Mayor de Blasio Vows To End Horse Carriages In NYC

» February 18th, 2014

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that NPR’s coverage of this story was a mess. It begins by immediately belittling the issue of horse welfare, noting that one might reasonably expect the mayor to deal with “big picture problems” instead of . . . .horses. This choice of an opener raises a question. Why would a journalist begin an article on any topic by suggesting that, compared to “big” issues, the one she was covering didn’t really matter? If nothing else, this is a strange way to draw attention to a topic that is somehow important enough to warrant national coverage.

But Janet Babin’s dismissive attitude infects the entire piece. Babin explains that “horse carriage rides are a staple in cities around the country.” Really? In so far as a “staple” is a “main item of trade or production,” horse carriage rides are decidedly not a staple of the urban experience. The reporter furthers her opinion—and, in a way, what she has put together is an opinion piece–that the Mayor’s proposal is just plain weird by reporting that the mayor “raised some collective eyebrows” with his choice.

This phrase is another interesting choice. It implies that everyday folks—the collective–were similarly thrown for a loop by the fact that the mayor cares more than a whit about horse welfare. But again, there’s no evidence offered of a collective anything. And if there was, how about the possibility that a collective of New Yorkers might find the carriage trade problematic? Might it have been more accurate to note that “a collective cheer” went up when New Yorkers heard the news?

And then there’s the problem of context. The carriage horses are largely a political and horse welfare issue whose underlying motivator is economic. The money is on the side of the drivers who allegedly exploit horses. But the politics aren’t—they are more complex, including as they do, interest groups who are concerned with the welfare of horses. Babin again takes the easy way out by ignoring this context and offering only opinions (her own, the industry’s, a horse advocacy group’s) while calling it “news coverage” — which it isn’t.

The segment goes downhill quickly. Before explaining why the horse carriage industry might be a welfare problem, Babin rushes to quote a joke from the Daily Show with John Stewart. Stewart had remarked, ”Should we even be living here? ‘Cause  . . . sometimes I look at their stable and I go like, what do you think that’d go for, $1,600 a month? What do you think?” Well, sorry to be a grump, but I think humor does not have a place in this story. Unless you find the prospect of horse abuse funny.

When Babin finally does get around to exploring the issue from a welfare angle she quotes Allie Feldman, the executive director of New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets. Feldman gives a great quote, but her organization is identified as an “animal rights group.” Now, maybe Feldman described her organization this way but, judging from the organization’s website, I would doubt it.  It does not in any way address the issue of animal rights per se. More to the point, it allows Babin to use loaded language—yikes!, an animal rights group!—to skew the issue as one that only a bunch of crazies, oh and the mayor, cares about.

She then quotes the Horse and Carriage Association, which predictably says, ”A lot of these horses come from very, very bad backgrounds and are rescued from very abusive situations. This is not an abusive situation . . .” And then some tourists from North Carolina who are crushed that they’ll never be able to ride through Central Park behind horses that, according to a great deal of evidence that Babin ignores, suffer immensely.

Not only is the Horse and Carriage Association given the last word in this piece, but its message of sanctuary is never countered by credible and widely available information that would, if given attention, have resonance to more than the “animal rights activists” who Babin identifies as the only nuts who care about this issue in the first place.

NPR’s Grade: D.

Note to readers: I’m in the process of beginning an on-line project with the journalist Vickery Eckhoff that evaluates the media’s coverage of animal issues. A more thorough statement of purpose, as well as a web address will be forthcoming. For now, though, please note that the kind of piece published here is the sort of work that Eckhoff and I (and an assemblage of writers) will be doing. Needless to say, when we launch, I hope to count on readers to spread the word.  –jm

 

83 Responses to Mayor de Blasio Vows To End Horse Carriages In NYC

  1. Mara Farrell says:

    One of the questions I would have, regards the fate of these beautiful animals should they leave the streetscape of Manhattan. Will they be euthanized? Believe me, I’m a vegan, and choose to be because of my love for animals. But I am concerned about where these animals could end up. And to be put down would certainly be unjust. They absolutely deserve a beautiful green pasture, but who will step up and guarantee that?

