Saturday, December 12, 2015



There are good horse stables and there are bad horse stables.
Judge for yourself

    In NYC, the law allows carriage horse horse stalls to be as small as 60 square feet – 6’ x 10’ – even though many of the horses are large drafts weighing upwards of 2,000 pounds.  Equine  experts recommend stalls be 144 square feet or 12' x 12'  - with even more space
    provided to larger horses.  There is not enough space in NYC to do this right and the
    drivers want to cram in as many money-making machines (horses) as possible.  This is,
    after all, a business - not a horse-sanctuary.  When these horses cannot cut it anymore,
    they are gone.  
    The law does not require turnout to pasture since the land does not exist.  The law also
    allows the stalls to be on upper floors – accessible by a steep ramp.  How steep is it you
    ask?  Imagine a warehouse building with two floors connected by a staircase.  Remove
    the stair and replace it with a ramp, which because of the small space, is very steep.  This
    is how the horses access their stalls.  It is uncomfortable for them,  especially the older
    ones, to go up and down every day. The ideal is to have the stalls on the first floor.  

   These are some pictures published by ChelseaNow lauding these stables as old New 
    York.  But they are not historical landmark material.  They are just old, smelly, decrepit 
   buildings that warehouse horses like a prison. 

   These pictures are available for the public via this newspaper.  However they are nothing
   to be proud of. 

Chateau Stables on 48th St. - This stall is too small for this carriage horse at 60 square feet.   The horse still wears a  halter.  Although permissible, it is obviously done for the convenience of the drivers.  But it is uncomfortable for a horse to wear it 24/7.   More proof that these horses are just "products" and money making machines. 

Carriage Horse stable - Although Liam Neeson might want to live here, it is a disaster for horses.  Note that it has one means of egress in the middle.  If there were a fire, the horses would panic trying to descend a ramp to get out one exit.   This is what the unions and City Council want to preserve? 

Carriage Horse stable - Clinton Stables  on 52nd St. - It is not OK for a horse to be sharing his oats with pigeons.  The pigeons defecate on the oats in the bucket, which is then eaten by the horses. 

West Side Livery on 38th St. - small and cramped and dirty.  Couldn't they at least have cleaned up for the photographer?  I guess they did not care. 
 Again - horses wearing halters.


This stable belongs to a rescue in Massachusetts.  The stalls are 12' x 12' with a 10' wide aisle.  Note the horses are not wearing halters while resting.  The name of this rescue is withheld to prevent them from being harassed.  

Horses are herd animals and love to graze.   This is something that is not available for them in NYC. 

      NYC should not be supporting this business.  It is cruel and inhumane to the horses.  No 
     matter how hard the carriage owners, Liam Neeson, some of the Council members and 
     others try to make this look romantic and "olde New York."  it is inhumane and marks NYC
     as one that does not care about animals. 
     It is also unsafe and dangerous to people whether the horses are housed in Hells Kitchen or Central Park.
     Additionally, the 68 medallion owners are the only ones who make out here -- not the
      drivers.  Do not believe that there are 350 "good union jobs."  There are only 120 drivers
     who belong to the union and they receive no benefits. 

     Unions are losing membership all over the country and they need this to show their
    strength.  But it is based on a lie at the expense of the horses.  The Mayor and Council 
    Members are terrified that the unions will come after them in the next election. 
    So in the end -- what are they trying to protect?  What is really behind all of this nonsense?

    Is this the kind of city you want to live in?  


Sunday, December 6, 2015


(please write letter posted below - all info provided)  

Just before the 2015 Thanksgiving holiday, when  fewer people were  paying attention, the NY Times reported that Mayor deBlasio plans to REDUCE not BAN the carriage trade.  This took us by surprise.  The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages started this campaign in 2006 - a culmination of 15 previous years of working on this issue.    Yet the Mayor has never once reached out to us to consult or ask our opinion.  Why?  MONEY TALKS and without it, you do not have  a seat at the table.  Unfortunately this is what our mayor is all about.  Remember his campaign  phrase "tale of two cities?"  Sounded catchy at the time, but he is the worse offender - exacerbating the "two cities" concept by only listening to big donors. 

