Protest Planned After a Carriage Horse Named Spartacus Fell Near the Plaza Hotel [Updated]

From Friends of Animals' Edita Birnkrant:

This latest incident yesterday, in which a tourist witnessed a horses spook as a bus roared by, resulted in the horse being pinned to the ground with the carriage overturned, highlights the immediate need to speed up efforts to introduce and pass legislation in NYC to get these horses out of the chaos of Midtown Manhattan and into sanctuaries.

In the past 10 days, six separate carriage horse accidents related to horses "spooking" have occurred in different cities. It couldn't be more clear that horses, with their highly developed flight drive and who frighten easily, simply cannot operate in traffic-congested Manhattan streets any longer. Friends of Animals is calling on the City Council and Mayor De Blasio to make banning the dangerous, inhumane horse-drawn carriage industry a priority. Had passengers been in the carriage when it overturned, there could have been a tragedy.

From the Horse and Carriage Association of New York:

Minor Carriage Incident Demonstrates Carriage Drivers' Professionalism

Carriage accident that tripped horse taken out of context by animal rights activists:
Training and experience of drivers prevented injury to fallen horse.

NEW YORK -- At approximately 4:20 PM on Wednesday, April 23, a horse parked at the corner of 5th Ave. and 59th St. unexpectedly pulled out, catching the back wheel of the carriage on the back wheel of the carriage in front of it. The tangle pushed the second carriage over, which caused 15 year old carriage horse Spartacus to lose his footing and fall to the sidewalk.

Several carriage drivers immediately came to the horse's aid, keeping him calm and laying down while they unharnessed him, got him untangled and righted the lightweight carriage before safely allowing him to get to his feet. Unharmed, Spartacus was reharnessed and rehitched to the carriage, whereupon he was driven directly home to his stable on West 38th St. to await the arrival of the vet. In all, this was a very minor incident with no injuries whatsoever to horse or human.

Carriage driver Christina Hansen was a witness to the incident, and was one of those who helped Spartacus. "Spartacus behaved like a gentleman - having found himself suddenly in his predicament - and remained calm as we got him free of the harness and carriage. He had been waiting quietly for a ride when the other carriage hit his. He did not spook. He did not collapse. Contrary to rumors, he was not startled by a bus; there was no bus on 59th St. at the time."

"We are very happy Spartacus is fine."

Carriage driving experts note that when a horse is down in harness, an experienced horseman will want to keep him down for as long as it takes to ensure all the harness is free or the animal could seriously injure himself. Carriage driver Colm McKeever notes that, "To the onlooker, the longer the horse is down, the worse it looks to the layperson, but to the horse professional, you must take all the time you need to ensure all harness is free so the horse is not fighting against it getting up."

Demos Demopoulos, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 553: "The health and safety of our 200 horses is every carriage driver's priority. The drivers tending to the horse handled the situation with complete professionalism and care, as they have been trained to do. The horse involved in today's incident walked home without any issues and our veterinarian visited tonight and gave him a clean bill of health. What we saw today is that accidents are few and far between. When they do occur, injuries are rare. That is why every horse veterinarian who has visited our stables commends the care and the conditions we provide for horses."



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