    • Mara, many of the carriage owners themselves have stated they are not giving up their horses; others have threatened that they will go to slaughter–they will not! Should the owners wish to retire them (or dump them at auction, which is where kill buyers pick they up for transport to Canada and Mexico), the Global Federation for Animal Sanctuaries has a list of sanctuaries anxious to provide homes. I reported as much in my Forbes.com article, “NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg Doesn’t Know Manure About Carriage Horses” at http://www.forbes.com/sites/vickeryeckhoff/2013/10/31/nycs-mayor-bloomberg-doesnt-know-manure-about-carriage-horses/
      Short link: http://onforb.es/HuinIX

      • CL says:

        What list of Sanctuaries? Which ones? I only have only heard hearsay.. I have not heard facts.. this ban is wrong on so many levels.. mainly because what I find most disturbing is.. the many horses that are given up each day.. that wind up at slaughter.. can be helped more if the group pushing for this ban put as much effort in helping those in need rather than those not in need. And the owners giving up their horses? Do you know the cost of a horse in NYC??? Its a sad reality.. if the drivers are not working how can they afford their horses? I volunteered at a small rescue. Its heartbreaking the amount of horses that go through the feedlot.. so this group that wants to take horses away from an environment that provides care, shelter, food, love (yes they do care for their horses) while ignoring the bigger issue of the thousands that are truly neglected and slaughtered to me is ridiculous!!

        • They are not taking horses away. They will provide homes to those that need it. Big difference.

          • CL says:

            OK.. I am sorry.. there are no homes. They put out this blanket cut and paste response to anyone who asks where the horses are going : we have loving homes lined up
            yet.. they never provide the facts.. nothing to validate it.. along with the funding. where is that coming from???
            Do you think that people are going to adopt these animals and keep them as an expensive lawn ornament? they need care and horses are expensive.
            They are not providing any homes. Have them give you proof. Validate their statements.
            They wont .. because its just part of their Media Mob style.
            Do a story.. and provide the facts..
            Show 1- proof of the homes that will be provided
            2- proof of the funding that will be provided for the horses for the rest of their lives
            This whole argument is ridiculous. This group should be spending their time and money helping the animals that really need it.
            This group also has the mindset that NO animal should be kept. So if this ban is successful.. what animal is next??? Would it be my parrot because he is caged when I am not home? Oh my.. would that be abuse??? In their eyes yes!!!
            So do a story with supporting facts on where the funding is coming from.. and what homes they have lined up..

          • In addition to NYCLASS, Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS, offered Cleveland Armory Black Beauty Ranch in Texas as a sanctuary for some of the horses. He believes he can reasonably place 40-50 of the horses. And Matt Bershadker, CEO of ASPCA, did the same in a statement: “We would gladly get involved — including tapping into our network of rescue partners and resources — to help with the transition.” Jackie Beckstead, Director of Accreditation and Field Operations for the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries has also publicly stated that she has contacted her network of sanctuaries that take draft horses and found space available for horses as well. You can believe that or not. There are many examples in recent history of well over 150 horses being rescued from slaughter pens, some just last year. It is hard work to place a lot of horses all at once, but it is not impossible.

            And since we know that the horses have regular veterinary care, this will occasionally mean that they are given drugs that make them ineligible for slaughter, such as phenylbutazone. Apparently former Mayor Bloomberg and NYC carriage horse advocate Liam Neeson haven’t heard about the prohibitions against sending drugged horses into the food chain!

          • Shannon says:

            Heather, these “rescues” and “sanctuaries” are none that I would want to deal with. If they have room and are holding empty spots for trained and sound horses instead of horses that are homeless and actually in need then they have their priorities messed up.
            How anyone can overlook abused and neglected animals in hopes of “saving” horses that do not need to be saved is beyond me.
            Could you imagine seeing a starved horse’s picture and saying “Nope, I’m not going to rescue that one because there may be carriage horses available”?
            What are these people thinking?

