Oreo at Clinton Park Stable. Ángel Franco/The New York Times.

Oreo, the NYC carriage horse who spooked and bolted, gets new home


Cross-posted from the Wall Street Journal blog

Oreo at Clinton Park Stable. Ángel Franco/The New York Times.
Photo Credit: Ángel Franco/The New York Times.
Oreo, the horse who dumped his carriage and ran amok near Columbus Circle is shown here back home at the Clinton Park Stables, taking the gang of reporters outside his stall in his stride. (click to enlarge)

A New York carriage horse involved in a runaway incident earlier this month while carrying tourists was sent to an equine farm for retired horses Wednesday.

A carriage driver lost control of the horse when the animal was startled by noise from a construction site at West 59th Street and took off running on Aug. 16, leaving the carriage behind.

The carriage hit several parked cars, while the horse was captured several blocks away after falling on its side. Oreo’s injuries were minor, and he was suspended from work afterward.

“Oreo went through a very traumatic experience and we are doing what’s best for Oreo,” Stephen Malone, president and spokesman for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York, said of the horse, who pranced for reporters.

Oreo is headed for Blue Star Equiculture in Palmer, Massachusetts.


It seemed inevitable that this could be the only outcome, that Oreo would not return to Manhattan’s Central Park to lug bunches of tourists and other strangers around, and indeed be “retired”. That is the right public relations move for the City and its carriage horse trade. It is also the right move should a lawsuit arise from the accident, showing the City acting responsibly by removing the offender — the carriage horse of course — from the streets.

Whatever the reasons, we are happy for Oreo. Bon voyage and our sincerest wishes for happy days ahead for him.

The quote that stands out to me among the exchanges about the accident and the inevitable call for the City to ban horse drawn carriages is this grisly remark by Mayor Bloomberg.

“In our society, we have, from cave-man times, used animals as part of our economy. We eat them.”

Ugh. Oh, you may find the cartoon, part of a related article on the Daily Maul, amusing.

Oreo is lucky indeed that his high profile bolt in midtown Manhattan ended the way it did, and not a dinner plate where so many horses do.


Carriage horse who bolted in Manhattan may end up on Easy Street; Tuesday’s Horse; Aug. 18, 2012.

3 injured when Manhattan carriage horse Oreo bolts and breaks free; Tuesday’s Horse; Aug. 17, 2012.

15 thoughts on “Oreo, the NYC carriage horse who spooked and bolted, gets new home”

  1. Pulling a carriage in busy traffic is no place for a horse.I dont care how good they treat the horse, this is not where it should be 7 days a week, im so happy for his new home, and now he can be a real horse, good post.


  2. Great post. Oreo, like all the horses and equines, earned a safe and secure permanent home with decent, educated, experienced human beings.

    No horse belongs in traffic or on paved streets. It causes damage to hoof walls and to the legs. That is known to anyone who spends any time around horses. Horses and all equines are designed by heredity to live in areas in which there is forage. They are herbivores and prey animals meant to live in groups, or herds. Horses need large areas on which to live in which there are grasses with varying levels of proteins. Humans feed horses grain in order to supplement the natural diet and to increase stamina in the case of a stressful work schedule. Grain protein levels are ideally adjusted for the horse’s needs and occupation. Certain types of hay are used in conjunction with a horse’s nutritional needs (timothy vs alfalfa). No urban setting works to the benefit of the horse. That we know.

    BTW, “cave-man times?” Did he really say that? If so, he eats anything.


  3. What about this so called retirement home for carriage horses, “Blue Star Equiculture?” Is that another polite name for Horse slaughter? Just sayin……………………


    1. Kim, me too. I hope we can get some info on Blue Star and its relationship with any which is actually pro-slaughter. (Unwanted Horse Coalition).


      1. I know of no such relationship. The specialize in the rescuing of Draft Horses, and also have an organic farm there. I pray Oreo is nestled safely in this new home tonight, and feels secure there.


      2. I don’t know about Bluestar, but several of the most vocal NYC carriage advocates are at least members of the Facebook UH pages, in that they post their, support Humanewatch, are anti-HSUS, and seem to fall in line with everything that UH stands for.


  4. So happy for OREO, he deserves this, as they all do. Like your idea, Kathleen, about replicas of old Fords with rumble seats.


  5. There is not one single thing that is abusive about this type of work.

    Here are some facts about the NYC carriage horses:

    There has NEVER been a carriage horse driver cited for abuse of a carriage horse.

    There has NEVER been a citation for mistreatment, cruelty, etc.

