Now is the time to think about the future of Philly’s tourism — without horse-drawn carriages

Image by bridgetawilcox from Pixabay.


The COVID-19 crisis has brought tourism to a standstill around the world, and Philadelphia’s tourism economy has already lost $1 billion because of coronavirus.

While city tourism officials are meeting regularly to discuss how a recovery will take place, it’s the fresh thinking of outsiders that could provide the solution — not a return to the status quo, but an entire redesign of Philadelphia tourism.

“The Future of Philadelphia Tourism” was the topic of a September 2019 meeting, whose attendees included local tourism officials, City councilman Mark Squilla, animal advocates and tourism and marketing researcher Dr. Clare Weeden from the University of Brighton, UK. The discussion focused on “Responsible Tourism,” a growing industry trend which emphasizes that a destination’s people, economy and environment are affected by the “footprint” left by tourists and tourism organizations.

Horse-Drawn Carriages

A matter of particular concern was Philadelphia’s horse-drawn carriages, a controversial feature of Philadelphia’s tourism, which has become a liability in recent years.

In her analysis of Philadelphia tourism, Weeden noted that a key in the marketing of responsible tourism is differentiation, and Philadelphia has the opportunity to set the standard in market differentiation by promoting a special concern for environmental and animal welfare issues. “Resident and tourist awareness of animal welfare means that one day very soon, carriage horses’ existence as part of a commercialized tourism product will become unacceptable for most people,” she said.

Continuing the focus on this issue, a group of doctoral students from the Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) strategic leadership and complex systems leadership programs took on the project of studying horse-drawn carriages in Philadelphia. They presented the conclusion of their case study earlier this month:  As awareness of the problems associated with horse-drawn carriages increases, demand for them will decrease, creating an unprofitable and unsustainable business.

Some of those problems, were described by Dr. Holly Cheever, leadership council member of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA), in a letter to Squilla expressing support for a legislative ban on horse-drawn carriages in Philadelphia. The problems Cheever outlined include:

  • respiratory impairment resulting from the horses constantly working nose-to-tailpipe;
  • lameness due to the horses’ excessive pounding on paved city surfaces;
  • heat prostration during extreme temperatures;
  • spooking when the horse is startled by a threatening stimulus, often leading to vehicular accidents.

The TJU study emphasized market trends, drawing attention to the animal welfare concerns of Millennials — the generation that travels the most and is most likely to spend more money on vacations than any other age group.

Eighty-six percent of 18- to 29-year-olds are willing to spend more on their travel if it means the experiences are completely ethical. Tour companies are jumping to respond to the demand by developing animal-friendly policies. TripAdvisor, for example, amended their 2016 policy to “no longer book attractions where animals were forced into unnatural situations for entertainment purposes.”

As bans on horse-drawn carriages continue to be enacted in cities around the world, electric horseless carriages (e-carriages) are increasingly taking their place. Identical in appearance to 18th century horse carriages, e-carriages are battery-powered, equipped with GPS and USB ports, and offer riders both an historical experience and a cruelty-free activity. E-carriages are in perfect alignment with the principles of responsible tourism, and offer a win-win solution, creating no job losses, only increased opportunities for businesses and tourists alike.

Post-COVID crisis, Philadelphia will be competing with other tourism destinations for people’s time and money, so we’ll need to appeal especially to the younger travelers driving the market. It will take some time to re-open Philadelphia for tourism, but now is the time for a total redesign of Philly’s tourism brand and offerings, in keeping with what our city is all about — revolutionary ideas, innovation and bold actions.

Let’s get the conversation going between city officials and forward-thinking outsiders who can provide the fresh approach needed to create a new American revolution.

Originally published May 14, 2020 at

Janet White is a resident of Northeast Philadelphia who runs a group called Carriage Horse Freedom. She was a spirited campaigner in the ban on horse drawn carriages in Philly.

Related Reading

• “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)

Featured Image: By bridgetawilcox from Pixabay.

