Horse carriages are not glamorous

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In response to your Dec. 22-28 editorial “Avella: Pull on the Reins,” I must agree with you for calling state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) “a fighter for the people.”

But I could not disagree more by your defense of the horse-drawn carriage industry. There is nothing romantic about seeing horses work in all weather conditions and then have to trudge through traffic up to 2 miles to their West Side warehouses.

There is an easy solution to your concern for job loss: The carriage drivers whose life ambition is to ride tourists around Central Park can use their own blood, sweat and tears and ride pedicabs.

Mickey Kramer

Upper East Side


Updated 11:02 am, January 24, 2012
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Reader feedback

MB from Brooklyn says:
Horse drawn carriages traipsing through congested city streets is dangerous not only to these horses but also to the humans who decide to ride in them

As Mickey states, there is nothing romantic about it, especially when tourists and native New Yorkers are subjected to the visuals of these horses lying dead on the ground.

Most only see the beautiful horses with the pretty flowers on their heads, but don't see the real picture.

Blinders need to come off the horses as well as the people.
Jan. 24, 2012, 9:40 am
DK from Brooklyn says:
Horse Drawn Carriages are a relic in New York City. Repeated incidents reveal the practice as abusive to the horses. The industry is poorly regulated, and many of the existing laws are not enforced, or are unenforceable. The industry operates with impunity. Every animal advocate in New York City knows this is true.
Jan. 24, 2012, 10:24 am
Beth from New Jersey says:
I've grown up in the NYC area since a child, and both my parents were New Yorkers. Carriage horses do not belong in the city, and the cruelty is an embarrassment to the intelligence of this region.
Jan. 24, 2012, 1:06 pm
Jaime from Brooklyn says:
The city is no place for horses! It is extremely dangerous for them and they have no choice, but to drag people around all day in the busy city streets in all weather conditions among traffic, chaos and constantly breathing in fumes from cars. Then they go home to their dark, cold, cement garage where they have no space to run around in the sun & be horses. This is modern day slavery, a disgrace to NYC and it needs to be banned!
Jan. 24, 2012, 1:25 pm
Edita Birnkrant from Queens says:
It's long overdue for New York City to become more progressive by getting the over 200 horses exploited daily by the horse-drawn carriage industry out of the incredibly hostile, dangerous and unnatural environments they are forced to pull carriages in. Horse-drawn carriages do not belong in urban environments, they pose a public safety risk as well as being enslaved into an existence which denies their most basic and natural instincts.

There is no justification for treating horses as our slaves any longer. We must stop breeding horses into existence to serve as human resources, making inevitable a cycle of exploitation and death. Once carriage horses can no longer turn a profit for their owners by pulling carriages, they are sent to the slaughter auctions, the last stop before the horse slaugtherhouses in Canada and Mexico. Several former NYC carriage horses have been rescued by advocates of a ban from these slaughter auctions, but it is not possible to rescue all of them.

The legislation Tony Avella introduced would not only get these horses out of their lives on misery and forced labor on the streets of NYC, it would place them into real sanctuaries to live out their lives as horses should be able to, in peace, able to run free, graze, socialize with other horses, all the very things they are so cruelly denied every day in New York City's horse-drawn carriage industry.
Jan. 24, 2012, 3:16 pm
Susan Davis from Staten Island says:
I agree with Mickey, NYC is no place for horses! It is horrendous to witness this cruelty day in, day out, imagine how much more terrible it is for the horses! The NYC environment is cruel, encompassing everything horses hate, such as loud sirens, unexpected noises, crowds, unfamiliar people, lack of daily pasture, lack of fresh water, teeth injuries from eating with bits in place, not enough room to turn around in the stalls, their noses literally coming in contact with vehicles. There have been multiple accidents since July, 7 reported ones that I know of. Tony Avella's bill is the only one that will protect the current horses from slaughter, it is the carriage industry that sends these horses to slaughter after they've made a living off of their backs, what a disgrace! Even more disgraceful is our Mayor and Speaker Quinn for ignoring an obvious cruelty, this speaks volumes about their inability to lead!
Jan. 24, 2012, 4:03 pm
Mary from Manhattan says:
Agree 100% We as a city should hang our heads in shame for allowing this industry to continue. New York City 2012 is no place for horse-drawn carriages. Please don't insult our intelligence and our humanity by calling it romantic. This industry is a blight on the city, and the issue has commanded the attention of people who live all over the United States and around the world.