          • I don’t believe they are doing that at all. Do you have any evidence that they are actively turning away horses right now? And specifically, what is wrong with each of these rescues or organizations? How do they compare to Blue Star Equiculture?

          • Shannon says:

            Heather, Blue Star has to turn away horses because they are full until one gets adopted. When one gets adopted it opens up a space for another to come in. They have a certain number of horses that they can care for and they cannot go over that limit because the resources are just not there.
            You ask what is wrong with there “rescues” or “organizations”, the problem is this…..if they have open spaces to take in these horses than why are they waiting until they have the possibility of becoming available? Why are they not filling to capacity now with horses in need….there are so many waiting to be saved.

          • Shannon, that’s not what I asked. I do wonder though, if Bluestar doesn’t have the capacity for more horses, how is it that they refer to themselves as the official retirement home for the NYC carriage horses?

        • Kathryn says:

          Just checking in. . . how unfortunate Ms. Clemenceau is so uninformed regarding the way a non-hoarding rescue or sanctuary operates. At Blue Star, efforts are made to re-home horses when an excellent fit is found between a horse in residence and a potential new owner. That way, they can make room for other horses coming in. The decision to retire a NYC carriage horse is almost never made overnight, so Blue Star can hold a spot for an upcoming retiree when they place a horse in residence. Unlike the organizations that appear to be holding 220 spots for a horse that will probably never be available, the spots Blue Star holds for NY retirees are held for a specific period of time for a specific horse. That strategy has allowed them to appropriately re-home or accept for permanent in residence retirement many times their carrying capacity of horses since they began, including as many New York carriage horses as their owners have elected to send.
          Back to work.

          • So, if another draft horse outside of the urban carriage industry was desperately seeking a retirement home in the vicinity, BlueStar would have to deny them that position because they were “holding a spot?”

            Thanks for confirming that they are no different from the rescues you criticize.

          • Shannon says:

            Heather,
            There have been a couple of NYC carriage horses that were retired and went straight from NYC into their adoptive home arranged by BSE.

            Again, the carriage horses that are retiring are not in immediate threat, they are not starving or dying as other horses in need are. BSE receives ample notification of when one of the horses is due to retire and can make accommodations accordingly.

            As stated before, if the rescues that are lined up to take these horses and have the available room IF a ban were to be enacted then why are they not helping horses in need NOW, why are they waiting?

            Rescues and sanctuaries are full because the homeless horse crisis is so severe. A REAL rescue is filled to capacity and then some, any other facility that says they have room, would be a hoarder. No one has room.

            If you are only here to try and prove me and others wrong then this portion of the conversation no longer deserves my attention.

            http://www.equiculture.org/what-we-do.aspx

          • You are avoiding the obvious. Any rescue other than Blue Star is held up for criticism. If Blue Star had a finite space for horses,which of course it does , it must either satisfy an urgent placement or it must hold a spot for a horse that is anticipated to retire in the future. So, if they plan to accept only one horse in the next month then they would have to triage.

          • Shannon says:

            Heather,
            BSE would never state that it had room to “save” these horses (which do not need saving by the way). BSE is more responsible and knows when a horse needs to be saved. It seems that you cannot grasp that there may not be these mystical places lined up and instead of just accepting that you have been lied to and led on, you try to spin my words to make me look like I am contradicting myself, but in all actuality you are the one is doing just that.

            You are in the horse world and know darn well that rescues are full, heck some people not even affiliated with horses knows it. But you carry on as if you have something to prove but instead you are just blabbing on and on because you cannot admit that you have been misled.

            I am sorry that you have pent up anger and frustration and find the need to try and push me around, I will not let that happen.

            Rescues are full, period.

            The only reason why these mystical places would advertise that they have room is only to benefit themselves with any attention that it may generate.

            They are full and by taking more horses it transforms them from a “rescue” to a hoarder.

            These horses are private property, they cannot be taken without consent.

            Good day Mrs. Heather, you have run our conversation into a pile of manure.

