donate their horse to an individual, animal sanctuary or animal protection organization that must sign an assurance that the horse be kept solely as a companion animal, will not be sold, will not employed in another horse-drawn carriage business and will be cared for humanely for the remainder of the horse’s natural life.   Records with the buyer’s contact information must be submitted to the Department of Health.

We hope that the City Council will support this bill and understand that these horses must be treated with kindness and respect.

Bobby Rolling Image Source: Jim Craner

Want to read more posts like this? Sign up for our newsletter below!​

Browse through some recent posts below:

Disclosure: One Green Planet accepts advertising, sponsorship, affiliate links and other forms of compensation, which may or may not influence the advertising content, topics or articles written on this site. Click here for more information.

21 comments on “New Council Bill Will Prevent Carriage Horses From Going to Kill Auctions”

Click to add comment
6 Years Ago

The Horse and Carriage Association of New York City just announced a partnership with Blue Star Equiculture, a non-profit horse retirement farm. According to both the carriage horse association and this retirement farm, any NYC carriage horse in need of a retirement home will be welcomed at Blue Star Equiculture. Since the HCANYC apparently has made provisions to retire NYC carriage horses at a nice farm in the countryside, why would Elizabeth Forel or anyone else claim that these horse are indanger of going to slaughter? Also, why are they so determined to try to dictate to which farm and where these privately-owned horses are retired? Isn't this a very un-American position, to try to tell someone else where and with whom they may retire their own horses? There is nothing "wrong" with carriage and working horses continuing to have light exercise as riding and driving horses after they retire from daily jobs in the city. Horses, like people, need exercise to remain fit and healthy. Carriage and working horses are used to routine, and to having lots of human care and companionship. To force these horses into a life of idleness, removed from daily close contact with humans would be ---dare I say it?--- CRUEL. Horses have NOT been bred to be "companion animals" like many breeds of dogs, and of course, cats. Horses are working animals, and the draft breeds especially have been bred to have a strong work ethic. A draft horse suddenly finding itself "put out to pasture" often becomes depressed and goes off its feed. Or worse, they develop vices such a s cribbing that can cause colic, or they begin "weaving" or pacing back and forth mindlessly along the pasture fences. Some horses become so distraught that they begin biting at themselves or rubbing against trees and fence posts until they cause open sores. Still others undergo a personality change and can even become too agressive toward other horses. There are countless stories of retired fire horses who still tried to answer the fire alarm when they heard it, even though they had been retired because of age or unsoundness. There are still other stories of retired delivery cart horses, who escaping their pastures through a carelessly unfastened gate, perfectly followed their once daily routes, stopping at corners and at all the houses where deliveries were made -- and then returning to the stable all by themselves. Imagine having spent your whole life surrounded by the bustle of the carriage stable, and the constant attention of your owner, driver and the stablehands. Would you want to find yourself suddenly "put out to pasture" with only other horses- many of then strangers to you- for company? I know my horses would not like that. And I DO run a horse retirement farm, unlike Ms. Forel and many of the other anti-carriage horse extremists in NYC. I run a small not-for-profit retirement farm for six horses at a time. I have run this farm since 1999. I have been riding or dirving horses since I was five years old. My late husband and I bred and raised successful show horses. I think I know a thing or two about horses and horse keeping. My vet has confirmed that even "retired" horses, as long as they are healthy and sound, benefit from continued use and exercise. The idea that working horses should be forced to become "pasture puffs" and that this would benefit their health is preposterous. In addition to receiving ample nutritious feed, grooming and handling, and vet and farrier care, all of the horses here are still ridden or driven to give them needed exercise, and a change of scenery provided by getting out and about town. The horses here help with farm tasks such as harrowing, seed planting, cultivation and fertilizer spreading. One of the horses, a trained carriage horse, now retired from daily service and work as a camp horse, does serve as our wedding carriage horse. She draws our carriage for weddings and other special events. The fees she helps earn are used to care for her and the other horses here. There is NOTHING WRONG with horses being ridden or driven. There is nothing wrong with horses helping to earn their keep. Please do not be fooled by these people into thinking that standing around in a pasture all day with nothing else to do is good for horses. It is not. These retired horses are DOMESTIC animals who have been bred to work, and have been trained to allow people to drive or ride them. Anyone who has been around domestic horses knows that most of them genuinely like their human caretakers. They look forward to interaction with us. They enjoy the attention and grooming. And they really love the treats we dispense. They benefit from exercise that being ridden or driven provides.

6 Years Ago

The solution is to outlaw the carriage rides.

Cindy Wines
29 Feb 2012

This bill would be so wonderful for the horses and they deserve to be tracked and gone to a good home where they could live out their hard lives in peace. I pray this goes through. If it does not, what is wrong with mankind? SO cruel, they are just numbers on a hoof. Poor things. I can't believe that over 100,000 horses have been shipped to Canada and Mexico. It is as bad as eating dog and cat meat. And if it was a race horse, the chemicals they are ingesting. Hope they all get cancer.
6 Years Ago

Change to a Pa. welfare program called 'urgent'... Posted on Sun, Oct. 2, 2011 HARRISBURG - Lawmakers are awaiting release of an audit that they hope will explain how the state Department of Public Welfare approved payments for chandeliers, a home bowling alley, and other seemingly extr....

Let's be honest
6 Years Ago

They have no access to pasture?! Are you kidding me? And you expect me to believe that these people care about their horses?

