Horse Health

Carriage Horse Bleeding on Charleston Street Sparks Social Media Storm

by Dave Munday as published on The Post and Courier

“When they finally ripped off his shoe, a large chunk of his hoof came off with it,”

A carriage horse leaving blood on the street in downtown Charleston on Sunday afternoon fanned the flames of an ongoing debate.

BloodPhotos of someone cleaning blood off the pavement at Meeting and Market streets were posted to Facebook, along with claims that the carriage kept going while the horse was in pain and that pieces of its hoof were torn away when a horseshoe was jerked off.

“A horse was bleeding with a detached shoe from King Street, all the way down to Meeting,” according to the post by Zoe Bergmann, who has frequently protested horses on the streets of Charleston.

“The driver and the passengers paid no attention to the injured horse. A woman unknown to me, ran down Market Street screaming for them to stop. They would have kept going if the attention hadn’t been brought to them.”

The post had been shared more than 6,000 times by late Monday afternoon.

Injured Horse“When they finally ripped off his shoe, a large chunk of his hoof came off with it,” according to the post. “The horse was just starting to walk away on his injured foot, when a carriage employee rushed out to try and erase evidence of the incident.”

What flew off when the shoe fell away was the oakum padding that’s between the hoof and the shoe, according to Classic Carriage Works General Manager Tim Manley. The company posted a video explaining what happened on its Facebook page.

The city’s tourism officers were called as soon as the passengers were unloaded, the carriage released and the horse walked back to the barn, according to a report to the city filed Sunday afternoon. The city requires reports on any incident involving an injury or property damage.

The horse threw a shoe on King Street near Hasell Street, but it wasn’t safe to stop until Meeting and Market streets, according to the report by driver Kris Canizares. A city tourism officer agreed with the decision.

“By the time we had arrived the bleeding from the horse’s hoof had stopped completely and he seemed to have no problem putting his full weight onto that leg,” Tourism Enforcement Officer Lee Burbage noted in a summary accompanying the report. “Barn staff confirmed with us that they had pulled the horse from all tours and had already called a farrier to come out and confirm the horse’s condition.”

It’s not uncommon for horses to throw shoes when they step on something that pulls them off, but it’s usually not a big deal, Manley said. In this case, Berry, a 12-year-old gelding, stepped back down on the shoe, cutting the inside of his hoof on a metal cleat, he said.

EP-160829384.jpg&MaxW=520&q=85Berry’s hoof was wrapped Sunday and showed no signs of blood Monday morning, he said. The horse will be kept off the streets until it’s determined his foot has completely healed, Manley said.

Manley said it was not one of his employees who cleaned up the blood, but he couldn’t imagine a good reason for anybody to leave it there.

The city is reviewing the reports from both the enforcement officers and the carriage company to confirm that proper procedures were followed, city spokesman Jack O’Toole said Monday.

The Charleston Animal Society is also investigating the incident.

Bergmann led protests last summer after a horse named Blondie was spooked by a truck and fell down on East Bay Street and couldn’t get up.

“Do not support industries that exploit animals,” she said in Sunday’s post.

The city has convened a task force to re-evaluate carriage-horse practices, starting with when it’s too hot for them to be pulling passengers.

10 replies »

  1. Generally speaking, I have defended the carriage trade and the way they handle their horses. However, I don’t know who was responsible for doing this to this poor soul, but they certainly were not doing it in the best interests of the horse, the company, the public, or the industry as a whole.

    Here’s what I suspect happened-but I have no proof so don’t jump me as I am certainly NOT defending their actions as abominable as they turned out to be:
    1. The horse’s shoe broke. That tells me that the shoe was forged probably out of two pieces of steel instead of one as it should have been ideally. Well done, that shouldn’t have been a problem. Obviously, something happened and the shoe broke and it went into the horse’s hoof.
    2. The driver of the carriage was not paying any attention to the horse. The horse had to have been showing pain for some time for a driver in a following car to have noticed it. So there’s another problem right there.
    3. Once the carriage was stopped and the horse was inspected, instead of getting the proper tools to remove the shoe, these people begin trying to manually rip it off-and in doing so, they manage to take off hoof with the shoe-something that would not have happened if they had slowed down, had the proper tools, and done it correctly. That tells me that they panicked.
    4. Even more evidence that they panicked was the use of the water bucket to attempt to erase the blood stains on the pavement. Seriously? You have the public standing around with cell phones taking photos and video and you’re trying to cover up the evidence that this even happened?

    The anti-carriage trade people will be screaming even louder for an end to the business. At this point, they will have the public’s attention. If the carriage trade people want to continue in business, they need to show good faith follow-up on the horse’s condition and progress. Regardless of cost to themselves, they should not try to duck out of treatment or rehab. They owe it to the horse and to their industry to get this right.