          • The horses are not taken without consent, that is another myth. You are not being pushed around and I’m not arguing with you. I’m correcting you – there is a difference.

            #completelymadeupcrap

          • Shannon says:

            Narcissist:

            Narcissistic sociopaths are most concerned with how they are perceived by EVERYONE. Narcissists must SEEM perfect, impenetrable, impervious to pain, emotionless, and unaffected. To them, SEEMING this way makes others want to be them. How do they perfect this illusion? Through lying. But even their lies aren’t categorized as lies in the delusional minds of a sociopath. Their lies are “their truth.” They succeed in twisting the reality of a situation with a barrage of twisted information (mixed with a hint of truth to make it seem believable).

            Cannot be wrong – The narcissist is never, ever wrong, and they like to present “proofs” that they are correct. The narcissist cannot accept responsibility for making a mistake and they are expert at diverting the blame to others

            The narcissist will often denounce the profession which has rejected them (usually for lack of competence or misdeed) but simultaneously and paradoxically represent themselves as belonging to the profession they are vilifying.”

            Sounds like someone has an axe to grind with the carriage industry…..hmmmmm.

      • Shannon says:

        Vickery,
        If these “adoptive” homes have room for numerous horses then why are they not rescuing horses from the auction before the kill buyers get ahold of them? Why are they not taking in abused and neglected horses that are being offered for free online with their ribs showing and matted manes?
        These rescues do not exist, you are being lied to. If one or 2 does indeed exist then they are choosing to hold out for these horses in hopes that they can “save them” when real abused and neglected horse’s lives are on the line at the auctions every week…..definitely not the kind of “rescue” I would want my animal going to.

      • Appyrdr says:

        “A list of sanctuaries anxious to provide homes”

        Could it be that it’s much more lucrative to hold space for horses known to be well trained, in good health, and easily handled? Rather than, say, horses of unknown origin and training that will require unknown amounts of time, attention and possibly an endless supply of money to rescue and rehab? If they are so anxious to help, how about they help a horse in need right now, rather than holding space until next week, next month, or next year.

      • Mara Farrell says:

        Thank you so much Vickery for your reply. I hope that a brighter future exists for all of these horses. But considering what happened to Marius, the young Giraffe, who had so many fine people step up to offer funds and sanctuary, I’m not totally hopeful. And for these NYC horses who live in servitude, I think of the old spiritual lyric line, “I’m tired of living, but scared of dying.” Life is clearly and mostly, always the better option.

        • Marius was supposedly refused transfer due to EAZA regulations about inbreeding. And let’s face it, the zoo director wouldn’t relinquish him under any circumstances. I think it does show that under duress, there are often groups that can provide space, as opposed to the alternative, but in the end, if the custodian does not want to surrender the animal and prefers to slaughter it, little can be done. In EAZA zoos it is standard practice to allow indiscriminate breeding and then claim that the “surplus” animals must be used for food for carnivores.

          • Eva Hughes says:

            I don’t have a whole lot of time today to comment here, so just this one will have to do for today.

            Heather Clemenceau – your ability to get people to chase you down the successive rabbit holes of your choice does not impress the critical reader. It also does not, in any way, change the facts, regarding either the topic at hand or the nature of your participation, which can be summed up in one word: useless. Anyone who lives thousands of miles away, in another country, and whose furiously expressed opinions and pronouncements are informed solely by second and third hand agenda-driven misinformation coupled with straight-up propaganda, all seen through a prism of self-congratulatory and imperious delusion couldn’t possibly BE anything but useless.

            Every single time I read your name or see something that you have written, Frédéric Bastiat’s quote types itself across the field of vision in my mind’s eye: ““If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?” (Pssssssst, hint: you and your nasty, twisted, obsessive self are most *assuredly* NOT made of finer clay :-P )

            Now toddle off back to your local legislators, and tell your fellow countrymen to STOP EATING AMERICAN HORSES.

            That should keep you busy.

          • I was wondering how long it would take for someone to proclaim that people who live outside of NYC had no right to render their opinions. Not long indeed!

