Probably the first and last policy of new Mayor Bill DeBlasio I’ll ever agree with. The fact that Mayor Bloomberg, whose own daughter owns and competes several multi-million dollar horses, would allow the NYC carriage horses to continue to suffer such a miserable existence during his 12 years in office, just shows that he doesn’t know sh*t about horses.
Horses in the carriage industry are often castoffs from the harness racing industry or from Amish communities and come to the city with pre-existing health problems. They develop further health issues from walking on pavement all day and breathing exhaust from trucks, cars and buses. They work all day in freezing cold and scorching heat and they’re stored in warehouses at night.
They’re never sent out to pasture, never turned out in a field to run around for an hour or two, which all horses deserve, and have no government protection. Carriage owners are legally allowed to work their horses 9 hours a day, seven days a week–whether horses like it or not. But this rule is not enforced, so many work longer hours.
The horses suffer and people are endangered too. Horses get spooked easily and can run into traffic. In New York there have been more than 18 accidents involving horses in the past two years. It’s a largely unregulated industry. It’s a half-hour ride for patrons, but it’s a lifetime of misery for the horses.
These beautiful creatures are not housed in barns or anything else that would actually make sense. NO – they’re housed in old tenement buildings where they’re forced up stairs (yes, stairs) and into small areas where they are unable to lay down or move.
According to NYCLASS.ORG: “They routinely work at least 9 hours a day, pulling a vehicle that weighs hundreds of pounds, on hard pavement, while breathing exhaust from cars, buses and taxis. Unaccustomed to the urban environment, horses can be “spooked” easily and cause accidents that inflict great damage on vehicles, drivers and most often, the horses themselves. There were six accidents in the Summer and Fall months of 2011 alone”
Yes, spooked and anything can spook them – flashing lights, loud noises, masses of people. Sounds like all the elements of a city, right? Like, exactly where they should not be. Oh and get this. When they can’t work anymore Â they’re auctioned off and inhumanely slaughtered into horse meat and sold in Mexico and Canada.
Forbes Mayor Michael Bloomberg misled the public in claiming that 210 hard-working carriage horses would go to slaughter if New York City’s carriage trade is shut down after next Tuesday’s election.
The horses won’t end up in a slaughterhouse, as stated in two separate Daily Newsarticles, including “Bloomberg: If carriage horse business ends, horses will die” appearing on October 29. (One would think this billionaire daughter’s huge horse farms in both upstate NY and Florida could accommodate a lot of these horses)
Not according to Jackie Beckstead, Director of Accreditation and Field Operations for the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS).
This is a non-profit organization formed in 2007 by nationally and internationally recognized leaders in the animal protection field for the sole purpose of strengthening and supporting the work of animal sanctuaries worldwide.
And since the Daily Newsarticles came out claiming that none of the horses would find homes, Ms. Beckstead and GFAS have been quietly working to make sure that no NYC carriage horse faces the fate that the mayor is predicting.
“This isn’t about politics,” she says. “It’s about finding homes for all of the horses, and there won’t be a problem doing that.”
Since the articles came out, she’s contacted her extensive network of sanctuaries that take draft horses—precisely the breed who the soon-to-be-ex mayor and the grouchy NY tabloid seem intent on turning into horsemeat—and found plenty of takers.
“We found out who can take the horses and how many,” Beckstead states. “We are told by some of our experienced equine sanctuaries that there is actually a waiting list of good homes for retired carriage horses.”
Making their owners over $15 million a year, these horses have earned a peaceful and safe retirement. If the owners truly care about their horses, as so many claim, then providing for their safety seems a reasonable expectation.
Carriage horses still in their working prime have substantial economic value, so many will almost certainly be purchased by other carriage horse businesses. “That’s what we hear from our draft horse rescues,” she adds.
Hopefully, those that continue working will find a more equine friendly environment than they did under the Bloomberg administration—preferably in a place where the hometown reporter bothers to fact-check the mayor’s claims.
Re-enter the horseless carriage:
New “horseless carriage” vintage-replica electric cars are now in production, thanks to New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS). Car maker Jason Wenig of The Creative Workshop designed the cars to compliment the charm of Central Park. If all goes well, the first vintage cars could be on the streets for test drives in a few months. “The new eco-friendly cars will give tourists a neat way to move around the city, preserve the jobs of the carriage horse drivers, and give horses a break,” Kwan said.