Carriage horse accident NYC Sept 26, 2013.

Top five misconceptions about the horse-drawn carriage industry in NYC

Guest Post

Elizabeth Forel. Google image.
Elizabeth Forel with former Boston carriage horse Monty. Google image.

There are many misconceptions about the NYC horse-drawn carriage trade.

The primary reason for this is because the media are mostly on the side of the carriage horse industry and have not reported fairly or honestly on this issue.

Here are what I see as the top five most common misconceptions concerning the horse-drawn carriage industry in New York City.

1. If there is a ban, all the horses will go to slaughter.

Intro 573 — the new bill to ban horse-drawn carriages in NYC — prohibits the owners from sending their horses to slaughter. However, although the fine is high, the horses are privately owned and it will be up to the drivers whether they send their horses to slaughter or not. It will be difficult to track.

Many organizations have offered homes for these horses. If the owners are willing, there is sanctuary space for all carriage horses.

Since 2005, 581 horses have passed through the NYC carriage trade. The Department of Health does not require sales records for horses sold outside of NYC. We believe many have gone on to livestock auctions and then to slaughter.

Related Reading
What Happens to NYC Carriage horses when they’re “retired”; One Green Planet; December 2, 2014
NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t know manure about carriage horses, (Forbes counters Daily News articles & Mayor Bloomberg);; by Vickery Eckhoff; October 31, 2013

2. The ban will eliminate good union jobs.

These are not “good union jobs.” The Teamsters represent the drivers but as a lobbyist group, for which they charge $60 a month dues. Not everyone is a member and those who are get no benefits – no medical, vacation or sick days.

Intro 573, the bill to ban horse-drawn carriages, will provide the drivers customized job training tailored to their needs and also offer medallions for green taxis to the owners.

This peculiar union effort is to protect the Entitled 68 – the owners – with no consideration for the more than 200 workers, most of whom are nothing more than independent contractors.

3. This is not an animal rights issue – it is about the stable property.

False. Our organization began this campaign in 2006 because of the inhumane conditions endured by the horses. We have no interest in the stable property.

However, because the head of one of the organizations involved with the ban is a retired real estate developer, this unfounded rumor got started.

The stables are privately owned and it will be up to the owners to decide when, if, and to whom they want to sell.

Furthermore, the stables located on W. 37th and W. 38th Street are in the path of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment project, which has been going on for more than ten years.

Related Reading
Step-by-step truth about NYClass and the carriage horse stables (not what you think); carriagehorsesnyc.blogspot; December 27, 2014

New York City carriage horse in cramped stall. Google image.
New York City carriage horse in cramped stall. The horses are not allowed to graze. Forage is critical for many reasons, with two important ones being digestive tract health, and horse behavior. Google image.

4. The horses get five weeks “vacation” every year.

The horses may legally work 9 hours a day, 7 days a week, 47 weeks a year on the tough, unforgiving streets of NYC.

When they go back to the stables, they are put in their small stalls and stay there until the next day when their routine begins again. There is no turn out to pasture. (Why this is important)

The Department of Health neither requires a list of facilities where the horses go, nor do they provide for inspections.

There is evidence to suggest that some of the horses may actually be worked on Amish farms in exchange for a place to “vacation.” Horses need daily turn out to pasture – not a “vacation.”

Related Reading
The truth about those vacations; carriagehorsesnyc.blogspot; October 14, 2014

5. This is a heavily regulated industry overseen by four City agencies.

Although there are many regulations governing this industry, most of them – especially the “street” regulations – are not enforced and many of the drivers blatantly violate the law.

The ASPCA gave up humane law enforcement in January 2014 and the NYPD was supposed to have taken over. It has not been realized.


Elizabeth Forel is the president of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages in NYC, which was founded in 2006 in response to a horrific accident involving a spooked carriage horse who was killed. A long time vegan and advocate for all animals, she has been involved with the carriage horse issue since the early 1990s. She is the author of many articles and opinion pieces on this topic, most of which can be found on the website

For more on this issue, please see Elizabeth Forel, Ban of The Horse-Carriage Trade in New York City; Vegan Publishers; January 23, 2014.


