Horse News

The truth about the NYC Carriage Horses


If you want to know the truth about what is happening to the New York City carriage horses, go to the website of the COALITION TO BAN HORSE DRAWN CARRIAGES at

Elizabeth Forel of makes some very important points:

“The existing stable in Central Park is only for about 5 horses.  There are about 180 carriage horses.  Do the math.

About the stalls – The stalls are 6′ x 10′ maximum by law.  That is quite inadequate for a 2,000 lb. draft.

The stalls are on the 2nd and 3rd floors of warehouse like buildings and accessed by a steep ramp; one means of egress.  There is no turnout to pasture.  No one gets into these stables unless invited.

The horses work between the shafts of the carriage for 9 hours straight, 7 days a week.  I say work but most of the time they are standing around bored out of their minds.  (They are ‘entertainment’ horses, not work horses.  They are not tilling a field for a family to provide food for their table.)

As for the horses going to slaughter if they do not work in the NYC carriage industry?  – There is a huge turnover of horses in this business.  I did a study published in 2013, well researched that showed 529 horses came off the Department of Health rolls in 7 1/2 years.  Where do you think they all went?  THINK!  This is a business – motivated by profit.  When a horse gets too old, sick or nervous, he/she is removed – laundered through the Amish on their way to the kill auctions.

Horse carriages are private businesses – no right to the park.  Park land is an inalienable right for the people – definitely not for 68 ‘cash only’ businesses.”


We are posting an older article below that contains an accurate assessment of where New York City carriage horses go.  R.T. Fitch and I do NOT support the use of carriage horses on city streets because it is just too dangerous.  R.T. Fitch and I do NOT support any horses or burros being kept/used in inhumane conditions, under any circumstances.  –  Debbie



Where do all the NYC carriage horses go?

by Elizabeth Forel

The controversial horse-drawn carriage trade in New York City continues to be the subject of debate and has become an issue in the mayoral contest, which will be decided in November.

Since 2006, every online poll has shown between 75 and 80% of respondents favor a ban of this inhumane and unsafe business.  New Yorkers and tourists alike are saying “Enough!” It is the politicians who are holding things up.

Still misinformation abounds and, without challenge, becomes the accepted view.

MYTHS:  After the death of Charlie, a young carriage horse who dropped dead on NYC’s streets in October 2011, there were renewed cries from the public to shut down the carriage business.  Mayor Bloomberg, a big supporter of the trade, responded,  “Most of them [the horses] probably wouldn’t be alive if they didn’t have a job.”   And people believed it – that if the horses did not have a job, they would be slaughtered and continuing the carriage trade prevented this from happening.

Another accepted and unchallenged opinion from a New York Times article, dated December 7, 2011 was a quote by Dr. Nena Winand,   a NY Veterinarian and member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, who said, “If we banned the carriage horse industry tomorrow, they would go straight to slaughter. There is no big field out there and no one to pay the bills.”

So we apparently have to save the carriage horse owners from themselves since it is they who bring the horses to auction where they can be bought for slaughter.  The horses do not walk there on their own volition.

Feeding right into this is another myth that the media has bought into  – a ”retirement home“  for the NYC carriage horses. They promote this nice fairy tale without asking the necessary questions – such as  – how many NYC carriage horses have you taken? how many can your farm hold?; will you force them to work?; do you take every horse whose license is not renewed?  If not, what happens to them?

Maybe a handful are retired each year and get good homes.  But a retirement home for all could not be further from the truth.

NEW STUDY:  A new study conducted by the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages shows that over the past eight years, there was a turnover of at least 529 carriage horses who did not have their license renewed by the NYC Department of Health (DoH), the agency charged with oversight of these animals.  The only reason horses come off the registry is when they are sold or died.

Some 200 horses are registered with the DoH annually.  For 529 to have no accountability is deeply disturbing.   This averages out to 71 horses a year over 7 ½ years.

We are aware that some horses did find homes, some were rescued and some died but it is simply not feasible that this many horses were retired to good homes, as the carriage trade would have you believe.

I suspect that neither Bloomberg, nor Winand are aware of the very high turnover of horses in the NYC carriage trade.  – Perhaps they, like many others, just assume the same horses work over and over and over again – like a billboard – never changing – or they do not give it a second thought.

