Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pedicabs: The Humane Tour of Central Park!

Taking a pedicab (rikshaw) through Central Park is not only the humane choice for all involved, but it is also a ~far~ superior way to get a tour of Central Park, and a much better value for your money than the cruel, overpriced carriage-horse rides, which are extremely limited to where they can travel in the park. The pedicabs have far more access into the most beautiful, romantic parts of the park. Walking through the park hand-in-hand with your loved one is my personal favorite, but riding in a pedicab is definitely a close second! Once you learn of the unbelievable cruelty & danger that the horses (and passengers) are exposed to, you simply cannot justify funding such animal abuse & exploitation.
Choose Compassion: Take a Pedicab Tour of Central Park. The horses who suffer every day and who are treated as slaves don't deserve to endure the inhumane lives they are forced into within the carriage horse industry. Please help to END this shameful business in NYC by boycotting carriage-horse rides. Say NO to animal cruelty and Yes to the ethical alternative: Pedicabs--powered by humans who chose to do the job.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

WHOSE TROUGH IS IT ANYWAY? the joys of being a NYC carriage horse

...or... Would you drink that water?

New York City’s carriage horses toil most of the day in Central Park. During the warm months, they have access to two water troughs - one just inside the park not far from Avenue of the Americas … the other closer to Fifth Avenue. The water is of questionable quality.

But even this questionable quality water is not available to the horses from October through March when it is turned off because the pipes freeze. The drivers are expected to carry buckets of water with them for their horse. Some do and some don’t. Who's checking.

Working horses need upwards of 20 gallons of water a day – particularly since they do not have access to grass. Do they get it? Only their owners know for sure – but we believe it is doubtful.

When the horses go into the Times Square and Lincoln Center area later in the day and through the night, there are no water troughs available. So good luck to the horses…

Most people who make their money off the back of an animal will ultimately come to exploit that animal … through lesser quality food; more work hours, cutting back on boarding costs – so they can have more money in their pocket. It is that nasty, greedy part of human nature that makes its appearance. That is apparent in the carriage trade in NYC. One can see the results of it - - horses with "one size fits all" ill fitting tack that is shared by other horses; horses that are pushed to work longer hours; horses with bad hooves; horses who look like they are not getting enough quality food. And these are just the things that we can observe. There is no telling how many need to have their teeth floated.

This video shows drivers trying to squeeze more time out of their horse even though it was above 90 degrees and they had been suspended for the day. Yelling “last call for a ride” to make more money even though they should have been taking their horse back to the stable.

So how can anyone with half a brain believe that the drivers l o v e their horses? Although, I guess love means different things to different people.

Intro 35A, the bogus bill that was signed into law in April by Mayor Bloomberg, originally had a section that addressed the water issue. The City of New York would pay for the new piping to make water available to the horses all year. None of us believed this ploy. If that section had been left in the bill, we knew the City would never address it because they have other priorities for their limited funds. They would have been subject to harsh criticism from the public – closing senior and day care centers to provide water to privately owned horses -- something that should have been paid for by the industry, which had just gotten a big rate increase.

The City also wanted to avoid another law suit since they had recently lost one concerning a law passed in 2002 that required animal shelters in each borough. Seven years later and there are still no full service shelters in Bronx or Queens. So the section about correcting the water troughs was quietly removed from the bill.

This is NYC, tourists - on the surface - bright lights, pretty stores, nice restaurants. Scratch that surface and you will see a draconian animal control system, which has a high kill rate for cats and dogs but pretends not to .... which slaughters resident Canada geese - thousands in Prospect Park ... and which is so mired in politics that horses have to suffer. But this is all behind closed doors. Remember what Gandhi said about cities and animals - "the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." but who was he .... well only the man who was responsible for India's freedom from England.

But back to the Horses.

Would you drink their water? Horses are living organisms (as we are) with very sensitive digestive systems. The question to ask about the water available to the horses is if a person could drink it. I wouldn't!

According to Holly Cheever, DVM, from the documentary Blinders: the Truth Behind the Tradition, these filthy communal water troughs are a veterinarian’s nightmare since horses can easily spread disease from one to the other. At different times, we have spotted people using this water trough to bathe and to wash dishes.