On another note, city budgets and services are being slashed and many New Yorkers continue to suffer in this economy. Why does this small, cash industry--from which the city derives not a penny of direct revenue--continue to be protected by the city? An authentic alternative industry and job plan has been put forward. Let's move New York City into the 21st century and stop exploiting animals for entertainment.

I wholeheartedly endorse Sen. Avella's bill to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City.
Jan. 24, 2012, 4:31 pm
Rina Deych, RN from Brooklyn says:
I completely agree with Mickey. This brutal industry must be banned. Horses don't belong in NYC traffic, period.
Jan. 24, 2012, 5:55 pm
Devin Newmeyer from Astoria says:
Horse carriages riding around NYC is a shame. This industry does NOT obey the laws, either. I have seen these poor horses being lead down busy streets like 6th ave, barely past rush hour. I believe in trying to put ourselves in another being's place and if I was a horse, I KNOW that I would not appreciate breathing exhaust fumes. Many of our city officials (other than Tony Avella) have strong, corrupt ties to this equally corrupt business, and therefore, support it. There is NOTHING romantic about riding on a horse carriage through traffic and I wish that people would open their eyes and show some compassion. Let's ban this barbaric practice. There are alternatives for these people to keep their jobs: How about riding a pedicab and working their own legs?
Jan. 24, 2012, 6:14 pm
LMcFarland-Taylor from Illinois says:
"Why does this small, cash industry--from which the city derives not a penny of direct revenue..."

If you believe this is true, you really need to take an economics 101 class.
Jan. 24, 2012, 6:39 pm
LMcFarland-Taylor from Illinois says:
For NY-CLASS this has absolutely NOTHING to do with horse welfare - it is all about money. Ironic, since that's the same thing they accuse the carriage drivers of - being only about the money.
Jan. 24, 2012, 6:43 pm
Mickey Kramer from Manhattan says:
LMcFarland-Taylor, I see you've begun to repeat some of your thoughts from the other letter, but if you read my letter and all the comments here, there's no mention of NY-Class and it's proposed business.
Jan. 24, 2012, 6:48 pm
The Queen of Queens from Flushing says:
I agree with Mickey that those drivers should drive pedicabs instead. Looks like some of them can use the exercise. There's no excuse for horse abuse!
Jan. 24, 2012, 7:13 pm
Poom from Scarsdale says:
agreed with mickey - the horses look so sad and out of place alongside buses and taxicabs. it is for this reason i try to avoid midtown altogether, and i know many others who do too.
Jan. 24, 2012, 8:06 pm
Terry from NYC says:

I agree with you wholeheartedly. It's terrible to see the poor horses still walking through heavy traffic to and from Central Park. They look so sad and pathetic. With recent accidents and incidents involving carriage horses, including poor Charlie who dropped dead in the street, it amazes me how anyone could continue to make excuses for treating animals so inhumanely.
Jan. 24, 2012, 8:12 pm
Christine from Manhattan says:
The overwhelming majority of New Yorkers agree with you, Mickey. It is only the uninformed or those who have a financial interest in the exploitation of the horses, who will disagree. With the number of accidents we have seen lately, it is clear that the time has come to make the safe and sane decision to replace this cruel anachronism with a more humane alternative.
Jan. 24, 2012, 8:17 pm
dimitria from manhattan midtown west says:
It's time NYC changed perspective on how it chooses to handle animal issues. As a traffic congested mega city, it should feel responsible to stress the importance of setting high standards, by banning an industry no longer fit to operate in a humane, or safe way. Manhattan is one of the most modern cities in the world. Progressive decisions on animal welfare issues should be a pre-requisite. Choosing to be passive, is reflective of how weak progressive legislature is in office. A weak and unprogressive mayor's office, does not contend with modern city living. Humane animal issues reflect, and represent a city's strength, and allow it's people to feel proud and share in that strength. Accepting the proposed Bill to ban, will set a higher standard on what is considered acceptable for working horses. The importance of setting higher standards in the treatment of animals, is a noble, and responsible choice. Decisions that stem from the human strengths of compassion, benefit everyone. And can be felt and shared world wide. These types of decisions are desperately needed in our world today.
Jan. 24, 2012, 8:36 pm
Elizabeth Forel from Manhattan says:
Great letter, Mickey. And wonderful comments from supporters - all you main stream animal rights people. Proud to be one of you. Proud to be one of the 75% of New Yorkers and tourists who support a ban of the industry. You all rock!!!

