Horse Carriages and the Mayor's Race

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Kate Taylor, New York Times City Hall reporter, discusses last night's mayoral forum on animal rights and why whether to ban horse carriages has become an issue in the Mayor's race.


Kate Taylor

Comments [41]

distributor from new york city 51st and 8th ave.

Horses should not be in the streets of new york city, but they should be in
central park, build stables in the park for them, soft trails for the horses, grazing fields for them, These wonderful anmals should not be in the streets, but on softs roads where it would be easy on the horses, Horse carriage would be ok if the horses where working 5 hrs and off for 19 hrs. This would keep them very fresh and also they should work 5 days a week, It is a shame that the stables are up from the ground floor, as I said before build the stables in central park.

Sep. 24 2013 07:07 PM
Phil from NC from North Carolina.

I think this never ending squabble over the NYC Carriage Horses has gone on long enough. I suggest a one time final debate between the Horse Drawn Carriage business and their opponents. Everyone brings their Hard Evidence to the table, hash it out publicly in City Hall and declare a winner. Then everybody can get on with much more important issues affecting NYC. I would predict a major victory for the NYC Carriages. The reason I say this is because I was a driver and owner of a Horse Drawn Carriage in NYC for many years. I think it is outrageous the way that industry is treated. I was ALWAYS very concerned about how I treated my horses and cannot believe the lies its opponents publish about the horses. It may not be the perfect environment for the horses but what is perfect. They are extremely well cared for. Not many of us are living the perfect life. This is about the horses but it is also about FAMILIES. Most drivers have young families they are supporting through this business. If they loose this they will be destroyed. This is how they plan to pay their rent or mortgage and give their kids a shot at a good education which is something they never had. These animal rights groups are not going to save horses if they have their way THEY ARE GOING TO DESTROY MANY MANY FAMILIES. Anybody who is genuinely concerned about this issue has to really look into the true facts of this business. I am afraid people will believe all the lies and make an uninformed decision or vote. That is always a terrible mistake. I know if I was walking down fifth ave and somebody started showing me leaflets which outlined all the terrible things supposedly happening in this business and asking me to sign a petition..... I hate to say it but I proably would sign if I did not know the business.... just in case it was true....not going to affect me right ? That's what is happening now and its scary !! If these horses were abused I would not have been in the business for all those years, I am a huge animal lover and grew up on a farm surrounded by them as were many of the drivers. I can also understand why we have these supporters of PETA, NYC CLASS, ETC demonstrating against us. They are also animal lovers and are concerned for the welfare of these horses, I admire that. I think many of these people have their hearts in the right place. I just hope they don't believe everything they are told about the abuse of these horses. Its a bad situation and I don't see any winners in the long run. I hope everybody concerned makes an educated decision and not one based on propaganda. I said this many years ago and I will say it again ....DESTROYING THE CARRIAGE BUISNESS IN NYC IS LIKE KNOCKING ONE OF ITS OLDEST BUILDINGS ....WITH ALL ITS OCCUPTANTS LEFT INSIDE. Thank you for allowing me to voice my opinion and good look to all concerned.

Aug. 22 2013 10:18 PM
Percheron from IL

I wish PETA would look at the humane race. If they feel this is cruel to the animals, maybe they should fight for my rights. I feel it is cruel that I must get up every morning and work on the farm and then go to work for 8 to 10 hrs a day. I am dealing with traffic, road rage, and fumes just to get to work. Then I deal with people all day. Then when I get off work I come back home and work on the farm again and by this time it is dark again. Then to top it all off I have to fix myself something to eat. I rather be a horse. I would work less and have someone feed me. By the way I do have working Percheron's and Welsh Ponies and they work a lot less then I do.

May. 08 2013 10:08 AM
Nick Bacon from Manhattan

I have taken the trouble to visit the stables where the carriage horses are kept, and I can assure people that they are very well cared for. NOne of the protesters to whom I have spoken has done this, nor do any of them seem to have any knowledge of or experience in working with horses.

The have spacious stalls, which are half height so that the horses can interact. The stalls are clean, well ventilated, with straw bedding and top quality feed. The horses have 5 weeks vacation a year when they are turned out to pasture; they are not permitted to work more than 8 hours in a day, nor when it is too hot or too cold.

No Teamster in New York City has ever been indicted for mistreatment of a horse.

If the carriage industry were to be destroyed, it would throw many people out of work. Not just the teamsters, but the people who maintain the carriages and help with caring for the horses. The horses would probably mostly be sent for slaughter, as the owners couldn't afford to keep them if they aren't earning money; the retirement home could never cope with such a large number at once.

Interestingly, the program didn't mention the fact that the protesters and NYCLASS (who are spending a lot of money on political donations) are bankrolled by the property developer who has been trying for years to get his hands on the stable buildings on 38th Street. Those buildings are now even more valuable with the Hudson Yards development, hence his increased funding.

