The Horse-Drawn Carriage Debate Continues; Local Groups and Celebrities Call for a Ban

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Michelle D. Anderson
The effort to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City rages on.

Another report of a carriage horse collapse in a two-week span has left animal-rights advocates -- including celebrities such as Glee's Lea Michele and Pamela Anderson -- with a renewed passion to end the use of horse-drawn carriages.

Today the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages (CBHDC) will hold a rally and tourist-hotel crawl on Central Park South at 6:30 p.m.

According to Elizabeth Forel, CBHDC's president since the group's inception in 2006, the latest horse collapse, which occurred Friday, is not the second in two weeks but rather the third. Forel tells us that on Oct. 28, a horse bucked and nearly hit several taxis after racing along 59th Street.

The most recent horse accident occurred Friday, Nov. 4, during the evening rush hour, on 60th Street and Broadway. A horse named Luke bucked, causing his hind leg to get caught in the carriage's shaft, which led to his fall. Witnesses say the horse remained on the ground for 15 minutes.

Just a few days earlier, on Oct. 23, a 15-year-old horse called Charlie collapsed and dropped dead on West 54th Street and Eighth Avenue while in transit to work. The horse had been licensed to work in August. A necropsy conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) found that Charlie suffered from a chronic stomach ulcer and a cracked tooth and had been "suspended pending a veterinary examination."

This summer, a cab rear-ended a horse carriage near Central Park, throwing a woman out onto the sidewalk and the horse onto the street, with the carriage on top of it. Four people suffered injuries.

"Every time one of these accidents happens, I get e-mails from people I don't know," Forel said. "People are very concerned about this."

After Luke's collapse last week, Pamela Anderson, a longtime celebrity PETA affiliate, posted a message on her official PETA Facebook page stating, "Horses do not belong in a congested, urban setting where they are constantly breathing exhaust and sharing the streets with cars, buses and taxis." She included a link to sign a petition started by NY-Class, also known as New Yorkers For Clean, Livable & Safe Streets. The group is behind an initiative to replace the carriages with vintage replica electric cars.

The page includes a YouTube video featuring actress Lea Michele, who has, via Twitter, been asking her fans to sign the petition. Michele, a New York native, also recently asked Mayor Bloomberg to support Intro 86A, a bill introduced by Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito of East Harlem that seeks to replace horse carriages with vintage replica eco-friendly cars.

New York senator Tony Avella and assembly member Linda Rosenthal have co-sponsored two bills to ban the horse carriages. The legislation, S5013 and A7748, will be deliberated when the state legislature convenes in January. (Back when he was a councilman in 2007, Avella proposed a bill to ban the carriages to much opposition.)

Forel said the Oct. 28 horse accident that went largely uncovered by local news media occurred at 11 p.m., just three hours after local groups, including CBHDC, held a vigil for the Charlie. According to an account by North Carolina tourist Philip Powell and his wife, a horse bucked and ran west before making a U-turn and speeding east along Central Park South, racing past pedestrians and cars. The horse eventually crashed with an empty carriage on Seventh Avenue.

New Yorker Scott Graham caught the tail end of the incident and took a picture, which was later used by a local CBS affiliate in a news report. Powell notified the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages after the accident, Forel said.

Forel called it an example of a "spook" incident, which occurs when horse responds to something such as a shadow, sound, or smell and reacts in an unpredictable manner that can be dangerous to people nearby.

"They become unwitting weapons," Forel said. "They act as though their life is in danger. [I] think it's only a matter of time before a person gets killed."

Aside from compromising the safety of pedestrians, which Forel said is the most compelling reason for the ban, animals-rights activists say horses suffer from serious respiratory problems because of the "nose-to-tailpipe" exposure to car pollution, along with lameness caused by standing or walking on hard pavement for extended hours.

Activists also contend that the horses don't receive any pasture time to run free or interact with other horses, nor do they receive adequate care despite two mandatory annual exams. Others say the horse-carriage industry is outdated while nearby residents have complained about the smell and sight of manure.