One has only to see how "work" horses were treated in the movie War Horse - or to see pictures of horse carcasses in 19th century streets to know that somewhere along the way, we broke our bond with these sensitive, gentle creatures. We exploited them because we could. We need to change that.

Please support the Avella/Rosenthal bill in the NYS legislature - # A 7748 and S5013 to ban this inhumane and unsafe industry in NYC. Join us for Lobby Day on May 1st. Contact me at

Elizabeth Forel
Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages
Jan. 24, 2012, 10:09 pm
Paola Marocchi from Brooklyn says:
I honestly feel the end is near for this cruel trade. Not only are the horses not properly taken care of and overworked, but this trade is dangerous to passerby's as it has been, unfortunately, demonstrated time and again by the many accidents, some of which have been captured on tape. Certainly there are other tourist attractions NYC is known for-animal abuse is not and should not be one of them.
Jan. 25, 2012, 12:10 am
Leda from Universe says:
I agree with you Mickey! Horse Abuse must end and like Paola stated the end is near.
There is absolutely no excuse for horse abuse.
We must continue to fight for their freedom like we did for humans not too long ago.
Jan. 25, 2012, 7:58 am
Mrs. H.B. Willis from NOLA says:
The only two things I can remember about my childhood trip to NYC are going to the top of the Empire State Building and taking an evening carriage ride through Central Park -- the carriage ride was definitely the better experience of the two.

Horses have lived and worked in cities as long as people have. Carriage driving is not abusive or cruel. Only people who really do not know about horses, and carriage driving come to this erronious conclusion because they really don't know from personal experience about horses and the nature of their bond, as domesticated animals, with people.

These radical animal rights extremists see all animals in "human" terms. They totally forget that animals are not "human" and do not experience life in he same way humans do. Their error is that they anthropromorphize animals.

The commercial carriage horses in NYC and elsewhere are extremely regulated, and there are several agencies that oversee their welfare to make sure they are not treated cruelly or abused. But the most important people who make sure the horses are not abused are the carriage horse owners themselves, who prize these highly trained animals. Not every horse is suited, by temperment, to be a carriage horse, especially not an urban carriage horse, just as not every TB is suited to be a race horse, much less a champion race horse.

The horse-drawn carriages of NYC are an iconic and traditional part of the NYC experience-- especially for visitors to your city. There really is nothing "wrong" with driving or riding in a carriage. Please do not allow a few very agressive and relentless anti-carriage horse people-- most of whom have posted on this site--to once again to sway public opinion against a legal traditional enterprise that is the livelihood of hard-working independent small business people in your city.

This is NOT some giant "industry." There are about 200 horses and drivers who to keep 68 carriages operating in only two, nine-hour shifts each day. (Each horse works ONLY nine hours per day, there are no "double shifts" allowed for them.)

When the horses are not waiting to take passengers on a signature ride through Central Park, they are housed in four separate historic stable buldings that were originally built as stables back when horse power was valued. These stables have been retrofitted with automatic waterers and efficient anti-fire sprinkler systems. They also have adequate ventalation.

These stables have comfortable box stalls large enough to allow each horse room to eat, sleep, turn around and even lie down if they so choose. Horses sleep standing up, and on average only lie down for less than an hour each 24 hours. In fact, horses' physiology is such that lying down for extended periods of time will actually cause damage to their lungs and other internal organs.