Again -- would you drink this water? No? Then why should the horses?

This is just more ammunition to back the argument for why this trade needs to come to an end. It is a disgrace to the city of New York to continue to hang on to this inherently inhumane industry. Tourists will not miss it.

A bill that is in the city council - intro 86A – would create a new electric / green vintage car business that would provide great opportunities for the owners and drivers and retire the horses. But politics is preventing it from moving forward. Speaker Christine Quinn, who has ultimate power in the City Council, is opposed to it and she has strong ties to the carriage industry.

If you think that that we are back in the days of Tammany Hall -- you would not be far off.

Boss Tweed would be proud.

Monday, August 9, 2010


A Spooked Horse can Kill! 

When you were a kid, did your mother ever tell you that you had a “thick skull” because you did not  want to listen to her ...  

or that you were "thick headed" because you just refused to follow her advice?   ... or maybe she just called you a blockhead.  

Well that is what the NY City Council and Mayor are when it comes to comprehending a basic truth about carriage horses.  All they have to do is to remember a few words -- "prey animals", "fearful", "bolt", and "unwitting weapons" -- and understand their implication.  

Horses are prey animals, which means that regardless of their large size, they are fearful of real or imagined terrors.  They are predictably unpredictable and when frightened, they will bolt and run away, charging  into cars, people, trees – anything that is in their way – anything to escape.  At 1,500 to 2,000 pounds, they become unwitting weapons and you better get out of their way if you see them coming!    

We have told our electeds about the problems with NYC's horses …. many, many  times. … but the political environment (special interests)  is just  too strong in good old NYC  so  this  dangerous and inhumane trade is allowed to  continue.   Horse-drawn carriages are an accident waiting to happen – particularly in highly traffic congested New York City where these flimsy, slow moving carriages mix in with cars, taxis, buses, fire trucks, ambulances, bikers, police cars, pedicabs -- anything on wheels.    

Horses have died – will a person be next?  

On July 4th weekend, a pair of horses spooked in a parade in Iowa and bolted, killing one woman and injuring 25 people.  On Monday, August 9th, the Austrian Press reported  a tragic accident in Hinterglemm, Salsburg where a horse spooked, bolted and trampled a 73-year-old French woman who was on vacation.  She died on the way to the hospital. 

In the last couple of years, two five year old girls, with their lives barely begun, were the victims of a spooked carriage horse  -- one in a parade in Tucson, AZ  - the other in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Both were trampled to death.  

So it seems like the handwriting is on the wall as Mom use to say - or did she cite  Murphy's law that said if anything can go wrong, it will eventually?     

As for me, I say it is only a matter of time before there is a tragic accident involving a person - so isn't  it better to be safe than sorry?  

There is a bill in the City Council - Intro 86 - which will create a new green industry of vintage hybrid/electric cars to take the place of horse-drawn carriages - providing jobs and investment opportunities for those displaced and mandating good homes and sanctuary for the horses.    

The bill is not going anyplace because the present  administration refuses to see the truth -- and because of politics.  And they wonder why people have lost faith in the system.... why so many  intelligent and thoughtful people do not vote any more.   This is why -- because Council Members are elected by their constituents and are ultimately accountable to those constituents  -- not the Council Speaker -- but tell them that once they get into office.    That's when they forget who they work for... 

Send the article about this tragic accident in Austria to your Council Member and to Mayor Bloomberg.  Tell them it is about time that they got serious about people's safety and banned horse-drawn carriages in NYC.  This deadly accident happened in Salzburg, it can happen in NYC.  

Council - click here

Mayor - click here     

 This is the sad article from Austria -- Austria Independent - August 9, 2010 
Tourist killed by bolting horse

A French woman suffered fatal head and chest injuries when a bolting horse charged into her on Saturday, it has emerged.

Officials in Hinterglemm, Salzburg, said today (Mon) the 73-year-old – on holiday with her husband – died in an ambulance on its way to a nearby clinic after the dramatic incident.

Police said the 16-year-old Haflinger pulling a carriage driven by a local pensioner, 67, had bolted and galloped over the woman standing on the sidewalk watching the local customs procession.

It is not known what caused the horse to start nor whether the uninjured animal will be put down over the accident.