Here are some of the recent articles.


For starters - please accept that this will not happen.  The carriage trade is already opposing it because it cuts jobs.  It would be easier to get a total ban than to go through these kinds of machinations. 

While the details have not been released yet, the Mayor is talking about reducing the number of horses in the industry to 70  -  down from approximately 200 and moving them into Central Park.    Will the City build a costly new stable on public park land for a private industry -- built with public money?   Or will they try to cram these  horses into the existing stables in Central Park that were used to house 5 horses?   Anything is possible.  If you think this will come with pasture turnout and appropriately sized stalls - think again and take off your blinders. 

This will not only require approval by the City Council but because of state law governing parks -- if the plan is to build, it will also require the approval of the NYS legislature and Governor Cuomo -- unless they figure out a way around it.  Very possible. 


Mostly, this is a transparent ploy to stave off criticism by activists (letters, public protests) that Mayor deBlasio has not fulfilled his promise of banning the inhumane and unsafe carriage trade – because he is too weak.   deBlasio’s ratings have sunk and he is trying to do damage control. The mayor has two years to reelection and he wants to keep the activist community at bay.  Will you fall for it?  That is the question to answer.

The Mayor is quoted in the NY Times as saying "he made a commitment to his supporters and wants to show he is a man of his word."  News flash.   He promised to BAN the inhumane and unsafe trade - nothing less. That is not being true to his "word" at all. 


For some reason, the mayor and his staff, who do not have much knowledge about the horses, are suggesting that this is all about the "horses in traffic."  They would be wrong although that is certainly one of the concerns. It is about so much more -- the punishing existing of working 9 hours a day, 7 days a week - in all kinds of weather; the inadequate sized stalls - 1/2 the size that experts recommend; no turnout to pasture; being sent to kill auctions when no longer wanted ; little to no law enforcement - allowing the drivers to make illegal U-turns; leaving their horses unattended and untethered; overloading carriages, etc.

The horses' nature will not change.  They are still prey animals and can spook at the slightest provocation, becoming unwitting weapons when they bolt  -  able to cause injury or death to themselves or innocent passersby.  This is not going to change because they live in Central Park.
The hack line on Central Park South will most likely remain because this is where the drivers get their customers.  But this is also where many of the accidents occur.


This was a study of the carriage trade required by the proposed bill, Intro 573.  We do not know what it "studied" because that information was never released.   It was completed in June, 2015 but never officially published.    Months ago, we put through a Freedom of Information request - (FOIL)  but continue to get monthly e-mail responses saying it is delayed until "next month."  Why the lack of transparency?  We want to know what the Mayor is hiding? 


Although we have never thought the existing stable property in Hell's Kitchen was a consideration in banning the horse carriage trade, this proposal is suspicious – if the drivers buy it – and they probably will not – their four stables will be freed up – and they will probably sell them. Interesting? We think so.


The Mayor could have done this right if he had listened to us and others at the beginning – instead of those who gave him big donations. He could have opted for the proposal to replace the horse carriages with RETROFITTED CARRIAGES – with no horses. (NOT ELECTRIC CARS) The drivers should have jumped at this opportunity.  They complain that people insult them and call them horse abusers but as long as horses are involved, this will not change whether they move into the park or not.  They will never work in an industry where they and their families can be proud of what they do because of the ongoing attacks.   Liam Neeson can try to defend them by saying they love their horses like children, but this will not stop a passerby from shouting "get a real job, horse abuser."  The drivers need to face facts - This is simply the way it is.

if they were serious about this complaint, they would look for viable ways to continue in something that closely resembled their current business but did not have horses.  Retrofitted carriages would allow them to continue with the same business model; they would have been in control; still kept their stables to store the same carriages they always used but now would be  retrofitted.   The cost was a fraction of the electric cars – Maybe $20,000 each compared to $200,000 for an electric car. Instead the drivers foolishly dug in their heels saying “no compromise.”

