Salt Lake city carriage horse collapses in the heat

Cross-posted from Salt Lake City Tribune

Owners of a carriage horse that collapsed in a Salt Lake City street and couldn’t get back up said Sunday they’re hoping he’ll recover from a sudden bout of colic, but an animal rights activist questions if the incident could have been avoided.

Jerry, a 13-year-old carriage horse, was escorting some customers about 1:30 p.m. Saturday near South Temple and State Street when he suddenly kicked his stomach, said Annette Overson, one of the owners of Carriage for Hire.

Overson said when the carriage driver immediately stopped to check on the horse, Jerry lay down and wouldn’t get back up.

The incident happened in a high-profile part of downtown, and some spectators gathered to watch Saturday afternoon, including Jeremy Beckham, who works for the group People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and Amy Meyer, who took video of the horse.

Beckham said Jerry’s condition may have been partly caused by colic, but it was aggravated because the horse was being forced to work in near 100-degree temperatures. Highs reached 97 degrees in Salt Lake City on Saturday.

“I don’t think horses should be pulling carriages when it’s 100 degrees out. That’s just inviting problems. Horses get overheated very easily,” he said.

Under Salt Lake City ordinances, carriage horses are allowed to work unless the heat index — the combined temperature and relative humidity — reaches 150 degrees, which would require Salt Lake City’s record high of 107 degrees, plus 57 percent humidity.

The ordinance also requires water breaks for the horses every two hours and limits how many hours the animals can work in a day and week.

A piece of machinery was brought in to help move the 1,800-pound Jerry out of the roadway and into more comfortable surroundings. Read full report at >>

JANELLE STEIKLEIN followed up with this:

Two days after Jerry the carriage horse collapsed on a Salt Lake City street, city leaders are considering whether it would be appropriate to change a city ordinance pertaining to carriage tours downtown.

City councilman Charlie Luke said he asked council staff to gather more details about Saturday’s incident on South Temple and State Street by speaking with Jerry’s owners, witnesses and the veterinarian treating the 13-year-old carriage horse, who suffered from a bout of colic, which caused his sudden collapse.

A lively discussion involving the merits of carriage tours was underway Monday on Luke’s Facebook page.

“I think anytime there’s an unfortunate incident like this, it does get everyone’s attention and it creates a dialogue that I think is good,” Luke said, cautioning that he won’t be rushing into any possible changes to city ordinances and nothing has been added to the city council agenda.

“I think it’s important we find out specifically what took place,” he said. “I want to make sure that we look at every angle first. [Changing an ordinance] is not something I take lightly.” Read full report at >>


If Jerry indeed had colic, what a cruel and painful situation for him to be moved in the way he was. Of course, how else would you move him? Equine ambulances are not that common and looking at the images training in handling large animals in this situation appears lacking, but no doubt they did the best they could.

All of that aside, how can anyone question whether or not horses should be pulling carriages with passengers in this type of heat. And what angles does Councilman Luke need to look from exactly, and for the benefit of whom? In the context of that statement, certainly not horses like Jerry.

By the way, horses are not “its”.

8 thoughts on “Salt Lake city carriage horse collapses in the heat”

  1. I feel for Jerry. I hope he recovers. Now, as far as the horse carriage industry is concerned, it needs to be thoroughly evaluated in order to prevent horses like Jerry from winding up in the same fate. I’m not saying that the whole entire industry in itself has to be banned although any industry involving animals will never be 100% perfect, but if such instances occur far too often then it’s time for reform of some sort. Humans need to provide their animals with the best possible care they can give them, especially if they are performing in behalf of us.


  2. This is Repulsive!
    No animal should be forced to work under these conditions.
    It is time for everyone to wake up and see that they are dealing with an animal yes, but an animal that has a heart and a soul same as us. Their feelings are not lesser than ours, their pain not less because they cannot speak.
    People who look at them as just “critters’ should look at themselves as just idiots, in my opinion.


  3. My feelings, exactly. How many “angles” need one look at to know what went wrong? Obviously, the 1st to look at, & acknowledge DID happen, was a horse was forced to work, pull continuously in massive heat, amongst city traffic & exhaust pollution. All for the money. And most likely, little if no water…for this takes time, & the intake of passengers is paramount, not intake of life-saving water! OK, is not 100 degrees sufficient to ban the weight hauling of carriage horses? One needs to wait for 107 degrees? I would think the minimum temperature would max out in the 90 degrees with the added humidity. Of course there are responsible & caring carriage horse owners & operators. But I hope the one driving Jerry is investigated for animal cruelty. Jerry must have given indication of distress. He needed to kick himself In the abdomen before collapsing?!?


  4. Carriage horses are not permitted to work in Philadelphia if actual temperatures are above 92 degrees. Of course, it could feel like 97 degrees or more with the humidity. Carriage horses should not work in the city that has high congestion, such as Philadelphia, NY, Chicago and Salt Lake City. Progressive cities have banned the carriage horse trade. Feel so bad for Jerry – hope he’ll come out of it and retire. NYC is trying to get the carriage horse industry banned and substitute antique car replicas that run of electricity. Unfortunately, the first prototype is almost $500K with the price coming down on successive cars. We’ll see what happens in NYC with the mayoral election – that will make all the difference in the world for carriage horses.


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