38 thoughts on “Top five misconceptions about the horse-drawn carriage industry in NYC”

  1. There are some topics regarding animal welfare that are clear-cut, but the issue regarding NYC carriage horses doesn’t seem like one of them. It is probably one of the most controversial topics I have come across in the equine welfare community. The amount of bias and anger on both sides makes it hard for me and many other people to know exactly who is telling the truth and who simply wants to politicize it. I do have concerns about animals working in heavily congested cities, but I know that there are people out there who will exaggerate truths for their own gain. I wish that this could be an animal welfare issue instead of a “who’s right and who’s wrong” issue.


    1. Good points Starry. But looking at it from the point of whether or not these are good working conditions for horses, in the instance of NYC I find no arguments to support it. When living in NYC I saw it firsthand and felt at one time that reforms could solve some of the issues. People ask the same question about horse slaughter. If you stop it where will all the horses go? As if we should continue to allow that horror. And before anyone says it, I am not comparing horse slaughter to the carriage horse trade. Just that this sort of question comes up in many horse protection issues. This is just one example.


  2. “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”― Daniel Patrick Moynihan… that quote holds true for Elizabeth Forel and her followers. It seems they base all their judgement on their opinons, what they beleive, but not on facts..


  3. You do not know what the legal provisions are we refer to, so how can you possibly make that judgment. This is the problem. You think you understand horses. You think you understand the legislative process. This is what your comments show us.


  4. There is a finite amount of room at existing rescues and sanctuaries for new intakes especially for “lifetime residents” with “no work” clauses in their placement contracts. Question… Are you somehow going to “create” additional space at these facilities or, alternatively, establish new facilities? Either way, will you also be ensuring that another 200 not so “high profile” horses are taken from the slaughter pipeline that might have otherwise gone to these same rescues and sanctuaries?
    By taking away these horses livelihood, you are also sealing the fate of hundreds of less fortunate, too often forgotten animals.


    1. They apparently don’t care about the 3,000 horses being sent to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses every week from this country OR the 40,000 horses currently awaiting adoption through existing sanctuaries and rescues. They simply want to add even MORE to these dismal numbers and place further burden on struggling rescues who cannot save the horses heading for Mexico and Canada.


      1. You really think keeping horses pulling carriages in New York City affects slaughter numbers? And impacts struggling rescues around the country? What a comedian.


    2. Agree with you R.Timlin. as a volunteer at a local rescue I know all to well how equine rescues and sactuaries across the nation are overcrowded and underfunded. I do not understand this claim that there is room for these 200 plus carriage horses. There is none!


      1. While we appreciate your concern, there is not one non profit that helps people or animals who say they have enough room, staff, money etc. What you say about equine rescues and sanctuaries has been said since I began working on animal issues 30+ years ago.

        Plus the healthy horses will only need temporary shelter until other homes and occupations can be found.


        1. Thats just it.. why do you think that over 1500000 american horses are sent to slaughter each year?? Because they are expensive animals to keep! They are not dogs or cats.. the days of the backyard pony are dwindling.. if these horses go to a temporary sanctuary.. do you really think there will be homes for them??? These are draft horses that pull carriages not trail ride. They require a huge amount of food.. the homes available for a draft horse to just stay in the yard.. are not many if at all. So I think most of the people pushing for this ban.. they indeed will be hurting the very animals they are trying to protect.


  5. Bottom line here: Only 25% of New York City residents support a ban and that number has not grown despite the hysteria that Elizabeth Forel and the other radicals are trying to create. New Yorkers know that the horses are well cared for and not abused.


    1. A group of New Yorkers have been sold a bill of goods by newspapers and celebrities who have little to no understanding of horses. Some owners no doubt do the best they can in the circumstances but that is the very foundation of the argument – the conditions these horses are expected to live and work in. It is highly unnatural. There is no place for this type of business in a congested city like New York. Time for the city to move on.