23 Sep 2011

yes - that is absolutely true. No turnout. The legal requirement for stalls is only 60 sq. ft. It used to be 48 sq. ft until last year. So the horses work legally up to 9 hours a day and go back to their stalls where they stay until the next day and then they go out again. All of the stables are warehouse type buildings on the far west side of Manhattan and have stalls on upper floors. This means the horses have to go up a steep ramp for access, which is hard on arthritic horses, which many of the older ones are. It is not OK to put your horse in this kind of a situation. It means you don't care. It means you have more of an interest in making money off the back of your horse and will accept inferior conditions. It also means that you are wearing blinders as you stick with what you have -- defending the status quo. This means - small stalls, no turnout for 47 weeks a year, working in very heavy traffic for 9 hours a day, 7 hours a week - and i could go on. Please visit our web site at for more information. Look at the 15 reasons why this industry should be shut down.

Eva Hughes
23 Sep 2011

Apparently you have not done your research. NYC carriage horses most certainly do have access to pasture, much more so than many expensive horses in other disciplines EVER see. We care so much for our horses that we house, feed, vet, shoe, bathe, groom, exercise, and vacation them. What do YOU do for a horse?

Elizabeth Forel
6 Years Ago

It is just amazing to me how childish and sophomoric the carriage drivers are with their comments – making it a personal war against me … spending countless hours on the computer thinking up new lies to throw out there about all of their critics. Suggesting that I would do something illegal or unethical because this is the way they live their life – this projection is so transparent. Today it’s me, tomorrow it’s Donny, or WAR, or Nislick or 212HP. Making up names to supplement their own name so they can comment several times to make it seem like they are many people. Pathetic. Can you come up with anything else to say about me or have you said it all.? To anyone who is watching it clearly shows that you do not have a good argument. Nada. This issue is about a business that many if not most New Yorkers want to shut down. It is time. It is past time. The fact that there are no controls over where the horses end up is something that should have been addressed a long time ago. If all of you really cared about your horses – if they really did end up someplace good – then you should not be averse to providing documentation. You would not run kicking and screaming that it is your property and you can do what you want. You would be proud to let people know that your horse ended up in a good sanctuary. Intro 670 is actually the A section of the electric car bill – Intro 86 - and the Avella and Rosenthal state bill – but now it is a stand alone bill. Since the Council is taking its time deciding about Intro 86 – the least they could do is make sure that all horses get a good retirement. This carriage business is not accountable for a lot. You exploit horses to make money. You want it your way or the highway, which is how you got yourself into this situation to begin with. If this had been a pristine above board business that treated the horses with respect, you would have been under the radar – believe me. But instead, it is made up of people who break the law anytime they think they can get away with it, which is often; pay a fortune for lobbyists and the Teamsters to keep the status quo and to cover up the truth. You should be making plans to close up shop. Why? – because things are moving ahead whether you like it or not. Friendships are being made and deals are being done and there is not a thing you can do about it. It is all happening at the highest of levels. This bill and this latest issue is just the icing on the cake.

23 Sep 2011

"pay a fortune for lobbyists and the Teamsters to keep the status quo and to cover up the truth." I believe that it is the ASPCA who has shelled out God knows how much money now to their own lobbying group, which is NY-CLASS. Go look it up. What is there to "cover up"? Don't you think that SOMEONE in all their unannounced inspections of the carriage horse stables would be able to provide PROOF of this "cover up"? Why does Tony Avella and everyone else who hates the carriage industry feel justified to LIE about the conditions in which the horses are kept? It's a FACT that all carriage horses live in box stalls at least 7 feet wide, and here's Sen. Avella on TV saying horses live in stalls "this wide" holding his hands 3 feet apart. If the supporters of the carriage horse business are pointing fingers at the libel of all these groups - NY-CLASS, CBHDC, 212HORSEPOWER, PeTA - it's because you're ALL equally complicit in your refusal to tell the truth about BASIC FACTS. It's not "paranoid" or "immature" - it's a REASONABLE response to your irresponsible and libelous actions. Yes, the carriage industry is being defensive - they're DEFENDING the horses and their homes. Speaking of lobbying... The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages a subcommittee of a 501c4 lobbying group, right? You DO know that the COIB frowns GREATLY on city employees appearing before other city agencies as lobbyists, right?

6 Years Ago

hrslady, just curious, why do any of us bother with these radicals? It reminds me of something my father used to say. "Don't argue with Goldfish they are so stupid they shit in the same water they drink" Where we all need to concentrate our efforts is with the reasonable people in the world. For instance, at each and every one of my special events I take the time to educate my riders about the radical animal rights movement and what they are trying to do to the horse and carriage industry. Remind people of their true agenda, and let them know about the well funded dupe they are being fed via the TV to raise money for a cause that is intentionally a switch and bait tactic. Educate the public, they are who we need to be talking to. These self righteous tunnel visioned fanatics ARE NOT main stream society.

6 Years Ago

City Council it is high time you stop looking the other way. Enough with giving in to the carriage horse industry and it can be replaced with electric cars and NO one will miss seeing these poor miserable horses surrounding the park!!!

Donny Moss
6 Years Ago

Until NYC's elected officials take these horses off the city streets and out of harm's way, the least they can is ensure that they are retired instead of slaughtered.

Heather Smith
21 Sep 2011

All well and good but who will be paying for , raising funds, providing these "retirement " services for these animals ? Will each of you who lobbied to have the Bill passed be donating your time or money to the care and well being of the animals? And how are these retirement farms going to be funded? How will the horse owners be compensated?

21 Sep 2011

Oh, Donny, Donny, Donny... When are you EVER going to provide any factual evidence to back up your claims? 100,000 horses in the US get slaughtered every year, and they AREN'T carriage horses. NYC carriage owners place nearly all of their horses in private retirement homes, ready for second careers as family pets, trail horses, therapeutic riding horses, etc., etc. Those that they don't get placed through retirement programs like those at Blue Star Equiculture or the New York Humane Society.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Follow us on

Do Not Show This Again


Submit to OneGreenPlanet

Terms & Conditions ×