Draft horses have been selectively bred for thousands of years to pull vehicles in cities. It the reason they exist. I take great pleasure in seeing these noble beasts fulfilling their destiny in one of the finest urban parks in the world.

May. 08 2013 09:26 AM
Let's not dismiss the issue!

I must say I am rather dismayed at the number of "left wing dung-hole" type jabs I am seeing on this supposedly-civil discussion board. Being aware of the highly unsatisfactory conditions for carriage horses does not signify being left wing, OR insensitive to the suffering of children or to food delivery personnel, or even making a value judgment as to which issue was more important. It simply means people are acknowledging an issue that affects entities who cannot represent themselves.
Using the animal practices in cities of developing countries around the world as an argument for us to mistreat horses for tourism and entertainment isn't all that convincing to me either. I highly doubt that anybody here would want to live under the conditions that both people and animals often accept in other countries because they don't have a choice or can't afford to think far enough ahead of their own misfortune to address these issues. I understand that somebody is making money off the labor of these horses, and would otherwise have to find less objectionable work, which can be difficult these days; but then at the very least they should be shown some appreciation for the work that they do. Dehydration, denying urination privileges, feeding them anything and everything with bridles still in their mouths, walking on pavement surfaces and breathing in fumes and being constantly subjected to the risk of accidents and the type of fear that horses so easily experience...then to walk all the way to 37th street up a five story ramp to their stables late at night...which may or may not be ridiculously sub-par as well...Not really the way to show said appreciation.
As for tourism...I highly doubt that NYC is really so desperate for tourist attractions that we not only need to keep the horse drawn carriages but also don't DARE entertain the notion of at least improving the way they live. I know plenty of people for whom the horse carriage issue detracts from NYC's image rather than enhancing it.

May. 07 2013 01:07 PM
Wayne Johnson Ph.D. from Bk

Juliet and Smoothie are just two of the carriage horses that have died on the streets of New York in the last few years. There is no safe way of having these animals out there. They are easily spooked by noise, poisoned by tail pipes, and subjected to terrible heat or freezing cold. The opponents of the ban want to overlook the accidents that injure and kill these horses.

May. 07 2013 11:31 AM
Jeff from The Bronx

The horse drawn carriage industry of this city should be shut down!
About 10 years ago, I worked mid-town, West Side, where I got to see both, the stables and horses of the NYPD and walking uptown on 12th ave, a stable where many of these carriage horses were stabled. The contrasting conditions of the two makes Dickens' "Best of times, worst of times", an understatement. The carriage horses, while crammed in their stables, in the heat of summer looked miserable and broken down. Together, with very little room. The smell of urine, etc. was wretched and gut wrenching. Contrast that to the conditions with the old NYPD stables on 42 street, or the newer ones near the Chelsea piers. The horses coats, dispositions and conditions as well as the stable conditions were the antithesis. They were well groomed well taken care of animals. They are routinely examined by a doctor and are quite striking. Ask a mounted cop and they will tell you about how these animals are cared for.Indeed, the Mounted Unit is one of the best Departmental commands to be assigned to.
The comments Brian allowed from caller "Kermit" were laughable if it weren't so sad. In this, the sesquicentennial of the civil war, it sounded akin to the excuses given for slavery! No carriage horses should be allowed. It would take a Mayor of flesh and a soul, not a souless, heartless, over-moneyed "man" like Bloomberg, or a stooge of the carriage industry to take the steps needed to end this nightmare or reign it in so that horses are confined to the park. As a one-time civil servant, I would like to know, just which Mayoral agencies look out for these animals? Consumer Affairs which probably licenses the drivers? Animal Care and Control? Aren't they an agency that has a "kill" policy about abandoned and stray pets? Seriously, who is charged with the responsibility to see that these animals are cared for. We are "fortunate" (?) that Comptroller Liu is a candidate for mayor. He has an audit bureau. What, if anything, has Liu done regarding the conditions of the unfortunate beasts of burden?

May. 07 2013 11:13 AM
Jessica from Brooklyn

One of the things that some of the members of CLASS and other activists leave out is that the issue with horse-drawn carriages isn't necessarily one of poor conditions, per se, but the idea that animals should not be used for human purposes at all... especially not for entertainment. I support the rights of animals to live their lives according to their own desires, however un-human-like those desires may be. It does not matter to me that certain horses have been bred to be "work" animals. The simple solution to the problem of horses - or cows, or pigs, or monkeys, or rats - that have been bred to serve human purposes is to stop breeding them. Since a non-human animal cannot give its consent in a way that humans can interpret in any standard way (being from Vermont does not, to the best of my knowledge, impart a human with special animal mind-reading capabilities) it is best to err on the side of caution and just avoid exploiting animals altogether. It is not enough to invoke jobs or, worse, tradition to rationalize the subjugation of non-humans simply because they can't or won't object to their treatment. I am not making the case that non-human animals have the same cognitive processes that humans have. I am making the case that it doesn't matter.

