Monday, August 22, 2011

new blog

The NY Times’ standards are clearly not what they used to be. Of course, they did mess up in 2004 when they admitted that its flawed reporting during the build- up of the war in Iraq helped to foster the mistaken belief that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

So – they are anything but “perfect.”

A recent editorial called Some Carriages Should Not Be Horseless - 8/4/11, seemed more likely to have come from one of the tabloids than the “paper of record”… an editorial that suggested to me that someone in power may have called in a favor to have this written …too much of a coincidence that it was published soon after three recent carriage horse accidents. It was an editorial that was filled with assumptions, biases and incorrect, arrogant pronouncements.

It starts out by suggesting that the horses are not allowed on the street when it is 90 degrees or under 18 degrees.

Maybe, maybe not.

The ASPCA is the only agency mandated by law to determine the ambient temperature for the horses and they have a special thermometer to do so. If the ASPCA officers are not at the hack line to take the reading, any of the other sources – whether the large CNN thermometer in Columbus Circle,, weather underground or 1010 WINS could read 95 and the drivers do not have to go back to the stable. The officer must officially suspend the operation for the day.

However, there is no provision in the law for how the suspension is to be lifted – so drivers have been known to check the radio for a reading and come out when they feel like it and when the ASPCA officers are not there.

Messed up? You bet.

But the Times naively thinks in fantasy land terms where laws are not only clear and direct, but obeyed and adequate.

In a rebuttal article written by Doris Lin of on August 8, All Carriages Should be Horseless, Lin describes a situation a few years back when it took the ASPCA two hours to get all the drivers to go back to their stables during a snow storm. Why? Lin retorts “They care more about making a buck than they do about the horses.” I agree.

The horses work a nine-hour day, seven days a week. No days off. And the so called five week “vacation” is not what it is cracked up to be. The provision is unenforceable.

The ASPCA is not going to travel to Pennsylvania to see if the horse is grazing in a field or pulling a plow. Besides, for 47 weeks a year, the horses have no access to pasture other than to see grass over their blinders as they pull carriages through Central Park.

How cruel.

The NYS Horse Health Assurance Program NYSHHAP, which is part of the NYS government, recommends that horses work no more than four hours a day. This is only one of the reasons why the carriage trade does not qualify for voluntary certification. NYSHHAP is a certification program to promote equine health, care and welfare through the use of certain “best management practices” or standards.

The editorial goes on to insult State Senator Tony Avella and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal by suggesting that they introduced a bill to ban the horse-drawn carriage business in response to the three recent accidents, essentially jumping on a bandwagon like ambulance chasers.

Absolutely not true.

Senator Avella first introduced this bill in the City Council in 2007 and the present state version in June 2011. Rosenthal has been a big supporter of animal issues for many years and was happy to sign on to this bill.

It appears that the Editorial Board used the carriage industry as its source of information. It seems that they are not subject to being fact checked and can write whatever they want.

The writer goes on to say that the horse involved in a recent accident near the Plaza was not injured – ignoring the many pictures of the horse with blood streaming down his chest - pictures that made their way to several media outlets including Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell.

One of the most ridiculous statements was that people actually come to NYC to take a carriage ride suggesting that they might not visit if it was shut down. People may take the ride as an afterthought if they are in the neighborhood – but the real magic comes from Broadway shows, top rate restaurants, wonderful museums and concert halls, the fabulous shopping experience.

Carriage horses? I don’t think so.

As for the last comment about the horses being treated well and being closely monitored by the city -- really? The fact that the law requires stalls to be a minimum of 60 square feet, which is less than one half what they should be; the fact that the horse gets no pasture time for 47 weeks out of the year; the fact that drivers often negotiate heavy traffic, using their horses as battering rams and taking risks by using cell phones, standing up, reading magazines, turning around to take pictures while driving … how does this equate to horses being treated well?

There are many people who believe that a horse working between the shafts of his carriage for nine hours straight a day – without the ability to scratch an itch is not the way they were intended to live.

It is unethical and inhumane.

We started this campaign in 2006. Our website has a wealth of information. It is hard to fight this battle when the NY Times with all its power and prestige is allowed to write such an untruthful editorial and will not even publish a rebuttal.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Are More Taxpayer Subsidies on the Way? 

The carriage drivers are petitioning the City of NY for more favors. Will they get them?

A recent letter * published in the NY Times on August 12th, stated that as members of the City’s Rental Horse Advisory Board, the carriage drivers are petitioning for:
-- hitching posts
-- dedicated carriage lanes
-- microchips to identify the carriage horses

They are also “offering input into driver licensing by the Department of Consumer Affairs.”

Interesting material here.

Notice they say nothing about providing shade for their horses while on the hack line or doing something about the very hot asphalt on which the horses must stand for hours on end. Both of these suggestions were included on P. 11 of the NYC Comptroller Audit of the industry in 2007.

No – what they are suggesting will make it easier for the drivers, not the horses.

The Rental Horse Advisory Board operates secretively behind closed doors and does not share their information publicly – even though a recent opinion from the Committee on Open Government said that they were subject to the Freedom of Information Law. In their arrogance, they do not care. Most of the members of this “democratic” board, which is part of the Department of Health, are part of or favor the carriage industry.