This incident comes after a series of accidents involving Fiaker horse carriages in the federal capital Vienna.

A Fiaker driver had to be hospitalised after he was run over by his own carriage earlier this year. The man got off his parked vehicle when his two horses bolted. The animals, reportedly startled by a passing tram, trampled over the man before coming to a halt after a few metres.

An unnamed horse carriage raced through the Viennese city centre in another incident after being stirred up by the sound of a skateboard. The driver gave chase in a colleague’s carriage. Two parked cars were damaged before the carriage was eventually halted after its one-kilometre ride.

Horse carriages are a popular feature of local processions and traditional events, while thousands of tourists take them for a ride through the picturesque city centres of Vienna and Salzburg every year.






Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Horses Suffer Greatly in the Heat.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

For the second day in a row, NYC passed the 100 degree mark … 101 degrees Wednesday … 103 Tuesday. The heat wave, which has settled over the east coast, began this past weekend with temperatures climbing into the high 90s. Above average temperatures are expected to continue through the end of the week. This was no secret. Everyone knew.

So what happens to the carriage horses during a heat wave – in NYC and Philadelphia, for example?

In NYC The governing law, which is part of Title 17-Health – NYC Administrative Code states that “carriage horses shall not be worked whenever the air temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above.” There is no consideration for humidity. The official air temperature is actually taken at the hack line by an ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement officer (HLE) using a special thermometer. It is not from CNN, or NY1.

However, there are several problems with this law, but the most inhumane is this:

The law allows the drivers to begin work at 10:00 AM, leaving from their stable about ½ hour before. If it is expected to be over 90 degrees on a particular day, the drivers are allowed to work, until it reaches that temperature – probably for only a few hours. When there is no business, the horses just stand on the asphalt wearing metal shoes, under the hot sun where there is no shade. But as soon as it reaches 90, if the HLE officers are at the hack line, the driver is told to take his horse and carriage back to the stables, over scorching hot asphalt, under the blazing sun. The stables are between 1 ½ and 2 ½ miles away. It is a thoroughly unnecessary and debilitating trip that could have been avoided if the ASPCA had not allowed them out in the first place.

The ASPCA has it in their power, as one of the oldest humane societies and as the enforcer of humane laws in New York State, to totally suspend the trade when conditions are dangerous for the horses. Horses can suffer from heat prostration and heat stroke. In 1988, a particularly bad year, three NYC carriage horses succumbed to heat prostration and died, embarrassing NYC and tarnishing the industry. Click here for more information.

Philadelphia suspended their carriage trade both yesterday and today. They did the smart thing. Click here to read the story.

But Not So the ASPCA.

I sent two private e-mails to the head of the Humane Law Division - dated July 4th and July 5th - asking the ASPCA to suspend the carriage business during this heat wave. An e-mail from the SVP of Humane Law, not intended for me, was intercepted – i.e. she sent it to me by mistake. She told her minions to ignore me … that I “misconstrue.” How is that for arrogance? They listen to no one and assume that no one knows as much as they do.

My letter pointed out that if the drivers are allowed to go out in the morning, knowing that in only a few hours, the temperature will be above 90 degrees, the horses will need to make that journey back to their stables over scorching asphalt under the blazing sun, hotter than when they first came out. While at the hack line and later walking, they will be standing on asphalt that may be as much as 200 degrees Fahrenheit (as reported in the New York Times 7/28/89) and their micro environment may be 45 degrees higher than the ambient temperature, according to a Cornell study from the mid 1980s. Add that to a lack of shade on the hack line and the horses suffer.

On both days, the ASPCA officers stated that they were out in the park taking the temperature to see if the horses would be allowed out. They had to know it would be blazing hot these two days – but unlike Philadelphia, they allowed the drivers the opportunity to get an hour or two in working. I have been told that the horses did not go out on either day because the temperature reached 90 degrees early … but the possibility was there because they did not suspend it in its entirety.

The driving force behind the ASPCA seems to be to follow the letter of the law – do what is right for the A so the owners will not sue them –not what is right for the horses.

This is what this same SVP said to someone who complained to them:

"We can and are suspending whenever the temperature is above the legal limit. We are also monitoring to help ensure horses aren't out during these periods."