May. 07 2013 10:43 AM

OMG really!!??? This is so ridiculous to me. are we wasting time on this? Horses were practically born to pull carriages. They love it. What next, are we going to stop eating lettuce because it's cruelty to bugs?

May. 07 2013 10:37 AM

To the caller who wants horses to live by the standards in places like Cairo, I would say that there is no reasonable comparison between horses in a developing world city, where they are the means to commerce and transportation in a desperate society, and one of the most developed cities in the world, where we should be able to reflect some of that development and attendant prosperity in more enlightened views toward the needs of the sentient creatures. If the caller is so convinced that places such as Cairo should be models for treatment and ideals of behavior, then he should subject himself to the daily form of life in Cairo, but it is not reasonable to make that determination for animals, who must live at our discretion when is absolutely no need to perpetuate this cruelty, other than to provide a "ride around the park" for tourists.

May. 07 2013 10:32 AM
Christine from Queens

ROFL @ the thought that horses won't breathe in fumes if they stay in Central Park. Central Park has about ten roads that go through the park that are used by buses and taxis.

May. 07 2013 10:28 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Why are we calling them "animal rights activists"?

Why not embittered, disgruntled, LEFT WING whackos? (or is it whackoes?)

Why not self-righteous kooks?

May. 07 2013 10:28 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

It's time for the current caller to take her meds!

May. 07 2013 10:25 AM
Robert from NYC

Just because they are in cities all over the world doesn't mean that they are in healthy or good environments. Yes let them graze in the park. Use your common sense folks, it's the natural thing to do.

May. 07 2013 10:24 AM
Erica DaCosta from NYC / VT

I don't know if the stable conditions of the horses is good or not -- I suspect that it's at minimum OK, possibly even not bad. But this is irrelevant. I find it astonishing that anyone would actually try to justify this type of exploitation of animals. I'm not PETA person. I don't particularly like PETA. But this is a barbaric practice of which we will all be very ashamed one day. I would also add that these are not "working animals." Working animals that actually do NECESSARY WORK -- meaning work that sustains the life of the owner. These are entertainment animals. And please please please don't suggest that any animal would enjoy standing on pavement for many hours and hours every day in the heat and the noise and the pollution.

May. 07 2013 10:24 AM

How about the fact they dehydrate the horses so they won't urinate as much on the pavement?

May. 07 2013 10:24 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

As someone who grew up owning horses, I absolutely LOVE visiting the horses and carriages in Central Park, and it's a special treat to take out-of-town guests on a carriage ride in Central Park. It is a charming and historically-accurate way for visitors and residents to see the park and step back in time. It's also an incredible resource for the kids and visiting kids of New York City - to see live horses, to pet them, and to learn just a little bit of history in the moment.

The argument that this lifestyle is "boring" for horses is ridiculous. Horses have been bred for centuries to work and haul; otherwise they'd be grazing all day, which arguably is no better for their mental health - a good balance of both is ideal. If activists want the horses off the streets, they should lobby for a different loading and unloading zone in the park, and make the park car-free. Electric cars absolutely will not replicate the feeling of riding on a horse-drawn carriage and getting to interact in person with an amazing animal.

May. 07 2013 10:24 AM

Once again, Brain shows he can't see the forest thru the trees. Air quality is a quality of life issue and New Yorkers should not have to endure poor quality just so some tourists can have a horse carriage ride.

May. 07 2013 10:23 AM
john from office

Wow, the activist always try to draw the most evil picture, thereby hurting their cause. Folks, is it better that they get sold to the glue factory??

Also. news flash, there are children in this city who are in trouble, hungry and cannot read, pay attention to that. Typical white liberals, love animals, hate people.

Owner of 4 cats.

May. 07 2013 10:22 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Can the mayor unilaterally ban carriage horses in NYC? Mr. DiBlasio sounded as if he could do it just by declaration, but would the City Council have to pass it?

May. 07 2013 10:22 AM
Capper from NYC

I'm confused. What is the issue here? Is it that they want to ban horses altogether no matter what, or is it because they think the horses are treated bad????

If it's the car fumes, couldn't they keep the horses only in the park on the weekends, when cars are not driving in the park?

What are they planning to do with all these horses?? Where are they going to get the money to keep them elsewhere?

