Setting the Record Straight on Horse-Drawn Carriages

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Setting the Record Straight on Horse-Drawn Carriages

By Donny Moss
December 2008

As an independent documentary filmmaker whose film, "Blinders," about the New York City horse-drawn carriage industry, is now being aired on the documentary channel, I feel an obligation to set the record straight about the city's horse-drawn carriage industry -- an industry that I have researched full time for three years while making the film. Every veterinarian and equine expert I interviewed conveyed the same basic point: Certain conditions in New York City cannot be corrected in a way that would make the industry humane or safe.

For example, New York City does not have a pasture, so these herd animals do not have the chance to graze, run, roll or interact with other horses for even a few minutes each day. They are either locked between the shafts of a carriage or locked in sub-optimal stalls near the Lincoln Tunnel. These horses have literally been stripped of the ability to do anything that comes naturally to them.

Horses are nervous, prey animals that can be spooked by any number of stimuli, including flashing lights, potholes or the sound of a drum, which spooked and killed a carriage horse in 2007.

In fact, many of the fatal accidents that have taken place in New York City resulted from spooked horses racing down the street, carriages attached to their backs.

If New York City wants to eliminate motorized vehicles, to repave the streets in soft surfaces, to create a large pasture in Central Park and to prohibit loud noises that spook horses, then we can have a more realistic discussion about the use of horse and buggies in midtown.

Until then, New York City must take the lead from Paris, London, Beijing, Toronto and other major cities that have taken horse-drawn carriages off of their congested city streets.

Donny Moss is the writer is director and producer of Blinders: The Truth Behind the Tradition.

For more information, visit Horse-Drawn Carriage Articles and Accidents.

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