Well how about totally suspending the business for these two days? How about doing what Philadelphia had the foresight to do? How about putting the horses first!

On second thought, the “letter of the law” may not be exactly right. Rather it may instead be that the ASPCA interprets the law in such a way to make it easier for the drivers to work their horses. For example, according to the law, horse-drawn carriages are not allowed to be “driven or operated” in the Times Square area before 11:30 PM from Monday through Saturday and not before 7:00 PM on Sunday. Period. No exceptions. The law is very clear on this. This is the area south of 57th St., north of 42nd St., and between 7th and 9th Avenue. Click here for the law.

The ASPCA representatives have told me that the drivers are only restricted from going into this area if they are working. But if they have no passengers, it is OK.

WRONG! That is not what the law says. The intent of this law was to keep the carriages out of an extremely congested area until there is less traffic - after 11:30 or 7:00 on Sundays. Times Square does not provide a direct route back to the stable – not by a long shot. Any driver in this area when they are not supposed to be is looking for a passenger.

So why does the ASPCA interpret this law liberally and incorrectly on the side of the industry? Why do they not take a stand and suspend the industry during a brutal heat wave?

Why was the ASPCA not represented at the Mayor’s bill signing of Intro 35, the industry bill, making it appear that they were in favor of this bad bill even though they claimed they weren't?

Why, Why, Why ….. only the shadow knows.

Note: I really would prefer not to criticize the ASPCA publicly, but I am compelled to do so for the horses ... to let New Yorkers know a little about what really goes on. Someone has to speak for these exploited horses. Any organization that has that much misused power must be challenged to do the right thing.

for more information about horses and heat read this article Heat Stress: Too Hot to Trot by Jennifer Nadeau.

Elizabeth Forel

Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages

Sunday, June 6, 2010

ROME: BASTION OF CULTURE with cruelty behind the scenes

Horse-drawn carriages in Rome are a common site. Called by the pretty name "Botticelle" - this trade is anything but. They are a vile group that does not obey the weak laws and like in many other cities, they almost get away with murder.

We recently received these photos of the interior of one of the stables. While NYC stables are bad, in comparison they look like the St. Regis. The only good thing is that the stalls appear to be on the first floor. The stall is very narrow and make shift. It is a fire trap ... and it is filthy. There is no turnout. It is hell in Rome for horses.

Also included here are pictures of the typical hack line where the drivers pick up tourists, a frightened horse; a driver using his cell phone .... in NYC, automobile drivers are not allowed to use a cell phone -- carriage drivers are exempt because they are not required to have a NYS drivers' license; a horse foaming at the mouth; typical tack on the horse; and the horrible accident in November 2008 in which Birillo was killed and left on the pavement for several hours.

TOURISTS: if you go to Rome, please spend your time going to its wonderful museums, restaurants, shopping, touring the city and its historical ruins, etc. etc. etc. But PLEASE do not take a carriage ride. If you do, you will be supporting cruelty.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


The taxpayers of this city have been fed a load of horse-manure by industry supporters like Bloomberg (the great manipulator of facts), Quinn (his right hand man) and Gennaro, (the City Council puppet) who introduced a joke of a bill that did NOTHING to help horses, while they all had the chutzpah to say it contained "improvements" for horses. But we all understand "doublespeak" after 8 years of Bush, so they're not pulling the wool over anyone's eyes.

Their backroom deals (remember term limits??? the hushed-up investigation of Quinn's slush fund???) stink more than the horse-manure, if that were possible. Imagine, that Shamrock Stables has been paying $5,000/mo to rent the City-owned building, for their stables, while New Yorkers are paying that much for a tiny cubby hole of an apartment, (another give-away to the NY Real Estate Industry), and while there are thousands of people living in homeless shelters, on the streets and in sub-standard housing.

It is outrageous to think that hard working NY'ers have been subsidizing this abusive and disgusting industry all these years and now they expect us to foot the bill again, when they come pleading poverty, after getting a sweetheart deal from the City Council puppets, that allow them to charge $50/20 min ride, to all the dumb tourists that still consider animal abuse fun! I'm about to take out my violin!!!

