Goodbye to NYC's Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Stephen Malone, spokesman for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York, with his horse Carson. He says his organization will fight Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's plan. (Daniel Tucker/WNYC)

Central Park horse-drawn carriage drivers are upset over Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's announcement that he's going to put an end to their business.

At a press conference Monday morning, de Blasio reiterated his campaign pledge that the city's 220 horses have to go. "We're going to quickly and aggressively move to make horse carriages no longer a part of the landscape in New York City," he said. "They're not humane, they're not appropriate to the year 2014. It's over."

Ian McKeever, a driver for 27 years, said, "You know, he doesn't know anything about our business. He's never been to our stables. He's never seen the quality and care we give these horses, so why should I think about him?"

Tourists interviewed by WNYC near the horses and carriages were unhappy as well. "Why would he do something crazy like that?" said David Sojka from Long Island. "I mean, this is part of New York, like Central Park, Bryant PArk, Rockefeller Center. Why would you take away part of it?"

Stephen Malone, spokesman for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York, said his organization would fight the mayor-elect's plan—first by trying to get legislation introduced in the City Council and then in court.

"You know, walking through Central Park is not inhumane for a horse, not today, not a hundred years ago, and it won't be a hundred years from now," he said.

The carriage business, which centers around tours of Central Park, employs about 300 drivers, 150 of them full time. The carriage operators are represented by the Teamsters, who endorsed de Blasio—but de Blasio was also endorsed by animal activists fighting against the carriage rides. De Blasio said his administration will work with existing drivers to introduce retrofitted antique cars as a substitute tourist attraction.



More in:

Comments [27]


So Very Sad!!So Many People would come there from all over the world to get engaged. ..or a special occasion. Peta...Is out off Control, and you are letting it happen! What will be next? Seems like we are losing the circus from them....Our children will never experience anything we ever sad! Please keep the horses regulated rather than a dog factory! ! Thank You....

Dec. 03 2014 01:21 AM

New Yorkers your lowering the bar to this (nyclass) special interest group a Trojan horse who will open the door /doors to other groups who think they can change policies ways of live just because they have the bankroll behind them to END anything you consider your way of life...The horse carriage industry has a constitutional right to operate..they are a legal business and are regulated..having said that the horses are well looked after and loved by their owners and drivers and the peeps on the street...mayor Blah Blah Blah is overwhelmed with urgent issues before him and he decides to ban carriages?? he makes kids go to school in a major snow storm?? Come on NYC who what did you elect?? look at the big picture here...stand back and your looking at a front man a used car salesman ...i would be thinking RECALL if I lived in your city.........

Feb. 17 2014 10:19 AM
kumadee from Boston

Carriage horses are nose to tailpipe for 9+ hours a day and then stay in a walkup "barn" where they can't even turn around. It is a brutal life that is NOT healthy for draft horses or any animal in the traffic crazed streets of NYC. Are there some decent owners that treat the animals well, probably but they are not the norm. Don't wax sentimental about seeing them since the "1950's" BIL is a city cop and has horror stories to tell of horses falling over sick after working non-stop only to see them back after a few hours of "rest" so pie-eyed tourists can be hauled around. As for the slaughter argument-sign the SAFE Act and no one will have to worry about US horses on foreign tables.
Where do you REALLY think most of these horses are going now??? After a horrendous life on NY streets the owners get the last 2-400 bucks out of them and send them to Canada or Mexico for a brutal death.
We can certainly do better than this; many major cities around the world have stopped this practice.

Feb. 10 2014 02:37 PM
joe from newyork

To Evelyn and all those that care about the retired animals. What's the next stop if not a carriage ride the butcher? Let them live a long productive life.

Jan. 12 2014 06:23 PM
Liz from Red Bank

Some of the old things add charm to our world like newport mansions , cape may , NJ and many other things such as horse drawn carriages . How romantic is it to ride around in a golf cart in NYC. The horses have better health benefits than me. Please stand up for tradition/

Jan. 10 2014 10:44 PM
Cashclowncollegeprofessor from Stamford CT

Now what am I going to do with all of this Beef-a-reeno?

Jan. 10 2014 03:15 PM
Cashclowncollegeprofessor from Stamford CT

Glad to see the mayor is really tackling the big issues right out of the gate. This smells like a political favor.

Jan. 10 2014 03:12 PM

Currently, the stables consist of 64,000 square feet of valuable real estate on lots that could accomodate [sic] up to 150,000 square feet of development. These lots could be sold for new development.”

So where does that leave us?

