Horse Drawn Carriages Part Two

In the past year I have commented several times on the Horse Drawn Carriage industry as it is carried out in New York.  Initially I was of the opinion that it was a more or less innocent tradition that provided a colorful way to tour New York and Central Park.  During the past few months I’ve been forced to confront the awful truth of the matter – that, no matter how quaint or traditional, there is no defense for making horses live in squalid cells and have to walk through traffic behind buses and trucks.   That’s without even considering the accidents that occur.

In the interests of fair play and public discourse I have posted both sides of the argument in the comments below each posting.  The last one resulted in me being called “stupid”, “ignorant” and, my favorite, a “humaniac”.  The fact that these comments were sent within an hour of my posting would indicate that the industry is employing a veritable herd of PR flacks whose job it is to address every affront to the industry, even one as innocuous as my last observation.  My favorite was the comment by Michaleen Flynn, a sobriquet conjuring the image of the lovable character played by Barry Fitzgerald in the move “The Quiet Man”.  This apparently is supposed to lend some sort of authenticity to his homey Irish comments.  I offered this person the opportunity to be interviewed for this website and present his side of the story.  He refused, excusing himself out of fear of reprisal to himself and his family.


I think he refused because he can’t be interviewed, and he can’t be interviewed because he is a fictitious character.  Another part of a PR machine desperate to protect an outdated industry.  You can also find a video on YouTube that is sponsored by the carriage industry. In fairness I encourage people to watch it as well.  The interesting thing about their movie is there are no outdoor shots of the stables the horses live in.  Hmm, wonder why.

24 comments to Horse Drawn Carriages Part Two

  • Sean Flaherty

    I can’t believe you people have this so wrong. These are happy horses that enjoy their lives sauntering through the park. This is a lovely custom that people travel from all over the world to enjoy. Why don’t you find a worthy cause to spend your time on rather then harrass the hardworking drivers?

  • Jeannie

    It is inhumane, and this issue is simple. It is not a complex issue. It is about as “lovely” as a dancing bear in a cage. First, why don’t the horses have water? Second, why does anyone think it is safe for horses to travel several miles a day in New York City traffic? Smoothie, Juliet, Clancy, and Spotty all have died on the job since 2006. We don’t even know what became of poor Bud, after that bloody gash on his leg in July 2007–but I have a pretty good idea. If the horses are so “happy,” why does one of the leading equine vets in the nation say their existence is grim and inhumane, a life where death comes early and is rarely even explained by the industry, a cash business that treats its customers (tourists) with contempt? Why was the ASPCA forced to file an FOI to find out what killed Clancy? This industry is not lovely, and the ASPCA as well as the Humane Society of the United States support an outright ban on horse-drawn carriages.

  • Intro 658

    Ironic, that the horse drawn industry is playing the race card when several drivers have posted racist remarks in Youtube in regards to my Hispanic heritage and have made anti-gay remarks to several participants in demonstrations against the cruelty of carriage horses in NYC. This industry has lobbyist Brown McMahon & Weinraub LLC and PR Carolyn Daly working on their behalf. Recent articles in the Irish Emigrant and Irish Voice divert the cruelty issue and recast it as a race issue. However this is an inhumane issue and it is about the horses and the unsafe environment to them and to the public. ASPCA, Humane Society, Friends of Animals, Coalition To Ban Horse Drawn Carriages, PETA and majority of New Yorkers, including many Irish Americans, support the BAN because it is INHUMANE and a TRAVESTY to both the horses and to the city.

    In regards to Michaleenflynn fear of reprisal, it is also ironic that I have been threatened by drivers in YouTube and my identity/workplace has been posted several times. Also there is a man who consistently comes by the demonstrations and petition drives to take photographs of participants. In one case at Whole Foods, a lady told me that the one of the drivers was following her. I assume that she was paranoid. However when I looked down the aisle, there was the man surveying us and quickly turnabout as I approached him.

    Many of the drivers called me a humaniac, but again the issue is not horses vs. people or Irish verses non-Irish but CRUELTY and PUBLIC SAFETY. These horses do not belong in traffic with Fire trucks, double decker tour buses, city buses, garbage trucks, taxis, etc. These horses are pulling loads of people in the buggy and I have seen the horse stopping and leveraging against the hard pavement to pull the load. These horses are tied to the lamppost and them move to stand stalls. What sort of life is this for them?

    One last point, Council Member James Gennaro introduced a bill to increase the carriage rates. This council member received lots of contributions from the owners and drivers even though they are not in his district. Council Member McMahon is the brother of their lobbyist. Bloomberg deputy mayor is married to one of the principal member of their lobby firm. It all seems wrong to me how the City Council does not adhere to the ASPCA and Humane Society authority.

