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