May. 07 2013 10:22 AM
Aubree Munar from Sunnyside

I used to own and show horses. These horses are not all driving breeds (fit to pull carriages with passangers in them). You can see swollen hocks, splitting hooves, sloping backs...the list goes on. And as cute as it may seem, horses are not meant to eat carrots, grain or anything else while they are bridled and have a bit in their mouths (which these carriage horses all do). At the end of the day - regardless of their interest in horses - the carriage drivers are businessmen and out to make a buck off the backs of these animals who work somtimes seven days a week.

May. 07 2013 10:22 AM

Brian-don't let your guests talk-over each other. Make them behave!

May. 07 2013 10:22 AM
Ann from upper manhattan

In my fantasy life, the horse carriage horses are given a new home INSIDE Central Park, with a lovely big pasture and modern stables - eliminating their need to mix with traffic and its attendant dangers. Their home would itself become a tourist attraction, as people came to watch them on their off hours, and the horses could enjoy their natural behaviors in the park they've served to make so famous...

May. 07 2013 10:21 AM

If the ASPCA has such a problem with the horse carriage trade, why don't they have issue with the NYPD's use of horses? Or horse racing for that matter?

FYI - The NYPD stables and horse carriage stables are all on the west side.

May. 07 2013 10:21 AM

It's also relevant to note that the horses are only walking through midtown because that's where the stables are now.

Until a few years ago, the stables were housed right near the park, but the city sold those stables to developers...

May. 07 2013 10:21 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Did DiBlasio concoct a chance to tangentially remind everyone that his wife is black, AND a former lesbian?? A real twofer.

May. 07 2013 10:21 AM
Mason from NYC

I am very tired of the strident voice of animal rights people and carriage horses. If they have so much energy why not look at the conditions that food delivery personnel go through? All that the guest is saying about the carriage horses can be applied to the food delivery personnel, just substitute 'pasture time' with 'recreation time' and you have people working in the same condition as animals. Find a real concern to put your energies into, please.

May. 07 2013 10:20 AM

i wouldnt pay to ride around central park in an electric car

May. 07 2013 10:20 AM
Ron Fletcher from Yonkers

What about police horses?

May. 07 2013 10:19 AM

1. Why no guest or caller arranged from ASPCA to get their defense/logic?
2. Is this a story about dangerous roads and air? -- conditions are not fit for horses? Does the ASPCA have position on conditions for humans?

(I personally don't think I care either way. The horses look fine but I don't ride them)

May. 07 2013 10:18 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

LOL, what about tourist's rights?

But, seriously.
Eliminate yet another reason for tourists from across the country to come to this LEFT WING dunghole for a visit.

May. 07 2013 10:18 AM


The stench of horse manure trumps all other odors, but I'm no fan of exhaust fumes either and would support a ban on cars.

May. 07 2013 10:17 AM
Bill Turnbull from Midtown

Just another "hotbed issue" to detract from real city politic discussion.

If people can breath the same fumes so can the horses. Not all neighborhoods have air as good as between central park and the stables.

May. 07 2013 10:16 AM
Laura from Brooklyn

The logical answer is to integrate these horses into the park and get them out of the outskirts (and City streets). Surely both the horses and tourists would both benefit from a more formalized system to house this service and these animals. It could be like renting a rowboat for the Lake.

May. 07 2013 10:16 AM
Peg from rural ny

Before we worry too much about horses in NYC, how about worrying about the lungs of all the children raised in NYC's polluted air. The asma rates are climbing....

to hilts: I guess it's what you're used to... I find the smell of NYC vehicle exhaust air to be much more offensive than manure.

May. 07 2013 10:15 AM
Wila from Sea Cliff

I am a horse lover and equestrian enthusiast (dressage is my sport of choice). I am always concerned about the treatment of these wonderful creatures, particularly in sports such as steeplechase and other racing. However, if horses are not valued, which sadly is equated with money/profit for humans, what alternative fate might befall them??

May. 07 2013 10:14 AM

hilts, cant u smell the car fumes in the park?

i ask that cars be banned from the park and put in soft path for the horses

May. 07 2013 10:11 AM

Doesn't the ASPCA understand that if these horses aren't on the streets of NYC, they'd be on the dinner plates of Europeans?

May. 07 2013 10:11 AM
bobby g from East Village

I am dismayed at the quality of the mayoral debate. All one hears about is "talk and frisk" and carriage horses.
What about public safety, the budget and fiscal responsibility, economic conditions, infrastructure investment, especially the water system, housing, unions and the pension problems and plenty of other issues more essential to New Yorkers then how much time is wasted on carriage horses.

May. 07 2013 10:11 AM

On a beautiful spring or summer day in Central Park, there is no more powerful form of buzzkill than the odious stench of horse manure. Horse carriages need to banned from NYC ASAP so that I can bask in the aroma of flowers and not have it overpowered by horse manure.

May. 07 2013 10:06 AM

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