Fund for Horses Logo

Celebrate the 4th with Hattingdon®

Years and years ago, when working in Washington D.C. and stuck there over the Christmas holidays, our Founding President Vivian Farrell created a cartoon horse for the Fund for Horses’ gift shop. It took off and she created more. And more! She named the series Hattingdon Horses®.

It being a holiday and a Saturday, we thought we would share one with you just for fun. This is a brand new hat silhouette Mrs Farrell created just the other day. In honor of 4th July, she has made it up in a red, white and blue colorway. Each hat has its own identifying name — this one is called “Elise”.

As Hattingdon says, “Hugs and kisses, and millinery blisses”.

Elise Hattingdon design. Created by ©Vivian Grant Farrell exclusively for Hattingdon Horses®. Thank you.

We closed our Zazzle shop and will be reopening in the Fall on Etsy. In the meantime, visit Hattingdon’s blog for a “hatful of smiles”.

Have a lovely day, and be safe.

Updated 11:16 am EST

Fund for Horses Logo

More fairy stories from Calif Horse Racing Board

Mongolian Groom. Sports Illustrated image.

No illegal medications or procedures were uncovered, mirroring an independent report of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which found no criminal wrongdoing”.

What? These people are (fill in the blank) unbelievable. Read on (if you have the stomach for it).

The Paulick Report tell us:

Open Quote

The California Horse Racing Board has issued its report on the 23 fatalities that occurred during the Santa Anita race meet between Dec. 26, 2018 and March 31, 2019. The report was compiled by veterinarians and scientists, CHRB investigators, safety stewards and CHRB staff.

The report examined in depth each of the fatalities, published key findings and recommendations in various areas, including track maintenance; management of the racing office; training practices; private veterinary practitioners and practices; horse safety and welfare; regulatory veterinary procedures and practices; and at the CHRB level.

No illegal medications or procedures were uncovered, mirroring an independent report of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which found no criminal wrongdoing.

The report found that 21 of the 22 catastrophic  musculoskeletal injuries examined in post-mortem necropsies were in horses showing evidence of pre-existing pathology “presumed to be associated with high exercise intensity, which predisposed these horses to catastrophic injury.”

Read it all at »

California horse racing has to go. The Governor et al have left the building. But we haven’t. Bring on the Referendum. Or better yet — the Feds. That way these cheating, abusive criminals won’t simply walk away; they will go to jail. They are so arrogant they obviously feel they are somehow immune, and can’t be “taken down”.*

Featured Image: Mongolian Groom. We Remember You.

Fund for Horses Logo

* UPDATE: We see in a Blood-Horse article that, “The Stronach Group, which operates Gulfstream Park West and the Palm Meadows Training Center, said it complied fully with search warrants that were executed by federal authorities Monday morning at those facilities”. Doesn’t matter. This is only the beginning.

We HATE HATE HATE that Maximum Security (above) has gone to Bob Baffert’s barn. This horse cannot catch a break.

Related Reading

The Sting that is so stinging to U.S. horse racing, Tuesday’s Horse, 11 March 2020.

NYT: More than 2 dozen charged in horse racing doping scheme, Tuesday’s Horse, 9 March 2020.

Wishing you the very best for 2019

Horse by Bob Langrish with permission. Fireworks and Horse by Vivian Grant Farrell. Not to be printed or reproduced by request of the photographer.
Horse by Bob Langrish with permission. Fireworks and Horse artwork by Vivian Grant Farrell. Not to be printed or reproduced by request of the photographer.


We wish you the very best for the new year ahead and so grateful to you for staying with us and taking part.

Over the next week we will be posting a year in review on each of the core issues we confront regarding the safety and welfare of horses.

As always, we welcome your thoughts and ideas so please continue to share them with us.

Your help and support is extremely valuable to the horses we love.

Warm regards,

The Horse Fund and the Tuesday’s Horse blog.