      1. You are aware are you not, that horses helped to BUILD NYC and in fact, civilization? Now, you claim they “don’t belong” in the city they helped create? Wow, such gratitude and respect!


      2. I think the majority of the local and not local horse world is against the band.. including high profile equine professionals and veterinarians. When you say celebrities.. the majority of those are hired by NYCLASS and PETA to read a script.. while they have no horse knowledge at all. Just read a paper, get recorded, and get paid.


    2. Thank you Tim. But please consider this.

      It has been our 14 years’ experience that politicians are motivated by many things including voter approval. However, in this instance this issue will have little if any impact.

      When election time comes around, how many citizens will actually vote against a legislator who has not voted the way they wanted on an issue like this? Most likely they won’t even remember how their Council member voted. Even if they do, or are reminded at election time, they will be much more influenced by how the legislator voted on high ticket items.

      Not sure where you got that percentage, but we – generally speaking – are suspicious of numbers like this because our experience has shown us they fluctuate, there is a large margin for error in any poll, and the number arrived not always an accurate barometer on public sentiment. Plus, anyone can toss out figures pro or con, out and they are challenging to prove or disapprove.

      And how many New Yorkers actually have any idea about good animal husbandry?


      1. The percentage quote is from one of the most respected polls in NYC — Quinnipiac which has been consistent over the year its been taken. “Error margin” is only 3 percent.


      2. This is a far different scenario than when Nislick’s money (including some illegal contributions that Nyclass and Feldman were fined for) impacted Quinn’s candidacy. You might be surprised that many New Yorkers will vote their council members out of office if they throw over 300 of our neighbors out of work. (Please spare me the green taxi line. It’s ridiculous and in a free country, the government doesn’t get to tell us where to work.) I will avoid a long post, except to say that just because most New Yorkers like me strongly oppose a ban, doesn’t mean that we have been duped or lied to and I strongly resent that suggestion. I have carefully studied this issue and come to a different conclusion than you have. Many of my neighbors have done the same. I certainly don’t think that you are stupid or have been duped. But we have reached different conclusions based on our respective studies.


  6. , I’m going to answer this for you and its going to be long. so get your reading glasses on. lol. First of all keep in mind Elisabeth Forel is the head of the animal rights snake in NYC. So its hardly a neutral source. 1) If there is a ban all the horses will go to slaughter – She is right that this is not true. I own a former NYC carriage horse and he cost me $3,500 + shipping. For a total of 5k. The value of these animals alone is far beyond what a kill buyer would pay.They are valuable private property and would be sold as such. Most likely to other carriage companies around the country where the oversight of them is far less than it is in NYC.(haha ironic eh?) However…and as you can clearly pick up on in her post the desire for these ban nuts to control the future of these horses.Right down to what the owners should be allowed to do with their private property. It was originally written into the legislation that the horses HAD to be retired to “rescues” and “sanctuaries” never to be ridden or worked again. ( and no I’m not kidding) So..if that were to happen we well know they WOULD be at high risk for slaughter due to the cost of keeping draft animals as well as the high failure rates of “rescues” and “sanctuaries”. Never once have they said they have the millions of dollars it would take to care for these horses laying around anywhere to “retire” them with. So the honest answer to this claim is far murkier than either side would have you believe. Its an “it depends” reality. 2) These are not good union jobs, To this I ask what does shit have to do with apple butter? Why does what kind of middle class blue collar job it is have any bearing on whether there is a ban or not? What does the drivers status as independent contractors have to do with it? Carriage drivers drive carriages because they love horses, working with horses, and the joy the public gets from sharing their horses with them. Its not about being retrained to drive an electric car. Kids don’t smile petting a fender. 3) This is not an animal rights issue – it is about the stable property. BOTH are true. Its IS purely an animal rights driven agenda for E-Forel and it IS a real estate issue for NYCLASS founders and other people who want the property that sits smack in the way of the expanding Hudson yards project. Real estate interests have some strange bed fellows these days as a means to their ends. While E-Forel may honestly say that her group has no real estate angle that is not true for the ones that do that have crawled in bed with animal rights to help them do their bidding. 4) The horses get 5 weeks “vacation” every year. Well…they DO, and the truth is they lose muscle mass while on it. A lot of horses get a lot more than that because the owners rotate one horse in for a period of time and another out. Nevermind the fact that a horse that works 9 hours a day does not need a “turnout”. Horses that need turned out are the ones that rot in a stall with no exercise day after day, after day, in a stall at some fancy boarding stables with owners that are too preoccupied elsewhere to pay any attention to them. Where are E-Forels people picketing that? Yeah..thats what I thought. If some of those horses are worked on Amish farms while on vacation well GOOD FOR THEM, that means they wont go back to work in a soft condition. By the way, when did “work” become a four letter word anyway? 5) This is a heavily regulated industry overseen by four city agencies – Well…to this I have to laugh. There are pages and pages of regulations governing the NYC carriage operations, and they are indeed overseen by a number of Govt agencies. They have surprise inspections and all one has to do is ask any stable owner. Of course this must be a thorn in the side of animal rights as it puts the publics concern to rest, “Drivers blatantly violating the law” well…they are talking about U turns and traffic infractions made with a horse. As anyone who has operated a horse in traffic you do what you have to do to keep your horse and your passengers safe. If that means risking a ticket so be it. Horses are not cars, and thank God for that because you are far safer in a carriage than you are in a car, riding a bike, or even walking in NYC.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think anyone is going to read that big long mess of a comment. You were defeated before you started. We don’t usually allow comments that lengthy and unreadable but in your instance we made an exception!


