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Horse Carriage Fight Heating Up In New York City, But Horses Are Cared For By Owners

January 22, 2014

I admit to having nostalgic and even romantic ideas about the horse carriage trade.  Perhaps it is due to the fact I live in a historic district where carriage stoops can still be found on my block.   Perhaps it is because I often read of a time when horses and carriages were the means of transit.  Perhaps it is because it harkens back to a time when things appeared to be simpler and more serene.

Whatever the reason may be I am drawn to the controversy brewing at near full steam over the idea that New York City Mayor de Blasio will fulfill his campaign promise to banish the Central Park carriage horses.  I have weighed in on this matter before on this blog.

There is no doubt some serious money is behind the effort to chip away at the carriage industry.  But the teamsters are also cash-heavy and the carriage drivers should not be discounted for the clout they carry.  If I were de Blasio I would want labor behind me as the city transitions from the past to the future leadership that can be his for many years if he dodges these no-win and truly asinine ideas.

My words were not mere fluff as it was reported that those who want to end the carriage-horse trade contributed more than $1.3 million to help elect Mr. de Blasio and council members who supported a horse carriage ban.  They have a wiz-bang idea for a replacement to this industry, and that is to replace all the horses with a fleet of antique-style electric cars.

Oh be still my heart!

For all the rhetoric about the ‘abuse’ the horses are taking comes the need to add some facts to the story about how the horses are treated and respected.

Mr. Malone counters that the horses get their exercise by pulling in the park. And while they do not get to graze daily, horses take a mandated vacation to a farm for no less than five weeks each year. In 2010, the Council enacted legislation to improve the horses’ working conditions and increase drivers’ pay. 

Horses are not allowed to work in temperatures below 18 degrees and above 90, but that does not factor in wind chill, humidity or pavement temperature. Their stalls must be at least 64 square feet. At all four carriage horse stables in Manhattan, each stall has a rubber mat and an inspection certificate, citing recent veterinary checkups. There are sprinklers in all the stables, fans and water hoses for drinking.

Dr. Harry Werner, a veterinarian in North Granby, Conn., and a past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, said he was asked by the carriage horse association to make an assessment of the horses’ working conditions in February 2010. Dr. Werner said that he and three other veterinarians paid their own expenses to observe four of the five stables then in operation.

“Based on that inspection, I found no evidence whatsoever of inhumane conditions, neglect or cruelty in any aspect,” Dr. Werner said last week, adding that he does not take a position on carriage horses. “The demeanor of the horses was, to a one, that of a contented horse.”

“What happens is that people anthropomorphize,” he said. “They see a circumstance where they wouldn’t want to work in it, and think a horse wouldn’t work in it.”

Mr. Hernandez said he takes his cues from Teddy. If he does not want to work that day, his head will be down. In that case, Mr. Hernandez would take out Shaggy, 18, another horse owned by Mr. Collura. The owner’s third horse, Rocky, also 18, has been on extended vacation for the last six months in Pennsylvania.

2 Comments
  1. January 23, 2014 12:29 PM

    That money is indeed a fact as campaign finance records report.

  2. January 23, 2014 12:22 PM

    All that fantasizing about money may have gone to your head. You should do your homework. Also, does it not bother you that AAEP proudly supports horse slaughter, and the status quo? Do you wonder if he has at heart the best interest of the horses?

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