Carriage Horses

Horse-drawn carriages were once the primary mode of transportation in England and the United States during the 19th and early 20th centuries before the advent of the automobile. But today with cars, trucks, buses, traffic, toxic exhaust fumes, paved streets, loud city noises, and ubiquitous street dangers—it is no place for a skittish horse. Every year, carriage horses are severely and fatally injured and die in city streets around the world from collisions with cars, buses and taxis, that happen with sad regularity. And there’s a litany of endemic problems in the carriage trade business, including overworking and underfeeding the horses, under watering them, pushing them too hard causing them to overheat and collapse in warm weather, and subjecting them to unsafe and unhealthy conditions. It’s important to know the truth about this industry before taking a carriage ride.Carriage Horses

Today’s city carriage horses often live miserable lives working more than nine hours a day, seven days a week, pulling a heavy carriage that weighs hundreds of pounds, on busy streets in heavy traffic, pounding hard pavement, with loud frightening noises, deprived of fresh, clean drinking water, breathing toxic exhaust fumes, working in extreme heat and cold temperatures, and resting at night in deplorable housing with too little room to physically move and rest. City streets are no places for horses.

Carriage HorsesPlus, carriage horses aren’t protected under the federal Animal Welfare Act, and anti-cruelty laws offer very few safeguards, and humane agencies like the ASPCA don’t have the resources to monitor this industry. Carriage horse operators and drivers see their horses as money-making, tax-free cash machines, and if the horse is no longer “useful” or too lame from working, then they just dispose of them, and replace them. Many cities have no regulations for carriage horses, and they suffer and die from heat exhaustion, sun stroke, dehydration, accidents, collisions, driver error and fatigue. Then finally, if this isn’t bad enough, many operators sell their old, injured and spent horses for slaughter, because they no longer are bringing in revenue for them. Simply, they are discarded.

If you are considering a carriage horse ride, please think again. Do you really want to support these horses’ suffering? Who is looking out for them? Not the driver, or the operator, or the city, or you the patron. The only meaningful, humane and moral response to this abusive industry is a complete ban on horse-drawn carriages that will protect and respect the horses. Instead consider one of the alternatives listed below, that don’t cause pain and suffering on animals.

Major Concerns, Threats and Dangers for Carriage Horses

  1. Traffic Accidents – Because horses are prey animals, they spook easily from any sudden and loud noise, barking dogs, sirens and street noise. Terrified, they bolt and run down city streets, causing accidents where both people and horse get injured. Many carriage horses have been severely injured and had to be euthanized or have died from their wounds on city streets. See more about accidents.
  2. Overworked & Exhausted – Horses work long 9-hour shifts in busy city streets on hard pavement and suffer from exhaustion and collapse from fatigue. They are often pushed too hard and overworked, which can be exacerbated by extreme heat rising from the pavement and high air temperatures. They are living animals that do not belong on busy, heavily trafficked city streets.
  3. Heat Stroke – Horses suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke in warm/hot weather and during hot summer months and cannot recover from the constant exposure to heat from the pavement as well as the air temperature. Coupled with dehydration, they can collapse from heat exhaustion and fatigue.
  4. Breathing Toxic Car Fumes – For 9-10 hours a day horses are breathing toxic nose-to-tailpipe polluting car exhaust fumes that suffocate them and cause respiratory distress and lung disease.
  5. Extreme Dehydration – Carriage horses working in towns often don’t get enough clean, fresh water and suffer from mild to extreme dehydration causing collapse.
  6. Underfeeding – Many carriage horses are underfed and undernourished for the amount of labor they do, working 9-hours a day pulling a load of hundreds of pounds.
  7. Constant Pounding on Hard Pavement – The constant walking and trotting on cement and asphalt 9 hours a day causes concussive injury to horses’ legs and feet, which are designed to walk on soft surfaces like dirt or grass. Pulling heavy carriages on pavement causes debilitating leg injuries and concussive injuries that makes them lame and arthritic, and causes them constant pain and suffering. Some become so lame they are unable to walk any longer.
  8. Lack of Shade to Cool Off – During hot summer months, carriage horses need cool places to rest and recover and keep their body temperature regulated. But most city carriage horses bake in the sun for hours, while resting and working, never getting a break. Many carriage horses collapse and die from the heat.
  9. Subjected to Massive Street Dangers – Horses have stepped on electric plates and died, and are terrified of sudden and loud noises and sights—ambulance sirens, racing police cars, drivers running red lights, flashing lights, potholes, barking dogs, fireworks, yelling, whistles—all posing severe dangers for horses and the carriages.
  10. Dangerous Weather Conditions – Horses are forced to work in all kinds of harsh, extreme and dangerous weather conditions – snow, icy, sleet, rain, heat, freezing cold where they should not be working at all.
  11. Horse Stables Can be Dangerous, Inadequate and Hazardous – Carriage horses are often stabled in sub-standard housing for their needs; stalls are too small forcing them to stand and there is not enough space for them to lie down and stretch out to recover from the all-day labor. Often horse stalls aren’t cleaned regularly or properly, and many are fire hazards.
  12. Drivers Don’t Often Paying Attention – Drivers are on cellphones, reading newspapers, making illegal turns, and not driving in the streets by the law, but often illegally.