Let's all pass the hat for these "poor" fellows, these heartless abusers, who have been ripping off the public for years! Who do they think they're fooling!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

MIRACLE ON THE HACK LINE or What I did on my Summer Vacation ... or NYC carriage horses to be treated slightly better.

3/14/10 - New York City carriage horses won a great victory today when it was decided that they would each receive one square inch more in their stalls. Hardly believing the good news, the excited horses neighed and whinnied -- some letting lose a barrage of poop, which unfortunately missed the diaper tied to their rear, landing on a park road right in front of a runner who quickly stepped out of the way. The cyclist behind him was not so lucky. They would have peed, but there had been no water for them in the troughs, which had been turned off.

However the big drafts grumbled at the injustice complaining they will still not be able to stretch out fully, cramping their legs. "Damn" said one, "This is an injustice. Who can I complain to? WTF - Do they think we are ponies or something? I'm tired of standing up to take a damn snooze." Some thought about reaching out to the Teamsters to see if they would take their case and initiate some collective bargaining.

Bruno, a horse from the WS Livery, asked Roger if he was happy about the bigger stalls planned for his stable. “Common, Bruno, don’t be naive." whinnied Roger. You know that most of the stalls were small boxes anyways. This is not a hardship for the owners. They will never give us what we really need to be comfortable."

“Wow, small box stalls ... sweet ” countered Bruno. “Oy Vey! You should see the sh-t hole we live in – if you can call it living. Oh wait, you can, by clicking here. You have access to Youtube, don’t you Rog? Yeah - I suppose they can move walls around to make bigger stalls but the place will always be a hell hole. You should see the fire protection system we have -- sand buckets! I hear they took out the requirement for mandated sprinklers from the bill. That really sucks."

But not to worry, the bill thought of almost everything. As a reward for slaving 9 hours a day, 7 days a week, the horses will be rewarded with a 5-week vacation - weeks not to be taken concurrently. It was thought that the horses might get too used to relaxing and refuse to come back if one week extended into two or more. Most of the horses are so worn out by the time they take a "vacation" that they are in a catatonic state for the first 3-4 days, only beginning to enjoy themselves by the time they are ready to be brought back to their cells to begin the grind all over again.

The horses asked for daily turnout, but the City refused saying that they would prefer to build another stable rather than to give the land up to pasture. "Suck it up" said Speaker Chess Quibly and "stop complaining. " Just remember that I can still make you disappear since I did not change that section of law. Remember I know where Canada and Mexico are," she sneered. "And don't even think about the Teamsters -- or I will get you my pretties. Besides, they have their hands full pretending this trade is really a union. Don't confuse the issue. Besides, how could you even pay? in hay? I don't think so. LOL"

But not to be outdone since he was, after all, the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Gene Roe spat out - "Turn out, turn out?!! You don't need no stinkin' turnout! You still don't get it, do you. It's not about you, you selfish steed. It was never about you. It's about your [slave] driver - he needs more money ... if for nothing else then to line my pockets. Keep this up and I will report your kind to the City Clerk for illegal lobbying."

Some of the horses gave in and were planning on which set of swim trunks to bring on vacation and hoping there would be a big enough swimming pool. "Gee, i hope these horizontal stripes on my trunks don't make me look fat" said a plump Percheron --" I haven't worn them in a year." Others began to brush up on their tennis. "don't forget to bring sun screen" said a dapple gray - "there may not be any shade. And you know how we have to work in NYC when it is reeeeeally hot and humid. I hope they give us spending money for water.”

Many of the horses were very disappointed when they learned that the Department of Health decided not to pursue changes to existing regulations, introduced in January. Pressure from Quibly, they heard, who wanted all the glory. They were particularly upset with the elimination of the section entitled "Drivers Behaving Badly" -- a section that they had anonymously submitted to the Department of Health Commissioner. "It is embarrassing to have your driver reading a comic book, playing video games or talking to his bookie on the phone when we are trying to work" said one of the horses. "They never pay attention. And when they push me into making a u-turn on Central Park South, I just hope that the jerk driving me gets a ticket before he gets me into an accident. The next time this creep stands up in the driving seat while working, pretending to be king of the road, I will jerk him so he falls back on his ass. Hee Hee. He'll think it was a bump in the road. "

The horses also tried to get a weight limit on the customers being pulled in their carriage, but it was considered discrimination. "Take it up with Jimmy Hoffa," snorted one of the drivers. "If you can find him."

