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ASPCA: Carriage Horse Likely Had Underlying Medical Problems

Monday, October 31, 2011

A horse and carriage driver wait for a client at 59th St. and Fifth Avenue. A horse and carriage driver wait for a client at 59th St. and Fifth Avenue. (Benedict Moran)

A New York City carriage horse who died unexpectedly on his way to work in Central Park on October 23 likely had underlying medical problems, according to the results of a necropsy conducted at Cornell University.

Those results were released late Monday by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The group said the horse, named Charlie, probably had pain because of a stomach ulceration and a fractured tooth, although it's unclear when and where he developed those conditions.

"We are very concerned that Charlie was forced to work in spite of painful maladies, and these particular health issues can be difficult to diagnose because draft horses are by nature a stoic breed, not displaying signs until they are very severe," said Pamela Corey, the director of equine veterinary services with the ASPCA, in a statement.

ASPCA also said the horse, whose age it estimated to be around 15 years, was unfit for work in the industry — and criticized city law for being too lax when it comes to veterinary oversight of the horses.

The group also said the cause of the horse's death is likely to remain inconclusive.

Stephen Malone, a spokesman for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York, said the horse had passed his most recent medical exam in August.

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Comments [6]

Carriage Horse Lover from Louisiana, USA

Show us the NECROPSY!!! If the ASPCA has nothing to hide, then why won't it make Charlie's necropsy public? Why did the ASPCA suddenly suspend its head eqquine vet without pay when she tried to clairfy that she wasn't saying Charlie was abused?

Yesterday, Hickstead, a 15 year old Olympic gold winning show jumping stallion collapsed and died just after completing his round at a show in Italy. Why isn't the ASPCA and their ilk screaming "unhealthy horse" and "abuse" over this horse's death?

It is time for the ASPCA to SHOW US THE NECROPSY and stop making "selective" statements and insunuating abuse in Charlie's case.

Charlie was 15. He died very suddenly and unexpectedly. He was a carriage horse. Hickstead was 15, He died very suddenly and unexpectedly. He was a show jumper.

The ASPCA hastened to scream "abuse and neglect" and blame Charlie's job for his death.

They haven't said a word concerning Hickstead's death.

Anyone notice anything "rotten" here?

BTW, te ASPCA routinely condemns carriage drivers and claims working in NYC is too dangerous and no place for them.

The same APCA is a sponsor of a prestiegous Show Jumping competition held in NY.

Carriage Horses are owned by people who are the 99%- working people trying to make a living. Show Jumpers are owned by the 1%- rich people with more money than they could ever spend.

Need I say more?

Nov. 07 2011 08:29 PM
It's a Mystery... from new york

Hard to imagine, unless you think horses are from another planet and not mammals like us, that a broken tooth and stomach ulcers aren't painful. Yes, it would have been hard to detect those things, but they use their own vets. You think they pay them to be thorough? There was one vet who allegedly used to fax health certificates without seeing the horse. I spoke to a lot of people involved with the NYC carriage horse industry in the past, and I've seen the horses and stables up close. I'd hate to see what would happen if a fire broke out in a multilevel stable with one way out. 15 can be old when your former occupation was harness track reject/retiree or Amish workhorse. Their average working life was 4 years. The city kept very poor track of the horses. I'm not against horses working, but NYC is a special case. It's past time to get the horses out of harm's way.

Nov. 02 2011 05:40 AM
Karla Brewster from United states

"Probably" (But, since no one knows for certain, how about not publishing things that are quite possibly untruths?) "unclear" (Why don't people wait until things are "clear" before they open their mouths?) "painful" (How do you know if something caused this horse pain? Did you ask him? Did he come and tell you this from the grave? Are you now a "ghost horse whisperer":?)"15 yrs of age" (How old are you? My opinion, anyone over the age of 20 is unfit to work....so, you need to retire) "unfit for work" (Didn't this horse pass a vet examine before returning to work? Don't these horses have to have medical exams yearly? Bi-yearly?)

So, let's see if we can see the REAL Facts of the matter:
1) 15 isn't old in horses. It is really just starting to settle at that age. Many top level Dressage, Reining, pleasure horses are 15 at their prime(about 35 in human years, give or take a little).
2) You don't know what the cause of death was, so stop spouting mis-truths, out right lies, and trying to get a rise out of people.
3) The horse just had a medical exam. In August. That was about 2 months ago.
4) I think I know what happened....I think someone animal rights activist like yourself, or who knows, maybe you did it....poisoned this horse because of some idiotic misguided reason or sickness.
5) So, where were you when this horse died?

Nov. 01 2011 06:20 PM
Stacey Karzenski, DVM, DACVIM (LA) from Schenectady, New York

I personally do not oppose using horses for work or pleasure (think trail riding, dressage, jumping, etc.) provided adequate sustenance and attention to their physical and emotional needs are met. In response to Charlie's unfortunate death, I would state that there are many possible causes that are not clear based on the report of a fractured tooth and gastric ulcers. In fact, gastric ulceration can be found in up to 60% of working horses that show no clinical signs whatsoever. The clinical significance of finding gastric ulcers is unclear in many cases. As anyone who routinely examines horses is aware, a thorough oral examination to detect a fractured tooth (unless it is an incisor) requires heavy sedation. I would suggest that this should be part of a yearly exam in any horse. But if I examine a horse today, and it fractures a tooth tomorrow, I will not detect that until next year unless signs of a problem develop. Sudden death in an otherwise healthy appearing horse can include heart disease, liver disease, central nervous system disease and infections, many of which may not be detected despite routine physical examinations. Based on the information given in the article, it is not possible to identify the direct cause of Charlie's death, and it is certainly possible that it was not the fact that he was a carriage horse in New York City, or that he was not properly cared for.

Nov. 01 2011 03:12 PM
Susan Einhorn from NY

In connection with the sad death of an NYC carriage horse, there was coverage on TV and I learned that carriage horses are housed in a mutli-story building in NYC. The "stalls" have barely enough room for the horse, and not enough room for the horse to lie down. These horses provide a "living" for the horse-drawn carriage trade. The abuse of carriage horses was first brought to public attention in the story of "Black Beauty" an 1877 novel by English author Anna Sewell. Sadly, little has changed.

Nov. 01 2011 03:09 PM
Denise Bounous, DVM, PhD from New Jersey

I oppose the use of horses for this purpose in NYC and in any other city for many of the reason listed in this article. The busy streets of a large city are not suitable for horses to be working, nor is it a necessary mode of transportation. It borders on animal abuse, and in this case, may have been judged animal abuse. I would be interested in knowing who performed and the extent of the medical examinations for these animals. It certainly seems that their teeth are not examined. We do not need and shold not allow this type of "entertainment".

Nov. 01 2011 02:01 PM

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