Is it Time To End Horse Drawn Carriages in New York City
 By Saferaphus   •   29th Jan 2014   •   2,824 views   •   1 comments
I've had to spend some time in the city lately, and I can't say I've particularly enjoyed the experience. With its crowded sidewalks, bumper-to-bumper traffic, car exhaust and strange smells, potholes and streetcar tracks, flashing lights, waving signs and noise, noise, noise. The city can be a very stressful place to navigate. Imagine dealing with all of these things when you're a horse.

There was a time when the horse-drawn vehicle was one of the very few ways to get around in the city. Old photographs depict a time when the traffic jams were entirely of horse-drawn buggies, freight wagons, trolleys and carts. Now some horses vie with cars, streetcars, buses and transport trucks for the right of way. These horses pull carriages containing tourists. While many regard this as a romantic tradition, animal activists and horse lovers everywhere are looking closely at the carriage-horse industry, and many have decided that city streets are no place for a horse.

Related: Should Police Horses Be Banned
Related: Paraguay Bans Work Horses in City Streets After Outcry From Animal Rights Groups

One of the more noisy debates is going on in New York city. Here, horse-drawn carriages can be hired for tours through Central Park and other tourist attractions. The mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio has decided that it's time to end the tradition. He and many other New York residents have decided that horses working long shifts, in crowded streets, trodding on unyielding pavement in all weather is unacceptable. It's a move the ASPC agrees with, stating that it is “unnatural, unnecessary, and an undeniable strain on the horses’ quality of life.”

It's not just the horses that are the issue. Public safety is risked when carriage horses are hit or spooked. There are many documented accidents where people (and horses) have been harmed or killed. Many people think that horses travelling on city streets presents an unnecessary risk.

Others disagree. Long time New York carriage owners point out that the stables, and the working conditions are subject to strict regulation. In 2010, the Carriage Operators of North America invited Harry Werner, former head of the American Association of Equine Practitioners to inspect the horse's living conditions. Werner found nothing objectionable. Horses are given regular rest times and veterinary check ups, as well as five weeks in pasture out of the city. Carriage operators point out that there have been relatively few accidents. Those who don't want to see the carriage industry shut down argue that these horses, now without jobs, will end up abandoned, or on trucks headed for the processing plants of Canada or Mexico. Humans will lose jobs too.

The proposed solution for New York City is to replace the horses with antique style electric cars. But, will tourists find them as alluring? And, if the horses disappear from NYC, will it be a precedent-setting move that will be followed in other cities? Horse-drawn carriages have been banned in a number of cities already, including London, Paris, Toronto, Palm Beach, and Beijing. Animal rights groups are seeking bans in several other cities such as Sacramento, Niagara Falls and Salt Lake City.

Should carriage rides through city streets be banned? Is this cruelty to horses?

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