Carriage-Horses and the Soul of the New York City: Have we destroyed the charm?

Christine Murphy

For some, the vision of a horse-drawn carriage is romantic, with a charm that cannot be matched.

“Horses have walked the streets of New York since the seventeenth century—Broadway was actually carved by them—and for generations they’ve been cherished mascots of tradition, reminding us that for all the ways the city changes, it never completely burns away its layered soul of New Amsterdam hustle, Revolutionary-era imperiousness, and Gilded Age Image for second blog postgentility.”-New York Magazine

             But the reality is that once we stop and think about the horses used in this industry, it’s downright cruel. Should these animals have to endure intolerable conditions purely for our entertainment?

The New York City Administrative Code has regulations Continue reading

Horse-Drawn Carriages Are Wrong

Margaret Maigret

Maybe it is the ridiculous outfits that they have no idea they’re wearing.  Maybe it is the fact that I live near one of their “stables” by the West Side Highway– that location is unnatural enough for me, let alone an animal. Or maybe it’s because whenever you see them, they’re walking, walking, always walking.

For one or all of these reasons, horse-drawn carriages in New York City have always struck me as inherently and blatantly wrong. I am not a “horse person.” I did not grow up with horses, I never begged my parents for one, and I know next to nothing about them.  But I do know that I get a distinct feeling when a horse-drawn carriage passes by: guilt.

Maybe that guilt is because I accept them as a part of the city, without ever investigating the answers to very natural and obvious questions. Why are there so many horses in New York City? How often do they get out to pasture? Aren’t they ever afraid of the cars? Aren’t drivers ever afraid of them? Would they have any interest whatsoever in walking that many miles a day if there wasn’t someone making them? Why are they dressed up like circus animals? As always seems to be the case, I feel like I am on the outside, looking in at the animals when they clop by.

That guilty feeling is kind of ironic, considering it is the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene who happens to be in charge of monitoring and licensing New York City’s horse-drawn carriages and stables. Yea. The only thing that makes less sense than that is that the Department of Consumer Affairs is the co-supervisor of this operation. In 2007, an audit done by New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., found that:  Continue reading

NYC Carriage Horse Panel on 2/23

David Cassuto

More from the NYLHV email:
2/23 Panel Discussion: Protecting Animals and Humans: The Past, Present and Future of Horse Carriages in NYC

Since the 1970’s, New York City residents and animal protection organizations have advocated to protect horses used in the carriage industry and ensure public safety; however, the dangers created by animal-pulled vehicles in the streets of a major city threaten the safety of both people and animals. Horses, which weigh more than 1,000 pounds, continue to get spooked and collide with cars and pedestrians. They collapse on the streets. They die prematurely in stables. They suffer from punishing pavement, extreme weather conditions, and a lack of water.  Continue reading

League of Humane Voters Hit With a Stiff Fine (with a note on “animal rights”)

David Cassuto

The League of Humane Voters of NYC  just got hit with a 6 figure fine for failing to register as a lobbying organization or file spending reports while pushing for a ban on carriage horses in NYC.  I know nothing of the backstory here and am a firm believer that lobbyists should be registered and monitored.  So, if LOHV ran afoul of this regulation, then it received a deserved comeuppance.  However, word on the street is that the smack-down is also some payback from City Council Speaker Quinn, with whom the organization has locked horns in the past. Perhaps more details will soon emerge.   Continue reading

The Horses Aren’t the Only Ones Wearing Blinders

Elizabeth Bennett

business-man-wearing_~dpr0002Strolling along Central Park South, one is overcome by the rancid smell of horse urine and manure.  Looking up, there are ornate carriages that mimic fairy tales and majestic horses who would love to go for a stroll.  To many, this is picturesque and the perfect addition to a romantic getaway in New York City.  But if you look closer… you will see that most of these horses look scared, tired, injured, and just want a break from their nine hour workdays.

There has long been public outcry against horse drawn carriages in New York City.  Numerous protests, dangerous accidents, and the death of countless horses have not been enough to convince City Hall that the time has come for these rides to end.  Horse drawn carriage rides have been banned in many cities in the United States and various countries and New York City remains behind the trend.  It seems to me that it would be common sense that these horses must be in pain and that they surely could not enjoy pulling a carriage along a busy, uneven street full of loud noises, speeding cars, and flashing lights, as this clearly goes against a horse’s nature.  However, many do not stop to think about this before boarding their magical, romantic carriage ride.  This is not to say that these people, many of them tourists, are bad people who care little for animals- many of them likely love animals and are drawn to this form of entertainment for that purpose, not thinking about how cruel the practice really is.  As with most forms of animal cruelty, the cruelty part is usually as well hidden as possible.

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