Irish actor Liam Neeson, champion of New York City's carriage horse drivers. Image:

Mayor de Blasio ignoring Neeson’s invite to tour carriage horse stables

Gosh, you would think Liam Neeson would be out promoting his new film(s). Maybe he doesn’t need to. This is doing it for him. He is certainly getting enough attention for trying to save the jobs of New York City’s carriage horse drivers. Mayor de Blasio campaigned on the issue, saying that he would ban horse drawn carriages in New York if elected.

Well, it’s all good fodder for the media. I don’t see de Blasio making any moves in that direction, even though he is still saying it is going to happen, carriage horses are going, it is a done deal.

Here’s a bit of the New York Daily News‘ exclusive, written by their City Hall Bureau Chief Jennifer Fermino:


Hollywood heavyweight Liam Neeson attracts huge audiences in theaters around the globe, but he’s not much of a draw with city officials who want to ban horse-drawn carriages.

Neeson, a leading advocate for the embattled carriage industry, has invited Mayor de Blasio and all 51 City Council members to tour the largest stable on Sunday.

He will join carriage drivers and animal caretakers at the Clinton Park Stables on W. 52nd St. to showcase how the horses are treated.

The invites from the star of “Non-Stop” and “The Lego Movie” — currently the top two movies at the box office — and from Teamsters Joint Council 16, which reps many of the carriage workers, went out on Friday.

So far, only freshman Councilman Ben Kallos of the upper East Side has agreed to take the tour, according to a spokesman for the carriage owners.

None of the main players pushing to outlaw the industry — including de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) — have promised to attend.

De Blasio said two weeks ago that he would visit a stable before the Council votes to ban the industry, but on Monday his office wouldn’t say if he would be part of Neeson’s open house.

Neeson, a native of Ireland who now lives in New York, became involved in the issue because some of his close friends work in the horse-carriage industry.

Read it all, look at the pictures >>

I am not trying to stir up trouble, but when I worked as a horse racing photographer, and trainers knew owners were stopping by to take a look at their horses, the stables (usually well kept anyway) were made sparkling clean with fresh everything and about two foot of bedding. Wouldn’t you make your place look spic and span, freshly baked bread on the table, if you knew someone was coming over to inspect it?

I doubt Mayor de Blasio would know what he was looking at anyway at a horse stable, so don’t know what all the excitement is about.

Poor horses. All this fuss on their behalf. Or is it?

Featured image of Liam Neeson from

30 thoughts on “Mayor de Blasio ignoring Neeson’s invite to tour carriage horse stables”

  1. Ran across an article regarding Billy, a carriage horse, who was stalled at West Side Livery in NY and sent to auction, because he was lame and 18 years old. Fortunately, he was saved. About 70 NYC’s carriage horses aren’t as lucky each year. They are eliminated from the city’s registry and no sales records are required if they are sold outside the city. NYC is not the only city where this happens. Tracing registrations is a hard job.


  2. Interestingly, the 76 Carriage Company (Phila) advertises that their horses are draft breeds from Lancaster Cty who can pull loads 5 times their weight. I’ve heard they pull 2 – 3 times their weight. But at least people are asking about the capability of the horses. Again, the start/stop are the hardest for them.


  3. Knowing full well ( each and every owner has to know this fact)horses are extremely social , it is inhumane right there keeping them from each other , and they must have turned out to have this social time !!!!!


    1. Horses are social. And the social needs of the NYC horses are very well met. They live in a herd, basically. The layout and construction of the stalls allows them all to be near other horses, and the fact the stall walls are only solid half way up, with open space above means the can see, smell and hear each other. They communicate freely. When one comes back from vacation the atmosphere is charged with “welcome back” emotions, and horses calling out to each other after not seeing each other for a while. Like a kid coming home from camp.

      So this is not a concern for the horses. And in reality, hundreds of thousands of horses are owned by one-horse families. They do fine. This is because *domesticated* animals have come to view humans as part of their social circle as well. Dogs. Cats. Horses. All do perfectly fine with no other members of their species living with them. Almost unbelievable that rational human beings can’t figure this out for themselves.


      1. What a wonderful position your carriage people hold. You have they have the enviable position of reflecting the horse – human world.

