Hazards of the Horse-Drawn Carriage IndustryPublished July 28, 2011
Flickr User robonline
Despite their majesty, the popular tourist industry of horse-drawn carriages yields many hazards to horses that have been shown to put horses in danger.
Since I was a little girl, I have been passionate about horses. But as I lived in Manhattan, the only contact I had with them was getting a ride on the back of a pony, to get my picture taken. The pony was led by the owner, with me sitting in the saddle, smiling from ear to ear as we trotted up and down the sidewalk in front of the apartment house in which I lived.
I was thrilled when my parents sent me to a summer camp in Massachusetts, where horseback riding lessons were a major activity. At the end of summer, I would count the days until I could return to camp to spend another two months with these magnificent equines that had completely stolen my heart.
But the day a friend suggested we go horseback riding in Central Park changed my life. I wasn’t aware such a fabulous resource existed practically in my neighborhood. So off we went to Claremont Riding Academy, a historic institution that sadly no longer exists.
Even though it had been years ago, since I had months of lessons, I considered myself a skilled equestrian, telling the stable manager I was capable of handling a horse on the bridle paths in Central Park. But the two horses that Judy and I rented for an hour were far more capable of handling ignorant riders. So when we stopped at a traffic light, the two savvy school horses swiftly pirouetted, galloping back to the stable, down the ramp into their stalls with Judy and I clinging to their necks for dear life. Slightly shaken and embarrassed I immediately signed up for 10 private lessons.
I met and got to take care of some of the New York City carriage horses stabled at Claremont Riding Academy. Being naïve and ignorant about the abuse that carriage horses often experience, occasionally I hired a horse-drawn carriage for a “charming” ride through Central Park.
But years later I learned the facts about the horrific plight of these beautiful animals, and the dangers and risks to which they are daily subjected. According to the Horses Without Carriages International website, New York City carriage horses may lawfully work 9 hours in a 24 hour period for 7 days a week- even during the height of rush hour. They stand for long periods of time on hot pavement. New York City asphalt pavements can reach up to a melting 200 degrees with no shade available on the hack line on Central Park South.
According to the Daily News, on Monday night, July 25, three tourists received minor injuries and the 70-year-old driver was in critical condition following the collision of a yellow taxi-cab with a carriage on the edge of Central Park. The horse was knocked to the street and also hurt, but was able to return to the stable. This is the second accident in which carriage horses were involved in less than 10 days. The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages continues its tireless work, seeking legislation to ban horse-carriages in New York City. This industry is both highly dangerous and inhumane. Folks wishing to volunteer or contribute, visit http://www.banhdc.org/.
What is your opinion about carriage horses in New York City? Share them in a comment.