We know everyone can use some good news, so kudos to Chicago for recently banning the horse-drawn carriage horse industry, an outcome Friends of Animals has been pushing for decades in NYC.
However NYC has approximately 68 carriage operators compared to about 10 in Chicago and many more horses. There are approximately 170-180 horses exploited by NYC’s industry.
Not only is it a much larger industry in NYC, unfortunately, as Elizabeth Forel, president of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages points out, the NYC industry has been protected by the Teamsters, some members of City Council and others in government for years.
In 2018, Mayor de Blasio’s administration restricted the carriages from picking up passengers outside of the park. And last year, the City Council passed a bill to prevent carriage horses from working on hot days or humid days when the air temperature is 90 or above or the equine heat index is 150 or above.
But you cannot regulate atrocities as some other horse advocates would like you to believe. The only equitable, sensible and humane solution is to shut down the industry; save the horses and take them to sanctuaries; and for the city and carriage drivers to come to an agreement about the creation of new jobs.
Those regulations meant nothing to a 12-year-old chestnut mare named Aisha— who suffered over a 15-minute period before she had to be euthanized in March. Including Aisha, three NYC carriage horses have died so far this year, according the New York Times. Two of them were euthanized after contracting colic, a gastrointestinal condition which can range from an impaction to a twist in the colon or small intestine.
We are disgusted by disingenuous ploys to let people think that regulations are making a big difference to the horses. They are not.
The horses still travel to and from their stables on the busy streets of NYC where most of the accidents occur. The drivers still make illegal U-turns to access the hack lines and still ignore existing regulations such as leaving their horses unattended because humane law enforcement is nonexistent.
Horses are still robbed of daily turnout, which is necessary for their health and happiness. Various studies link pasture time to stronger bones, better respiratory health, reduced colic risk and lower stress levels. Turnout gives horses a chance to fill their need for social contact with other horses—such as mutually grooming each other’s backs.
We are especially concerned about the horses well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. The New York Post reported that in mid-March, the entire industry made a decision to put its horses on furlough as Gov. Andrew Cuomo suspended non-essential businesses. The owner of NYC Horse Carriage Rides told the newspaper he sent his horses to Pennsylvania Amish country in Lancaster for a vacation, but that only accounts for eight horses. What about the rest?
Are they going to end up at the New Holland auction, also in Lancaster, and be sold to kill buyers because owners/drivers do not have the money to weather this storm? It wouldn’t be the first time NYC carriage horses ended up in the slaughter pipeline as owners are not held accountable by NYC and are not required to release horses to a sanctuary when they can no longer profit off of them.
Horses exploited by the NYC carriage horse industry— who typically work for nine hours straight daily and are unable to flourish in their own way—will never triumph until the industry is banned and they are released to sanctuaries.