Horse Lovers Demand NYC Council Retire Carriage Horses, by Jane Velez-Mitchell

Lea Michele: Exposes The Truth About Horse-Drawn Carriages

Why A Ban is Needed in Cities Worldwide

Read 5 Things You Didn’t Know About The Carriage Horse Industry

Read the Top 16 Reasons NYC Should Ban Horse Drawn Carriages

PETA on The Cruelty of Horse Drawn Carriages

NYCLASS on Cruel and Inhumane Horse Drawn Carriages

Simon Houpt, The Globe & Mail, writes Doc Reveals Dark Side of Iconic Carriage Rides

Humane Society of the U.S., Horse Drawn Carriage Rides

HSUS President, Wayne Pacelle, writes Why It’s So Important to Move Into A Safer, More Humane World

WSJ, Cities Move to Rein In Horse-Drawn Carriages

Why A Ban is Needed in NYC

Opinion from TheirTurn, 8 Reasons Why Horse-Drawn Carriages Cannot Be Operated Humanely or Safely in NYC

Read the Top 16 Reasons NYC Should Ban Horse Drawn Carriages

Read how Horse Drawn Carriages are Cruel and Inhumane

NYCLASS on Cruel and Inhumane Horse Drawn Carriages

Updates to Issues and Actions Concerning NYC’s Carriage Horses

More about the Bill to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages in NYC

What You Can Do

  1. Don’t take carriage horse rides. Don’t patronize or support this industry.
  2. Learn more about the issue, by visiting and subscribing to the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages. “Like” their Facebook page
  3. Visit and subscribe to Horses Without Carriages International for more about the plight of carriage horses worldwide
  4. Report animal abuse and horse abuse in NYC, here’s how
  5. Sign petitions to ban horse-drawn carriages in the towns that sponsor them
  6. See the list of accidents involving horse-drawn carriages and here in the past 10 years
  7. Share on social media to help raise awareness about carriage horse abuse so laws can be passed to ban carriage horses, and replace them with vintage cars and bicycle-powered carriages
  8. Watch the award-winning film documentary BLINDERS about NYC’s carriage horse industry