        What you do, say, reveal are all subconscious cues to an uneducated public about how horses should be treated. I’d say you need to work harder at that. The resistance and ridicule always in your remarks tell me you are not willing to do much more than what can be readily seen.

        How much can a person know in their miniscule observation of the horses standing in harness for hours? What can they know from a recent past here that the horses are happy talking to each other? How do we know the lame carriage horse on duty has not been that way for a while, even more than the momentary glance the public sees? Your industry reassures, but the rest of us who have horses see the holes. I would like some answers.

        I see the horses are tired, depressed, sweating. I assumed they were rested – off duty as most horses are that work for a living. But I have been disappointed to learn they are not. Even logging horses have breaks with their buds, back scratching, kicking and rolling between shifts.

        It’s dismaying to think these horses working for tourist carriage companies work without turnout most of the year. That’s brutal. Talking to each other is normal behavior, not a sign of happiness necessarily. Horses talk to each other behind solid stall walls – so? You offer straws when we ask for the bale.


  4. Oh my! What lies I have just read above. BY LAW, the horses have 5 weeks vacation outside of NYC, annually. BY LAW, they cannot work above 89 degrees nor below 18 degrees F. They have paid Dental, paid Medical, paid Podiatry (leg and hoof care) and they do NOT walk up/down stairs to their “private rooms”. Some of the carriage horses come FROM the New Holland Sale. If you’ve been inside the stable, you would see horses socializing with other horses- even playing with each other. Tell me more lies so I can educate you.


    1. You got it! I have been in every stable at various times over the years and the horses are fine, better cared for and healthier then a lot of horses I see “out at pasture”!


      1. I don’t think I would go that far. Pastured horses are always happier than stalled ones, no matter what their job is. Stalled horses must be able to look out. That’s a fact, not an opinion.


        1. Bull. That is not a fact, and is totally and inarguably just your opinion. I’ve owned, ridden, driven and trained horses since I was a child. I have seen hundreds of horses over the course of my life and I know a contented horse when I see one. There are objective measures such as stall vices and idiosyncratic behaviors. There is no humanly discernable difference in the “happiness” level between pastured horses and the hundreds of urban carriage horses I have observed personally.

          Prove otherwise.


          1. Yes, I’ve seen a horse swaying back and forth in her stall, but when I stood in front of her and gave her attention, she stopped. She had to be ridden and spent time with others in the pasture. She became a happy horse who ran and socialized with her herd mates. This is proof enough. While in the stall some horses try to look over the top but it’s not the same as when they can mutually groom each other and play.


  5. Interestingly, the pictures of livery stables where horses had to climb stairs to get to their upper floor stalls seem to be missing from the net now that the mayor is an advocate of retiring carriage horses from the streets of NYC. These horses work every day even in 92 degree heat without any consideration given to humidity, without shade given them for 9 hours/day. The asphalt is much hotter where they clomp, as many motorists become impatient at having to wait for horses. I had an irate driver go around me only to nearly hit pedestrians stepping off a curb.

    Horses are not turned out to be with their fellow equines at all. Perhaps they’re given some vacation time. Actually, when that happens, they are really given to the Amish near New Holland Stables who are known to sell them for meat at the auction. One carriage horse, Billy, from the West Side Livery Stables on West 38th Street was saved off the truck a few years ago by a coalition of the Friends of Animals. Animals Angels spotted the Chateau Carriage Horse Stables truck at New Holland unloading a horse on the auction premises not long ago. It’s possible to get current information from them.

    I am convinced the carriage drivers could conduct visitor rides in electric vehicles the same way as they did with horses. The horses could then retire to the country or be retrained by horse rescue operations that are honest.


    1. The Animals Angels’s video put out last year really is not any better for the horses. The stop/starts on the streets are hard for them, the traffic is even more devastating. I’m surprised more horses/riders are not injured in the NYC traffic. Take a look at this video at the 4.42, 3, 4 minute mark or the entire thing:


    2. 1). The horses do not climb stairs, they walk up a ramp.
      2.) The horses do not work in 92 degree heat, they are told to return to the stables when the temperature reached 89 degrees or 18 degrees.
      3.) The asphalt may be hotter but that is why the horses wear horse shoes, and the reason why people wear shoes.
      4.) When the horses are on their vacation, they go to numerous places, some private farms in upstate NY, some to private farms in PA, some in other states. The Amish do not sell these vacationing carriage horses to the auction and there have been no instances where this has happened.
      5.) There is no mystical countryside full of green pastures that horses can frolic in. These horses are privately owned and will continue to work in NYC until they are retired for whatever reason, and then the owners will either bring them to Blue Star or re-home them themselves.


