Building a retirement home for NYC carriage horses

Via Bloomberg News | New York City | 23 Dec 2022

New York politicians have long promised to do away with carriage horse rides. An animal sanctuary wants to step in either way.

By Amelia Pollard

Tucked between northern Westchester’s golf courses and Tudor-style mansions, an 18-acre patch of land in South Salem, New York, could soon transform from a riding stable into a sanctuary for Manhattan’s carriage horses. On a recent Monday, Ellie Laks and Jay Weiner — who run The Gentle Barn, a nonprofit — tended to the first animals to be housed there: two draft horses that Weiner purchased in November at an auction outside New York City.

The horses, who are currently being cared for by the riding stable as the property remains in contract, are temporarily known as “Good Boy” and “Smart Boy” as the sanctuary awaits a big donor who might want to name the pair. While hauling buckets of water to the paddock and loading the pair up with carrots, Laks and Weiner said they believe the horses would have been headed to a slaughterhouse — a common fate for such animals.

“There’s no retirement for the New York carriage horses, but we’re creating that here,” said Weiner, 51, who previously worked in sales and marketing. “These horses deserve rehabilitation. When they get injured, they deserve retirement.”

Weiner and Laks, who are married and reside outside Los Angeles, have been in a whirlwind of fundraising for their new project — what would be the fourth installment of their nonprofit, which already runs sites with rescued animals and educational centers in California, Missouri and Tennessee. A few weeks ago, an interested benefactor hosted a ritzy event on their behalf to try to entice donations from friends and neighbors. The couple has raised close to $500,000 so far, with additional pledges on the way, according to Weiner.

Horse sanctuary in the making. Photograph courtesy of The Gentle Barn.

They need to show proof of funds for the property, which includes a collection of stables, by Jan. 7 or else risk losing the contract. If the property isn’t secured, the two horses on site will be relocated to another location run by the nonprofit. That means they need to raise $2 million in the next few weeks.

Weiner and Laks want to set up the site — which is just over an hour from the city — as soon as next year. “The overall focus of the Barn is to rescue animals that have nowhere else to go because they’re too old, sick, lame or scared to be adopted by anyone else,” Laks said. “We bring them in, and we rehabilitate them with a whole slew of alternative methods as well as veterinary care.”

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Featured Image: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/_tiffany

Tuesday’s Horse

Official Blog of The Fund for Horses

2 thoughts on “Building a retirement home for NYC carriage horses”

  1. Although many of us have asked, The Gentle Barn will not reveal the location of the “carriage horse auction” that these 2 horses came from. Their postings have gotten many of their readers to come to the conclusion that you stated above: that these are NYC carriage horses. The Gentle Barn did NOT say that. They are banking (literally) that people will come to the wrong conclusions. If the horses came from a legitimate auction, then why not let other good souls go to that auction and help other horses? I have a problem with their secrecy/ half truths. Weiner said “There is no retirement farm for NYC carriage horses.” yet will not disclose the names of the carriage horses that currently reside at Gentle Barn. I read Gentle Barn as a “wanna be”, not an established entity for what they claim. BTW- the Real Estate listing shows a cost of $6 million for this property. Taxes are also high. My BS meter is spinning!


  2. Here’s a question for any/all rescuers who purchased a carriage/buggy horse at auction: did you receive paperwork related to the horse’s provenance?

    If so, what did it say? How was it useful?

    If not, how did you know what the horse pulled previously? Or where the horse pulled it?


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