“What are the odds that good neighbor Nislick, the out-of-state real estate developer, simply covets those valuable, underdeveloped New York lots — and has teamed up with ambitious pols to use the emotions of animal rights activists as fuel for their own agendas?” Gross asked.

And here’s where we get the de Blasio connection: A 501(c)4 group called New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) founded by Nislick dropped a lot of cash on the far-left candidate’s mayoral campaign,...

Jan. 07 2014 08:37 PM
John Eckert from West Village, NYC

I agree totally with Ann from upper Manhattan.
The carriages have been a beautiful feature of NYC in my memory since the 50's, probably since the 1800's when they were the only public transportation.
These horses are draft animals, and are physically "in gear" when pulling a carriage.
NYC should provide pasture and stable facilities in Central Park, for as many horses as possible, regulating their routes and hours of work and rest for ideal conditions.
Should race horses be retired? Is extinction the cure for abuse?

Jan. 06 2014 01:17 PM
maria from NY

I hope the Horse and Carriage association collect signatures opposed to the idea.
Tourists pay good money for the rides and the horses ARE treated well.
Please contact the city council, start a petition to nix this.

Jan. 04 2014 08:56 AM

It never ceases to amaze me how people who don't know anything about horses are the first ones to claim abuse. I do own horses and I have saved some horses from kill pens and abusive situations. Iron or aluminum shoes do nothing to hinder a horses gait, they protect their hooves. And as for not being rested horses don't required several hours to become fully rested 3-4 hours is sufficent. Standing and walking consume 95% of a horses regular day. I think it would be wise for those who think these beautiful creatures are being starved which by the way is easy to spot and illegal need to wake up and do some real research, (talk to the owners and spend a few minutes loving on these wonderful animals). If an owner genuinely talks about their horse like he or she is a family member or child the horse is in no way abused.

Jan. 02 2014 11:46 PM

Can we please just think of the animals themselves and how they feel and what they are put through on a daily basis for our entertainment!!!! please the time has come to forget about ourselves and think of them for a change!!!

Jan. 01 2014 09:16 PM

Typical of today’s morals. Worry about animals and murder babies.

Memo to de Blasio: This is not 1975. When New York goes broke with you time tested socialist lunacy, the Republican Congress is not going to tax its constituents to bail you out. Just so you know.


Jan. 01 2014 12:41 PM
amwrider from in the barn

Heather and PBnJ are very misinformed.
I have been following this with great interest for the last two years. I am a house professional in FL but have family that I visit in NYC and the carriage horses ARE well taken care of. As a horse professional I have befriended many, many of the owners and drivers and they love their horses and take great pride in their health and appearance.

PBnJ the horses are highly regulated, more regulated than the day care centers of NYC. Horses are vaccinated at least twice yearly, have annual dentals, have hooves attended to every 5-8 weeks, only work a 9 hour shift and most of that is spent standing and waiting for fares, can only work if temperatures are between 19 and 89 degrees and are mandated a minimum 5 week vacation each year. Most are on vacation for 4-6 months as most owners have more than one horse that they rotate vacation schedules for. The horses are fed high quality custom grain blends and are fed large quantities of hay in their stalls. I have NEVER seen a skinny NYC carriage horse. I have seen skinny Carribean carriage horses that PETA recently tried to pass off as a NYC horses on Twitter but it was not a NYC horse.

Heather. Your comment astounds me. You are apparently trying to portray yourself as educates about horses but your claims are anything but knowledgeable. Do you even know what a trot is? For on thing I o not trotting horses that are lamed or tortured to perform. You are thinking of a very small segment of the walking horse industry. Those horses do NOT trot they perform an amblinf fait called a running walk. It is a lateral gait. The trot is a diagonal gait. Trotting breeds of horses are not sored. As for shoeing, horses have been shod for thousands of years. It is not harmful to the horse when properly done. Shoes protect the bottom of the hoof from wear. Uneven wear leads to imbalance and mis-alignments of the hoof structures which can lead to lameness and death. Shoes help most horses.

Thw carriage horses do have it good. Better than most horses do actually.

Jan. 01 2014 11:17 AM

I applaud this. Those horses are abused. They should be retired to a sanctuary, and the drivers should start driving those pedicabs -- let them do the work for a change.

Dec. 31 2013 05:52 PM
Ann from upper Manhattan

WHAT IF...New Yorkers agreed by referendum to give the Central Park horses their OWN piece of the park they work in, enough room for a real pasture and a modern, well appointed stable situated such that they will never again have to mix with motorized traffic? WHAT IF their Central Park home itself became a tourist attraction, one that brought in additional revenue through tours and donations such that the horses' work shifts could be significantly shortened and cancelled altogether in bad weather? ... Is it possible to design a situation in which horses could work in Central Park humanely?

