Horse drawn carriage, Chicago. Image: NBC.

HSVMA Position Statement on Urban Carriage Horse Rides

By Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association

Use of Horses and Mules for Urban Carriage Rides

Open quote

The HSVMA recognizes numerous equine health and welfare issues associated with for-hire carriage rides in urban settings. Horses and mules are expected to work in conditions of extreme temperatures and high humidity; heat prostration, collapse and death are reported sequelae. These animals suffer from chronic medical problems that are caused and/or exacerbated by their working conditions. They include respiratory ailments such as heaves, which are worsened by continuous exposure to exhaust fumes, and lameness conditions which are aggravated by long working shifts on concussive and hot asphalt surfaces. Adequate veterinary medical and farrier care is often unavailable due to the absence of equine veterinarians in urban areas. Because of the lack of space in cities, these animals are denied necessities of good welfare and husbandry, such as box stalls large enough for them to lie down, daily turn out to pasture, and essential social interaction with other horses. Finally, both people and equines may suffer serious injuries when horses become “spooked” by vehicular traffic incidents and crowd noise and attempt to flee until they collide with an obstacle, or trip and fall.

For all these reasons, the HSVMA supports ordinances to ban equine carriage rides in urban locations. When a complete ban on urban carriage rides is not attainable, we support enactment and strict enforcement of specific regulations to protect the health, well-being, and safety of equines used by the carriage horse industry and people who avail themselves of carriage rides. At a minimum, regulations should guarantee appropriate husbandry and veterinary medical care, and should ensure that carriages and motor vehicles do not share the same roadway.

Approved by the HSVMA Board of Directors, June 2020

Read all Policy Statements »

The arguments HSVMA make against horse and mule drawn carriages are excellent and very well put. We encourage you to use them.

Regarding the final paragraph, this is not a criticism but our philosophy at the Fund for Horses is quite different.

We are not welfarists. We call for the abolition of cruel practices, not the mitigation — the action of reducing the severity, seriousness, or painfulness — of them.

Related Reading

Now is the time to think about the future of Philly tourism without horse-drawn carriages“, by Janet White, Tuesday’s Horse, July 2020.

Hold your horses: Can Old Timey e-carriages replace old city buggies?,, 11 Sep. 2019

• “Local activist wins award for spearheading Chicago horse-drawn carriage ban“, Tuesday’s Horse, April 2020 (goes into effect 1 Jan. 2021)

Can EV really replace Central Park’s Horse Drawn Carriages, Car and Driver, Dec. 2014 Issue.

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