Monday, January 09, 2006

Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride Concerns: Do Horses Really Belong Pulling Heavy Carts on Hot, Loud, Dusty, Dirty Smog-Filled Streets?

Horse Drawn Carriage Rides definitely is an issue of concern for most large cities. As logic and the facts state, horses most certainly die in city street situations. Put an animal that has no business in a large city next to noisy, cars with angry drivers and exhaust, and the next logical step is an accident. At the very least, drivers should be courteous to the hoses themselves as they obviously weren’t meant to be in such a situation and cannot move as quickly as a motorized vehicle.

Two articles on this issue are listed below.

A great fact sheet can be found on carriage horses at

Some of the facts mentioned:

The smoke and exhaust fumes from urban traffic are dangerous for horses. Horses’ nostrils are usually only 3 to 3 1/2 feet above street level, so these animals are “truly ... living a nose-to-tailpipe existence,” according to veterinarian Holly Cheever.

Because they are constantly walking and standing on hard streets, “lameness and hoof deterioration are inevitable” in carriage horses, Cheever says. “The problems are worsened by the inexperience of the gross majority of the owners and drivers, who are either incapable of recognizing lameness or are unwilling to suffer financial loss by removing a horse from service for a few days.”

City streets pose other hazards: One horse died when she stepped on a manhole cover in Manhattan and was electrocuted. According to news reports, she “was alive for a few minutes after she absorbed the shock.”

The air temperature recorded by the weather bureau can be as much as 50 degrees cooler than the asphalt temperature.

Crash renews horse-drawn carriage concerns


Horse was euthanized, driver critical

NEW YORK (AP) -- It's difficult to imagine a less hospitable place for horses -- and the risk of taking the big, shy animals onto the city's frenetic streets became apparent in tragic fashion this week.

A horse pulling one of Central Park's graceful carriages to a stable became spooked in traffic Monday night and galloped down a busy street until it collided with a car.

The seriously injured horse was euthanized. The carriage driver, Carmelo Vargas, was hospitalized in critical condition.

Such accidents are not frequent, but they underscore the difficulty of keeping horses in the city, animal control authorities said.

"I think it is a less than ideal environment for them," said Joseph Pentangelo, an agent with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and a former mounted police officer. "There are air horns. There are loud air brakes on trucks and buses."

Efforts to ban horses from city streets have been trumped by tradition and the delight tourists take in seeing the old-fashioned carriages circle Central Park.

Activists for years criticized the conditions at some of the stables serving Central Park. Conditions, however, have improved in recent years, ASPCA senior vice president Lisa Weisberg said.

The ASPCA brought a team of veterinarians to New York to study carriage horses last year and found them to be in "much better shape" than they were 10 years ago, she said, in part because they have been moved into more modern facilities.

Horses are banned from Manhattan streets between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. on weekdays and may work pulling carriages in Central Park or adjacent streets only until 9 p.m. After that, they can leave the park, but they must avoid zones with heavier traffic.

Carriage drivers must complete operators' courses and have liability insurance to be licensed by the city. Vargas received his license to operate a carriage in May, the Department of Consumer Affairs said.

The stable where his mount was kept has a clean record with no recent health or safety violations, city officials said. The facility was locked Tuesday afternoon.

Last year, two horses ran loose in traffic after a driver hit their coach, toppling it and setting them free. In October 2003, two hansom cabs carrying four passengers tipped over after their horses were spooked in Central Park.

Carriage horses are given blinders and tested for their temperament, Pentangelo said, but "there is only so much you can do. Asking an animal to deny every instinct they have, every day, is difficult."


Second Horse Carriage Article

Animal Rights Activists Want Horses Off Streets

Monday's Hansom Cab Accident Fires Up ASPCA

Kerri Lyon

(CBS) NEW YORK Anyone who's ever driven behind a horse and carriage knows how slow and frustrating it can be.

But as we all found out this week, it can also be dangerous. After Monday's shocking incident in which a horse got spooked, threw his driver from the carriage and took off down 9th Avenue before crashing into a station wagon, animal rights activists want to see some changes.

The ASPCA wants to see hansom cabs banned from city streets.

"Our suggestion is they belong in Central Park," Ed Sayers of the ASPCA said. "Certainly you can have a very nice horse and carriage program in Central Park and keep those horses out of traffic."

Late at night, hansom cabs are allowed to take passengers down 5th Avenue and around Times Square.

Drivers say it would hurt business to take away that right.

"At night there's nothing around here for tourists to come around here in Central Park," carriage driver Kieran Kelly said. "I think there's enough laws as it is. It's hard enough to make a living as it is."

It's impossible to keep horses off the streets altogether. Their stables are close to Times Square and that's where the hansom cab was headed Monday

"We advocate on behalf of the animals so the business issues will have to be addressed," Sayers said.

Changing the law would require city council approval and so far, no one has taken up the cause.

The driver from Monday's accident is in an induced coma at St. Vincent's Hospital.

The horse, Spotty, was euthanized.

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