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There has been yet another carriage horse accident in New York City. On June 9th, a Belgian draft named Pumpkin was waiting at the hack line at Central Park South when something spooked him and he bolted, charging into the park, dragging his driverless carriage – coming at people. A tourist jumped into the carriage trying to control him. His driver was on the sidewalk and obviously not paying attention – something we often see.
Mets outfielder Matt den Dekker, who was in the area, tweeted ”Almost got ran over by a horse carriage running wild through the city.” What would have happened if he had been trampled and injured or worse? Would it have been a game changer?
NYC continues to dodge the bullet but it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed.
Mayor deBlasio promised to ban the inhumane and unsafe horse-drawn carriage trade his first week in office and many people voted for him based on that promise. They also voted for him because of his progressive agenda. He quickly learned that this was a very complicated issue and a ban could not happen in a short time frame. He has said it will happen by the end of the year. And we believe him. But our patience is running thin.
Bill deBlasio is the first mayor who gets it, who has expressed compassion for these horses and a real understanding of the safety issue. He is a true advocate who has had a lot thrown at him by the right wing press – but he continues to be resolute and steadfast on his promise.
That’s what a true leader does. However, we want to impress upon the Mayor that he needs to take this more seriously and to ultimately accept the responsibility for these accidents because they are happening on his watch.
Because action was not taken early, the other side’s untruthful rhetoric now defines the issue – at least to the gullible who believe everything they read and hear. In the present onslaught of media bias against the pending carriage horse ban, which started in September after deBlasio won the Democratic mayoral primary, the rationale for a ban has been ignored. We’ve not been given equal time in the media and when we’re given any time at all; our comments are often manipulated in favor of the drivers.
The NY Daily News has been the worst offender by far, not even pretending to be objective. They even went so far as to set up a petition against the ban, handing out stickers on Central Park South telling people that the Mayor plans to send the horses to slaughter to be made into dog food. They have seemingly made this a crusade against Mayor deBlasio’s progressive agenda, using the horse-drawn carriage issue as a metaphor. To responsible journalists, it should beg the question of what exactly is going on – what has prompted this blitzkrieg. But they have been quiet on this subject.
So when Quinnipiac does a poll in this kind of biased environment, it should not be taken seriously. Months and months of propaganda and brain washing have been fed to the public – the very people who participate in the poll. Prior to this time, every poll taken showed between 75 and 80% of respondents in favor of a ban.
“It’s the Horses, Stupid”
What the media has lost sight of in their quest to bring down Mayor deBlasio, is that the very nature of the horse makes this majestic animal unsuitable to work on the crowded streets of NYC. Although gentle by nature, at 1,500 to 2,000 pounds, they can become uncontrollable, unwitting weapons when spooked. As prey animals, their nature is to respond to upsetting stimuli in a flight or fight manner – just as Pumpkin did. Horses are predictably unpredictable and there is no such thing as a “bomb proof” horse. (“It’s the economy, stupid” – was a campaign phrase coined by James Carville for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. It means, it was indeed the economy – just as – this issue is about the horses and their nature.)
A NYC carriage horse begins his or her day by getting “suited up” with the heavy equipment required to pull a carriage. As prey animals, a horse’s eyes are located on the side of their head to allow them to see who is coming from behind. To work the streets of NYC, a horse must wear blinders to block his peripheral vision. Often, the horse has a check rein to prevent him from lowering his head. The horse is confined between the shafts of his carriage with very little freedom of movement and can legally work up to nine hours a day, seven days a week. Much of the time he is stuck on the hack line, tied to his carriage and bored – behavior that is often manifested by repetitive stomping.
The opposition says they are “work horses” –but I beg to differ. They are entertainment horses in a frivolous, and out dated business.
Think of how you would feel if you were confined like this for hours at a time, with no freedom to even scratch an itch; that in order to perform your job, your vision would be restricted and, in some cases you’re given tranquilizers to become calm enough to work on the street.
Unfamiliar sudden movements or loud noises will often trigger an innate anxiety in a horse, which may lead to panic and fear. Generally in the city, as what just happened with Pumpkin, a horse will bolt into traffic, not caring where is he going or who is in his way. He wants desperately to distance himself from the source of danger. The horse is terrified for his life.
This is the main reason why City legislators must act responsibly and shut down this business. NYC has dodged the human death bullet many times with spooking accidents. It is only a matter of time before it happens here.
Prior to yesterday’s accident, the last reported spooking accident that occurred on NYC streets happened on April 23rd. In a recent period of less than two weeks, there were six spooking accidents around the country that were reported in the media. This is addressed in the Horse Sense newsletter.
Spooking = Death
In 2010, in Salzburg, Austria, a French tourist was knocked down and trampled by a runaway carriage horse who spooked and bolted. She died from her injuries. In 2007, there were two incidents each involving 5-year old girls and carriage horses that ended badly. In Tucson, little Brielle was sitting on a horse in a parade when several carriage horses behind her spooked. She was knocked from her horse and trampled to death. Later that year in St. Petersburg, Russia, another young girl fell from a carriage and was killed when the horse spooked and bolted.
It is past time for this, unsafe and cruel trade to be shut down and the horses sent to sanctuaries to live out their lives with dignity.
We implore Mayor deBlasio to take action now to begin this process.
Lead image source: Courtesy of Elizabeth Forel