Still, it is better than nothing, all the horses agreed - even if it was just to raise the rates for the drivers. "I hope we at least get fresh carrots out of this," said one ..."and maybe some oats without pigeon droppings would be nice. I'm tired of getting limp carrots only when a potential mark comes by. I also wish they would do something about turning on the water troughs in Central Park in the winter."

"Too expensive to add year round piping" said CM Gene Roe. "As I said, any extra money comes my way,MY WAY, dummy. Besides, you do not need water" he said - "you pee too much as it is. Keep this up and I will personally buy you a ticket to Canada."

Roger, a handsome steed, told his stable mates- "keep the faith, my horsey friends. We have never had so much attention showered on us.

There has never been a time in the history of this business that so many people have been fighting to free us from bondage. This is just a temporary setback. I feel it in my withers.

It is only a matter of time, my equine buddies, only a matter of time.

In the meantime, have an apple. They're Fujis."


Roger suggests trotting over to for more information.

Friday, April 2, 2010


Sure they do. To many of the drivers, the horses are just dumb animals who do their bidding. They don't interact with them except to give them commands.

These horses are dispirited because they've been broken. There is no love and there is no respect.

If they truly loved their horses, they would not subject them to the wear and tear of working in a congested city, breathing in car exhaust and living in the multi-storied stables in stalls that are too small.

This is an excerpt from a blog called Mama Act where the writer is describing her recent walk along Central Park South where the carriage drivers wait for customers.

"I'm walking by and they're all hanging out, some in grungy top hats. Some in baseball caps. Chatting and waiting. When all of a sudden one of the horses kicks over his feed pail, spilling a decent amount, but certainly not the whole bucket, on the street. And the driver grabs the bucket and yells, "F--- you, you f---ing idiot!" He yells this at the HORSE. And something in the way he yelled it was kind of dark. More like a wife-beater than a business partner. Reflexive and violent. And it just kinda made me wonder..."

This is nothing new. I've had similar experiences. Once I witnessed a driver scream angrily at his horse because she was hitting one hoof against the pavement in boredom. He grabbed her bridle and yanked her head, obviously causing her great discomfort. He used the same type of expletives but with specific nasty words one would use toward a disrespected female. Yes this is one classy group.

I've also see drivers punch their horses in the nose, which is a very sensitive part of their body.

A few years back, I was sitting on a bench in Central Park near one of the filthy water troughs, which are empty half of the year. A carriage came by and the driver stopped to let his horse drink. It was a very hot day. After a few gulps, he pulled her head back, away from the water and turned to his passengers saying "I'll show her who's boss." Yeah - big macho man.

Yes, this is the group of people who "love their horses" -- the group that certain members of the City Council want to keep in business shaming the city.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Hey all. Ollie here. I’ve been thinking a lot about Karma after looking at a video of the recent City Council hearings on several bills that would affect the carriage industry.

Karma – or “what goes around comes around” is an interesting concept. In Eastern religions, the effects of all deeds are viewed as actively shaping past, present and future experiences.

The NYC carriage drivers are very upset that there has been a movement to ban their industry and have engaged the services of the Teamsters Union to influence the City Council. They do not actually have a "union shop" since it includes owners and drivers and only about 1/3 of the people in their business. It is more for the appearance and to put pressure on the City Council.They admitted they did it because they were "under attack" by the groups that wanted a ban of their industry.

The owners cry about losing jobs and not having a raise in over 20 years – how everyone is picking on them. They are the good guys and everyone else is bad.

But hold on here. Let's get the facts. Let's review recent history. How does Karma have anything to do with the carriage industry and what is happening now?

In the fall of 2005, Tom McMahon, carriage horse lobbyist

-- and husband of Linda Gibbs, Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services,

-- which oversees the Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene,

-- which in turn oversees the carriage horse industry, (that sure sounds cozy)

put through a bill in the City Council that would BAN THE PEDICAB INDUSTRY. Yes, you heard right.

They wanted to kill off the pesky but burgeoning pedicab industry because they were stealing their territory and customers. It did not matter to them that many people would lose their jobs as long as it was not them. Fortunately, the bill did not go anywhere when Council members began to remove their names.