In the parlance of the vernacular, it is sham board …. A joke.    

The items on which they have petitioned are proof that the industry is unsafe and that these slow moving, dangerous and flimsy carriages should not be clogging up the streets of New York City - one of the most traffic congested cities in the country.

The answer is to shut them down and not to offer more Taxpayer subsidies.

Hitching Posts: The drivers like to park their carriage and leave their horse unattended while they are waiting for customers. They might be talking with their friends or otherwise not paying attention. The horse is ignored. The accident that occurred on July 16th is a good example of what happens with this carelessness. A carriage horse on Central Park South was spooked when the carriage in front backed up and came too close. The horse panicked and bolted, galloping up Central Park South for two blocks, with an empty carriage tied to his back. He crashed into a parked car.

A similar thing happened in September 2007, when a 12-year-old mare named Smoothie, also tied to an empty carriage, spooked and bolted. However, she ran the opposite way into a tree and died on the spot. Another unattended horse ran across Central Park South and crashed into a car. He lived.

If both drivers had been attentive, they would have seen their horse becoming agitated and could have prevented the horse from spooking.

Many, many people want this industry to be shut down. Why should taxpayers have to pay for hitching posts for a private industry ruining an otherwise nice street? The drivers should pay attention to what they are doing or get out of the business.
And where exactly would these posts be … on Central Park South? … in front of the deli or Starbucks where the drivers have been seeing leaving their carriage unattended while they go into the store ... In Times Square?

Dedicated Carriage Lanes:  Wow, this is a presumptuous one – even more so because there are only 68 carriages operating at any given time.

Ninth Avenue is the street most used when the carriages return to their stables on the far west side of Manhattan. It is packed with traffic – four lanes plus parking on the east side of the street. Ninth Avenue is the corridor that leads to the Lincoln Tunnel and is crowded most any time of the day. Buses do not even have their own lane. Ambulances from Roosevelt Hospital are a frequent part of the traffic congestion. It has been the site of several accidents. In 2006, a horse named Spotty, returning to his stable was spooked. He bolted and galloped into traffic throwing his driver who was hospitalized in a coma. Spotty crashed into a station wagon at 9th Avenue and 50th Street, wrapping around the top with his head on the ground. He was so badly injured that he was euthanized on the spot.

Tenth Avenue is the route most followed for the drivers to return to their stables.  It is just as congested as Ninth Avenue.   

Special lanes will not have any impact on the nature of the horse.   

By nature, horses are prey animals and will spook at the slightest provocation. At upwards of 2,000 pounds, they become unwitting weapons and can kill themselves or anyone who is in the way. There have been many accidents around the world where this has happened. In 2007, a five-year-old girl fell from a horse in a parade and was trampled and killed by spooked carriage horses. Last year, in an Iowan parade, a woman fell out of the carriage after the horse spooked. She was killed.

Within Central Park: The carriages share these roads with bikers, roller bladders and joggers.

A special lane – I don’t think so. Why should people enjoying the park give up part of the road for carriages? Carriage wheels have damaged the asphalt and the repair expenses are picked up by the City. Why is this?

Central Park South or 59th Street is adjacent to the park and is another street used often. The carriages are already clogging up the north side by the park. Double lanes go in both direction and this is the site of many illegal u-turns.

Microchips to identify the carriage horses: this is my “favorite” and the most sinister and transparent. What does that mean in the NY Times letter “to identify horses.” By whom? The auctions certainly do not have wands to find a missing carriage horse.

The only reason to microchip the horses is to make it more difficult for the public to identity them when there is a problem – or to find them at the auctions. There have been many situations when people have noticed problems with horses and have been able to report them to the authorities.

Micro chipping does not make sense. This is not the same as for cats and dogs who should be micro chipped because they could get lost and end up at the kill shelter. Wanding these animals could reunite them with their guardians.

But carriage horses do not run away. The 4-digit number engraved on their hoof needs to remain. It is the only way to hold this industry to some degree of accountability. This is how we have found carriage horses in auctions. This is how witnesses have identified horses with problems. On June 25, 2010, we found Bobby, a NYC carriage horse at a kill auction. Read his story here. We were able to trace him back to West Side Livery Stable because of his 4-digit hoof number.

Input into driver licensing by the Dept of Consumer Affairs – another joke

-- how about some laws that prohibit the drivers to refrain while driving from using their cell phones, turning around to take pictures, reading magazines and newspapers, standing up while driving, making u-turns on Central Park South, using their horse as a battering ram to negotiate traffic – and eating. That would go a long way into making the streets safer. And what about all those drivers who do not have a NYS Driver license?

The carriage trade is a small industry in NYC consisting of no more than 300 people, many of whom are part time. The Teamsters Union that represents them does so as a lobby group because they do not offer a real union shop to the drivers. While dues are collected, it is only to pay for the Teamsters’ time – it is not for medical or vacation benefits.

Real union members should be very upset about this.

