A Carriage Horse Named Pumpkin Did a Panicked Solo Lap Around Central Park Last Night

Image via NYCLASS
The dented cab door.
In yet another incident for animal rights groups and horse-drawn carriage advocates to argue about, a carriage horse named Pumpkin got free of his bridle last night around 5:45 p.m. as he stood at the hack line at 59th Street. The horse, still pulling his carriage, ran into Central Park, leaving his driver behind.

The horse proceeded to run through his usual route along the park's paths. At one point, according to NBC, a bicyclist jumped into the driver's seat to try to stop him. Instead, Pumpkin sped up, eventually re-emerging onto 59th Street and then crashing his carriage into a cab door on Central Park South. A group of carriage drivers corralled the horse and took him back to his stables, where carriage driver and industry spokesperson Christina Hansen says he was examined and found to be unharmed. No one else was injured, except for the door of that cab.

Several people witnessed the incident, including, weirdly, Mets outfielder Matt den Dekker, who tweeted this:

Another witness reported that the carriage also hit a Mercedes, which then hit two people on bikes, although no injuries were reported:

Here's an image of the cab door, tweeted by NYCLASS, one of the main groups pushing for a carriage horse ban:

Both sides promptly issued statements to reporters. PETA spokesperson Dan Mathews told us, "This evening's chaos in Central Park show the serious public safety menace caused by keeping horses in Manhattan, whether on the streets or in the park. This shows the urgency of Mayor de Blasio's plan to protect people and animals by retiring the horses to sanctuaries."

But the carriage drivers and their union argued that the incident showed the training of both the horse and the drivers. Through his union, Teamsters Joint Council 116, carriage driver and owner Stephen Malone said, "Neither the horse or any people were injured in today's incident. What you saw is the industry's professionalism. We knew where the horse would go, corralled it, and brought it back to the stable."

Friends of Animals, another animal rights group that has long pushed for a ban on the carriages, isn't buying it. "The carriage industry is trying to downplay this incident, but let's be very clear--this was a screw-up of incredible magnitude," their director, Edita Birnkrant, tells the Voice .

"The carriage industry is 100 percent responsible for this latest disaster in which the driver of Pumpkin failed to stop the horse from fleeing into the park," she adds. "Do you realize the potential for harm and death that a runaway horse with no driver galloping the loop in Central Park could have caused, and especially considering the horse was heading out of the park until the passerby steered him elsewhere? I literally feel sick thinking about it."

Christina Hansen, the carriage driver and spokesperson, tweeted a few images last night of Pumpkin standing in his stable. He looked unharmed, if a little ashamed of himself:

This post has been updated with comments from Friends of Animals.

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And just a few days later, a NYPD police horse named Sampson broke loose in the Bronx and galloped through the streets for blocks. Why isn't NYCLASS et al protesting that? Are they hypocrites? Or is that NYCLASS founder Steve Nislick knows he'll never be able to build a condo over the NYPD's stables?


Frankly, this polluted, privatized, overcrowded city is much less than ideal for HUMAN habitation and transportation, let alone that of horses. If not for our economic obligations, I imagine many of us, along with the horses, would prefer to steer clear of the carcinogenic fumes, cramped quarters, deafening, obnoxious car horns, litter and feces-smeared concrete jungle.

Unfortunately, as long as capitalism is king in this anthropocentric world, people will be more than willing to sacrifice their own health and well-being as well as the health of other beings to 'get ahead'. The horses are merely a sentinel indicating the risks of our own exposure, both physical and psychological. From the banker's business to the taxi driver's carriage, perhaps we too could all free ourselves from our bridles for but a moment to experience a sliver of pseudo-freedom.

As money gets tighter than the time and space we live in, we're no longer free to roam. This is the culture we have chosen. Aren't you appalled? Reduce the preposterous and inefficient vehicular traffic! Free the horses! Save the humans! Damn the queen!   ...or it will only get more crowded, more dangerous and less humane for us all while chasing and competing for the almighty dollar!


These fools trying to ban carriage horses are the same douchebags attempting to drain every drop of beautifully unpredictable character out of NYC. I bet they also medicate their children for acting like children.


Union? ROFLMFAO. Just a repulsive teamster head who sold out real unions to a handful of homophobic and racist carriage owners. Owners that exploit horses and immigrants and make bundles of tax free revenue. Where is Feds or IRS? Only interested in Italians and nonwhites while they let this Irish mob run this city.


@josepyuogh As an American of Irish descent, let me be the first to point out that referring to the Irish as a "mob" is racist, classist, and offensive. "Nonwhites"? What an enlightened worldview you have.


Edita B, just read that the NYPD rider was A BLOCK AWAY from his horse! Don't you care about the safety of pedestrians in the Bronx?

"The wild ride for Sampson began at about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday when his handler, after an afternoon of patrolling, tied the horse to a hook at a funeral home parking lot on E. Tremont Ave. near Sommer Place in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx.

As the human took a break at the 45th Precinct stationhouse — which was about a block away — Sampson proved to be stronger than his tether and trotted off, cops said."

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/nypd-horse-unsupervised-romp-bronx-article-1.1827280#ixzz356l8zv00

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