So now the shoe is on the other foot; the chickens have come home to roost and what goes around comes around. Yes, you do reap what you sow and you also get a taste of your own medicine.

But the carriage industry is lucky in a sense. A new business has been offered to them on a silver platter for the taking ... classic replica hybrid touring cars ... being proposed to phase out the horse-drawn carriages. The driver/owners are very opposed to it.

Since the industry has probably seen its hay day and will begin to unravel in a few years with the development of the far west side (Hudson yards project) – it is curious that these owners are so opposed to this offer, depriving their own workers an opportunity to make a better living. The jobs will be union, pay more and offer benefits. They say that it does not exist elsewhere; that the person behind the proposal is out to get their land; that they are horse people and will never give up. "Bring it on" they say.

This is all very unfortunate and just confirms that the thinking behind this industry is not very innovative or creative. Maybe the "exact" business does not exist elsewhere, but similar ones do. Besides, why can't NYC be number one? Rome is also considering vintage cars to replace the horses and their proposals are independent of the NYC's.

But money talks and maybe the pot is just not sweet enough. Maybe the owners want a financial interest in this new business to make it worth their while. Maybe the negotiations need to continue because this issue is not going away ... even if the City Council is dumb enough to pass Intro 35.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gothamist Poll: Eliminate Horse-Carriage Industry All Together.

The Gothamist, an online publication, recently ran a poll concerning NYC carriage horses. The poll is now closed.

The question posed is listed below followed by the choices and the number of votes cast for each.

A total of 871 votes were cast.

How should the carriage horse industry be transformed?

Only allow horse-drawn carriage rides in Central Park. 10% (87 votes)

Replace horses with antique fuel-efficient electric cars. 31% (267 votes)

Provide the horses with a vacation and safer working conditions. 24% (211 votes)

Eliminate the carriage horse industry all together.

35% (306 votes)

The winner was clearly the option to eliminate the carriage horses industry winning more than 1/3 of the votes cast. However what makes this even more interesting is that when coupled with the option of replacing the horses with electric cars, which got just under 1/3 of the votes - it equals about 66% of the vote.

The people have said it is time to move this city forward and retire the horses.

Is the City Council listening?

Monday, February 15, 2010


You know Nivea - that company that produces not-so-great skin care products and cannot quite compete with the likes of Revlon, Avon and L'Oreal. Well they got desperate and someone had what they thought was a bright idea.

On Valentine's Day, many of the horses and carriages in New York's Central Park were covered with Nivea advertising. "Take a ride!" "Get a Nivea goody bag!" "Share the hugs and kisses." Oh puleeze!

It was the epitome of tackiness. What next? Advertising Pepsi on the horse's back or maybe McDonald's?

Don't they know what a mess they just got involved in? I guess they have no clue about how the horses are treated or maybe they just don't care ... about their too small stalls on upper level multi-storied stables on the far west side of Manhattan --(no they do not live in idyllic Central Park); how they never have the opportunity to get daily pasture time; how they work nine hours a day, seven days a week in all kinds of nasty weather; how they work nose to tailpipe sucking up car exhaust, on hard surfaces that cause concussive injuries -- all to make a buck for their owner.

After all that is what it is about - the almighty dollar.

And when the horses are too tired to make the run anymore, they are "humanely disposed" of. This means, of course, that they can be sent to the New Holland auction in Pennsylvania (or equivalent) and may come to the attention of greedy kill buyers who are always looking for more horse flesh for the European market.

Please contact Nivea (owned by Beirsdorf) and tell them you will not buy their product anymore.

Don't let them get away with not having a heart for the horses.

Leslie Kickham, 203-563-5821

When we asked one of the couples why they were taking a ride - the man laughed and said he planned to have a horse meat dinner after.

The carriage driver laughed ..... lovely people.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Suggests Current Multi-Level Stables are Unacceptable

But Still Can't Even Recommend Accepted Standard for Stall Size

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, February 3rd on proposals to allegedly improve the horse-carriage industry. Horse advocates are expected to provide comments. But try as they might, the DoHMH cannot even meet industry standards for horses with their new proposals.