For years, the City of New York has catered to this very small but politically connected industry. Shamrock Stable was renting a city owned site on W. 45th St. at a subsidized rate of $5,000 per month – real estate that on the open market went for $60,000. According to a New York Times article, they had been subsidized by the City for over 40 years. $55,000 per year times X number of years. Yes – that is a lot of money that could have gone toward education, senior centers or keeping the hospitals open.

Do other businesses fare so well with these kinds of deals? No they don’t. If they are not able to afford a location, they have to find one they can. Simple economics.

Why should this industry garner favors and be catered to over all the other small businesses – restaurants, clothing boutiques, food stores, coffee shops, restaurants – all those who have had to close their doors because they could not afford the rent.

So time will tell whether the City will once again cater to this small but privileged industry and give them what they want at taxpayer expense … for a cash only business.

* This is the direct link to the NY Times letter page if the embedded link does not work. 


photos show traffic on 9th Avenue and Columbus Circle; a deadly accident at 9th Avenue and 50th St. on 1/2/2006; Smoothie's death; Bobby's hoof number; driver using cell phone while driving

Sunday, June 12, 2011


New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo is planning to introduce legislation to “penalize drivers who text, post on Twitter or otherwise distract themselves with handheld electronics while at the wheel” according to the the NY Times article Cuomo Seeks Tougher Laws for Texting While Driving, ***dated June 10, 2011.

According to the NY Times "The governor said he would propose upgrading so-called distracted driving from a secondary offense to a primary one, meaning that police officers could pull over drivers solely because they are spotted pecking away at their phones. "

This chart shows how other states deal with this issue. Most are actually stricter than NYS.

So what about NYC carriage drivers? They work on the streets in heavy traffic -- including Central Park South, Ninth Avenue, Times Square. They are guilty of not only using handheld cell phones while driving their carriages, but also reading newspapers and magazines and turning around to take pictures -- all while driving. A new law that was passed last year requires all new carriage drivers to have a NYS drivers’ license but it allowed those who do not have a license to be grand fathered in.

So there are still carriage drivers on the street who do not have a NYS drivers’ license. Last February, the Department of Health actually proposed new regulations that would prevent drivers from using cell phones and engaging in other distractions while driving. But oddly enough, they rescinded them.


Apparently the carriage drivers are above the law because they continue to engage in these kinds of infractions where, if they had an automobile, they would be fined. They also make U-turns on Central Park South in the middle of heavy traffic and the authorities look the other way.

It must be nice to have friends at City Hall.

So what is the problem here? Why are they still allowed to not pay attention while driving -- to engage in unsafe practices and get away with it?

They put everyone in danger - themselves, other cars, pedestrians - and of course, the horses.

*** -- if the NY Times link does not appear it is the fault of Google. If you want to read the article, please do a search. Sorry.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


so many throw away foals...

The other day I received an e-mail about 15 new foals who had just arrived at a sanctuary and were in desperate need of homes. Huh, says I – why so many? Where did they come from? Who is breeding these animals and not taking any responsibility for them? I am totally confused. So I started digging and this is what I found. Just when you think it is “safe to go back into the water” another atrocity strikes.

Known as “nurse mare foals,” these orphaned babies are the throwaway by-product of a cynical industry that leases out lactating mares - their mothers - to nurse foals other than their own. Their own foals are taken from them between one day and one week of age. These foals are either killed, sent to slaughter or rescued. Some are also skinned and their hides used for high end leather products – soft like a baby’s skin.

Why does this evil practice even exist you ask? Here is why: A mare who is prized as a race horse can immediately return to work as a show horse or racehorse after giving birth to her own foal. Instead, her baby is nursed by the nursing mares who are leased out. A prized mare can also be bred again if she does not have to be involved with nursing her own foal. She, of course, does not have a choice. It is all about money and elitism. It is wrong.

The only way to stop this evil is for the racing industry and others who do this to allow their mares to nurse and wean their own young for as long as it takes.

Please see these links on the issue and on the rescues that are helping the unwanted foals:

Nurse-Mare Farms: The Industry’s "Other" Dirty Little Secret

Dream Equine Therapy Center

Mountain View Rescue

A word about the homeless horse crisis, which is directly related to horse slaughter.

According to the USDA, 112,904 US horses were slaughtered in 2010 – up from 106,542 in 2009. 53,104 went to Mexico and 59, 693 to Canada. Horse slaughter is illegal in the US.

We need to put a stigma on the breeding of horses just like we have done about the irresponsible breeding of cats and dogs. We still kill millions in animal shelters yearly, but the numbers have gone down significantly because of campaigns emphasizing spaying and neutering and controlling births. The same thing must be done with horses.

There are far too many and not enough good homes. The slaughter house is no option and we need to get a handle on this obscene problem. While these babies are adorable and are in desperate need of a home, they will displace other horses already here. It is an industry that should be abolished.

As long as so many - horses, cats, and dogs – are throwaways, dying for lack of good homes, something is wrong with our society.



So many throw away foals ...

The other day I received an e-mail about 15 new foals who had just arrived at a sanctuary and were in desperate need of homes. Huh, says I – why so many? Where did they come from? Who is breeding these animals and not taking any responsibility for them? I am totally confused. So I started digging and this is what I found. Just when you think it is “safe to go back into the water” another atrocity strikes.