Current laws require horses to receive five weeks of vacation annually and carriage operators are prohibited from driving the horses in temperatures below 18 degrees and above 90 degrees. While some groups have called for an outright ban, other groups have called to restrict the use of horse-drawn carriages to Central Park to keep the horses away from cars.

Brendan Fearon, a horse-carriage operator veteran who has worked in the business for 30 years, said he is amazed by the amount of energy and attention given to carriage horses and the subsequent call for bans, compared to other issues like helicopter crashes and accidents involving cyclists.

"I don't see anyone screaming, 'Ban helicopters!'" Fearon said.

Fearon, who stations his horse, Dennis, near the General William Tecumseh Sherman monument near Central Park, said the carriage horses are not tortured. "This is far from torture. Torture is what Saddam Hussein did. Torture is what happened in Libya," Fearon said.

Fearon said he spends about 50 hours a week with Dennis, and during that time, he cares for the horse, feeding him apples, brushing his mane, and maintaining his hooves. He said horse owners and tourists approach him in particular because they can tell the horse is well-maintained and also because of Fearon's attire. The Liverpool native sports a black top hat adorned with a multicolored feather and a red vest with gold polka dots.

But Fearon said people have been approaching him more often to express disgust with the horse-carriage industry, and that recently a woman told him he was an "uneducated slob" after they debated the issue.

"Any time you're working with animals in the 21st century, it's always going to be controversial -- especially in a public space," Fearon said. "There are people abandoning horses every day in this country," he said, suggesting that the carriage horses would not be better off in the "back shed of a farm in Pennsylvania."

Proponents of horse-drawn carriages, including Bloomberg and Christine Quinn, say the industry supports tourism and contributes to the heritage of the city. Bloomberg said the horses were often adopted or rescued from dire circumstances and that animal-rights activists should be happy the horses are not abandoned.

"The horses here are supervised by the health department, the A.S.P.C.A.," Bloomberg told reporters on October 26. "They're well taken care of. And most of them wouldn't be alive if they didn't have a job."

Today's rally will begin on "The Hack Line" near the north side of Fifth Avenue.

[manderson@villagevoice.com

Go to Runnin' Scared for all our latest news coverage.


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24 comments
Danielle Agrr
Danielle Agrr

Horses are abused on the streets of Manhattan. The fact that there have been this many accidents and deaths of horses THAT WE KNOW OF is reason enough to ban them. If these drivers really cared about their horses, they wouldn't put them in danger by having them in the street. Why aren't children allowed to walk around in the street? Why don't all humans walk in the street, next to and in front of cars?

SLH
SLH

Donny one simple question do you really care for the NYC carriage horses or are you simply using it as another notch in your platform against Speaker Quinn? 

Danielle Agrr
Danielle Agrr

Donny Moss directed the movie Blinders about the cruel carriage horse industry. I think he cares about the horses.

BigApple
BigApple

I would also like to add that while the horses are not allowed to work when the temperature is above 90 degrees, that unfortunately does not include humidity. So the horses are actually often working in temperatures over 100 degrees on the hot pavement, in the sun, etc. Watching them work, on those days especially, is even more depressing. And that is the best case scenario, when the ASPCA is actually there to send them back. The drivers often work in temperatures, weather, etc that they aren't supposed to, and the aspca often times isn't there. Because you better believe the drivers will have the horses out there until the aspca sends them back, or they aren't making money such as at 3:00 am. I'd also like to add that the drivers are huge bullies and will call you terrible names in front of your kids, call your Mom a c*nt (their words), etc. No one I would ever want to give money to. Oh, and as someone who used to live on Central Park South, THE HORSES MAKE THE AREA REEK OF MANURE. Especially in the summer, the scent is just terrible. We moved partially because of this, and knew many people who when visiting New York would not stay on CPS because of it. I often saw tourists sitting on benches in the park along the road where the horses work, and huge dust clouds of dried manure would wash over them, but I don't think any of them put two and two together that it wasn't dust, it's crap - disgusting!!! I could go on and on about how terrible this industry is, but I'll stop.

GreenThumb
GreenThumb

Don't the carriages have canopies to catch the manure? Anything that falls out should be picked up by the local community garden -- green fertilizer! Save the planet and keep cars out of Central Park!

