Eight lies “advocates” told about New York carriage horses

Carriage horses, Madison Square Garden. Google image.

UPDATE: I have received numerous emails, that by posting the arguments made below by a defender of the carriage horse industry in New York, that we support it. No, we are simply reporting it — not agreeing with it. We have heard lies from both sides of this issue. You can see this has not helped but hindered. The horses are all we are interested in.

Just when you think you have heard all the arguments — for and against carriage horses in New York City — we have this.

The following was published in the Opinion section of the New York Post. It was written by NYC carriage horse driver Christina Hansen. I have yet to see arguments on either side that are 100% accurate.

Lie No. 1: Carriage horses have half the lifespan of other horses.

Not even close: Carriage horses routinely work until their late teens or early 20s and live well into their 20s or even early 30s — the normal, full lifespan for horses.

If anything, because they get good steady work and lots of hands-on care, carriage horses live longer than other horses. Dr. Jay Baldwin, a veterinarian employed by the city Health Department, says he’s found zero evidence that carriage horses have shortened lifespans.

Lie No. 2: Carriage horses live in tiny stalls too small to turn around or lie down in.

Wrong again: All city carriage horses live in box stalls. The city Administrative Code [17-330 (c)] requires stalls to be at least 60 square feet with a minimum width of 7 feet, and to be “configured to permit a carriage horse to turn around and safely lay down within the stall.” If we didn’t comply, we’d be shut down.

Lie No. 3: Carriage horses never get any turnout or pasture time.

Uh-Uh. By law, carriage horses must get at least five weeks of turnout a year, outside the city, or else the city won’t renew the license. And vets who’ve examined city carriage horses, such as Dr. Harry Werner, have observed that the horses are very healthy and contented under their current regimen.

Lie No. 4: Carriage horses live in abandoned tenement buildings, warehouses or parking garages.

Again, not remotely true: Every city carriage stable was built as a stable, and each has a Certificate of Occupancy from the Buildings Department as a stable. All have the numerous windows, hay lofts and other architectural details that indicate they were built for horses to live in.

Lie No. 5: Asphalt damages carriage horses’ hooves and legs.

Sorry: Asphalt was designed for horses to walk on to make their jobs easier; the first asphalt in New York City was used on Fifth Avenue in 1872.

Carriage horses wear special horse shoes to protect their hooves and give them traction. Because they work at a walk or a trot on a firm surface, they generally have fewer tendon and joint problems than horses ridden or jumped on uneven, soft surfaces.

Carriage horse in NYC traffic. Google image.

Lie No. 6: Carriage horses live a “nose-to-tailpipe” existence and suffer from respiratory problems.

Funny: Vets who’ve actually examined our horses, such as Dr. John Lowe, remark at their lack of respiratory problems, compared to other stabled horses. As it happens, the city announced recently that the air here is cleaner than it’s been since the 1960s, and some of the cleanest air in Manhattan is found in Central Park. The American Lung Association reports that New York County has cleaner air than Lancaster County, Pa., where the horses go on vacation.

Lie No.7: After carriage horses are finished working in New York, they’re sent to auction in Pennsylvania, then sent to slaughter.

No, we don’t send our horses to auction, let alone slaughter. We love our horses and want to have a hand in picking who’ll give our work partners their next home. Retiring city carriage horses make wonderful family horses or beginning pleasure driving horses, and are often sold or given to private homes or smaller carriage companies that have a lighter workload. We also have a carriage-horse retirement program through Blue Star Equiculture, a draft-horse sanctuary in Palmer, Mass.

Horse drawn carriage, Eiffel Tower, Paris, France. Google image.

Lie No. 8: Carriages are banned in London, Paris, Las Vegas, Toronto and Beijing.

Tell that to the queen. None of those cities has banned horse-drawn carriages. Do a Google-image search for “paris carriage,” and you see tons of carriages parked in front of the Eiffel Tower.

This is one of the most oft-told lies about our industry, an obvious effort to make an unprecedented ban here seem like New York is just following the (imaginary) herd.


This is a tired, old battle. Check out this article from March 2008 — “Can the PETA brigade force Central Park’s horse-drawn carriages to ride into the sunset?”; by Loyd Grove; New York magazine. That’s if you can stand to hear any more.