Known as “nurse mare foals,” these orphaned babies are the throw-away by product of a cynical industry that leases out lactating mares to nurse foals other than their own who are taken from them between one day and one week of age. Their own foals are dumped and often are either killed, sent to slaughter or rescued. They are also skinned and their hides used for high end leather products – soft like a baby’s skin.

Why does this evil practice even exist you ask.? Here is why: A mare who is prized as a race horse can immediately return to work as a show horse or racehorse after giving birth to her own foal. Her baby is nursed by the nursing mares who are leased out. A prized mare can also be bred again if she does not have to worry about nursing her own foal. She, of course, does not have a choice. It is all about money and elitism.

The only way to stop this evil is for the racing industry and others who engage in this practice to allow their mares to nurse and wean their own young for as long as it takes.

Here are some links on the issue and on the rescues who are helping the unwanted babies:

Nurse-Mare Farms: The Industry’s "Other" Dirty Little Secret

Dream Equine Therapy Center

Saturday, March 12, 2011

NYC CARRIAGE HORSES - it is not what will happen to them if there is a ban. It is what is happening NOW!

I have to admit that I am very tired of this question - what will happen to the horses if the carriage industry is banned? If you are new to the issue, I can understand the question. But if you are not, it means you are not reading the proposed legislation that has been out for almost four years – first Intro 658 and then Intro 86! This is important if you are to be fully educated about this issue.

HISTORY: In 2006, the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages began the campaign to put an end to this inhumane, unsafe and frivolous carriage trade in NYC. But one would think that we went into this without any thought to the horses, considering some of the questions we get. This is the only reason we are involved in this issue at all.

It was and remains our desire to save the horses. Period.

NEW DISPOSITION LANGUAGE: In 2007, we worked with former Council Member and present NYS Senator Tony Avella to introduce Intro 658. This bill was historic, the first ever bill to ban the carriage industry. The language to deal with “horse disposition” as it is referred to, was considered very carefully by the City Council’s attorneys because the horses are privately owned. The “A” section addressed horse disposition. For those of you who have never read this section of the bill, it is included below.

The purpose was to amend the existing Administrative Code. The text in brackets [ ] means it is removed. The italicized sections indicate new language. The intent of this amended section would require that the owners be held accountable for all the horses in their businesses and make sure they were either adopted into a good home or a sanctuary. They would not be allowed to be sold to work in another carriage trade.

The present law states that a horse must be disposed of in a ”humane manner,” which is meaningless because it never included an explanation. The law also does not require that sales or transfer records be submitted to the Department of Health if the transaction is made outside of New York City as most are. This means a horse can be taken to auction and the owner is not required to provide this information to the Department of Health. This is where many horses fall through the cracks. When one studies the existing carriage horse regulations, it is quite apparent that they were written to protect the industry -- not the horses -- and to secure the veil of secrecy.

Section 1. Section 17-329 of title 17 of the Administrative Code of the city of New York is amended to read as follows:
§17-329 Disposition of licensed horse. a. The department shall be notified of the transfer of ownership or other disposition of a licensed horse within [ten] five days thereafter. Such notice shall include the date of disposition and [if sold in New York city,] the name and address of the buyer or other transferee and such other information as the commissioner may prescribe.
b. A horse shall not be sold or disposed of except in a humane manner, which, for the purposes of this subchapter shall mean one of the following:
1. The owner shall sell or donate the horse to a private individual who signs an assurance that the horse will not be sold and shall be kept solely as a companion animal and not employed in another horse-drawn carriage business or as a work horse and will be cared for humanely for the remainder of the horse's natural life; or
2. The owner shall sell or donate the horse to a duly incorporated animal sanctuary or duly incorporated animal protection organization whose president or executive director signs an assurance that the horse will not be sold and shall be kept solely as a companion animal and not employed in another horse-drawn carriage business and will be cared for humanely for the remainder of the horse's natural life.
c. Records indicating the name, address and telephone number of the private individual, duly incorporated animal sanctuary or duly incorporated animal protection organization to whom the horse was sold or donated together with the assurance specified above shall be sent by the owner to the department within five days after such sale or donation. A copy of such record shall also be maintained at the stable.

VINTAGE CAR BILL: Intro 86, the vintage car bill, which was introduced in 2010, did not include anything about saving the horses. They would still continue to fall through the cracks on their way to auction in upstate New York and Pennsylvania. We asked the sponsor of the bill, Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito to add this same section to her bill, which she did.

But the City Council is never going to pass a bill without seeing a prototype of this “vintage replica electric hybrid car.” And because the sponsors of this bill know that and have been supposedly working on this “car” since 2008, we wonder why they have not produced a model car. Some Council Members brought this up over one year ago at the Council hearing of Intro 86.

And while all this inaction continues, the horses continue to disappear – approximately 1/3 - about 70 - disappear from the Department of Health rolls each year. Carriage horses have an average working life on the street of only four years. Because of the way the existing law is written, favoring the lack of transparency by the industry, they keep falling through the cracks on their way to the slaughter auctions. Sure some of them – the favorites – are saved and find good homes. But the majority probably do go to auction. There is simply no real proof because of the way the law is written. The industry can claim they adopt every one, but they are not required to show any proof.