BigApple
BigApple

Yes, they do have "catchers" but they don't work very well, as you will see/smell if you go to the area. They also look uncomfortable for the horse. And traffic is already allowed in the park, so what would a few eco friendly cars change?

Skypony
Skypony

Cars allowed in the park m-f not on the weekends. The park was designed for horse and carriage traffic as well as foot traffic. The catchers do work when they attached properly and does not affect the horse. Only time Road Apples appear on the pavement is when they bounce out of the catcher when the horse is moving  and pooping at the same time.  By the way, it may interest you that may of the Ivy colleges are going green by fertilizing their beautiful quads with chicken manure tea.

BanHDCarriages
BanHDCarriages

for those who missed it, here is a story about the Oct. 28 spooking accident; two eyewitnesses give harrowing accounts of this near-miss.http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/new...For those who think it is time to reappraise the issues of having flimsy horse-drawn carriages in the middle of NYC's heavy traffic, please visit the website of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages (www.banhdc). Even those who are not up to date on the safety and humane issues should be questioning the wisdom of putting horses into traffic; in a recent 12-day period, there were 3 disturbing incidents, including the death of Charlie; in a 10-day period in July, there were 2 serious accidents that sent 4 people to hospitals, including the carriage driver. A 3rd incident followed (a horse stumbled and fell). All of this is consistent with the dangers of putting horses into traffic or noisy situations. The accident that killed Spotty in January 2006 also injured 3 people inside a station wagon, and left the driver comatose for weeks.

Sergiolago7
Sergiolago7

Donny Moss get The real facts before you speak up, , you look Stupid and Dumb , giving your Personal insight of something you don't have a clue, editing sounds and images can make things look Good or Bad, your editing just make them look bad, which does not mean they are bad, Look into yourself and we wiil probably find you a bad person with some mental health Problems, which i see The same with Elizabeth Forel (mental disturbing)

Danielle Agrr
Danielle Agrr

You don't think Donny knows the facts? I guess you're not aware of the award winning movie Blinders that he made about this cruel industry. You're the ignorant one!

david k., brooklyn
david k., brooklyn

I believe that horse drawn carriages should be outlawed in NYC. The well-being of the horses is not good. The industry is poorly regulated, and existing regulations are poorly enforced, if at all. Profit will always come before the welfare of the horses. Numerous accidents have occurred over the past summer, an embarrassment to NYC. NYC should not tolerate abuse to animals & we should not be protecting industries that exploit animals.

thedrafthorse
thedrafthorse

David, what proof do you have that the horses' well being is "not good," other than what you read on anti-carriage-horse websites? 

Profit and welfare actually go hand-in-hand... a horse whose owner has a job (when millions of other Americans are unemployed or in foreclosure), especially a job that involves the horse being up to the task of working and being in the public eye all the time,  is ABSOLUTELY going to care for his horse. 

Here's why working horses are the way: http://www.equiculture.org/nyc...

CarriageHorseLover
CarriageHorseLover

Dear Village Voice- You really are not "up" on all the news regarding the Great Carriage Horse Debate.  The carriage drivers and owners whose jobs and livelihoods will be gone if the radical animal rights activists like Ms. Forel get their way are easy targets.

For the record, the ASPCA's head equine vet Dr. Pam Corey was suspended without pay when she attempted to issue a statement to correct orriginal statments attributed to her about Charlie's health, the ones you have quoted in your article that implied Charlie was working in pain and not receiving proper care before his death.

Her corrected statements are as follows are quoted from a NY Times article --

"But a few days later, the society’s head equine veterinarian took it upon herself to issue a “correction” stating that in fact there was no evidence that the horse, Charlie, was experiencing any pain, that the ulcers he had were common in all breeds of working horses, and that any implication that Charlie was being abused was misleading.Now the vet, Pamela Corey, has been suspended without pay by the society in the latest volley over the contentious subject of carriage-horse welfare in New York City."