The NYC carriage horses do not work if temperatures are above 89F or below 18F. They also do not work, if the ASPCA determines that weather conditions are too adverse-- snow and rain, etc.

The horses are examined by a vet a minimum of twice yearly and are vaccinated against equine diseases. They receive regular farrier care (shoeing and hoof trimming) and dental care (teeth floating, etc.).

These horse are provided ample feed, and free choice hay and water when stabled, and are given feed and water, as needed during their nine-hour work shifts. Their drivers work with them regularly, and know their horses well enough to be able to tell when they are hungry or thirsty. They also know the horses well enough to know when they may need to wait a bit before drinking water.

Many of the people who are so "horrified" by the horse-drawn carriages have no practical horse experience, much less any real experience working with horses. The carriage horse owners and drivers have years of experience working with horses, and they genuinely like to work with horses.

Their horses are valued partners in business, and when they are ready to retire the owners take them to their own farms outside the city or find other suitable homes including retiring them to Blue Star Equiculture- the oficial retirement farm for the Horse and Carriage Association of NYC. NYC carriage horses are so valued for their training that they are in demand by other small liveries that do special event carriage rides for weddings, etc.

The anti-carriage extremists in NYC and elsewhere are working from the false premise that carriage horse driving is cruel, therefore all of their conclusions about carriage horses and carriage driving-- in cities or in the countryside-- are false. Their objections flow from misplaced emotions, not from reason and logic. Their opposition is bolstered by rumor and misinformation, not by experience and facts.

I would urge people to investigate this issue for themslves by observing the carriage horses and their caretakers for themselves. One of the best ways to decide your position in the matter is to actually take a carriage ride, read a book on horse care and carriage driving or visit to learn more about carriage and working horses.
Jan. 25, 2012, 9:20 am
Mrs. H.B. Willis from NOLA says:
Oh yes- a PS before one of the radical anti-carriage horse and animal rights extremists claims to "out" me as a carriage driver.

YES, I am a proud carriage horse owner and driver. It had been one of my ambitions in life, ever since my Central Park carriage ride, to be able to own a carriage, and drive a carriage horse.

After a lifetime of training, showing, riding and driving horses- my own and those belonging to others- as an advocation, in 2009 I was finally able to afford a carriage and carriage horse of my very own.

I am a retired history teacher, and now operate a one-horse, one-carriage special occasions livery. As such, I provide that "magical" carriage that many brides dream of for their wedding day, or many older people wish to experience just one more time. My carriage horse and I have brought joy and memories that will last a lifetime to many people who see us in local parades or hire us by appointment for carriage tours of my historic town.

The profits from this enterprise are used to help fund the care of six older horses who faced uncertain futures before coming here. All of them were either bought at auction or purchased or donated to prevent their possible trip to the auction barn. They have homes for life at here at the farm, where they receive proper diet and care-- including exercise so necessary to the well-being of older horses.

I decided to share my personal experience so people have a chance to realize that carriage horse owners are poeple just like themselves, and not some "Simon Legree" mercilessly beating and driving poor carriage horses to their death because of greed and a thirst for personal gain.
Jan. 25, 2012, 9:45 am
debera from ct says:
this is a sick, twisted, unethical, cruel & abusive industry and it must end NOW. these horses do not belong in the city, they belong at a sanctuary to live in piece and quiet. we will not stop fighting for them until this is done. anyone who pays for a ride is just as heartless as the driver.
Jan. 25, 2012, 2:06 pm
Jennifer Gillow from Chelsea, NYC says:
I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Kramer. Well said. I only hope his insight and compassion are read by those who need to be educated in the matter of humane treatment of our fellow living creatures on this planet.
Jan. 25, 2012, 5:34 pm
Candace Ware from Wisconsin says:
The only two sensible (and knowledgable) commenters on this page are Mrs. H.B. Willis and LMcFarland Taylor. Other knowledgable people have tried to comment but been blocked.