SLAUGHTER STATISTICS: On their web site, the Equine Welfare Alliance (source is USDA) cites 112, 904 US horses slaughtered in 2010 – up from 106,542 in 2009. 53,104 went to Mexico and 59, 693 to Canada. Surely some of those horses were from the carriage trades all over the country. There are too many horses because people unconscionably still breed them. As with cats and dogs and the emphasis on spaying and neutering over the last 20 –30 plus years, we need to make the breeding of horses unacceptable until none are sent on to the slaughter auctions. Considering the price of horseflesh – approximately 60-80 cents a pound, a 1,000-pound horse can bring about $800; 2,000-pound horse (large draft breeds) can bring about $1,600.

In 2010, the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, along with Equine Advocates and Friends of Animals, rescued Bobby II Freedom from the slaughter auction at New Holland, Pennsylvania. Bobby, then called Billy, was a discarded NYC carriage horse who had been owned by two people from West Side Livery stable on W. 38th St. Bobby’s story is truly heart warming and he was recently immortalized by Peter Max in a beautiful painting that was auctioned off at the Armory’s art show in NYC. He is now living the Life of Reilly at Equine Advocates Sanctuary in upstate New York.

I cannot stress upon you enough that if you care about these horses, you must care about what happens to them now. Intro 86A addresses what will happen to them if the industry is banned.

But we want to take that section and make a stand alone bill and convince the Council to pass it now.

Recently, we put up a petition on that addresses this issue. The petition generates letters to the City Council asking them to pass a stand-alone bill that would address the issue of horse slaughter now. It would make the owners accountable for their horses.

If you have not done so yet - read and sign the petition on


Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages

Horses Without Carriages International

Equine Welfare Alliance

Mary Nash's Horse Meat Website

Animals Angels

photos credited to Animals Angels, Equine Welfare Alliance, Equine Advocates

Saturday, March 5, 2011


It's March 2011 and counting. By January 2013, the race for mayor should be in full swing. September 2013 … Primary Day. At this point, it seems like it might be a packed house – at least according to AM-NY, which recently ran a story about the hopefuls. Click here.

TOP CONTENDERS: The top contenders mentioned in the article were Bill Thompson, Anthony Weiner, Christine Quinn, Scott Stringer, John Liu and Bill DeBlasio. A side bar in the paper version mentioned long shots, but still possibilities, as Tony Avella and Marty Markowitz. This, of course, is just for the Democratic primary. A wealthy dark horse could step up at any time as Mr. Bloomberg did in 2001 and knock everybody out of the race with the dazzle of money.

For those of us who care about NYC’s animals and how they continue to be short shrifted, immediately cross Christine Quinn and John Liu off the list. Quinn is so far successfully manipulating some of the large ineffective animal organizations into promoting her as being good for animals. She is not and never has been. The bills she recently passed were pathetic, light weight bills that were either unenforceable or would do little to nothing to help animals. Visit this blog for more information.

By animal issues, I specifically mean the ongoing dreadful city shelter catastrophe, where killing cats and dogs daily is the name of the game ... and the ongoing exploitation and institutional abuse of the carriage horses, all in the name of tourism. Of course, the other issue that needs thoughtful and compassionate consideration by a wise executive is the wide spread slaughter of geese that has nationally shamed NYC.

As for Anthony Weiner, he thinks he can be coy by not addressing these hot button issues, but apparently feels comfortable with other issues like opposing the new bike lanes. See the most recent story in the Gothamist.

STRINGER & DEBLASIO: Are Scott Stringer and Bill DeBlasio really planning to run for mayor? That is the question – but here’s the rub if you care about animal issues in NYC …

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer was elected to his current post in 2003. Although he was only supposed to serve for two terms, he decided that he wanted to run for another – to go against the will of the people. It was too irresistible to stay in office. This disrespect of the people who elected him will forever remain stuck in the craw of many. Recently Mr. Stringer was the recipient of a fund raiser directed to people interested in animal issues ... trying to get on their good side; trying to talk the talk.

The truth is that Mr. Stringer has done nothing for either the carriage horses or shelter animals in his nine years in office – not even to use the bully pulpit of the Borough President’s office. Think about it … 9 years … approximately 70 carriage horses disappear off the rolls of the Department of Health per year x 9 … that’s a minimum of 630 horses unaccounted for; 9 years … a minimum of 205,390 cats and dogs killed at Animal Care and Control. [these numbers are taken from the web site of Animal Care & Control of NYC.]

And Mr. DeBlasio as the Public Advocate is no better. Recently an article “written” by Bill DeBlasio appeared in the Huffington Post supporting the electric car bill – Intro 86A – a bill that would substitute vintage replica hybrid cars for the horse carriages, phasing them out over three years. The article was most likely written by someone at NY Class, the organization that supposedly wants this new industry to happen. The only problem is that they have been working on it since 2008 and have never produced a prototype. It is a bill in concept only.

Mr. DeBlasio also did not mention the suffering of the horses in his article; he did not even acknowledge that it is actually Intro 86A, which addresses horse disposition and prevents them from going to slaughter, thanks to our intervention on this bill with Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito, the sponsor.