The second horse that lay down after he got a leg over one of his carriage's shafts was probably trained, as many carriage horses are, to lie quietly until his handler could get him free of his entanglement. These horses are often trained to do this, and to remain down for their own safety as well as their driver's while they are being disentangled. The horse, Luke, was not ill and was not injured by this mishap. He was led back to his stable under his own power without any sign of lameness or any other illness.

The NYC carriage horses are an iconic part of NYC. They are among the most inspected and regulated horse in the world. There are only 68 licensed carriages in a city teeming with motor vehicles. How many accidents are caused dauly by motor vehicles in the city streets? Yet not many are calling for a ban on these much more dangerour vehicels.

I am not a New Yorker, but I am a carriage driver in the Deep South. The radical animal rights activists really are working to ban the use of carriage horses worldwide- but they have started their most vocal campaign in NYC because of the importance of your city. If they succeed, thousands of healthy working horses and their drivers will lose our livelihoods. Without jobs, how will the carriage horse owners provide for themselves and their horses?

The horse rescues and refuges in this country are already bursting at the seams with abandoned and surrendered "pleasure" horses whose owners could no longer afford to keep them because of job losses and the poor economy.  Where do you and your readers think the carriage horses will end up if people like Ms. Forel and clueless celebreties like Pam Anderson get their way? I will tell you- There are horse slaughter houses operatiing just north of the US in Canada and jsut south in Mexico. Right now about 100,000 horses, many of them young, fit and healthy, are sent to slaughter at these places annually.There are not enough "good homes with lush green pastures" now for horses in need.

No carriage horse owners wants to see his or her horse end up on a slaughter truck, but without jobs, the drivers will be forced to sell their horses. When a person sells a horse, he or she can never be sure the new owner will not just turn around and resell that horse to someone who will sell it for slaughter- it happens.

There is another very confiscatory piece of legislation being pushed by the  radicals right now that, shouldit become law and  the carriages be banned, would even force the carriage drivers to have to sell or give their horses only to someone who would NOT use that horse to ride or drive ever again at all, so the option of selling their horses to smaller livery operations would also be taken away from the drivers. In this economy there are NOT enough people or places that can afford to provide proper care for horse that cannot work at all.

As for many of these so-called refuges or rescues, not a month goes by without some story of truly horrific abuse, neglect and starvation comes to light since the contributions that are used to fund such 'santuaries" has dried up as the econony went bad.

I urge the editors of The Village Voice to look past the hype and the screaming for the REAL reason some poeple are pushing to get rid of the NYC carriage horses. In many cases, I believe the some of the well-meaning people calling for this ban are dubes of rich real estate developers who have their eyes on the historic carriage horse stables as great properties to re-develop once they can get rid of the carriage horses. Others are confirmend radical animal rights advocates like those who throw paint on little old ladies wearing fur, drive nails into tree trunks to maim and kill loggers and attack research labs to destroy important reachearch against dieease because animals are used in part of the research.

If you or anyone else really wants to learn more about the NYC carriage horses, take time to talk to a driver waiting for fares, contact the NY Horse & Carriage Association or just go to Youtube and watch the videos produced by StopLiesSeeTruth. http://www.youtube.com/user/St... or those by Blue Start Eqwuiculture http://www.youtube.com/user/bl...

Jane
Jane

These horses are very well-cared for.  I hope the Village Voice follows up with an article about the retraction made by the ASPCA's Dr. Pamela Corey about Charlie's death, and her subsequent suspension.  "A necropsy conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) found that Charlie suffered from a chronic stomach ulcer and a cracked tooth and had been "suspended pending a veterinary examination." What is this supposed to mean?  Charlie was not suspended - but Dr. Corey was for telling the truth - which is that carriage horses receive good care.  Check out the American Association of Equine Practitioners - between 60 and 90 percent of ALL horses have ulcers.  The NYC carriage horses are in public view.  Show one photo of an unkempt horse.  You won't find one. The VV may want to investigate the catalyst behind this anti-carriage horse movement - a developer who want the stables to build parking lots to bring MORE cars into NYC.  Check out Michael Gross' "It's Parkingtown, Jake. http://mgross.com/gripebox/its...