    Catch my blog at The Sports Model Jackass westgapeachpit/


    • 1. If you look at the photos, the shoes are thick rubber (common on carriage horses) so the broken steel shoe theory won’t hold up. Also, the shoe is clearly in one piece in one photo, so it was probably stepped on by his opposite front to pull it off intact. The article itself mentions the oakum packing that also fell out, which presumably was mistaken as part of the hoof.

      2. Also in the article, the driver did notice but mentioned they were not in a safe place to stop, so proceeded until there was a safe pullout ahead.

      3. If you’ve ever had a horse step and and partly pull off a shoe, they can barely walk, so getting that shoe either back on or all the way off quickly is imperative. Rubber shoes usually pull off easier, since you can pull them away from the nail heads, but then can’t allow the horse to walk on the exposed nail heads which would either drive the nails in deeper or fold them over, risking a wound to the sole (had this happen once when a horse stepped on a front shoe and dislocated it slightly sideways, slicing his sole horribly on a trail ride). It isn’t clear to me parts of the hoof fell off, but one photo does seem to show a large piece of the heel area missing, which may have been epoxied together (also a common practice) as this horse’s front hooves don’t seem to be in great condition to start with.

      4. The article also mentions the blood was being cleaned up by someone from the public, not hired or directed. Horses can and do bleed quite a lot without undue harm sometimes, not to excuse it but the amount spilled seems a lot in human terms but is often inconsequential in horse terms.

      I don’t see that the driver here did anything wrong, or that the horse was mistreated. The presence of the thick rubber shoes indicates a relatively high level of concern. The condition of the front hooves in general is my main concern, they may not be structurally firm without outside help (with rubber shoes or without). Overall, I’d be slow to judge what happened here, or the presence of any cruelty. If anything I am surprised the horse was able to step on enough of a rubber shoe to pull it off, usually a good farrier will trim to prevent such things from happening.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 1. I’ve never known a horse to step on one front hoof with the other-although I suppose that is possible in harness since they have to cross step into the poles. The ones I’ve seen step on themselves do it from the back to the front.
        2. Don’t know about the ‘rubber’ shoes at all. I am familiar with boots and hard plastic shoes, and shoes made with a polymer coating, but the last I heard about rubber being used in that application, it didn’t stand up to the wear and tear. Perhaps things have changed. The best of them had steel inside of the rubber.
        3. oh, I’ve had horses partially pull off shoes before-and RUN that way. (The Jackass, as a matter of fact. The sob apparently thought it was funny.) As far as the nails are concerned, that’s what pliers are for.
        4. I’m well aware of blood loss relative to both horses and humans. I used to work in ERs and blood banks as well as for veternarians. No, in terms of absolute volume, the horse was in no danger-I agree. However, in terms of damage to the reputation to the carriage industry as a whole, there was far too much. The non-horse savvy public does not know how much is too much-all they see is blood.

        I was not pointing fingers and alleging misdeeds or cruelty-or, at least, trying not to. What I was trying to do was point out a series of misjudgments that lead to more misperceptions by the public and the media about the trade.

        My suggestion would be a recuperative period, good farrier work, and perhaps changing to boots for the future.


  2. A fire storm was created Monday when a Young lady just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

    She took a Video and still shots with her phone and sent it to the incredible Charleston Animal Society.  The Carriage Drivers and local Carriage Companies rallied after all three local TV stations, as well as the local Post & Courier Newspaper ran the story.

    Lots of FB bashing followed.

    Subsequently, P & C ran a poll asking Does this incident change your opinion of horse-drawn carriage rides in Charleston?

    Yes, I think they should be banned

    No, I think they should be allowed

    Monday afternoon 95% voted No Carriages.  Tuesday afternoon it was 43/45 in favor of the Carriage Companies.

    As I type this, the count is 60/37, 60% voting BAN the Carriages.  Although a Poll does not dictate local government policy, we need your support.

    Three additional notable items:

    Alisha Atkinson, a local Animal Activist, started a Petition last summer, we re-vamped it a few weeks ago.  It’s blown up in the last few days.

    Horses without Carriages, started a BOYCOTT Charleston Tourism Petition a month ago.  It’s increasing but not with the voracity of the local petition at this time. We are hopeful that it will gain momentum.

    Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates is asking for an Independent Review of the Carriage business. They post great suggestions for alternative Carriage rides and other local tours of beautiful Charleston.

    We have had one City Council Meeting focusing solely on the Carriage Horse issue. As anticipated that meeting was lackluster.  

    One of the two invited Veterinarians appeared to be protecting the Carriages.  The “guest list” was not balanced for this first meeting but hopefully the Advocates will be able to have equal representation for the next meeting.

    Next meeting planned for Sept 14th.  

    We plan to deliver the Petition Signatures and Comments to the Mayor before the meeting. Our numbers are growing rapidly and I think we are making genuine progress. This particular battle for the horses can be won!


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