Candlelight vigil held for NYC carriage horse Aisha

The New York City Police Department’s Animal Abuse Squad is investigating the recent death of a carriage horse in Central Park after a video of the fatal February 29th incident was made public online.

Posted by animal rights advocacy group NYCLASS, the video shows the 12-year old carriage horse — named Aisha — repeatedly falling, unable to use her back legs.

Disturbing footage

A separate video posted Sunday shows several people who appear to be trying to get the horse into a trailer, but the horse keeps collapsing. That tweet, also from NYCLASS, accuses the people near the horse of blowing smoke in Aisha’s face and brutalizing her.

Industry response

Christina Hansen, a spokeswoman for Historic Horse-Drawn Carriages of Central Park, which represents the city’s horse-drawn carriages, confirmed to CNN that the horse was euthanized Sunday evening, a day after the incident — which she called an “acute medical emergency.”

The horse showed sudden signs of distress Saturday afternoon after completing one ride. The vet and the emergency horse trailer were called immediately, Hansen said, before the horse’s condition deteriorated and it collapsed.

“Unfortunately, she was never able to stand, apparently due to cardiac insufficiency in her hind end, and her owner, in consultation with the vet, made the difficult but humane decision to put her to sleep,” Hansen said in the statement.

Advocates and other witnesses tell a different story, claiming the horse was recklessly tied up and shoved into the trailer instead of being checked-out by a vet at the scene.

Mayor disgusted

The video caught the attention of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who called the videos “painful” in a Sunday, March 1 tweet:

“We’ve made real progress in animal welfare but we must go further. The NYPD’s Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad is on the case and WILL get answers,” he wrote.

The mayor again tweeted about the situation Monday.

“Watching video of the dying carriage horse again, disgusted this is happening in our city,” he said. “Why are these poor animals still being forced to work on the streets of America’s largest city so a few humans can profit? This needs to end. When laws condone the inhumane, change them!”

NYPD Detective Annette Shelton told CNN, “The NYPD’s Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad is investigating this incident and we are awaiting the results of the necropsy.”

Vigil for Aisha

NYCLASS held a massive Candlelight Vigil Thursday, March 5 at 6pm, at 59th St near Fifth Avenue and Grand Army Plaza to mourn Aisha. There was a stirring musical performance dedicated to the fallen carriage horse with footage displayed on multiple TV screens showing her heartbreaking struggles.

Take Action

Let’s keep the momentum going on behalf of Aisha and other horses like her.

NYC RESIDENTS: Call your NYC Council Member to express your outrage over Aisha’s mistreatment and death, and urge them to support efforts to end this constant, intolerable carriage horse abuse. 

If you live outside of NYC, call Mayor Bill de Blasio at 212.788.3000 and politely urge him to continue working toward a complete end of carriage horse abuse — for good.


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Horse Racing Integrity: The Owners

By VIVIAN GRANT FARRELL

I don’t think it would be unfair to say that horse racing is in an ever increasing state of crisis. That means the horses are also.

Racehorses are bred, used and disposed of at an alarming rate. They are drugged, their bodies manipulated in grotesque ways from the moment they are foaled. They are run into the ground until they can no longer perform, breakdown and die on the track or shortly thereafter off of it. Racehorses are “retired” by the thousands via death in a slaughterhouse often as young as two and three years old.

Is horse racing’s modern day conduct and its glaring lack of integrity any worse now than during its earlier days? The short answer is we don’t know. What we do know is that in this day and age you can hide very little of what goes on because of the advent of social media. That means many of horse racing’s many sins are glaringly made public to the masses now as a matter of routine. They do not like what they see. Fans and bettors are abandoning horse racing more and more every day.

Owner Integrity

During our coverage of US horse racing and its many sins we have looked at the trainers more than just about anyone else in the industry. Integrity it seems is hard if nigh impossible to find among racehorse trainers. In a culture entrenched in cheating, everybody “is doing it” to stay competitive, or so they say.

It may very well be (and we wouldn’t bet against it), that there it not a single trainer left in the US with even a fraction of integrity, especially when it comes to doping. As trainers and their assistants routinely point out, “you have to dope just ‘to stay in the game'”. What about the “boss”? The owner? The ones who employ these trainers? Where are they in all of this?

The late, great Penny Chenery, owner of the heralded and haloed Triple Crown winning hero Secretariat, makes the following observations in an interview with Andrew Cohen for The Atlantic, May 28, 2012.

The title of the article is “Secretariat’s Owner on the Triple Crown and Racing Integrity“. The subtitle is fittingly, “On the eve of Triple Crown drama, Penny Chenery, the grand dame of horse racing, calls out I’ll Have Another’s owner and implores the industry to do better.”