Now they run the risk of losing everything.

The Mayor is not keeping his word and this is NOT a step in the right direction. Don’t be fooled. We want ALL the horses retired to sanctuaries – after all when slavery was abolished, no one agreed to reduce the number of people kept as slaves – it was total abolition. We will accept nothing less.


Please contact the people below who are in the deBlasio administration and tell them that the Mayor must show the leadership abilities for which we elected him and that he must make this ban happen.  A promise made is a promise made to be kept - See sample letter below:

If you do not contact these policy makers, nothing will happen.  So please do it! 

Anthony Shorris - First Deputy Mayor

Marco Carrion - Commissioner of Community Affairs

Emma Wolfe - Intergovernmental

Jeffrey Dupee - Community Affairs

Ramon Martinez - Speaker's Office,,,, 

This is a sample letter -- just copy and paste: 

Honorable Officials,
I am writing to express my extreme disappointment and displeasure over the failure in leadership demonstrated by Mayor DeBlasio, concerning the issue of the carriage horse ban.  While the Mayor claims he has done everything possible to move this forward, and ban supporters have made every effort to contact their own Council members, it appears that he has absolutely no clout with the City Council in getting them to support his bill.  Why then would New Yorkers want to re-elect someone who is so weak?

We do not support the new plan to reduce the size of the industry.  It appears to be a ploy to keep the activist community at bay.

The Mayor must show the leadership abilities for which we elected him and must make this ban happen or I will certainly not support or vote for him again.  A promise made is a promise made to be kept!


Sunday, November 15, 2015



On Thursday night at the hack line -- November 12, 2015 -  horse after horse was left unattended near Seventh Avenue, standing around waiting for fares that never came.  This is not unusual. 

It is both dangerous and illegal to leave carriage horses unattended and untethered in New York City.  It is written into the NYC Administrative Code - §17–330  Regulations. 
But no one in authority is paying attention.

It also raises the questions: where is all the business? And why is the carriage trade digging in their heels to keep this questionable business.? 

We have observed this many times.  No business.  So we continue to ask the question:  WHY!

Why does this cash only business still exist?   What/who is behind it?   Fewer than 250  licenses have been issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs to drive a horse-drawn carriages.  Some of those licensees are not actively involved and live in other cities and countries, holding onto the license because it is inexpensive.  There are only 68 medallions / owners.   The other drivers are independent contractors who have to take care of their own taxes and get a percentage of their fares.  Only 120 drivers belong to the union.  Because it is not 100%, it is not a union shop and this means that there are no  benefits.  No health care, no vacation days, no 401 K/s.  Nothing.  It is name only.  This obviously means that they are not "good union jobs" as many think.  

So why are they still hanging on?

Why is the Mayor and City Council allowing this inhumane and unsafe business to continue?  Why are they afraid of this tiny group of people? 

These are the $64,000 questions.  
Unattended and untethered -- no driver in sight  © Mary Culpepper
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Unattended and untethered -- no driver in sight  - © Mary Culpepper

Unattended and untethered -- no driver in sight - © Mary Culpepper

Carriage drivers standing around by the wall, as their horses are unattended: illegal, dangerous, and curious -  where is all the business that has made them dig their heels in?   © Mary Culpepper

Unattended and untethered -- no driver in sight - © Mary Culpepper

Carriage driver is so bored that he's relaxing in the back of the carriage, leaving his horse unattended illegally and endangering the public safety as well as the horse.  © Mary Culpepper

Thursday, April 2, 2015



Recently, I wrote a blog for about the mysterious death of a New York City  carriage horse named Tickles, which occurred on February 13, 2015.   The Daily News was the first newspaper to report that Tickles had been euthanized in his stall “after an accident left him with a fractured leg.” 