      1. You say horses don’t climb – “they walk up a ramp”. You’re mincing words – one definition of climb is to come up a slope, incline, or staircase using feet. If you’ve looked at the video provided, you’d see the incline of the ramp is steep. A 1200 lb., horse has to use a lot of strength to climb it after 9 hours work and getting back to the stables miles from Central Park through insane traffic. I dread seeing them come down even more. I’ve seen their shoes, btw.

        So what’s the difference between 89 degrees v. 92 degrees actual temperature when the head index is 96, 98 or more and the asphalt is nearly 150 degrees? Horses inhale this heated air with all the tailpipe exhaust which is plenty and develop respiratory ailments. They clomp on the asphalt often with previous injuries.

        Horses should be given a 10X10 stall or 14X14 for draft breeds. They should be turned out with a buddy daily. They should be given good hay, grain and gallons of water.

        NYC’s carriage horse stables nor Philadelphia’s horse stables sadly do NOT measure up to these standards.

        You’re wrong about the Amish not selling carriages at auction. Advocates found and identified carriage horses by tatooed numbers at auction. The horse, Billy, is one such horse given to an Amish who was sold to a kill buyer.
        Yes, these horses are privately owned, but that doesn’t mean the owners can continue to use them for all they have only to finally sell them for meat to garner the very last $300 the horse can possibly give them.


    3. No one in their right mind is going to pay for a car ride. It’s all about the horse. No horse, no ride. They have never walked up STAIRS. It’s a ramp, same one people walk up!


      1. I don’t like the car rides idea either but that is just a personal thing, and doesn’t really matter here. I don’t see it happening, or lasting if it does. Again, that is an opinion so not relevant.

        I have only had one horse, a Quarter Horse, go up stairs and it took a lot of careful training and loads of treats to get him to do it. It was for a special event, and when he learned to do it he was very proud and wanted to do it all the time. But that’s a Quarter Horse for you!


        1. There is nothing more romantic then a carriage ride threw the Park, with a majestic Horse OMG!!!! It always a few greedy uncaring people who spoil it for those that Love the beautiful Horse carriage rides !!!!!!! All they needed to do was respect their horses , love and care for them!!!!!!!!!!! I am sure that at least some of them take great care of their Horses, its the ones who are Greedy BLAME THEM !!!!!!


        2. That’s really neat. I know someone whose pony walks himself into the trailer, and he’s quite comfortable going to events once he gets his bearings. A neat little guy.


  6. …or worse, the suggestion that animal advocates embark on some sort of fetishization of animal suffering as a way of giving meaning to their own lives. I wonder why those who write 10,000 words a day on carriage horses alone then simultaneously claim that there are more important issues for NYC to deal with? Why do they write so much on issues that are, in their words, not important?


    1. The facts seem to elude a lot of people. I thought I could put the information out there and people would be able to figure it out for themselves.

      The problem seems mainly to lie in that people do not understand good horsemanship. It has disappeared from our society where money is concerned, and not just with carriage horses. Add New York politics to the mix and the waters are muddied even further.

      I firmly believe that if the situation could be “fixed” where the horses could work in a safe, humane way, there would be few complaints from horse advocates. It has been tried, numerous times, and New York City is just no place for carriage horses to work.

      And no they will not be sent to slaughter unless the owners decide to send them there. These are just scare tactics.

      The question begs, if the carriage horse drivers are so dedicated to the horses and they consider them so valuable, why would selling them to slaughter even be a consideration?


      1. Vivian,
        You are incorrect. The radical activists believe that no animal should work…..whether be ridden or driven…..and that no one should own any animals, cats, dogs, horses, birds, etc.
        The owners do not sell their horses to slaughter, this is a tactic used by the radicals to get emotional responses from the public.
        These horses have stable jobs, housing, vet and dental care, food and 24/7 stable hands. Any horse without a home or the means to provide care can end up at an auction…..there are horses that are in immediate need of rescuing and the carriage horses aren’t some of them. There are horses starving away in fields that have been grazed down to dirt, horses that are actually being abused, horses that are without proper farrier and vet care……these are the animals that need the attention and the saving.