Any readers with an open mind will find useful, accurate, balanced, non-hystrionic, non-animal rights extremist information on the Facebook page "Carriage Horse Facts" (!/carriagehorsefacts), as well as at this link:

The anti-carriage voices do unfortunately, in their hysteria, tend to out-shrill and out-shriek the actual experts, so their rants do dominate the conversation. But the discerning researcher will find much of interest through careful review of what is available on the internet.

Food for thought upon parting -- The ASPCA is anti carriage, and they also regulate the trade. Yet in all these years, not a SINGLE carriage horse owner or driver has been cited for cruelty. Odd, don't you think? If they have the power to write citations, and they don't like the carriages to begin with, and there is actual cruelty and abuse as so many seem to believe -- why no citations? Ever?
Jan. 26, 2012, 7:31 am
Jessica from Chelsea says:
I find it beyond bizarre that some New Yorkers are so attached to this outdated and inhumane practice. Do people living in the city really enjoy or get that much benefit from this industry? Do they enjoy the suffering of the animals? The safety risk? The smell of horse feces? From a practical standpoint, the risks outweigh the benefits. From a compassionate standpoint, we should not support or permit such cruelty towards animals.
Jan. 26, 2012, 12:41 pm
CJK from Manhattan says:
All carriage drivers should see Blinders, so they can own up to their disgusting behavior and abusive ways, or maybe even be enlightened as to the cruelty they inflict on the animals every single day. And by the way -- they are NOT regulated. There's a puppet body of the ASPCA that can't and doesn't do anything. So it is up to the people who care about the rights of animals to do something. They've continued for over a decade, in the face of the stigma of "animal rights activists" and developed a following, even spurred a new political initiative in NY-CLASS. I think the message is abundantly clear. People who are out protesting, writing letters (thanks, Mickey!), recording video, taking pictures, all against this outdated method of animal exploitation are the new example of animal advocates, the contrast to the stigma that the carriage drivers love to cling to when making any counterpoint. Unfortunately, they feel extremely threatened by this intelligent, articulate, and substantiated group of people who are reaching the public, exposing to them the truth behind this antiquated practice.
Jan. 26, 2012, 5:10 pm
Candace Ware from Wisconsin says:
Blinders is a collection of lies, distortions and AR extremist drivel. It's a propagandamentary of the worst sort. Those who take it as gospel are nothing but weak-minded cult followers with no ability to think for themselves. In my (educated, experienced) opinion. Of course.
Jan. 27, 2012, 9:36 am
LMcFarland-Taylor from Illinois says:
@Mickey - "...but if you read my letter and all the comments here, there's no mention of NY-Class and it's proposed business. "

Yes, and isn't that most curious? Wonder if this "movement" is trying to distance itself from NY-CLASS after the very embarrassing revelations about its "leader" Steve Nislick, who, btw, just happens to be the real estate developer that wants the land the stables currently occupy.

But you still have not answered ANY of my questions and that is most telling of all...
Jan. 27, 2012, 10:16 am
LMcFarland-Taylor from Illinois says:
@CJK - I suggest you go to you tube and look for "stopliesseetruth"

And for all the letter writing, picture and video taking, etc, not one single incidence of abuse or cruelty has actually been shown, let alone proven. Not one - no citations, no convictions. Nada.
Jan. 27, 2012, 10:19 am
LMcFarland-Taylor from Illinois says:
...and because I enjoy sounding like a broken record, here are some of my questions for anyone that wants to answer them (with FACTS, please):

1. Where is the proof (vet reports, etc) that the NYC carriage horses are abused?

2. How many NYC carriage drivers have been cited and/or convicted of cruelty to their carriage horses?

3. Where are the NYC carriage horses going to go if the industry is banned?

4. Who will pay for the care of the NYC carriage horses if the industry is banned?
Jan. 27, 2012, 10:24 am
Candace from Wisconsin says:
Oh, anyone can answer them, Laura? COOL! I can answer them with FACTS!

1. There is no proof because the NYC carriage horses are not abused.

2. ZERO NYC carriage drivers have been cited and/or convicted of cruelty to their carriage horses.

3. If the industry were to be banned, where the horses go would be entirely up to each horse's owner, as the horses are private property and in America we (supposedly) respect the rights of the owner when it comes to private property.

