Horse and Carriage Flip Over Near Central Park

From Gothamist: “Last night, a carriage horse collapsed—apparently after being spooked by a bus—and now opponents of carriages horses are holding a protest at the scene today at 1 p.m.

According to NYCLASS and PETA, the incident occurred on Central Park South, just west of Fifth Avenue, across from the Plaza Hotel. A tourist sent a photograph and this description to PETA:

“I was in town visiting from Oklahoma when I witnessed one of the worst animal cruelty incidents I have seen in a long time. A bus drove very close to a horse and spooked it (rightfully so, I was also scared of how close the busses were to us). The horse bucked and started to run when its carriage went of the curb and pinned the animal to the ground…

The men (if that’s what we want to call them) proceeded to hold the horse down and save their carriage (yes carriage, not horse) from further damage. One man suggested cutting the carriage and the other said no because it would come out of his pocket (he clearly had one concern, of which the horse was not). To top off the whole event, the men proceed to strap the horse back into harnesses and continue to work even though he was clearly limping and hurt!!!”

The witness also says there’s video, which NYCLASS and PETA are working on getting.

The horse apparently ended up pinned under the carriage and also defecated on himself while still on the ground. Donny Moss, who has been critical of the use of carriage horses and directed Blinders, a documentary about the industry, told us, “Six carriage horses have spooked and crashed in urban areas in the past 10 days. In New York City, the open carriages are driving in the streets with motor vehicles, but the passengers are not wearing helmets or seatbelts. If tourists had been in the carriage when it flipped over last night, they could have been seriously injured. No amount of regulation can prevent a horse from spooking. This is just one of the many reasons why horse-drawn carriages cannot be operated safely or humanely in New York City. We are grateful that Mayor de Blasio understands this and is taking the carriage horses off the streets for good.”

Moss added, “By continuing to support a ban on horse-drawn carriages in midtown, a move for which he will be criticized, the Mayor is putting principle ahead of political expedience. That is the sign of a true public servant and leader, and he will be remembered for it.” De Blasio says he’s committed to ending carriage horses, but isn’t rushing to do so.”

Horseback Riding To Return To Central Park

Horseback Riding in Central Park

After a three year hiatus visitors there will once again be able to saddle up under a new city plan to bring back horseback riding in a big way.

Since the closure of Manhattan’s last stable, Claremont Riding Academy, in 2007, it’s been next to impossible to ride off into the sunset without riding the subway to another borough first.

The 4.2 miles of bucolic bridle paths winding through Central Park, around the reservoir and under bridges, are now mostly used by joggers and dog walkers, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe told The Post.

“People will keep walking and running there, but we also want riding — which has been done in the park for most of the past 150 years — to be restored,” he said. “The bridle paths are an essential part of the park’s design and riding is one of its oldest forms of recreation.”

After Claremont closed, the city did sign a deal with the Riverdale Equestrian Centre, to offer trail rides by appointment, but those were infrequent and only done on weekends, Benepe said.

The city now wants a more permanent riding concession.

Each day, horses will be brought to the North Meadow Recreation Center, located in the center of the park near 97th Street, from one of the outer-borough stables.  Prices and hours will be determined by a bidding process and regulated by the city, Benepe said. Proposals are due next month.  City stable owners say it’s a shame the bridle paths have gone to waste.



Carriage Horse Abuse

Winter weather got you down?  Imagine having to walk around in it all day behind a bus.  Glee actor and PETA supporter Lea Michele is once again showing that she’s got a heart to match her voice by calling for an end to the dangerous horse-drawn carriage industry in new video and print PSAs for PETA. Horses who are forced to pull carriages endure long workdays while exposed to extreme temperatures and dangerous traffic and are often denied adequate rest, water, and food.

New York Governor Demands Better Treatment for Central Park Carriage Horses

Deluxe Accommodations

Deluxe Accommodations

The New York State Governor has taken a stand against the local horse and carriage industry that puts our local pols to shame.  Gov. David Paterson, taking on the 150-year-old tradition of horse-drawn carriage rides in Manhattan’s Central Park, says the horses need to be treated better or the popular tourist rides should be banned.  His recent comment before an animal activist group, rare from a high-level official, drew praise from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Paterson seeks “more humane treatment of horses that have often suffered due to difficult work conditions,” said Paterson spokeswoman Marissa Shorenstein. “Horse carriages are important to New York’s overall tourism industry and to the fabric of New York City’s culture, however we must be certain to treat horses and all animals ethically.”

The romantic rides in ornate Hansom carriages have graced Central Park since the 19th century, drawing 800,000 customers a year. They have been featured in tourism ads and in countless movies and TV shows.  But Paterson and animal rights groups say the horses’ stables are too small and too cold in winter and that the constant work isn’t humane. There are occasional crashes with automobiles, one of which left a horse dead last year.

Central Park Covered In Snow Recalls Sleigh Rides To McGown's Pass Tavern

Currier and Ives Sleigh Race

Currier and Ives Sleigh Race

This past Sunday Central Park was covered by a thick blanket of white as New York City enjoyed the first snowfall of the season.  Later that day the slopes all around the park were covered with all manner of sleds and toboggans as New Yorkers young (and not so) took advantage of the rare, pre-holiday opportunity for downhill racing.  I took a walk up the East Drive towards McGown’s Pass (E. 106th St.) later in the evening and experienced a moment of “Time And Again” temporal displacement.  Streetlights twinkling through the snow, not a car to be seen, or heard, just the soft white mantle covering the road and trees, muting what little sound there was.  Easy to imagine the park a century or so ago, when the first snow of the season was the occasion for a race to the Tavern that once stood at the top of McGown’s Pass.

For most of the latter half of the 19th century, right up until its demolition in 1915, the McGown’s Pass Tavern awarded a magnum of champagne to the first sleigh that reached it each season.  The tradition was carried on with the Central Park Casino until it’s demise in 1934.

McGown's Pass Tavern

McGown's Pass Tavern at 106th St.

The Tavern was originally owned by the McGown family and had existed on the spot in various incarnations for over two hundred years.  It was originally a stop along the Boston Post Road and the site has also been the home of Mt St. Vincent Convent and a museum.  By the turn of the last century it had been rebuilt into an extremely popular restaurant and sportsman’s club – reportedly a favorite uptown spot for then Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt.

The space once occupied by the Tavern is now the site of the Central Park Composting Center, a very valuable, if somewhat less fashionable, use for the hill at 106th St.  But even now, on a still night following a snowstorm you can almost hear the muffled thump of hooves and jingling of sleigh bells through the crisp winter air.