Dec. 31 2013 03:21 PM

So what is to become of the horses? I hope that part of the plan will be make sure that the horses are taken care of after they "lose their job". I can just see them being destroyed or falling into the hands of someone who will neglect them.

Dec. 31 2013 02:55 PM
Kaysoo from NYC

That is the greatest and commendable action by the Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. It shows his view and understanding of the world that includes those poor domesticated animals that suffer like hell by the cruel actions of some 'Foxmen'. The fun-world of 'Foxees' is coming to an end slowly but surely!

Dec. 31 2013 01:34 PM
Spencer from Brooklyn

Day 1 of the new mayor's quest to diminish inequality = destroy a number of jobs. Terrific.

Dec. 31 2013 11:44 AM
Heather from wilton, ct.

All horses have a bad life. It starts with their shoeing. This is not natural and affects their gait forever. Then you have the trotting horses, that is appalling what they do to them. Apply acid to their Achilles so they are irritated and have to trot. Otherwise it is too painful to put thier hooves down. This move to ban carriages is glossing over the treatment of these horses. They will be put down unless he sees it through that they are put out to pasture with good farms or just families. A new lease on life for sure. Follow through is what we need to check on de Blasio. Will he petition the people to help give them better lives after this?

Dec. 31 2013 11:34 AM
Euthie from 70th and York

Once they shut down the business, what happens to the horses? Clearly, they will be put down.

I personally very much dislike this business. And I do pity the horses whenever I have the misfortune to walk Central Park South. However, may be phasing out the business would be better than shutting it down altogether. I just don't want these horses, who have led a miserable life alongside NYC traffic, to be put down (which is a brutal procedure in its own right).

Dec. 31 2013 08:41 AM
enid w langbert, esq. from new york city

I knew this guy was going to be a terrible mayor.

Dec. 31 2013 08:12 AM
erika mansourian from New York

Could you be any more one-sided, WNYC? You run de Blasio's short quote, then spend the rest of the piece quoting those against the ban. And what a surprise that a man who makes his living off the backs of these horses would say they're treated well. WNYC, what don't you look into the issue rather than talking to clueless tourists who have no idea what goes on behind the scenes and who just want to see Olde Timey New York on their thrice-yearly visits to NY.

Dec. 30 2013 09:53 PM

I remember in the late 1980s protesting the horse and carriages for dragging horse up steep inclines to be stabled on the 2nd floor of derelict buildings in Hell's Kitchen. Even if they have improved over the years, their use in Central Park is nothing more than a way to scam tourist money. Not that those rickshaws are any better.

Dec. 30 2013 09:26 PM
PBnJ from Brooklyn

Anyone who thinks this is a "humane" industry should walk along side that poor animal 18 hours a day. Experience breathing in car exhaust, try to navigate traffic with cars/trucks/buses/motorcycles/taxis coming within inches of your body (many times being struck), be exposed to incessant honking/jack hammering/crowd/crane and bus noise, work in all kinds of weather without accommodations for heat/sun/snow/ice. Go back to the barn to see how the horse is under-fed and poorly rested, rarely visited by a veterinarian, made to work when clearly lame. If the industry agreed to keep the horse and carriage on a dedicated path through the park away from all forms of traffic and kept in barns with a turnout to allow for free movement and grazing for the horses that might improve it's image but that's impossible in NYC. Yea for Bill - banish this awful trade !!

Dec. 30 2013 08:22 PM
Dan Foxnews from Taxachussetts

You all wanted a liberal, you got em. If the operators of the businesses were black or lets just say non-white there would be no issue. This fool will be a hit to working people just like that idiot, brain dead obama.

Dec. 30 2013 08:08 PM
Joseph E Timmons from New York

The Horse Drawn Carriage industry / Business in NY creates Jobs and Provides income, also, it provides taxes and revenues for the city and state. Many of the horses are privately owned and are well cared for, have private vet services and are treated better than some people treat each other. Yet another public official in NY destroying what made the City great. I am an animal lover and I feel that there are things that can be done more ethically, but the issue is not how well things can get but how much more can we take away from the people of NY. So, this new mayor is banning one of the highlights of NY Tourism, OK, so when NY has less money to pay it's civil servants will Mr. Mayor cough up the cash.. OK Mayor elect, it's time for you to "pony" up.

Dec. 30 2013 07:47 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


Latest Newscast




WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public


Supported by