There are various unsubstantiated claims made by the extremist groups trying to ban the industry, as to where the horses would go, but trying to talk about them is not something I care to get into since none of that is based in reality.

4. I trust that answer would vary from horse to horse, owner to owner. But I am not particularly concerned because I doubt the NYC carriage horses WILL be banned. Since the campaign to ban them is based on absolutely nothing of any substance, but solely upon an AR-extremist death-cult fantasy of abuse and cruelty, harbored by a very strident but ultimately irrelevant minority.
Jan. 27, 2012, 12:56 pm
Mrs. H.B. Willis from NOLA says:
Sorry, but just repeating over and over that carriage driving is "cruel, " does NOT make it so.

Just saying over and over that "horses don't belong in the city" doesn't make THAT "true."

Just saying over and over that horse-drawn carriages are dangerous also doesn't make it so either.

Where are the facts- cititations, arrest records, etc. that back up your contention that carriage driving is cruel?

Where is the "proof" that horses don't "belong" in cities when they have lived and worked in cities for centuries?

Where are the stats that back up your contention that horse-drawn carriages are dangerous?

More people are killed in subway accidents and even in elevator accidents in one year in NYC than have ever been reported killed in horse-drawn carriage accidents since the medallions were issued in the 1930s (Not that horse-drawn carriages were not being used to tour the park since its opening in the 19th century and early 20th- BEFORE the medallions, because they were.)

In roughly the past 30 years, ONLY three carriage horses have died as a result of traffic accidents-- THREE. There have been no human fatalities and few injuries during this same period that I could find through research.

Again, I urge anyone interested in learning more about horse-drawn carriages to take a ride in one, read some books written by horse people or visit or go to youtube and look at videos on the channel that belongs to StopLiesSeeTruth.

It costs thousands of dollars annually (not counting the actual cost of the horse, harness and carriage) to keep a horse, especially in the city.

There are the board bills, feed bills, hay bills, liscense fees, insurance premiums, vet bills, farrier, bills, and equine dentist bills (if you use a dentist and not just your vet to float teeth) that all have to be paid. Then there is the cost of blankets, wraps, halters, buckets, feed suppliments, medications and bandages (if needed).

I can assure you that people who keep horses and have carriages are NOT in it for the money. After you take out the cost of doing business, there really isn't much MONEY or PROFIT to be had- especially if you hire a driver or two.

The carriage horse owners of NYC, like carriage and work horse owners everywhere prefer to work with horses because this is more of a calling or a lifestyle than a "job" or "occupation." It is not only what we do, is is, more importantly, WHO WE ARE.

We are carriage and work horse owners. We love our horses, and we love being with them. We love sharing our horses with others who want to learn more about these beautiful, faithful and gentle giants.

Horses in the city are extrordinary; they provide a dab of "magic" in what would otherwise be just another day in the city.
Jan. 28, 2012, 3:35 pm
lisa clark from 96th and broadway says:
How about this guys,ask a 4 year old if horses belong in times square.Or do they belong in a pasture with other horses.The 4 year can tell you.Oh your right hes a young crazy animal person.Oh let me guess i love animals more then people right.Your right horses love to be in heavy nyc traffic all day,never knowing a pasture just a warehouse at the end of the day.I know im just soo crazy and silly.Its just common sense.Its not rocket science. Us crazzy people are on the right side of history and one day slowly we wont be viewed as so nuts.We will be viewed as the ones who had the guts to question the industries that for now still exist.
Jan. 30, 2012, 3:10 pm
diana says:
I really would like proof of where i can look up reports on abuse for the new york carriages....does anyone know where i can find this? If the horses are not being taken care of properly i would love to join in the fight to make sure that they are. I love animals and think any company or person knowingly hurting animals for profit or non profit should be punished. Please help me find the proof. i will not join in unless there is proof!
July 9, 2013, 3:09 pm
diana from ohio says:
Personally I think New York city residents needs to think about how they are dealing with it's over population problem more than 200 horses that live in their city.
July 9, 2013, 3:16 pm

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