“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.
Photos 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.
“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.
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.