The NYC Administrative Code – Section 17-329 does not require the names of buyers if the horse is sold outside New York City as most are and the DoH does not maintain documents or a database containing a list of horses who are no longer in the system.

HORSE AUCTIONS  – Not all horses are as fortunate as one named Billy, a former NYC carriage horse. After being sold to a kill buyer at New Holland in Pennsylvania, he was rescued/repurchased by the Coalition in 2010 and is now living out his golden years in peace—appropriately renamed Bobby ll Freedom—at Equine Advocates Sanctuary in Chatham, NY.

This was the e-mail I saw on Friday morning June 25th.  We immediately took action.

Thursday June 24, 2010 – 6:17pm

“Can you guys offer any info or know anyone who would like to save this gentle gelding from slaughter?  We only have til Sat 6 p.m. to find a secure home.  
6-22-12 – Bay gelding ex carriage horse has license plate on front left hoof quiet, gentle broke to ride/drive

$600.00 and fees $100 for coggins, $25 adoption fee, etc. 

It is very possible a horse could go either directly or indirectly to the auctions, which are frequented by kill buyers who supply slaughter houses.  The Equine Welfare Alliance reports that 176,223 US horses were sent to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico in 2012 where their meat was processed to be sent overseas for human consumption.

A BILL THAT COULD HAVE HELPED:  In 2011, the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages asked Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito to sponsor a bill, Intro 670, that would require that carriage horse owners abide by certain rules when selling their horses – i.e. to be accountable for the horses’ fate.  The owner would be required to sell or donate his or her horse to a private individual or sanctuary with a contractual agreement that the animal would be kept as a companion animal, not be sold or employed in another carriage business.  The horses could not be sold at auction.  The  DoH  would require complete records.  The press conference for the proposed legislation was canceled the night before by Speaker Christine Quinn and the bill subsequently died.   Quinn has been a staunch supporter of the carriage trade and has ultimate power in the City Council.  Bills do not go anywhere without her support.

Since that time, more than 116 horses – who would have been protected had it passed – have fallen off the rolls to uncertain fate.

So where do we go from here?  If the powers that be do not see fit to do anything about shutting down this inhumane and unsafe business, at least they should acknowledge and do something about all the horses who get used up.   But will they?  Do they care enough about these horses or will they continue to delude themselves into thinking it is a viable tourist attraction.

The status quo can continue to the tune of 71 horses falling off the DoH horse registry each year.  It all depends on who becomes NYC’s next mayor.  Someone compassionate and smart?  – or not.

In the meantime, we ask the City Council to revive Intro 670 and get it passed into law.

Screen shot 2013-06-01 at 10.40.46 AM

The 21-page Coalition report and the original Department of Health horse lists can be accessed on this page.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

10 replies »

  1. Just disgusting!! A nice ride in the Park, maybe?? But the streets of New York and the streets of Chicago are no places for horses. This is another low life business working off the poor animals that give it there all. Look into their eyes and their souls will tell you tht they don’t want to be there. Where is the ASPCA and the Humane Society now? The Killers love love these big horses!! Sold to slaughter and stuck in a crowdy crate enroute to Japan. More needs to be put out about this in the media. There is no place in any populated and congested city for carriage horses. Low life’s operating these businesses with no concern or care for the horses. There are NO UNWANTED horses. The homes are there. They just need to be matched up!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t bear the thought of horses forced to breath in automobile exhaust and diesel fumes just so we can be carted around. Not to mention impatient, selfish drivers. I’ve seen it. In a filthy, noisy city – a carriage ride is not romantic. All I’d be thinking about is the poor horse’s welfare. Please restrict these rides to parks, if they must be had at all.


  3. Mayor DeBlazio says he doesn’t have the votes to ban the industry — This is thoroughly shameful. The carriage industry in Chicago was not in existence 10 years ago and was never in business around the Water Tower an exclusive 4 lane road where drivers speed. Philadelphia has the same problem with the carriage industry. A city where chickens are NOT allowed in the yard, a run-in shelter for horses may be maintained. Horses are tethered to the wall when their stalls are cleaned out, there is no place for them to run, socialize or roll in the grass. If the Gatsby style solar powered cars are too expensive, converted carriages should be installed and the horses should be given a reprieve. Many would contribute to their welfare, I’m sure.


