The Ugly Truth About Horse Carriages

Every New Yorker (or anyone who has visited more than once) knows that horses and carriages do not belong in New York City.

1. There is one side of the horse carriage industry that a lot of tourists never see:

2. … it’s not all majestic rides in the park.

3. Or romantic summer evenings.

Armando Ramos / Via nydailynews.com

4. As you might expect in one of the busiest cities in the world…

5. … horses and traffic are kind of a bad combination.

7. And those aren’t even the worst images:

11. New York City has the highest horse-drawn carriage accident rate in the country.

13. The mayor of New York City is currently trying to have the carriages banned but is facing opposition.

14. What most people don’t realize is that the No. 1 reason they should be banned is because they are extremely dangerous.

18. Now let’s look at a particular instance, a horse named Charlie.

19. Only weeks after being transferred to New York City from an Amish farm, Charlie collapsed and died while pulling a carriage from the stable to Central Park.

21. ASPCA officials told the NY Post that Charlie’s last few days were filled with pain because of a stomach ulcer.

22. There’s even video:

23. Worst part: Charlie was the third horse collapse in six weeks.

25. Even grosser:


Mayor Bloomberg said after Charlie died, “Most of them wouldn’t have been alive if they didn’t have a job.” He continued: “(They’re) part of New York’s heritage …that tourists love.”

26. So why do carriage horses collapse? It could have something to do with the exhaust and pollution.


“The smoke and exhaust fumes from urban traffic are also dangerous for horses. A study by veterinarian Jeffie Roszel found that tracheal washes and samples from respiratory secretions of these horses showed enormous lung damage, the same kind of damage you would expect from a heavy smoker. Horses’ nostrils are usually only 3 to 3 1/2 feet above street level, so these animals are truly … living a nose-to-tailpipe existence.”

27. Also, the weather could play a factor.

Carriage horses are prohibited from working when the temperature is 18 degrees or below, or when the temperature is 90 degrees or above. So that’s a pretty wide range of temps.

28. But really, what happens most often is the horses get spooked.

Getty Images/ Spencer Platt

29. Think about it: The horses are surrounded by concrete, honking cars, flashing lights, and bewildered tourists.

Getty Images/ Spencer Platt

A survey of national carriage horse accidents revealed that 85 percent of all accidents were the result of an animal spooking. Seventy percent of the time there was a human injury, and 22 percent of the time there was a human death. The survey also found that in New York City 98 percent of the horses who “spooked” became injured.

31. Also watch this video of a horse and a person going on a ride getting spooked. It really is scary for everyone:

32. So what are people saying? And why is the opposition speaking up now? Let’s ask Liam Neeson, who is currently going on tours supporting the horse carriage industry.

Fred Prouser / Reuters

While touring a stable with NYC horses, Neeson said: “This is an industry that’s been here since before Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration. A beautiful industry it is. It’s a connection with our past.”

33. When the reality is actually pretty grim…

Getty Images/ Andrew Burton

34. …and depressing.

Getty Images/ Andrew Burton

35. And to those who say the horse ban would get rid of jobs…

Mayor De Blasio said he would work with existing drivers to set them up with alternative vehicles to ferry tourists around Central Park.

36. Lastly, and to some, most importantly, EVERYONE knows the horses make everything smell like SHIT.

39. Seriously, can you imagine a Central Park that didn’t smell like shit?

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