            You have not actually refuted anything I’ve written and have demonstrated numerously that you’re incapable or unwilling to debate using parliamentary debating principles, preferring instead to call people names. However, on some level I can’t help but commiserate with you though, for “nothing is as frustrating as arguing with someone who knows what he’s talking about.”

            Many Canadians are actually hard at work trying to end slaughter and the damage caused by your close associates in the Cavalry Group and United Horsemen – perhaps you could put in a word and ask them to stop discarding so many of their cast-offs? We actually do see many Amish draft horses from the US who have been quite literally driven into the group – I wonder how many of them are former carriages horses whose hoof brands have grown out?

            PS, my minds eye needs a little bleach…..

    • The owners love them. They would never send them to slaughter. If you ask them, there is not a single person in the trade who will tell you that he or she will send the horse to an auction where kill buyers are present.

  2. Will Griesbach says:

    “NPR’s grade: D”? Are you giving partial credit for turning something in?

    I initially heard the last 30 seconds of the story on air, and was heartened to hear the issue get some attention on NPR. I was so disappointed when I later heard the whole sad mess of a story. The NPR news shows typically read from user mail on Thursdays; perhaps that’s a place we can call into question the opinion piece passed off as news.

    On the bright side, it seems that an attack on di Blasio’s motives and defense of the carriage industry as some sort of misguided jobs program are all the proponents of the trade have left.

  3. Caroline RH says:

    I agree with you that the NPR article was a disaster. And I can’t imagine that people are so brain dead that when it’s 100 degrees and 100% humidity in downtown New Orleans (for example) at noon in summer, that they don’t notice that the poor horse is so overheated that it can barely walk – so the “driver” uses his whip!! HOW ROMANTIC!! Maybe the horses could keel over and die right in front of you and you’d never notice. AND – do they know that horses natural hooves were not designed for a concrete jungle — that it causes painful nerve diseases (like navicular), and continually wears down their feet….

    There is NOTHING wrong with a journalist caring about their subject, in fact, most people would much rather read something with some passion in it than a totally objective accounting of something. It’s been proved over the over that readers (and people in person, too) respond to emotion, so these are the things that need reporting.

    Reporter never looked at a horses hoof…
    Reporter never saw a horse limping in pain…
    Reporter never saw a horse euuthanized because their
    feet were so damaged.
    Reporter didn’t do her homework – so the article did not properly represent the issue – and certainly didn’t properly represent the horse’s perspective!

    — Caroline Hamilton, (who has
    personally seen all of the above,
    cleaned 100′s of horse’s hooves,
    and cares passionately about
    animals!)

    • Shannon says:

      Caroline, Thankfully the horses in NYC have this nifty invention called the horse shoe, so their feet do not touch the ground.
      You want to talk about someone not knowing anything about horses, the head of one of the radicals doesn’t even know what chestnuts are, instead she calls them tumors. She does not know what a horse at rest looks like but instead says the horse is “depressed”, she has no idea that when a horse stands relaxed the animal cocks one leg but instead she claims that the horses foot is broken. These are the same people that made up a false story about a NYC carriage horse having a broken leg… http://horsebackmagazine.com/hb/archives/14758
      Definitely not the people I would trust one of my dogs fleas with.

      • So Shannon, do you think horses should remain in the horse carriage trade in NYC (and other cities)? Working in all sorts of weather conditions?

        • Shannon says:

          Teresa,
          Yes, I think the horses should stay. The NYC carriage horses have temperature regulations to say what temperatures they can work in. The horses are well kept and are regulated by more agencies than any other equine discipline. I have a horse, a draft horse, and he has a nice cushy run in with shavings and 3 hay mangers that are full….you know what he does in a snow storm such as this past week? He puts himself in the middle of the paddock, lowers his head and naps. I go out and scrape the snow from his back only to realize that apparently he is content just where he is……..me…..I retreat to the run-in to get out of the elements. Horses handle weather differently than humans do, and what I just wrote about my horse only validates it more. There are other horse disciplines that are running in the heat of the summer, jumping in the humidity and moving cattle in the whipping winds. A carriage horse plodding along is far from strenuous when it is summer or winter. I hope this has helped you better understand.