Carriage Horse Fact Sheet >>
Carriage Horse Images >>


See LIES AND DESPERATION — the NYC horse-carriage trade for a response by local carriage horse advocates.

18 thoughts on “Eight lies “advocates” told about New York carriage horses”

    1. He nails it if that is the premise — are they happy? That is not the point. Is it safe for carriage horses to work in this environment — that is the pertinent question. So he misses the point entirely.


      1. There has been one vehicle-related equine fatality in 20 years. That’s a good safety record compared to any other horse activity. How many dogs have been killed in NYC by vehicles? Do you propose the banning of canines in NYC?


        1. Yes and no. We file regularly, but are in the process of re-forming in another State because we are moving. We will update our information everywhere we are registered as soon as that is complete which should be in 4-6 weeks.


  1. It’s sad when you have people on BOTH sides that are willing to twist the truth to fit their agenda. Why is it so difficult for us just to be honest with ourselves and the public and let each individual come to their own conclusion? Another thing that bothers me is that there are too many who will bash someone just because their opinion or agenda is different. Seriously? What’s the point in judging? That not our job. It’s supposed to be exclusively between the person and God and/or his/her conscience. Just because some of my family members would feel perfectly comfortable attending a rodeo and I certainly would not doesn’t make them sadists. To me, I’ve seen videos of the way these animals are managed and treated at rodeos and, thus, my conscience does not support it. But they often have so little trust in what advocates have to say. Although I usually agree with the advocates, I CLEARLY understand their distrust. Filthy organizations like ALF and PeTA have exaggerated the truth and use bigotry, sexism, and sometimes even terrorism to get their twisted message across. They give excellent advocates a bad name, and I despise them for this. But not all animal protection groups are the same. If those two jokes were at least half as level-headed, open-minded, and respectful as the ASPCA, I think much more people would listen. We need honest and non-judgmental advocates and organizations to be the voice for our animals and other well-meaning advocates. Although I doubt that anyone can bring total animal liberation into effect, a good example alone may change the consciences of mankind’s feelings and treatment toward animals.


    1. The ASPCA is hardly level-headed, open-minded, OR respectful on this issue. They stole a dead horse, pressured a vet to lie, and have covered up the fact that all their inspections show that the carriage horses are well-cared for and healthy.

      They have founded and funded the anti-carriage group, NYCLASS, to the tune of $710,000 since 2008.

      Here’s just a sample:


      1. Even though the horses already have 24 hour care, sprinklers and 5 weeks of vacation, there are probably ways that some of over half a million dollars spent in the horses’ names could have been used for them specifically.


  2. And the carriage trade always tweet and post variously that we in Toronto have an urban carriage trade. We don’t. It’s possible to arrange a livery service to transport horses to take you somewhere around the Toronto area (which could be anywhere really – it takes more than an hour to drive from one end to the other end of the Greater Toronto area.


    1. There used to be downtown hack service in Toronto. That guy that did it went out of business for a variety of reasons (I think his own health issues had something to do with it). At any rate, just because he closed and there are no longer carriages in daily use in Toronto, does NOT mean they are “banned.”


    1. Only when humans stop using animals as economic means or entertainment will abuse and neglect end. A lot of people see animals as fair game for their own purposes. As my neighbor told me when I confronted her about the treatment of her dog, “I have dominion over the animal, so says the bible”.


      1. Tim, there are some really obnoxious far-right people supporting the carriage trade, on Twitter. Check out @ConserAnimal. It’s very frustrating to hear that animals are “empty shells” that people have dominion over, and other such nonsense. This is a major reason why I can’t support their initiatives.


  3. Sounds like a feasible argument. Certainly easy enough to check out. Nothing addressed about being overworked, especially in summer, when their business is strongest. Ms. Hansen may very well be a good steward of her horse, but not all are. Even if one lets their horse collapse due to neglect, it stains the entire industry.


    1. Our horses only work 9 hours a day. There are time stamps on trip cards, which are subject to inspection. Our busiest season is actually the holiday season, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

      Our horses do not work if it is above 89 degrees.

      What horses have collapsed due to “neglect”? NONE have.


  4. Thank you for this. Although I support ASPCA most of the time, they are VERY wrong on this point. This is what horses were bred for, it gives them a valuable existence. Extermination is the alternative. I live in the West, and they are rounding up horses for meat, why isn’t ASPCA fighting the real fight.


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