        1. I believe you are mistaken. I have it on good authority that a carriage horse was sold to slaughter after he was injured. A driver admitted to me in 2009 that he had sent his horse to a livestock auction. I asked if he knew there were killer buyers there. He looked down and muttered “yeah, well . . .” Perhaps that horse did not go to slaughter but he was certainly put in danger of it. Please do not make sweeping statements. It helps no one.

          There are no doubt radical activists that believe exactly as you say. I could care less about that. It is not relevant to me because I am relying solely on my own firsthand observations and conversations. I do not believe any of the drivers I have spoken with lied or stretched the truth. That is all I need to reach my conclusions.

          You are right about the ramps. That is what I saw. I believe the stable with the elevator was the one that was bought some years back.

          Everyone has their idea of what a good standard of care is based on their own experience.

          We are far from radical and always seek balance in every situation we are involved in.


  7. You have two kinds of people, those who will drink the Kool-Aid of either one side or another and the analysts. I’d like to think myself the latter. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that Nelson is just skeptical that the NYC carriage horse industry could be so cruel but de Blasio is convinced that it is as bad as the animal advocates claim it is (although I feel as if it’s mostly disingenuous because he is supposedly trying to get his hands on the property that the carriage horses are in now). The mayor drinks the animal rights’ Kool-Aid, Nelson drinks the NYC carriage horse industry’s Kool-Aid. It’s this narrow-minded thinking that is blocking the facts.

    I am neither for the industry nor against it. Until I believe I have enough facts at hand to make up my mind, I’ll remain neutral. But one thing I HATE is lies, no matter which side they are coming from. The lack of truth from both sides of the aisle is making me question all of their motives. It’s time for them to stop playing politics with this issue and state the facts for what they are. If anyone in particular is treating the horses either humanely or inhumanely, it has to come out without the spin.


    1. Dear Starry, you are so right, we are here for the Horses, and their welfare, how can we not be when they have proven themselves to be the awesome animal we have all seen that………………. I have personally been saved by them more than once, I know who they are and i respect that also, since they have no voices We are their voice and will be always…………………………. All of us know this is all about the Horses and their welfare and nothing else isnt it ?????!!! without out facts we are helpless, not here to take their Jobs, but to insure their well being and caretaking to be above reproach……………….. They have proven to be a mirror image of ourselves, therefore they should be treated as such !!!!


  8. Why are we so quick to condemn , why are we not in favor of fixing the problem, there is always a fix , there are answers to this problem , answers who will please everyone including the Horses…….Can someone tell me why we have to take the horses jobs from them, where will they all go???????????? Dont condemn , fix it !!!!!!!! I absolutely love horses , and if i ever would see one being mistreated i would be the first one to intervene……………… But taking there Jobs is not the answer………………………… creates more problems ……………..Please what and where will they go??????? We are here to help the Horses, not to take away from them……………….


      1. First thing that comes to mind for a fix , is respect , if you cant respect the very animal that is a huge part of making your money for you , neglect is the first thing that is noticeably easy to see , the moment this is seen you revolk their licenses……


  9. I haven’t liked this guy ever. Now he irritates me. Who does he and the union think they are kidding. All the public is asking for is accountability.

    We want to know why the horses have to work such long hours (standing in harness or pulling), why they only get a week or so vacation (at secret locations), where and when do they deserve retirement, why did the kill buyer end up with the carriage horse last year – after “retirement”. And on and on. These answers have been withheld but replaced with flowery portrayals of the horses skipping to work and rude arrogantly phrased dismissals of legitimate concerns for the well being of these hard working, low paid “slaves”.

    Honestly, the disrespect shown to the inquiring public is enough for me to see this carriage horse industry does have much to hide and based, as if there were not more to be alarmed about, on that gut feeling alone – the horses should be transported to sanctuary and their lifelong care paid for by the union protecting the rights of the drivers. Done.

    As for Neesom, he should be ashamed of himself for being a protector of those using the horses so harshly.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s