If you do not know the story or need to be refreshed, please read the piece in TheDodo called "NYC's Handling of Carriage Horse Death Raises Many Questions."  It discusses the inadequate information I received via the Freedom of Information law, all of which pointed to a shoddy Department of Health “investigation.” 

This is the letter I sent to top people at the Mayor’s office and the Department of Health.  It is dated April 1, 2015.  Will it be ignored?  Will any action be taken?  

On behalf of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, I request that the Department of Health conduct an appropriate and extensive independent investigation into the death of Tickles, which occurred on February 13, 2015.  

The information I recently received through the Freedom of Information Law from the Department of Health revealed how inadequate the handling of this death was.  We find it unacceptable.  

It is highly possible that Tickles fractured his leg before he got to his stall.  This means it could have happened to him while he was on the street working -- or at the farm.  To make the assumption that Tickles was cast in his stall -- as Dr. Farrell did -  is just that - an assumption.    

The  web site for the farm Tickles went to for furlough, shows that they offer carriage rides and other horse events.  Was Tickles forced to participate?  Was Tickles also worked at the farm?  It is possible.  As you know, the existing laws - written by the carriage trade -  never required the DoH to inspect or approve any of these furlough locations.  

The veterinarians employed or hired as consultants by the DoH all have conflicts of interest.  In this case, Dr. Farrell had previously testified on behalf of the carriage industry at City Hall.  This is wrong.  

Please let me know if the DoH intends to investigate this death in an appropriate and independent way.

This is an article I wrote for  What I do not say in this e-mail, i said in the article so please consider it as part of this communication.      

Thank you.  

Elizabeth Forel
President / Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages 


Wednesday, February 18, 2015



Council Member Eric Ulrich was first elected to the  NY City Council in  2009.  He is the only Republican from Queens and represents Rockaway Peninsula as well as South Richmond Hill, Howard Beach, South Ozone Park and Woodhaven.  

Queens is also a fairly conservative borough and home to many carriage horse drivers.  According to his City Council page, Mr. Ulrich is only 28.  This means he was  7 years old when the  last big fight to control and regulate the out of control carriage business occurred.  This resulted in the drivers being able to work their horses in many parts of the City, with no thought to public safety.   The Mayor at that time was Rudolph Giuliani, followed by Michael Bloomberg, neither a friend to animals.  

As a Republican  Mr. Ulrich's support for a ban on horse-drawn carriages was not expected, but at least he was not trying to hurt the administration by spilling his guts to the Daily News just for attention.  Well that all changed. On Friday, February 13, the NY Daily News published this article telling how Mr. Ulrich decided to speak out. 

I sent the following e-mail to CM Ulrich's chief of staff about this article:

I make reference to the article in the Daily News on Friday, February 13th about Council Member Ulrich making the decision to oppose the bill to ban horse-drawn carriages. 

Please show this e-mail to the Council Member.  I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion - but as the old saying goes - not to their own facts.  

This is the quote attributed to the Council Member:

"I believe that every New Yorker, not only carriage drivers, should have access to a good paying job, retirement security, and the opportunity to give their kids a better shot at life. That is what the American dream is all about and that is what is [at] stake here," he said.   And this:  "cannot, in good conscience, vote for any legislation that would deny hardworking people a chance to earn a decent living."

I agree with the Council Member.  Everyone should have access to a good paying job with benefits -- just like members of the City Council do.  But the NYC carriage trade is not that, which is what the Council member is referring to in this context.  I have been working on this issue consistently since 2006 but before that since the early 1990s.  We have tried for years to shut it down because it is inhumane, unsafe and operates on a laissez faire basis.  The authorities have looked the other way.  My research is based on truth, talking to people who previously worked in the industry.  