The sad truth is that Mr. DeBlasio has done nothing for either the carriage horses or the shelter animals in his eight years in office as a Council Member and his one year as Public Advocate – not even to use the bully pulpit of the Public Advocate’s office.

So why should those of us who care about animals support either one for mayor? They are all talk and no action, but they know the animal community is ripe with suckers born every minute. They both know you are an easy mark. Maybe because animal people are so desperate – always looking for a pied piper.

My advice to both Mr. DeBlasio and Mr. Stringer is to actually DO SOMETHING FOR THE ANIMALS. Make us want to support you. Don’t take the “animal” vote for granted because you will not get it.

My advice to animal people is to research all of these candidates and see for yourself. Don’t accept what the “big” organizations say. Question all motives.

This is the most important piece of advice I can impart: The City Council is not a democratic body. Only bills that are supported by Speaker Christine Quinn go anywhere. Council members know this but play the game and “sponsor” bills anyway so they look “good” to their constituents. But I am sorry to tell you that it means nothing because when push comes to shove, it is their vote that counts when and if action is taken on the bill. It is about who stands up to be counted.

A few years ago, a bill dealing with a resolution on humane education made it to a vote. It listed over 40 Council Members as supporters. A naive person would expect that the bill would pass since there are 51 council members and the majority clearly supported this bill. But the bill failed miserably when it came to a vote. Most of those council members voted the way Christine Quinn wanted them to and she was opposed to it.

SENATOR TONY AVELLA: I think a draft Tony Avella for Mayor movement looks better every day. Here is someone who put his career on the line and introduced the historic bill to ban horse drawn carriages in 2007. That took a lot of courage. Albany is lucky to have a state legislator with the drive and integrity of Mr. Avella who won the state senate seat from Queens in 2010. Recently, he reintroduced a bill to ban foie gras – a particularly cruel practice of force feeding ducks for a frivolous pate. See Senator Avella’s home page on the Senate web site.


-- Know the issues and the facts.
-- If you are not already a Democrat, register to vote now in the Democratic primary, which will be held in September 2013 – because this will be where the action is. Don't wait until the last minute.
-- Join a local Democratic club and get active. At some point, they will endorse a candidate for mayor and you will be able to vote and offer your opinions and affect the decision.

And please support our ongoing campaign. We are independent and tireless. We are currently looking for a City Council member who will support a stand alone bill to save the horses from the slaughter auctions.

Elizabeth Forel
Coalition to ban horse-drawn carriages.
Horses Without Carriages International

Sunday, February 27, 2011


If given the opportunity, rolling is one of the few pleasures a horse has. It is something he can do for himself. He will use it for pleasure on the snow packed ground. He will roll in the mud and dirt right after you just spent an hour grooming him. What you didn’t realize is that he is putting the finishing touches on your grooming job by shedding the excess moisture and getting his hair just the way he likes it.

Yes, as Elizabeth Hess said in Horse Heaven: Escaping the Plate - “rolling is palpable horse joy.” When I first read this phrase, it resonated deeply with me because I knew that watching a horse roll is one of the great pleasures in life if you love horses. Dogs enjoy a good, satisfying roll and so do those “drop and roll” cats – looking for a belly rub. But watching these gentle graceful giants roll is truly a sight for sore eyes.

Bobby II Freedom, a former New York City carriage horse, was rescued from the slaughter auctions in June 2010 by the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, Equine Advocates and Friends of Animals. When Bobby stepped out of his horse trailer after the long ride from Pennsylvania to the heaven that is the Equine Advocates Sanctuary, one of the first things he did after picking up the scent of other horses, hay and grass was to chew a mouthful of grass and drop to his knees to begin a long and luxurious roll. When one considers what kind of life Bobby had until that time, it is easy to see why.

As a carriage horse in NYC, Bobby lived in a small stall, probably no bigger than 48 square feet, which was the minimum legal requirement – now it is 60 sq. ft, which is still far too small for even a standardbred. Bobby had no opportunity for turnout – no paddock -- no pasture. As a work horse, he went from the confines of the shafts of his carriage, in which he was legally allowed to work nine hours a day, seven days a week, to the confines of his stall. Life was not good. He had to put up with it.

Susan Wagner, president and founder of Equine Advocates and Bobby’s new care giver knows about the value of rolling and added that “urban carriage horses that never have turn-out are also often denied the opportunity to assume all of their natural postures, including that of lateral recumbency, which happens when the horse is completely lying down flat on his or her side with legs stretched out. This position allows the animal to meaningfully lie down and be completely at rest. More often, horses confined to small stalls with no turn-out can only assume the more cramped position of sternal recumbency where the animal is lying down on his or her chest with legs tucked up.”

At Equine Advocates Sanctuary, the horse stalls are all at least 12’x 12’ providing Bobby with the digs he so richly deserves.

All horses instinctively love to roll. They do it after grooming, after confinement, after heavy exercise. It makes them feel good. In the summer and fall, the extra layer of dirt they get from rolling helps to protect their skin from bug bites. I cannot imagine what it must be like not to have this option. Dispirited horses put up with a lot – they have no choice. But they are being deprived of one of their great pleasures in life.