    • Chris1055 – This is what the Mayor says (not enough votes) but it is more complicated than that and his comment is quite disingenuous and dishonest. This is his bill and he promised to lobby the City Council getting them over to the bill, while perhaps agreeing with them on one of their pet projects. The Mayor and the Council Speaker (Melissa Mark-Viverito) have tremendous power in government. But he copped out and gave up. DEBLASIO NEVER LOBBIED. It came out that he did not want to expend any political capital on this bill. Yet, he sure took enouhg money and support from all us when running for office and making this promise.
      When we met with Council Members, they almost all told us they wanted to see the Environmental Impact Study (not released) and they wanted more information on the job retraining that is in the bill.

      The Mayor’s office ignores this. There are no details on job retraining and they keep postponing the release of the EIS report — probably because they awarded the bid to a company that had a huge conflict of interest but failed to report it.

      The converted carriages you mention would have been an excellent idea – made by Andres Carriage Tours. (google it) Much cheaper; the drivers could keep the same business model. The mayor never considered it – and I had the information packages sent to his door. Only his competitor in the race, Joe Lhota mentioned it in debates.

      The electric cars are really an absurdity and were never in the bill. 68 of them would cost almost $12,000,000. They would thankfully not be allowed in the park.

      We were fooled. We trusted this man completely and he lied. Simple as that. None of us are giving up the fight though. Some day, it will happen.

      A man or woman is only as good as their word. Without it, he is nothing. Everyone should understand this about deBlasio. He is dishonest. Even those who opposed a ban should know this. The man should never be trusted with making campaign promises again.


  4. Once again, Elizabeth Forel of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages has twisted the truth. No human has ever had a serious injury or death in a New York City horse carriage … NEVER! Those “warehouse-like buildings” are called stables. They have been stables for horses since they were built.

    The Cortisol Study by Western University confirms the Well Being of NYC Carriage Horses and Dr. Janine Jacques. Founder of the Equine Rescue Network had no trouble visiting the stable unannounced:


  5. this is silly. The NYC Carriage horses are professional working city horses and they are just as fine now as they have been right along. Beautifully healthy, highly regulated, and content in their jobs. Go to the stables and see for yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sorry Maria: “silly” is not a good criticism and i suspect you do not know what you are talking about and it sounds like you are mouthing the carriage trade propaganda. Yes there are many regulations governing the carriage horse trade – but many are meaningless — especially the street laws – laws that would have to be enforced at the time of violation by a NYC cop – are not enforced. They include drivers making illegal u-turns on Central Park South; or leaving their horses unattended and untethered; working in restricted areas on off hours; hiding the license plate number by “whiting out” it out; On many horses, the manure collector is not attached properly per the existing law — the weight of a manure collector should be on the carriage and not the horse — these things happen all the time and are ignored. As for the stables – they are all multi-storied with one means of egress. Horses access their upper floor stalls by way of steep ramps; The stalls are 60 square feet legally because this is all the space that is available. Cramming a 2,000 draft horse in 60 square feet may be possible, but it is inhumane. Further, the horses have no access to daily pasture turnout — it does not exist. And how would you know they are content in their “jobs?” Have they told you?


  7. The fact is this matter of Horse Carriages is so politicized, the horses continue to suffer at the hands of morons who only care about the $$$ these poor creatures put into their pockets. Who in their right minds believes horses should be FORCED to work and live in such horrid conditions? I don’t care about your fake science studies and skewed polls. Anything the union does is fake. The bottom line is common sense dictates those horses are suffering. It’s time to shut down an abusive practice. Take your horses and your nasty drivers to the country. And, stay there!


  8. The fight about the carriage horses in New York city seems to be more hype than fact. I have been following the work of Dr. Janine Jacques. Founder, Equine Rescue Network for several years. She decided to go to the city and find out what she could for herself. Here is a link to her post about her impromptu visit to the equine barn from her professional, horsewoman, equine rescuer’s point of view after following a carriage one day and wandering into the stable.


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