GOOD PAYING JOBS:  There are about 250 people who have a license to drive a carriage; not 300 or 500 or even 1,000.  Of those 250, about 60-65 are the owners who own the 68 medallions.    
  • The balance of that number is:   
           - part timers or others who hold on to the license because it is inexpensive -- much cheaper than the license to drive a pedicab.  This is because the carriage trade has always had access to the City Council members and those in high echelons of government.  After all, it all began with former Mayor William O'Dwyer in the late 1940s.   
           - one woman operates her business in Cape May, NJ and no longer works in NYC
           - another owner lives in Sicily and comes to the city a few times a year to collect his money.
          - others whose names I recognize live out of town, no longer work in the industry and keep the license to pad the numbers.  
  • The only people you are protecting by not supporting the bill are the owners -- not the drivers.  Their business model is questionable and dishonest to say the least.  It is a cash only business.  You have undoubtedly heard that it generated  $19,000,000 annually.  This is the number that has been bandied about for some time.  It is a fabricated,  contrived number put out there to compare that income to what might come in  from the electric cars.  it is made up.  There is no way to prove this because it is not one big industry but many small ones that file separate tax returns.  The amount reported to the IRS is far, far  less, which means a very small number is given over to NYC income taxes.
  • The Teamsters Local purportedly representing the carriage drivers is not a real union shop.  Not everyone belongs to it. There was never a vote.  What legitimate union puts owners and workers in the same local?   It simply  does not happen.  The Teamsters' role is that of bullies/lobbyists,  to put the fear of God in Council Members implying they will work against them in the next election.  Consequently, there are no benefits -- no health care, vacation or sick days, 401K's, etc.  Nothing.  This is what you support.   
  • When you speak of retirement security - what exactly do you mean - other than the owners keeping their sweet cash only deal while the authorities - yes the City Council - look the other way while the industry pays as little tax as possible.   It is corruption.  
  • But the ones who get a really bad break here are the workers.  Most, if not all, are independent contractors - misclassified.  They get 1099s and not W2s.  They make little and have nothing to save for their "retirement" as you call it.  It is up to them to pay their own income tax and Social Security.   Those who need health care are often on medicaid.  
  • The workers should have the opportunity to get a real solid job - possibly in a real union - with benefits and the opportunity to fund a 401k for their retirement.  A robust job program, which has been offered (and will be worked out) by the deBlasio administration will really help these workers.  
  • Why couldn't you wait until the Environmental Impact Study was completed before you decided to "oppose" this bill.  Why couldn't you offer to work with the Administration to develop those "good paying jobs with retirement security" -- for everyone - not just the Entitled 68."  This would have been a great opportunity for a Republican to be part of this solution.  
  • Two of the stables are in the path of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment project - one on 37th St. and one on 38th St.   Each property is worth about $10,000,000.  The owners are waiting for the right time to sell.  It will happen - sooner rather than later since redevelopment is moving along.  If this bill fails, when the stables are sold, many workers/drivers will lose their jobs, while the owners retire in luxury.  It will be too late to provide an alternate industry for them at that point.   Many will access public assistance since they are probably not eligible for unemployment insurance. Is this OK with you?  In the meantime, you could have been helping them into a real job with benefits.  
So Councilman -- this is what you are really supporting because you have some disagreements with the deBlasio administration.  Corruption, paltry jobs, questionable union practices -- workers who are forced to go on Medicaid because their incomes are so low they cannot afford insurance.  

Did you ever question why the media is mostly on one side of this issue?  They are certainly not the experts. 

You still have the opportunity to do the right thing and be on the right side of history and support this bill; to make this a more humane city  - not just for animals, which many people care about  - but for the exploited workers.  I believe people look at those in politics with new respect when they change their mind and admit that they were wrong.  It is a sign of character.  Former Mayor Bloomberg did that when he spoke out in favor of the pedicab business when  the carriage owners were trying to ban them.   

If you want to read the truth about any of these issues, you will find it here.  We are a totally volunteer, grass roots organization, originally founded in 1994 and then focusing on the carriage horse issue in 2006.  No salaries - no conflicts of interest.  

Very truly yours,

Elizabeth Forel
President / Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages