Big John, downed Charleston SC carriage horse. USA Today.

Woman who petitioned on behalf of collapsed Charleston, S.C. carriage horse threatened

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Petition regarding Big John, the downed Charleston carriage horse, is now closed, but we just learned that the Petition’s sponsor was harassed and threatened. Please contact the Charleston, S.C. Mayor’s and report this disturbing, bullying behavior and call for an investigation.

The Petition urged Charleston Carriage Works to retire Big John the draft horse who had collapsed while pulling a carriage laden with tourists. It received 155,426 online signatures and 1.4 million “likes” on Facebook.

It was reported that Big John simply tripped and fell. We have specialist knowledge when it comes to horses. Horses rarely trip and fall on a flat surface going at a slow pace pulling a heavy load unless they are exhausted from being worked without enough rest and in extreme temperatures. Add this to this Big John’s age.

Big John is by all accounts at least 22 years old, some say older. This makes him a senior horse and in good conscience should be retired.  “Rancho Relaxo opened their hearts and barn doors to Big John offering a beautiful and safe place for Big John to retire”, the Petition states.

The Petition is now closed. In spite of the 155,426 signatures and the support of a million plus on Facebook, the owners were not moved, rejected the offer of free retirement care for Big John and intend to work this elderly carriage horse ferrying loads of tourists day after day in downtown Charleston in high heat and beyond.

At one point the proceedings took a sinister turn. The Petitioner organizer was harassed and threatened. Here is the follow up message to those who signed the Petition:

I have been harassed to no end because of my stance on this issue. My personal phone number and address have been posted online. I have received threatening phone calls from one crazed individual who is putting the blame on me when it comes to the original video being posted – even though I did not know about the incident for days after it happened. I did not start this petition for any reason other than me feeling sympathetic and compassionate toward an old horse who – in my eyes – needed to be retired. I have spoken to the owner of Big John and he has no interest in retiring Big John currently.

Caitlin S

We believe we should continue to act on behalf of Big John and now Caitlin by reporting the behavior of those connected with Big John and the Charleston Carriage Works to the Mayor’s Office.


Make a note of what you would like to say, then telephone or email the Mayor of Charleston, S.C. concerning Charleston Carriage Works and the collapse and continued working of an elderly carriage horse including the threats to Caitlin who was moved by compassion to start the Petition to help an elderly, distressed carriage horse.

The unjust and uncaring treatment meted out by the carriage horse trade in Charleston, S.C. has gone on long enough. Ask the Mayor to make this issue a priority and get it banned.  Downed carriage horses are common. So far no one — neither horse nor passenger — has been killed. There are plenty of alternative ways to ferry tourists around that are fun , enjoyable and safe, but most of all do not involved cruelty to horses.



For our Twitter advocates use @CityofCharleston @JohnTecklenburg.

This isn’t over until it’s over. Thank you for taking action for the carriage horses of Charleston.

Will you sign a Petition to help Big John the downed Charleston, S.C. carriage horse?“, Tuesday’s Horse, May 1, 2017



11 thoughts on “Woman who petitioned on behalf of collapsed Charleston, S.C. carriage horse threatened”

  1. Please don’t pretend to be experts. Talk to the equine vets and caretakers. These aren’t just horses, they are Belgian drafts. Different breeds act different. I’m sorry you were harassed, truly. It’s not necessary on either side. Big John is currently semi-retired and getting loads of time on the farm “keeping order” as they like to say. Not that many horses fall in Charleston. The advocates often point out the 50 something (they sure don’t have accurate numbers since it’s gone from 54 to 55 to 56 in three different posts) incidents that occurred since 2016 (aka past 3 years). Considering the number of tours, that’s small and incident does not mean accident or injury or fallen horse. It could be a broken shoe or a customer tripping on the sidewalk. So falls are not common occurrences in Charleston. In fact incidents are an average of one in 12,000. And since nobody is perfect and things happen you can’t expect it to never happen. I’d love to see zero car accidents but that isn’t happening either. Please do your research and talk to the barns. It’ll do you some good.


  2. Shared and support you. Those who believe this is right are ignorant. Decent people DO NOT support or protect animal cruelty, neglect or abuse and they DO NOT turn their backs to it.


    1. Amen Patricia. Many in the horse drawn carriage trade get their horses off the Amish at auction or via other livestock sales. So these horses have already had a hard working life.


    2. Those who don’t bother to research are the ignorant once. Falls are not common occurrences. This is not abuse, cruelty, or neglect. Just visit the barns yourself.


  3. Your information is false! Big John was on his first tour of the day, had not been on tour 15 minutes when he TRIPPED and he had school kids on the carriage he was pulling. Big John only works in the cooler weather because of his age so he gets the entire summers off. Just like any other geriatric mammals live longer healthier life when they stay useful and exercised. The carriage horses of Charleston are very well cared for. Unless you have actually been to the companies and seen things with your own eyes all you are doing is taking someone’s words as fact when they are not. I am a horse “specialist”…lol, too, I have either owned or worked with horses for 50 years. My own horse tripped and fell on me, not once but twice, in the last few years. Horses trip. It is not an uncommon thing. If you were really a horse “specialist ” you would know that. Big John tripped. He has a vety good home with people who love him and care for him. That is a fact.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry Sherrie but you sound like the typical defender of carriage horse abuse. There is not a single fact in your argument. The carriage horse trade in Charleston has a track record of these types of falls and collapses. There is a reason for that. You should be banned from doing business. If you actually treated horses in the considerate manner you describe you would not have the problems you continue to have. Nonetheless it is cruel to have a 22 year old horse pulling a load of tourists day after day in the heat. To prove whether or not you are lying we will gladly hire someone to monitor your activities for the whole summer and report the results. Thank you for your comment.


  4. Sadly – the whole social media scene = while it brings abuse into the public eye – also gives people an anonymous way of harassing anyone who disagrees with them. I agree – a 22 year old horse deserves a good retirement. Too many horses dont get that opportunity.


  5. It really is so selfish on anyone part that this horse be continuing to work it’s heartbreaking, and I’m really hoping that they will do the right thing by one of God’s beautiful creatures


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