Donny Moss
Donny Moss

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has killed all legislative efforts to take these horses out of harm's way.  The fact that the bills have tremendous support among the general public and City Council members is irrelevant to her.  The NYC carriage horses have been stripped of the ability to do anything that comes naturally to them.  No grazing; no rolling; no running in a field; no physical interaction with other horses.   They either work between the shafts of their carriage in midtown - burdened and blinded - or they're confined to multistory warehouse buildings near the Lincoln Tunnel.  And they spend their days in harm's way - changing lanes in rush hour traffic, dodging aggressive taxi drivers, being clipped or hit by cars, standing in the beating sun for hours at a time with no shade. 

Wendy Merendini
Wendy Merendini

So Donny shall we ban horse racing, show jumping anddressage too? You are aware that those horses spend about 23 hours a day in abox stall right? The only time they come out is when they are out for work intheir respective sports. 

I do wish that people who know nothing about horses andthe horse industry would get off this bashing the Carriage horses train.  Do you really think that these horses breathemore pollutants than other city horses?  Checkthe air at LA race tracks – I would bet you it is far worse than NYC.

 

CarriageHorseLover
CarriageHorseLover

Donny Your post just smacks of the usual "over-the-top" and "loaded" words Radical Animal Rights Activists like you usually use when you are trying to trick people into seeing things your way.

The NYC carriage horses get 5 months each of vacation time out in the country with plenty of pastures, fields and woods- 5 months of grass, hay, feed and fresh air --that's almost half the year off- more than ANY carriage driver or any other wage slave gets.

They are not "burdened" the carriages they pull are light enough to be moved by a single person,  - I know because I own a carriage and drive- but NOT in NYC- something for which I am very thankful.

They are not blinded- they can see very well, thank you. They wear "closed bridles" rather than "open" bridles because the blinkers on these help the horse to focus their sight more to the front where they are headed so they can concentrate on where they are going.

The horses are stabled in urban horse stable buildings originally designed and built as horse stables back in the 19th century when the ONLY way to travel was by foot or by horse carriage. These stables have been updated and modernized to include auto waterers in each stall, a fan misting system to cool the horses in summer and a sprinkler system in case of fire. These horses are NOT stabled in warehouses. Quit lying.

As for the  heavy traffic and agressive taxi drivers- why not just ban them to protect the horses? Or at least limit access to the CBC by individual private vehicles as cities such as Lounon have done. To further protect the iconic NYC carriage hroses, why not designate special carriage travel lanes?

Donny Moss, if you really loved or even liked horses you would be working for measures like these to protect them, not working to take their jobs away from them and their drivers. Shame on you for pretending to care about the horses while just making money off them

Donny Moss
Donny Moss

Do you really think anyone believes that the carriage horses get "5 months of vacation" a year?  When I started making BLINDERS, you were boasting that the carriage horses got 6 weeks a year.  Whatever the case may be, horses don't need a vacation.  They need daily turn out in a pasture where they can do what comes naturally to them - graze, run, roll and interact physically with other horses, as herd animals do.  In NYC, they've been stripped of everything and are put harm's way every day.  

Lorraine
Lorraine

Goodness - Donny replied to a response! Maybe next he'll take up the debate challenge that Eva offered some time ago. Looking forward to that - after he cancelled his appearance on the Dover show when he found out that carriage industry reps would get equal time. So, Donny, you also think that race horses, show horses, dressage horses, etc. should be banned? Most of these animals don't get daily pasture turn-out. Why don't you just admit that you hate horses? You've now had years of opportunities to learn something about them, but you just cut and paste the same tired responses.

CarriageHorseLover
CarriageHorseLover

First off, Donny Moss, I wasn't boasting about any carriage horses getting vacations of any kind five years ago. Five years ago, my retirement farm didn't have any carriage or draft horses. Five years ago, I wasn't familiar at all with the world of carriage horses, but I had nearly 50 years experience with show horses. In the past five years, I have made myself familiar with how carriage horses are kept and worked becasue I now have two that help with funding care for the other horses here who are too old to work at all any more. And I can tell you from experience, that the life of a carriage horse is a much more mellow and peaceful life- even in NYC- than the life of a top show horse in any discipline.