    Something people are so angry that people want to help the horses but I recently read that only 1% of charity time and money are spent on animal issues. Why are people so angry that these poor animals receive 1% help?

    I am not associated with any groups as the drivers accused me. In fact, I have passed by these horses many years holding my jamba juice or starbucks coffee without doing anything or saying anything for these poor horses. But finally after seeing several incidents and seeing these poor horses’ eyes, I realized that I should at least voice my own personal objection to this inhumanity,

    Please New Yorkers, Contact your council members and TELL them to do the right thing and support Intro 658 to ban Horse drawn carriages. It is good for the horses and the city. It is healthier to walk.

  • Liam McM.

    It is a case where a legal industry is being unjustly vilified. We adhere to the letter of the law in the care of the animals. If it is so bad why is it not against the law?

  • Yvonne O'Neill Imperiale

    I am originally from Dublin, Ireland where I grew up in Ballsbridge. This is the site where one of the top equestrian events in the world, the Dublin Horse Show at the Royal Dublin Society has taken place every year since the early 1800’s. I grew up with horses since I was a little girl. I ride, English and Western and love them.

    I’ve lived in Manhattan now for over 30 years and abhor the suffering the poor carriage horses have had to go through all these years…which continues.

    I remember, one Christmas, seeing a badly limping horse carrying an overflowing carriage in the city traffic. The driver stopped at a red light and I politely pointed out to him that his horse was limping badly, that the carriage was overcrowded and that he should drop the people off and take the horse to a vet. He sneered at me and continued on his way.

    In the ensuing years I’ve continued to see the horses suffer: no water; working in cold, terrific heat, heavy rain; too long hours; being driven through all kinds of traffic, fumes, loud noises, sirens. And they have nowhere to interact, run in a pasture, even rest. It’s torture, pure and simple and has gone on for years and years. Just see the videos of their pathetic stables.

    And the so called “Irish” thing is a farce. It really annoys me. I’m Irish and there are a hell of a lot of bad, cruel and stupid Irish people in Ireland as well as in America, just as there are in any nationality on earth. If they “loved their horses”, they wouldn’t torture them until death. To look at the videos breaks one’s heart. It offends me that they are using the ‘Nationality’ card to avert attention from the base cruelties they inflict.

    There is a proposed bill that would ban them but it’s blocked right now by Christine Quinn and the Mayor. They say that it’s a tourist thing and that people wouldn’t enjoy NYC if the horses weren’t here. Duh?

    I’ve joined demonstrations since the recent deaths of the horses. And my 70 year old husband has, too. Even though he’s not into that sort of thing, he is equally appalled). Tourists have told me that they hate the idea of the cruelty to the horses.

    I travel a lot and a few months ago was in Sorrento, Italy and noticed that they still had carriage horses. Although New York is a larger, more crowded place and the two cities can’t be compared, still, I saw their horses in traffic inhaling exhaust fumes from the cars and buses and being subjected to the noise of traffic. So I came away from what should have been a lovely experience, instead retaining a strong negative memory of Sorrento’s cruelty to its horses, which makes me feel sad and angry … as I also feel about New York, where the problem is intensified by virtue of its size and in-your-face crowding. This diminishes how I feel for this wonderful city.

    Finally, I so love New York, I urge that we do the right thing for the horses. I know we will. As my late Mother would say, “please God”.

  • Whether an action is legal or not doesn’t mean it’s ethical. We have used and abuse horses from the moment they were unfortunate enough to meet our acquaintance. It’s time to leave them alone and stop making them serve for us–particularly when that forced service puts them in danger.

    Finally, just because we did something in the past doesn’t mean we should keep doing it. That’s not a valid reason for doing anything. And it’s certainly not “lovely.” It’s disturbing and unjust.

  • Why do we need horses, with all of the taxis, buses and subways.

    One day, this like child labor (yes 8 year olds were forced to work in factories), selling Negroes, burning witches, women with no rights, etc, will be a thing of the past and people will cringe when they read how barbaric this day and age was. The same with selling animals in stores and the other inhumane things we do to animals.

    In the meantime, the horses suffer. I suggest a picket outside of the New York Visitors & Convention Bureau, since another 50 years may pass, before this cruel and greedy practice will end.