      1. R u kidding me Farrel pesky truth has put up real facts not fiction thank u for not deleting and cowing down to sensorship ..z cause the opinion is different than those wanting the bann.


        1. We do not censor but at the same time limit run on comments like pesky truth’s. It was my call to allow. Our followers are intelligent and well-informed. I will leave it up to them to see if they find any facts.


      2. “Usually don’t allow.” That is funny, considering any dessenting opinion (even when short) are deleted from the pages of NYCLASS and E-Forel’s No Walk FB page and the posters banned. Free speech (and facts), obviously not tolerated.


        1. In case you haven’t noticed, this is Tuesday’s Horse, the blog of The Horse Fund. This is not the blog of NYCLASS (whom we have not ever had any contact with). This is not the blog of Liz Forel. I am the Editor, and I decide what goes on here.


      3. I found Pesky Truth’s comment very informative and readable. The consideration of any potential law (particularly that which “bans” an otherwise healthy activity representing employment for horses and humans) should not be determined on the basis of short, hate-filled slogans such as “Concilperson, XX hates animals” or “SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!” or propaganda campaigns.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I agree with that Pesky Truths comment is very imformative and readable.. and thank you V. Farrell if you do not delete or censor this blog and its comments. I think that it is good to hear both sides and not have a biased debate.


  7. I totally disagree with these assumptions being fact ..
    In the last 31 years there have only been 3 deaths and the fact is the one of the 3 was shot by a police man cause he thought the horse had a broken leg and the horses didn’t …
    Y is the humane society of america spending 700k dollars to try and band 200 horses that r well cared for yet in the latest case against the most horrific animal cruelty in Kentucjy against Larry Browning never could get a conviction on this murderous. Monster in his last 3 arrest on animal cruelty …. The man had horse carcus laying every where yet they want to go after well cared for horses .
    The reality is when. A group like PETA and New York class can lie and slander with know scientific proof and hassle assult and scream there lies at buisness people’s clients as fact to hurt there buisness should be considered criminal.
    To sag 500 horse. Passed threw the carriage buisness is a very open statement and very deceptive cause these horse r retired to farms .
    Plus these horse r private propertey they have the right to see them carriage horses r very expensive and r well cared for .

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Are you referrring to Nilsick’s millions to buy off politicians? We understand politics is dirty and easily bought. But, such doesn’t apply to the courts, where if this bill passes, it will be overturned by a judge. You see, the slogans, distortions and propaganda won’t fly in a courtroom where only facts and law are considered at the end of the day.


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