  4. Eva Hughes says:

    Oh, so much I could say…but what comes to mind for now is that scene from Crocodile Dundee, yanno, where he holds up a very large knife in response to being threatened by thug with a smaller knife? “That’s not a knife. THIS is a knife!” LOL

    So, about this blog entry: “That’s not an animal-oriented author writing about the NYC carriage horses, THIS is an animal author writing about the NYC carriage horses!” https://www.facebook.com/authorjonkatz/posts/10152041365299302?comment_id=29174153&offset=0&total_comments=19&notif_t=share_reply

      • Jon Katz is the same writer who said in his pet loss book that we should “keep animals in perspective and not mourn animals more than people.” No wonder he thinks it’s fine to abuse horses in the carriage trade.

        • Mike E says:

          How do you reach that conclusion about mourning a pet TW ??? ….and anyway how do you know what Jon thinks ??? again a AR fabricating their own line of BS

        • Eva Hughes says:

          Did you even read the blog entry, Teresa?

          To state that JK “thinks it’s fine to abuse horses” is both disingenuous and intellectually dishonest. Strike One.

          Do you think it would be desirable and indicative of a good and healthy perspective to mourn the death of your cat more than say, the death of your mother?

          (I like to know who to bother answering or not; your answer to that question will fill me in and give me the Strike Two I need to ignore you as a delusional misanthrope)

        • What I find ironic about the promotion of Jon Katz’ articles is that the carriage trade tell everyone not to listen to anyone who is not a horse person. Well, Mr. Katz isn’t a horse person either, nor is he a reporter. He doesn’t report on controversy, he writes lyrical praise about what he sees and is told. He is not, IMO, a critical thinker.

          • Shannon says:

            Heather, you are incorrect. They don’t tell people not to listen to anyone without horse experience. It is simply that most comments are from people that are unfamiliar with horse body language, work horses, etc.
            Examples:

            Horse is resting with his leg cocked, horse has a broken foot!
            Actually, horses when relaxing, usually will cock one foot or the other similar to people standing with one knee bent

            The horse is standing with his head hung low, he must be depressed!
            Horses, when resting, hang their heads, some fall asleep while in harness simply because they are not working.

            Look at the inside of that horses legs, those big things are tumors!
            Those things are called chestnuts, every horse has them and it is just dead skin, similar to rough hands, that usually fall off and grow again.

          • They absolutely do, and I have seen it first hand many times. The fact is that Mr. Katz does not know the difference between choke in a horse and vomit, which is almost unheard of in horses.

          • He is also most definitely not a grief counselor or trained in that field yet wrote a book on the topic as if he is.

        • Mary says:

          I too began Jon Katz book after my cat died. I had never read any of Mr. Katz’s books. I was looking for support & solace. After the 2nd chapter, I threw the book & never picked it up again, never read any of his books. For I felt something was not just right with this author.

          His perspective on animals was not caring for animals or their welfare. It was “get over it.” To paraphrase Jon Katz: “The animal is dead…so it is done…move on…” They are not people. And he calls animals “it,” “things.” And although animals are “creatures,” it makes me uncomfortable to read him name them such.

          So, as for Jon Katz’s Bedlam Farm Blog writings, the *Saga, on his being for the NYC carriage horses to stay…well…there is no other way to state it, than it is frightening to read him.

          That said, I find him fascinating as a person to try to understand him, to analyze. He does have a lot of rage pent up…aside from this NYC horse controversy. And in a lot of his arguments, he contradict himself. Much is gibberish. Nonsensical.

          To talk of NYC dogs & residents in the same context, as the NYC horses? As if their lives are similar? Communism? Animals are property & no one should intervene?

          A main theme of his is the horses will go to slaughter &/or waste away in a pasture when they should be working in NYC. “All animals need work,” according to him.
          Of note, those that contradicted him, this who were FOR a ban on carriage horses, are no longer posting on his blog. They were animal welfare advocates. Somehow all have been labeled, “animal rights” advocates? Either Mr. Katz banned them, or they find it is useless to attempt to comment on a blog that is, frankly, written, verging on insanity.

