New York carriage horses evicted from historic Shamrock Stables

Carriage Horse Manhattan

Animal rights activists are hailing it a victory that Ian McKeever, who housed 26 carriages horses at Shamrock Stables on W. 45th Street in Manhattan, is being given the heave ho by the City of New York.

However, the block where the stable sits is wanted for development purposes, including the expansion of a nearby school.

Nevertheless, the carriage horses must move, and many of them have already found a home at Clinton Park Stables, owner and operator Connor McHugh told Tuesday’s Horse in a recent interview.

The carriage horse industry is a hot button issue in New York that touched off a high profile showdown last year between Liam Neeson, who supports it and lobbied on its behalf, and Alec Baldwin, who does not and worked to ban it.

Changes, however, are on the way this year that will keep the horse drawn carriage business in Manhattan for the foreseeable future.

New regulations proposed by the New York City Council, and endorsed by New York Governor David Paterson, will make substantial improvements in the working lives of Manhattan’s carriage horses. Included are a mandatory five weeks’ annual vacation, annual health inspections, accommodation in box stalls, and making it illegal to work after 3 a.m., in weather hotter than 90 degrees, or colder that 18 degrees.

“We welcome making the changes on the Council’s agenda for New York’s carriage horses legally imperative” said McHugh, who pointed out that the horse welfare measures proposed are already being done voluntarily by the license holders. “We are pushing for bi-annual health inspections,” said McHugh, “but that is being met with some resistance from the Health Department.” Of little concern to them, however, are banning horse drawn carriage drivers and their passengers from smoking, and drivers from using cell phones, music players and cameras.

Where carriage horses live when not on duty in Manhattan has always been a main source of complaint, mainly because the buildings, like the Shamrock, are multi-story (although at the Shamrock the horses all occupied the first floor).

“I particularly like the fact the horses will be required to be kept in box stalls so they have plenty of room to move around and lie down comfortably,” said McHugh.

“That’s more important to us,” McHugh pointed out. “Once they walk up the ramp and settle in, it seems to me the horses could care less whether or not they are on the ground floor or second or third. They get out and have more interaction with other horses and people than most horses who work for a living.”

There are 225 horses hauling 68 carriages in and around New York City’s Central Park.

2 thoughts on “New York carriage horses evicted from historic Shamrock Stables”

  1. This business adds so much to the NYC life, plus the horses are happy doing their job. It’s their “routine of happiness.” How could anyone think of evicting these gentle giants. They have a home there, they’re fed, and loved, which is more than some poor creatures that get disgarded to rescues or WORSE!. Soon there will be no horses, no fun, no quaint carraige rides through the NYC streets, no photo opportunities, no dreams of children and adults for that matter, that love horses and can only see and enjoy them pulling these carraiges through the city. Sad state if you ask me.

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    1. The day when horse-drawen carrages are banned in Manhattan cannot come soon enough. I’ve spent too many days seeing these horses trying to make their way through busy traffic, dodging taxi cabs and breathing car exhaust on sweltering summer days. These horse must trot on hard concrete which is hard on their legs and feet and I’ve had to report to the ASPCA on several occasions lame horses being worked. And the end result for these horses when they are no longer fit to work? A trip to a Canadian slaughter house. There’s no happy retirement for these animals. To force them to suffer because we are nostolgic for the bygone days of carriages in one of the most traffic heavy cities in the world is a crime.

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