If You Live in NYC, What You Can Do

  1. Support a ban. Add your name to the NYCLASS PETITION calling for ban on horse-drawn carriages in NYC. Read and sign the petition. Join NY-CLASS who is working to gain support for a ban.
    Petition: Horses do not belong in a congested, urban setting where they constantly breathe exhaust while dodging dangerous traffic. The horses live their lives confined to the shafts of their carriage and the shafts of their tiny stable stalls, with no access to green pastures. I love NY but seeing such an inhumane industry continue to operate here disappoints me. I support retiring the horse-drawn carriages and replacing them with humane, sustainable electric vintage-replica tour cars proposed in the NYC Council bill, Intro 86A.
  2. If you live in NYC, call your New York City Council Members and ask them to ban horse-drawn carriages. Here is the script you can use. If you live in New York City, call your Council Member to support the Avella/Rosenthall Bill – S667/A997 in the state legislature that would prohibit the operation of horse-drawn carriages in NYC. Call them. E-mails get deleted. Many are not aware of the constant disrespect for the law displayed by the carriage drivers who profess to “love their horses.” You may find your council member by clicking
    1. Visit the District Office of your Council Member. Tell them that you are a constituent and want the CM to support the Avella/Rosenthall Bill – S667/A997 in the state legislature. Ask for a meeting. Bring a hand written letter to the Council Member – this will go a long way.
    2. Call your Council Member every week if they are undecided to remind them that you would like them to support Intro 573. Don’t be shy. They represent you.
  3. If you live outside New York City, please contact members of the Transportation Committee. Please call every person on this list. You can spread it out over several days. CALL THESE COUNCIL MEMBERS ON THE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE:
    1. James Vacca – 718-931-1721
    2. Deborah Rose – 718-556-7370
    3. David G. Greenfield – 718-853-2704
    4. Antonio Reynoso – 718-963-3141
    5. Daniel Garodnick – 212-818-0580
    6. Jimmy Van Bramer – 718-383-9566
    7. Carlos Menchaca – 718-439-9012
    8. Stephen Levin 718-875-5200
  4. Write and call the Mayor of NYC, State Senators and Congressmen – asking for a ban
  5. Write letters to the Editor (See list and tips) to educate the public about animal rights
  6. Watch the award-winning film documentary BLINDERS about NYC’s carriage horse industry

History of the Carriage Horse Industry (NYC)

Part 1, An Elegant Carriage Ride?, by Laurie Jordan

Part 2, How About A Carriage Ride, by Laurie Jordan

The Political Power of NYC’s Carriage Business – A Bare-Bones History, (excerpted from the Carriage Horse Action Committee’s 18-page history)

Legislation Introduced in NYC

On December 11, 2007, Council Member Tony Avella introduced a bill at City Hall to ban horse-drawn carriages from NYC. The ASPCA joined a coalition of citizens, animal advocacy groups, and local businesses to lobby City Hall in support of this bill. Today a newer version of that bill has been introduced in the New York state legislature, called the Avella/Rosenthall Bill – S667 / A997 that would prohibit the operation of horse-drawn carriages in NYC.

Alternatives to a Carriage Horse Ride That Don’t Hurt Horses

  • Take a walk
  • Take a tour
  • Ride a bike
  • Take a pedicab tour
  • Take a Hop On, Hop Off Tour
  • Take a boat tour
  • Have a picnic
  • Visit a sanctuary or do something that supports animals

Cities That Have Banned Horse-Drawn Carriages

  • Beijing, China
  • Bilozi, MS
  • Broadway at the Beach, SC
  • Camden, NJ
  • Deerfield Beach, FL
  • Key West, FL
  • Kenneth City, FL
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • London, England
  • Oxford, England
  • Palm Beach, FL
  • Panama City Beach, FL
  • Paris, France
  • Pompano Beach, FL
  • Reno, NV
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Santa Fe, NM
  • Toronto, Canada,
  • Treasure Island, FL

“The life of a carriage horse on New York City streets is extremely difficult and life threatening, and the ASPCA has long believed that carriage horses were never meant to live and work in today’s urban setting.” ~ American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

“The horses in NYC are worse off now in the 21st Century than they were 100 years ago.” ~ Animal Welfare Expert (Source: BLINDERS film)

“These horses are beasts of burden and have just a horrible life.” ~ Animal Welfare Advocate (Source: BLINDERS film)

“These carriage operators and drivers desensitize themselves to horse abuse because that’s how they make a living.” Animal Welfare Expert (Source: BLINDERS film)

“Many carriage horses have pre-existing lameness, then they are put onto pavement and hard cement, causing concussive injury, constantly. Working a lame horse is illegal and inhumane.” It’s very cruel.” ~ Veterinarian (Source: BLINDERS film)

“Tradition is a really lame excuse for animal cruelty. Bullfighting was a tradition that was extremely cruel.” – Animal Welfare Expert (Source: BLINDERS film)

“In my professional opinion, these horses are money-making commodities and they are treated as such.” ~ Animal Care Expert (Source: BLINDERS film)

Photo Credit: Photo is courtesy of Pixabay.com, www.pixabay.com

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