  • Bea Elliott

    Responding to Liam McM. : “We adhere to the letter of the law in the care of the animals. If it is so bad why is it not against the law? Animals are property – property have no rights that out weight it’s owners. Therefore, the “owners”, be it these carraige people, (rodeos, grayhound races, circuses, factory farmed animals), or what ever “animal-use-industry” you can name, answers to no-one. Animals are property – the use and disposal is at the descretion of the “owner”. Then the question becomes not “is it legal?” but: “Is it moral”? And if it is NOT MORAL to treat animal cruely – the only way to proceed is to enact laws that protect animals from being treated as property.

    To force animals in cages, mutilation, artificial breeding, competitions or any other “use” man has demanded from animals needs to be re-evaluated and tagged as what it is: exploitation and slavery.

    For health & heart – Go Vegan

  • A Member of New York Road Runners

    Electric old-fashion-styled horseless carriages (similar to the authentic one that Jay Leno has, but tricked out a bit to look like a Central Park style carriage.)

    It’s not any less “fake” than horses pulling people around in a city jammed with combustion engine vehicles in 2008.

    No horses used.
    Fun and touristy for visitors, a slow ride through Central Park on a carriage. It’s not like the riders interact with the horses.
    Cheaper over the long term and more convenient for drivers, just plug in and charge up.
    Relatively cleaner for city, no horse poop or smells or other associated issues and dangers.

    Is it identical? No, but it would suffice well enough. Sure, some people will pine for the days of old, but the world will still keep turning. Every tradition has its time, if someone loves being pulled around by horses so much, they can visit the Amish, at the very least, the horses are out in the countryside.

    Bottom Line:
    Tradition is continued while simultaneously a new tradition is born. The carriage industry gets a short-term surge in rider ship as people line up to get their last horse pulled rides before the transition, then people try out the new horseless ones to be apart of the media buzz. Jobs are intact. Animal activists are happy. Horses are removed from a life of indefensible labor in a hostile city environment.

  • intro 658

    Electric old-fashion-styled horseless carriages sounds neat.

    But one response in regards to job intact. why is it that this industry that has 5 owners (monopoly) and part time drivers is so well protected. No one seems to be concern with the loss of jobs due to outsourcing or technology advances. EVen the Harlem rezoning that will but many small business out of business gathers no attention. But these part time drivers seem to hold a special status in the city. Why is this? A job does not justify cruelty or endangering the public safety.

  • Jeannie

    New York Road Runners,
    Bravo! Well said. It’s such a great idea. Why all the resistance?

  • Intro 658

    Electric horseless carriages are faster than horses, don’t tire, consumed less fuel, never ran away and are also cleaner. would eliminate traffic congestion, because a horseless carriage only takes up half the space of a horse and buggy!

  • Becky

    I, myself, am a horse owner. Our horses are kept in a pasture, with a barn for shelter, given fresh water every day, grain & hay in the winter…fairly spoiled animals. I am accustomed to rides through small county parks – we load our horses onto the trailer & take them there ourself. We never ride more than a couple hours without giving them a rest period, & always allow them to cool afterwards, then hose them down, & turn them back out.

    I have never been to NYC but plan to vacation there this summer. One of the things I was looking forward to (as a typical ‘tourist’) was a carriage ride through Central Park. Well, after reading these posts, I’m no longer interested in taking that ride. Horse owners in KY have been arrested & charged with animal cruelty for less than they’re doing there.

    When I visit Central Park this summer I’m certain I’ll view the carriages much differently – & won’t be paying to get in one.

  • Intro 658

    If all horses can be so lucky to have someone who loves them as you do love yours. When you do visit NYC you will see firsthand the misery of these horses and the city lack of empathy towards their plight

  • Felix the Cat

    Check out the screenings for the movie Blinders, and PLEASE contact those council members and tell them to listen to the PEOPLE and not the self interested LOBBYISTS. We don’t condone CRUELTY in Central Park. My children don’t like to see the horses in traffic. My son asked me why the people don’t care about the horses and ride the carriages instead of walking.

    June 6, 2:00 p.m. June 7, 8:00 p.m.
    For advance tkts, please visit:
    Staten Island Film Festival
    College of Staten Island
    Lab Theater
    2800 Victory Boulevard

  • A homeless man told me that he didn’t like the way the horses were treated. He said that they were abused.
    Someday, the Creator and the real owner of these horses will hold everyone accountable as said in Hebrews 4:13. The Bible also says that the love of money is the root of all evil. The people who cause suffering and distress for these animals should do something worthwhile and find a job helping animals or people and allow these poor horses to live a good life in a field or meadow.

  • Deanna

    To who ever is saying that the horses LOVE it so much…clearly you have no experience with the animals. I have been riding for more than half my life, and I can tell you a couple of reasons why horses would not LOVE and ENJOY these horse carriages in New York.

