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

Carriage horse accident NYC Sept 26, 2013.

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.


Group protests horse-drawn carriages outside Gracie Mansion

Gracie Mansion Carriage Horse Rally. Credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880.
Photo Credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880

Report Source »

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Opponents of horse-drawn carriages are not letting Mayor Bill de Blasio forget his campaign promise.

As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported, a protester playing the bagpipes while wearing a horse head mask has joined dozens of others with a message for Mayor de Blasio outside his Upper East Side home Tuesday.

Donny Moss joined Elizabeth Forel with the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, which it says helped get de Blasio elected. Now, the group says he has to do his part whether the city council has enough votes to pass legislation or not.

“We’re here to remind the mayor of his promise to take the horses off the street and out of harm’s way,” Moss said.

“I know he has other issues, you know, Pre-k and now what’s going on with the police, but he has a big administration. He has the ability to hire someone who can deal with animal issues and so far that has not happened,” one protester said.

“It’s very cruel what goes on with these horses,” protester Therese DeMico said. “One of the reasons I voted for Mayor de Blasio was he promised to ban them and it’s going on months and months.”

Forel says there are erroneous reports saying the horses would be slaughtered if the carriages are banned.
“When they go to the auctions, they could easily be bought by kill buyers. We would stop that, we would save that, we have homes for all of these horses,” Forel said.

“We’re considering a range of options that move the horses off our streets, safeguard the animals, and protect the livelihoods of the men and women who provide carriage rides,” de Blasio Spokesman Wiley Norvell said in a statement Tuesday night.

De Blasio wanted to ban the horses from Manhattan’s streets and Central Park during his first week in office.

But in a Google Hangout video chat in April, the mayor said he now expects the City Council to ban the practice by year’s end.

“A horse in the middle of the streets of Midtown doesn’t belong,” he said. “I think a humane society doesn’t do that to animals and we have an alternative where we’ll have an opportunity for tourists to have a similar experience but without horses being a part of it.”

Read more, view video report »