Experts suggest that horses be given the freedom to roll – that besides being fun and putting the finishing touches on their grooming, it also plays a very important part in a horse's health. When a horse rolls, he is stretching the muscles in his body, keeping him healthy and flexible and helping him to relax.

The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages has been actively campaigning for a ban of the carriage industry in New York City since 2006. This traffic congested city is no place for a horse who cannot live a natural life. Instead he is exploited as part of a frivolous industry and cast aside when no longer needed. This is a movement that is being seen and heard around the world.

(Please note that rolling is normal but a colicing horse can also roll because of pain. It will appear different and you should seek help. )

The first picture above shows Bobby after he came out of the trailer at Equine Advocates. Photo credit: Jim Craner:

The picture of the white horse is Monty - a rescued, former Boston carriage horse living at Central New England Equine Rescue. Photo credit: Vicky Berry

These are non related independent videos on Youtube showing horses rolling.

Elizbeth Forel
Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages
Horses Without Carriages International


Monday, February 21, 2011


A Cozumel horse advocate speaks out

The inhumane carriage trade is finally coming to an end at the end of March in the beautiful island of Cozumel. A law that has been on the books for some time now will finally be enforced.

The carriage trade proponents (drivers and owners mostly) are spreading the word that no one considered what will happen to the horses and they will all go to slaughter. They are doing that to negatively affect all the other ongoing campaigns such as the one in New York City. Not only is this not true, but they carefully ignore the fact that if an owner of a horse wants to bring his horse to the slaughter auctions, it is his choice -- whether in NYC or Cozumel. Besides, that is where many of them go now when their work life is over. The horse owner is accountable for the fate of his horse.

The following was written by a horse advocate who has been very involved with this issue in Cozumel. It is written in English, although not her first language, which is Spanish.

This is her response to the neigh sayers on a "horse" blog.

to lolalola: as your Spanish skills are only basics I am assuming the info you give here is not accurate, or you made it up. Where did you read this ?

to everyone:
If we requested to ban the horse drawn carriages in Cozumel due to the cruelty and abuse caused to the horses ,we obviously had contemplated the destination , use and welfare of the horses after the ban takes place. i don't have or need to give details about it but i will.

*we had requested the mayor to have the animal control center office to supervise the destination and use given to the horses after the ban takes place.and we will be there to make sure is done and done right.
*yes, the horses are privately owned, but the animal protection and welfare law of the state has regulations for the owners of the animals. if they don't follow they can face not only a fine but days in jail.
*there are not slaughter houses on the island , and to transport a 2,ooo lb. horse to a slaughter house is not worth it for the owners so please stop saying Cozumel's horses will be taken to slaughter houses.

*yes , there is a horse sanctuary on the island.
* yes, there are people willing to adopt or buy this horses to have them at their camp houses,well kept and give them a descent life.
*and stop trying to blame the situation on us, if carriage drivers and owners had followed the regulations given to them by 3 different municipality departments, we would not have needed to have to ask for the ban. In few words, it became impossible to regulate them or have control on them.

So stop worrying or using Cozumel 's horses , because they are going to be much better than they are now. you can be sure about that.

i could sit here and talk for hours , days about this industry , i have seen everything that happens behind of it, and you are not going to like what i have to say.

you are going to have to excuse me but i have better things to do with my time and energy than to sit here and argue with people that obviously make their living out of the carriage industry. For example i have to make sure a horse working with open wounds is taking off the streets and to have checked the horse that bolted on Saturday, because if he is not injured from the accident he surely is from the beating given to him by his driver for bolting.

Please, Stop using the horse situation after a ban as an excuse not to ban.

Dont try to win a loosing war.

People, use common sense. On Saturday there where 5 cruise ships parked at the pier in the area where the horse bolted. A mother , a Father , or someones child could have gotten killed, tourists or people working in this area to feed their families.

People evolve. New generations are not using your services, sooner than later horse drawn carriages will have to disappear.

So stop saying lies and get your self a descent job that does not involve animal exploitation and danger to people.

regards from a soon to be free from horse drawn carriages Cozumel

Thursday, February 10, 2011


A recent fire in a horse drawn carriage stable in Vancouver, Canada caused over $50,000 in damage but fortunately none of the horses were in the facility at the time.

This past August, an electrical fire broke out at Chateau Stables. We were told that there were no injuries of either horse or human but there appeared to be quite a bit of damage. See this video on Youtube.

I don't know what the fire protection requirements are in Vancouver. But I do know New York City. Sprinklers are not a legal requirement for horse stables in this supposedly #1 city. It is solely up to the discretion of the owner. So although stables generally house very flammable material -- such as hay, wood stalls and carriages ...not to mention the precious lives of the many horses who are stuck on the upper floors and whose only means of egress is the ramp, which will act as a chimney if there is a fire, sprinklers are not required. This picture below is at West Side Livery and shows their "fire protection" system.

This issue had been suppressed by the City Council for years. More than five years ago there was actually a bill that called for sprinklers in horse stables, but it was killed. More recently a bill that called for sprinklers in establishments that house animals - such as pet stores - has been ignored.

