Five Lies Told by NYC's Carriage-Horse Industry
1. “The horses will have terrible lives or be sent to slaughterhouses if the industry is banned.”
The real truth is that the current law offers zero protection for carriage horses sold by their owners once they can no longer make a profit pulling carriages due to injury, old age or bad health. NYC carriage horses are routinely brought to “killer buyer” auctions in New Holland, Pennsylvania—where buyers for slaughterhouses will often purchase horses for human consumption.Senator Tony Avella’s proposed bill to ban the industry includes a section requiring that all of the horses be sent to sanctuaries after they are freed from this abusive work. Absolutely none of the horses will be sent to slaughterhouses and there are many nonprofits, including Friends of Animals, that are dedicated to finding each and every one of the horses a safe home. You can read the entire proposed bill right here.
2. “The horses aren’t overworked...they get five weeks of vacation every year!”
First of all, the notion of a vacation is a human one. To live healthy lives, horses require being turned out to pasture every day...which absolutely none of NYC’s carriage horses are. There is no pasture for NYC carriage horses, they are completely denied the ability to graze, move about freely and interact with other horses. Their “stables” resemble warehouse cells and are half the size recommended for horses of their size. Five weeks is nowhere near enough time of “vacation” for these horses and should not be considered a privilege for them, but instead should be further proof of the unnatural environment the horses are forced to endure.
3. “Protesters don’t know anything about horses and have no experience with them.”
Many people who are opposed to this industry also own horses or have plenty of experience with them like veterinarians, Holly Cheever is one example, and those who work at horse sanctuaries and rescue operations. Furthermore, you don’t need to be an “expert” to tell that these horses are subject to cruel and inhumane conditions by being forced to live in tiny, cramped stalls inside a parking garage when they’re not working on dangerous city streets.
4. “The carriage drivers will be stripped of their jobs and won’t be able to make a living.”
Carriage horse drivers have repeatedly turned down offers to change their job to driving a retrofitted carriage (shown right) or vintage electrical cars instead. The horse owners would also be paid a fair, market-value sum for their horses. Comparatively, the only 150-160 full time carriage horse drivers make up a very small minority of employees in New York City and hundreds of people have lost their jobs in the last few years without the NYC government stepping in and creating an alternative industry for them, like the City Council would be doing for drivers when the industry is banned.
5. “The carriage horse industry is almost 200 years old and a valued NYC tradition.”
Carriage horses were indeed in New York City almost 200 years ago, but simply because of the fact that they were one of the primary means of transportation and were widely used. The current industry started in the late 1940s when Mayor William O’Dwyer issued 68 carriage licenses to create a for-profit industry which still exists today. The current carriage horse industry is completely outdated and unnecessary and should not be considered a “beloved tradition” seeing as how it results in dozens of accidents on city streets and subjects horses to many cruel abuses. Most recently, a carriage-horse was spooked on the streets of Georgia and smashed into cars, scaring passerbys and injuring the driver.