    Horses don’t have particularly good vision directly in front of them…so these blinders that they affix to the horse’s bridle is hindering their vision…which for anyone/animal can be a little nerve racking. Horses are “flight animals”, meaning they first hear danger, see it, and then run…kind of defeats the purpose of them feeling safe by throwing blinders on them, no?

    Another thing, horses walking on concrete all day long does WONDERS on their joints! lol…no matter what kind of shoe or support you give them, it will have long lasting damage after walking on those surfaces for such a long period of time.
    Just like any of you out there with leg joint problems…doctors will tell you that if it’s possible, stick to the grass!!!

    Horse-drawn carriages were banned from Toronto in 1982, and I hope New York, another large city with growing animal rights problems will follow suit.

  • slow horses and health

    slow horses and health…

    As you seem to know what your doing blogging wise, do you know what the best time of the week is to blog and have them read?…

  • […] here to watch the movie trailer To read more about the movie and to see the press coverage, please visit: […]

  • I have grown up with horses all my life. I went to NYC a couple of weeks ago to take a carriage ride out of curiousity and was appalled at the hatefulness of the horses. I inquired to my Irish driver about how these horses lived and this is what he told me:

    They ride them to and from the barn which is about 5 miles away. They do NOT have any paddock or field to run around in. These horses are put in a stall and kept there until the next day when they are tacked up and driven into the city again for a grueling 12-14 hours of work including travel time.

    Anyone that knows horses know that 1) They are herd animals and need to be around other horses freely 2) They need down time to kick up their heels and gallop around and play/relax, roll on the ground or just plain be with other horses in a wide open space somewhere munching contentedly on their hay.

    I can see why most of these horses are insane and mean temperered. They live in a prison every day and even on their days off do not get out of their stalls to “be horses”.

    To me, that is the epitome of cruelty and totally slavery. I am saddened that most people do not know this and that hardly anyone taking the poll seems to think it is cruel to the horses. How would you like to be locked in a little bedroom after a hard day of work, not able to come out until you were at your workdesk and ready to do it again…no happy hour, no socializing freely with others, no trip to the gym, no watching tv. Some of you might like that but it is the point that you have a choice and can be “human” if you choose to. Cruel cruel cruel.

    You can believe that I will not be taking another ride again in New York City unless they change the living conditions of these horses.

  • Some people have wayyyyyy too much time on their hands! The Amish in Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio depend on hard working horses, horses to drive them to a near by store, chuch and their own private school activities. Before automobiles, trains or other means of transportation, the horse was our only source to drag out timber, hall wagon loads of supplies, produce and carry everyones fat ass around! Without the Ox and horse where would we be today? Some 3rd world country’s still use the Ox and horse. My good Lord are we really that bored today that a group has to think of yet another area to attack lamelessly? Because of this bordom or few minutes of fame or another way to be noticed to a world that usually never notices them to begin with unless they are constantly complaining about something? Do something constructive, join the peace corp, adopt an orphan, thrive on peace in the middle East, help the homeless, the jobless, cure a disease, home school yourself, get a better hobby than a constant complainer! I never seen such people who try to fix something that isn’t broke, but want to break traditions so they have something to fix when there isn’t anything to fix! Leave well enough alone! If most people minded their own gardens, there wouldn’t be any weeds to complain about now would there? But now days [NO]body minds their own business! Perhaps that is why the urge to write this note, I learned from the rest of you!

  • AlisonUK

    I have just visited NY and went for a carriage ride in Central Park, as I am a real horse lover. I was reassured that the horses I saw looked in really good condition. I naiveky thought that there was an area in Central Park, where these horses lived in the park itself. I chatted with the cab driver about where the horses lived and whether they had a paddock. He told me that they lived in stables on the East side, with all facilities. I have just logged on and looked at your film of the stables and am totally horrified that horses live in these conditions in this day and age. What a miserable existence – even working horses need some time off to kick their heels with their friends. These poor, poor creatures. My heart is broken thinking that I contributed to this industry.

  • We agree – as you saw the horses live in squalid tenements and are kept there because of greed and politics. Please spread the word to other friends visiting New York that this industry is abusing animals and has no business in a 20th century society. For more info you can go to –

  • Janis Lozano

    It amazes me the ignorance people are willing to go to for denial. This is animal cruelty bottom line. I have seen the abuse with my own two eyes. For those idiots who wish to defend it, take a look at the cold hard facts… and yes, horseless carriages please, this way we all win, people won’t lose their jobs, tourists get to experience NYC in a carriage ride and the horses get to go to a suitable environment where they can be horses, freely.

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