    Three carriage horses who have died as a result of collisions with traffic in the past 30 (that’s THIRTY) years. Chester (1985), Tony (1990) and Spotty (2006). There have been roughly a half dozen other carriage horses who have died while at work in the past 30 years – most notably Charlie who died of unknown causes in October 2011 (http://tinyurl.com/cwplyk2), Smoothie in 2007 (from head trauma and shock after spooking into a tree due to a snare drum), Juliet in 2007 (colic), Jackie in 1999 (electrocution thanks to ConEd and stray voltage). I am in no way minimizing the death of any horse, but this is a remarkable record. There is no other riding discipline that can come close – NONE.

    The NYC carriage horses are regulated by both the NYC Administrative Code / Rules of the City of New York and New York State Agriculture and Market Law. Title 17 Chapter 3 Subchapter 3 of the Administrative Code deals with Rental Horses (riding and carriage) and their oversight by the Health Dept. Title 20 Chapter 2 Subchapter 2 of the Code is their licensing regulations with the Dept. of Consumer Affairs. Title 19 touches on their work on public streets. All these rules and regulations – from at what temperature the horses must be blanketed, to how many hours they can work, to where and when they can work, to what the rate card must look like, to specifics about their 2x per year vet inspections, etc., etc. runs to over 40 pages single spaced.

    The New York City carriage horses are some of the most regulated animals in this country. The fact there has never been a citation for mistreatment or cruelty, even with an awful lot of folks looking for it (including the ASPCA which supports a ban), speaks volumes.

    In reality, this debate has NOTHING to do with the animals – it’s all about money and real estate. NYCLASS was founded by a real estate developer, Steve Nislick, who wants the land the carriage stables currently occupy.

    As one of the leaders of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, a group that supports NY-CLASS, has stated: “The hand writing is on the wall. When this industry goes down, it may well be because of the Hudson Yards/Hells Kitchen real estate development project that will wipe out two stables. And then move uptown to take the others. Manhattan real estate is very valuable and many developers have their eyes on the redevelopment of the far west side. You can rant at NY Class and the ASPCA all you want – but you can’t stop this kind of progress.” (link on file)

    So, again, this is not about “cruelty” – it’s all about money and real estate.


    1. I agree with so much with what you say, and am aware of the money and real estate implications. When I lived in Manhattan I interacted with many a carriage horse driver and even came to know some of the horses. The drivers did not trust me at first because of what I do, and that was understandable. But they soon came to see that I meant them no harm.

      As a matter of fact, the only time I was “attacked”, and that was verbally, was by the people protesting the carriage horses, trying to get rid of them, when I worked with the drivers to get more formal regulation. Many of the policies put into law were already in operation, and had been for some time, and done voluntarily by the drivers.

      During my time there, because of the relationship I developed with Mounted I learned they keep a close watch on these horses.

      It only takes one rogue driver to give everyone a bad name, but they are soon gotten rid of by the drivers themselves.

      There are worse places to be a carriage horse. When I was in Nashville, they had horses to lightly framed to pull big carriages loaded up with four bulky tourists, and they were driving them in 107 degree heat. It did not matter it was at night. It was too damn hot. When I tried to talk with them peaceably about it two of the drivers threatened me. Las Vegas has been another problem city.

      So it is not right to assume it is all done properly everywhere.

      Thank you for your comments. I apologize for my overly long response.


    2. Dear thebarnrules, For those who love horses, and who advocate for them (since they can’t do it for themselves) this argument IS about cruelty. Of course, the carriage trade is in busine$$ and wants to profit from keeping the poor nags working. Isn’t this also a Teamster issue and isn’t that part of the problem? For the benefit of the horse, please remember: horses are herd animals. There is zero place for them to have the sort of social interaction that is natural for them in New York City. They never get to hang with their friends and forge close relationships with other horses. Horses, in NYC are never turned out with other herdies, or solo. Their natural way of gaining nutrition and hydration is through grazing. There is none of this in Manhattan. Horses in NYC have zero turn-out. They are not able to kick up their heels, or walk/trot/canter or play for fun when they are not working. The noise, the cement streets, the traffic, the air quality… none of this is natural to horses… it is all manmade for the benefit of man. Taking away everything that is natural to the horse, in order for it to be come an indentured servant to the carriage trade IS cruel.


  6. I totally agree with Peggy! Oreo will have the life that he deserves! Hopefully, NYC will realize that having replicas of old Fords with the rumble seats, will be more attractive to Central Park, and will save innocent lives, namely the carriage horses, who must endure horrible conditions on the street.. The blasting sounds, the horrible exhaust fumes, the heat & cold, the crowded stables.. If New York City tourists only realized the facts, I feel certain that they would prefer a ride in a vintage replica of an old Ford with a rumble seat…with a glass of champagne…. God Bless all of the horses who have suffered the fate of being a NYC carriage horse…..


  7. Good for Oreo may he have the life he deserves……Carriages should be outlawed and tourists need to walk or take a cab!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Happy grazing Oreo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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