I quote liberally from that article.


A conversation with Chenery begins with the concept of integrity (which in racing is often like morning-line odds — long on speculation, short on specifics). “Our own integrity,” Chenery told me, “is not restricted to horse ownership. If you value yourself as a trustworthy person, then you protect your integrity in whatever you do.” Owning a race horse, she says however, creates the special and specific obligation to behave “in the cleanest possible manner” at all times. This is important, she says, because:

I think people like to believe that horse racing is fixed. I think there’s a little something that’s naughty, that if you know someone you can find out if the fix is in, and I don’t think we should fall for that. Or let that image be true.

From image to reality. I asked Chenery, the greatest Thoroughbred owner of the past half century, whether all horse owners should take more of a role, and therefore absorb more legal and financial responsibility, for ensuring that horse racing is clean, fair, honest, and transparent. Her response was emphatic.

I think owners should be held responsible for their choice of trainers, Chenery says. If they tend to send their horses to ‘dirty’ trainers this should be be a suspension of their right to ownership.

And from the general to the specific. I asked Chenery what she thinks of the connections of I’ll Have Another, including owner Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill, who last week was given a 45-day suspension in California (conveniently tolled to begin July 1st) for a 2010 doping violation in the Golden State. Her response was so pointed that she felt the need to reiterate immediately afterward that she wanted to be publicly quoted saying this:

I think it is regrettable. And it isn’t the horse’s fault and this is probably a very good horse. I don’t know Mr. Reddam personally but I think he should be embarrassed that the trainer he has chosen does not have a clean record.


Those words of wisdom from the Grand Dame of Thoroughbred horse racing in America shifts the focus where it also should be. These dirty trainers would not be in business if racehorse owners did not employ them.

Andrew Cohen, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, concludes:

The truth is that horse racing isn’t fighting nearly hard enough to achieve the success it says it wants on integrity issues. Penny Chenery knows it. The connections of I’ll Have Another surely know it. And deep down inside the rest of us do, too.

Yes, we do.


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FEATURED IMAGE: Secretariat in Retirement. Blood-Horse Library.

Source article »

The Chemical Horse, 2nd edition

I’ll Have Another was made a strong favorite to win the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.Credit...Al Bello/Getty Images

Jane Allin’s groundbreaking report on the doping of racehorses — “The Chemical Horse” — has been revised to update its citations.

Allin’s update coincides with the US House Subcommittee Hearing of the Horse Racing Integrity Act which would establish an anti-doping agency to oversee all horse racing (for an interim period anyway) to include Quarter Horse, Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing.

Out of that group Thoroughbred racing in particular has demonstrated it cannot and/or will not police itself. It has been given many decades to do so, leaving behind a trail of injuries, broken horses and death, during training and racing.

We believe it must, and ultimately will, come to an end because the gamblers who sustain it and make it all possible are leaving in droves. They will not be replaced. There is absolutely nothing appealing about horse racing to America’s up and coming generations.

View “The Chemical Horse”, 2nd. Ed. on the Fund for Horses website.

See the complete list of the Fund’s special Reports here.

Thank you for stopping by.


FEATURED IMAGE: I’ll Have Another before being scratched for the Belmont Stakes, abandoning his shot at the Triple Crown. Credit Al Bello/Getty Images.

From backstretch to slaughterhouse, Fair Grounds horse deaths shouldn’t surprise

Researchers say over time horse side toes may have been lost to help them move faster and more efficiently. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images.

James Gill, writing for NOLA.com, states:

The death of four thoroughbreds in six race days at the Fair Grounds track in New Orleans, a couple of weeks after two quarter horses were put down at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, was not as shocking as it should have been.

Horse racing is a dangerous sport anywhere, but particularly in America, and most particularly at Santa Anita in California, where the third horse death in three days happened last Sunday. Since December 2018, 42 horses have died there.

They race stuffed with drugs that are banned elsewhere, for instance, and fatalities are more common on the dirt tracks favored here than they are on turf or artificial surfaces.

Lasix and bute are both verboten in England and Europe, and, after the spate of deaths at Santa Anita, many tracks, including the Fair Grounds, have formed a coalition and embraced various safety measures that include phasing out race day medications.

Read more at https://www.nola.com/opinions/james_gill/article_3a4870ba-3e2d-11ea-9e6f-97344775cf43.html

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, located in New Orleans, is the third-oldest racetrack in the country.

Racehorse Slaughter

The Thoroughbred-racing industry sends an estimated 10,000 horses to slaughter annually, meaning that half of the 20,000 new foals born each year will eventually be killed for their flesh. Source: Peta (Jan. 2020).