While touting a five week vacation for horses per year, the DoH fails to acknowledge that experts advise that horses need daily turnout or pasture time – time to run, buck, roll, play with other horses and sleep in the pasture. This helps with colic, nutrition, tying up disease and a horse's overall well being. The DoH knows it is impossible to do this in NYC and to treat the horses like living creatures and not money making machines.

The DoH is also trying to pull the veil of transparency down and do away with the engraved number identification on the horses hoof so it will be impossible for the public to report with accuracy a lame or sick horse. This 4-digit number has also previously helped to locate and rescue horses in slaughter auctions.

Because the DoH obviously wants the industry to remain viable and because these proposals were made with input from the carriage industry, the new recommended size of stalls is 70 sq. feet -- less then ½ the recommended size for a 1,000 pound horse. Currently the regulations only require 48 sq. ft. Experts recommend a stall size of 12 x 12 feet – 144 sq. feet for a 1,000 pound horses and 14 x 14 foot minimum for the large draft breeds.

Cramming a horse into such a small stall because that is the only space available is like squeezing a size 9 foot into a size 6 shoe. Very uncomfortable!

The DoH is also not able to address the available potable water issue for horses. The two water troughs in Central Park are turned off for half the year depriving the horses of free flowing (albeit questionable) water in the Park. But public water troughs are a known source of microbes - a place where drunks can urinate and people have been seen washing up -- where a horse can pick up a disease and pass it on to another horse. It is a veterinarian's nightmare.

But the pièce de résistance is the DoH’s position on new stables. Starting January 31, 2011, “no new stables shall be equipped with stalls that are located above first or street level of the stable.“ This will not affect any of the existing stables, which are grandfathered in, but it officially acknowledges a new correct standard – and essentially admits that it is both inhumane and dangerous to house horses on upper levels as they are all housed how – as horse advocates have always claimed. It is difficult on older horses to make the ramp every day and it becomes a fire hazard if there were a fire on the ground level. The ramp would act as a chimney and there is only one means of egress in the front of the building on the ground floor. The horses would die.

These proposals are a sad attempt to make improvements to a faltering out-of-control industry. They only prove that it is impossible to run this trade humanely in New York City. The Department of Health and the City need to come to this realization and to stop wasting City resources.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

NYC Health Dept. Proposes New Regulations for Carriage Horses

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has proposed new updates and revisions to Health Code Article 161 and Chapter 4 of the Commissioner's Regulations concerning carriage horses. A public hearing will be convened on Tuesday, February 3, 2010 at 125 Worth St.

While we understand that the DoH is limited in what they can regulate, we nevertheless applaud their efforts in trying to improve conditions for NYC carriage horses.

However there are some proposed regulations that are window dressing and deserve comments.

It is suggested that horses get five weeks vacation a year. Taken out of context, this sounds good - more than most people get. But here's the rub.

These horses work nine hours a day, seven days a week in congested traffic in all kinds of bad weather conditions. They live in cramped stalls in multistoried warehouses. They are herd animals and need daily turnout - a pasture to run free and socialize with other horses. This does not exist in the barren warehouse buildings where they live. Five weeks of vacation is meaningless in this context because the horses are broken and exhausted by the time they are eligible for a "vacation." This is simply a nod to the industry sanctioning something that is totally unenforceable.

There are many other problems with these proposed regulations including the disingenuous so called smoking ban. The real danger to the horse's lungs comes from living a nose to tailpipe existence, sucking up car and bus exhaust all day. The only way to change that is to ban the industry from operating.

At the same time the proposed regs will prohibit drivers talking on their cell phones, texting, reading newspapers, taking pictures and videos while driving and otherwise not paying attention to the road - something that is very prevalent among the drivers.

We also understand that the Department of Health must follow the lead of the mayor who up to now has supported the industry. But, it still sounds like the City is horsing around with these regulations, trying to placate critics of the industry and some of the Advisory board members at the same time.

This small “industry”, made up of only a couple of hundred people, for some reason has a hold on city politicians. Thinking people, however, know this anachronistic trade can never be made right. The only logical and humane solution is to shut down this business and to retire the horses to sanctuaries - saving them from a life of exploitation pulling unsafe carriages around crowded streets.

We are in a new decade. Let’s make it right for the horses.