But don't take my word for it, for info about NYC carriage horses on their vacations and in their happy retirements, you can watch http://www.youtube.com/user/St... I'm sure you are familiar with the FACTUAL videos made by StopLiesSeeTruth - a NYC carriage horse owner and driver..

Secondly, Mr. Moss, are you saying that ONLY carriage horses need daily turnout? What about show jumpers, saddleseat show horses, western pleasure show horses, hackney pleasure driving show horses, or draft horse hitch show horses? I could go on, but I think you should have the picture by now.

And BTW top level show horses are flown all over the world, and don't get much or any "turn out" so do you think this is "good" for them? If you don't, then why weren't you over at the ASPCA-sponsored Maclay Finals shooting film for an expose' of the show jumpng industr? You could call it "JUMPS" or "DOUBLE OXERS."

The NYC carriage horses are NOT "stripped of everything." They have excellent stables in buildings that were built originally as stables when working horses were the only traffic on the NYC streets. These have been updated and modernized. Many show horse barns don't have the sprinkler systems that the NYC carriage horse stables do.

These horses have drivers, owners and handlers who are on the premises 24 hours a day - something else that ALL show horses do not have. They are fed premium quality feed because every horse person knows that good feed makes for a satisfied and healthy horse. Some of the older horses even get the high-priced Senior feed formulated to be easily digested for older horses.

They receive daily grooming- horses LOVE to be groomed, but maybe you don't know that because I bet you have never owned or cared for a horse.They also receive regular farrier and vet care and baths. In short, they receive everything that many top show horses receive without having a pressure cooker job- like most show horses where there is the driving push to WIN at every show. Many of the show horses go to 20 or 30 shows a year-- all over the world. Think Hickstead. Not that I'm saying I think the life of a show horse isn't a good life for a horse, but by YOUR standards it isn't. Or do your stndards ONLY apply to carriage horses?

I just don't understand why you are so fixated on claiming that the NYC carriage horses, and I guess, carriage horses everywhere are living horrible lives, but you don't take issue with the lives lead by show horses and race horses. These horses also don't get daily turnout at liberty. FYI "at liberty" means the horse is lose on its own in a pasture or paddock, and is not being ridden, driven or hand grazed  while wearing a halter and lead- as many race and show horss are.

Really, Mr. Moss you should concern yourself with some REAL issues. How about doing a film about children in poverty who go to sleep hungry everyday? You could call it- "Hunger." How about a film on all the abandoned  pleasure and pet horses whose owners couldn't afford to keep them? You could call that one - "Starving." I could go on, but I think you get my point.

Gartenpalme
Gartenpalme

Donny Moss...I agree 200 % with you...it is like in the  17 hundreds when horses worked in the coal mines pulling wagons.....It need to stop now.It also is in Lake Goerge upstate NY...there they horse have to run ...really run on coble stone in 95 degree heatMy own horse is so pampered and those poor things nobody cares ...is only about money

Skypony
Skypony

Lake George?HUH?  running? All I've ever seen them do is walk or trot pulling their carriages. 

Wendy Merendini
Wendy Merendini

Coal mines,really? you are comparing NYC carriage horses to work in the coal mines?

You say youhave a horse, do you understand horses? Do you know what Draft horses are bredfor? Do you know that pulling is easy for horses? Do you know that your horsecarrying you is far more difficult that a carriage horse pulling a carriage? Doyou know anything about the structure of the horse or the horse's back?

If you do not– I am feeling pity for your horse.

Fred
Fred

Okay, next we ban football because players suffer heart attacks on rare occasions and die on the field.  Or,  perhaps ices hockey, because of head injury, or running marathons because of stroke.  I'm with Bloomberg.  These horses are working and they'd be dead otherwise.  They've been pulling carriages for centuries, and they've been in congested cities as long as we have.  However, if they are working, their owners should be forced to comply with veteranarian exams.  If they don't comply, they lose a license and a business.  Pamela Anderson should find something else useful to do with her time and money.   

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