To add insult to injury, in February, the Department of Health (DoH) proposed the following changes to Article 161 of the NYC Health Code. The DoH rescinded the proposal when Intro 35-A was passed. Intro 35-A was an industry bill, which gave the drivers a rate increase. It did not address this issue.

(6) Fire hazards. Premises shall be kept free of fire hazards. Effective July 1, 2011, all buildings in which stables are located shall be equipped with an operational sprinkler system installed in accordance with §BC903.3.1.1 of the New York City Building Code, or successor provision. (8) Electrical wiring. (A) All electrical appliances shall be plugged directly into properly grounded electrical outlets. (B) Electrical wiring shall be installed and maintained in metal electrical conduits. (C) Extension cords may be used for brief periods of time, not to exceed three (3) hours, and 25 such cords shall be disconnected and removed when the appliances or tools to which they are connected are not being used.

Fire Safety in Barns is a website dedicated to preventing deadly fires in barns and stables. It is must reading for any municipality that wants to take this issue seriously. Take a look at the chart on this site Loss of Animal by Fire. It is devastating and much of it could be prevented. Yet it contains only fires that were reported to the media

We think this is outrageous. What hold does this tiny carriage industry have over the legislators. Lives are at risk.

Please call or write Speaker Christine Quinn and other NYC Council members - click here. And send an e-mail to Mayor Bloomberg by clicking here. Tell them to pass a law to require sprinklers in horse stables. It is way past time.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

OPEN LETTER TO THE ASPCA by Donny Moss - director of Blinders: The Truth Behind the Tradition

This afternoon, someone forwarded to me an e-mail from the ASPCA's equine vet, Pam Corey. She was defending the ASPCA against all the complaints they have received about not doing a good job concerning the NYC carriage horse issue. NYC has recently been hit with quite a bit of snow and icy conditions and the criticisms were well founded.

But no one hit it quite on the head with such a sense of completeness as Donny Moss, the director of the award winning documentary about the carriage industry, known affectionately as Blinders.

In 2008, his documentary was released. Donny has continued to be a strong advocate for the carriage horses and for ethics in politics.

First off: this is Pam Corey's response to criticism:

Since December 1st, New York City carriage operations have been suspended 12 times by ASPCA agents due to weather issues or cold temperatures (18 degrees in the winter.) The park drives are patrolled to evaluate safety of the surfaces and when icy or >slippery, the horse carriages are sent back to the stables. No horses left their stables today, February 1st, due to the ASPCA's suspension this morning, due to slippery roads. Despite the fact that NYC Parks and NYPD officers, as well as inspectors from the city's department of health and department of consumer affairs must enforce the laws regulating carriage horses,

The ASPCA agents are the only ones that travel to Central Park to examine the road conditions and take the air temperature. Complaints to this department from around the country state that the ASPCA does nothing to protect the horses. Our continued monitoring of the park and response to complaints shows that this is not true.

thank you for your concern about the carriage horses, we share it.

Pamela Corey DVM
Director of Equine Veterinary Services
Humane Law Enforcement


REBUTTAL: this is from Donny Moss

Dear Dr. Corey:

In response to your message, perhaps the following reasons explain why people around the country complain to the ASPCA about your handling of the carriage horses:

1. The ASPCA is silent when your voice is needed the most. At the Mayor's public hearing on the carriage operator rate hike bill, Bloomberg stated, "The ASPCA has convinced me that the horses are treated humanely." Why weren't you at that critical hearing in front of the cameras to correct him and to testify in support of a ban? He could have vetoed the bill.

2. The ASPCA did not show up to Council Member Avella's press conference announcing the bill to ban horse-drawn carriages. Why? Because you were absent in the press at that critical moment, NYers were left with the impression that it was just a bunch of animal rights extremists who support of a ban.

3. The ASPCA pulled out all the stops to preserve your oversight of the carriage industry when a bill was being considered to take it away from you. Why don't you put that energy into fighting for a ban?

4. The ASPCA wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars of your donors' contributions on a lobbying firm that you ultimately fired instead of just using your board of directors, your influence in the City, celebrity spokespeople and PR machine to publicly demand a ban.

5. The ASPCA has fostered an environment where carriage operators are comfortable defying your authority and the law. What, if anything, are the consequences for them?

6. The ASPCA allows the industry to state to the press that the ASPCA has never issued a cruelty summons. Could that possibly be true?

7. The ASPCA continues to give the public the impression that you're monitoring the industry and protecting the horses when, in fact, your presence is sporadic at best and your absence is palpable on weekends, when the horses are working the most.

8. The ASPCA has publicly thanked Christine Quinn for pushing two marginal bills through the City Council at the expense of the carriage ban and other meaningful bills.

9. The ASPCA's board member, Cindy Adams, wrote a column in the NY Post in April, 2010 congratulating Speaker Christine Quinn and the ASPCA for the passage of the industry bill that would give the drivers a rate increase but precious little for the horses. Why did the ASPCA not demand a retraction?

On a final note, why is the ASPCA hosting a party in Palm Beach with Georgina Bloomberg to "celebrate the ASPCA's recent efforts in protecting horses from abuse and neglect" when you have done so little to help and so much to hurt the abused horses in your own backyard?

Donny Moss