Animals In Print
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June 10, 2012

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Carriage horses: Cruelty is the name of the trade

The headlines documenting the deaths say it all.

The newspaper photos documenting the accidents tell the story.

The film Blinders exposes the truth.

Urban centers including New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Charleston and other cities in the U.S. and around the world are no places for horse drawn carriages.

Animals in Print carriage horse New York City

According to both Peggy Parker, formerly of the Carriage Horse Action Committee, and Elizabeth Forel of the Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages, the average working life of an urban carriage horse is less than four years, as compared with that of mounted police horses who are able to serve an average of fifteen years before being retired. One of the worst horse and mule slaughter auctions in the nation takes place every Monday morning in New Holland, Pennsylvania. At times you will see horse trailers belonging to some of the New York City carriage horse operators in the massive parking lot at the auction. It could be that they are there to buy horses for their trade, but there is also the possibility that they are selling old, used up and/or injured horses and that usually means a horrifying trip to the slaughterhouse.

"By nature, horses are designed to spend at least 16-18 hours a day moving around freely and grazing on grasses and shrubs on a fairly forgiving surface of dirt," said Dr. Nina Deibel of Rhinebeck Equine. "Horses that are used in a carriage service in a city, such as those in Central Park in New York City, have their wellbeing jeopardized in several ways. First, the pavement on which they stand all day harnessed to their carriages does not absorb the impact of their foot falls thereby sending damaging concussive forces up their legs. This can result in musculoskeletal injuries throughout the horse's body, but particularly in their legs and feet. Secondly, these horses are at risk of damaging their gastro-intestinal tract since they can not take in a normal amount of roughage and feed. This lifestyle puts them at a high risk to develop gastric ulcers and other stress related health problems. Thirdly, it has been reported to me that some of these horses, when not in service, are kept in straight stalls where they are also tied up and unable to move at their own free will. This significantly contributes to the high stress situation in which they have to exist and further diminishes their physical and mental health and wellbeing."

Animals in Print carriage horse New York CityActress Rue McClanahan and New York City Councilman Tony Avella speaking at a press conference outside City Hall prior to the NYC Council hearings.

Equine Advocates is committed to exposing the truth about the carriage horse trade. EA President, Susan Wagner, spoke at the New York City Council hearings on January 31, 2009 in support of Intro 658 which would ban horse drawn carriages from New York City. She was joined by the leaders of other prominent animal protection organizations, veterinarians and residents of the City of New York who also came to make their views heard. Introduced by New York City Councilman, Tony Avella, Intro 658 would, if passed, finally put an end to the sad and pathetic existences horses have had to endure for so many years on the streets of New York City.

Horse drawn carriages have been banned in many cities around the world, including London, Paris, Toronto and Beijing. Many U.S. cities have also banned them because of safety and congestion problems and humane concerns.

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Extract from the book, The Horse: The Most Abused Domestic Animal, by Greta Bunting:


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