          All said, I have compassion for Jon Katz. Healing thoughts. Namaste. <3

          Most Sincerely written, Mary.

  5. I won’t comment further after seeing on your Facebook page that you are in the horse carriage promotion business.

    • Eva Hughes says:

      No, not in the “promotion” business, I am in the business ITSELF. Have been for 32 years, since I was 19 years old. It’s not what I do, it is who I am.

      Have you been to our stables, met with our people and horses? I don’t think you have.

      Perhaps you should consider being “soft in water” regarding us; come and experience and learn and THEN maybe – just maybe – form an opinion that actually holds some weight.

      • Eva, what is the procedure for people who want to visit your stables? Do you welcome people in at all times of the day, as regular stables do? Or does one have to make an appointment and get a guided tour?

        • Eva Hughes says:

          Vickery, apparently you did not listen to the NPR piece, as the reporter walked right in off the street and got a guided tour.

          And I will stop you in your tracks again at your loaded second sentence: which “regular stables” are you talking about? There are hundreds of thousands of stables across the country, and I daresay many of them are working stables where you certainly not just walk in and expect to have someone just standing around ready to take you on a tour. Moreover, while the carriage stables are open 24/7, very few other stables are; show up to take a tour at 7pm at a lot of barns, and you’ll find everything closed down for the night.

          If your reason for setting up the question that way is to insinuate that we somehow pretty up the stables in advance of company, that has been disproved time and again with media folks and horsefolk showing up unannounced to see for themselves, as this NPR reporter did.

          Stall sizes, ventilation, stable amenities: these things cannot be whipped up a few hours before a visit; they either are, or they aren’t part of the stable landscape. Happy, healthy, fit, clean, thriving, friendly horses cannot be whipped up a few hours in advance of a visit, either. I guess stalls could be cleaned extra and bedding could be added, but since we have 24/7 stablemen, that happens round the clock anyway. And really, would some extra bedding make that much of a difference to a bad or poorly run barn?

          We are more than happy to have folks come and see our facilities. Since Clinton Park Stables is such a large operation (more than half of all the carriage horses are housed there), there is usually someone there that can accommodate a tour for a walk-in. Not always, but usually. The stablemen have a job to do, and are not there to escort curious strangers around. So we appreciate a call ahead – usually all we need is a couple of hours in order to get someone there. We are an extremely accommodating group.

          Westside Livery at 38th St is a much smaller operation, and you are not likely to find people there other than the stablemen 24/7. IOW, we ask that people call ahead for Same thing for the stable on 37th St. Chateau Stables on W48th St is also small, and are unaffiliated with the carriage association, so I cannot speak for them. However, if you walk by on Saturday afternoons, you will see that they convert their entire ground floor each week into a free therapeutic riding center for disabled children.

          If by your post you are saying that you would like to come to see our stables, you could have simply asked.

          To arrange a tour of Clinton Park and W38th St, email Christina at nyccarriages@gmail.com, and tell her Eva sent you.

  6. mynamefluffy says:

    This is the happy meat situation with a different face. Certainly one issue is the treatment of the animals. And it should not be gratuitously abusive. Most people would agree on that. But then there is the issue of whether this activity should take place at all. Because even in the production of “happy meat” there are abuses, there is suffering, and ultimately death. The normal practice of producing animal based food has to involve suffering – no way around it. Just like the normal practice of forcing horses, in all kinds of weather, to drag carts of people around, will involve suffering, no matter how much the carriage owners believe they love their horses. Let’s remember that many a farmer “loves” his pigs, too.

    And sadly, I guess NPR, like the NYT, will bow to corporate interests, no matter how progressive they believe they are. ~Linda

    • Shannon says:

      Let me tell you from personal experience considering I am owned by a 1700lb draft horse, if he does not want to do something there is no way for me to “force” him to do it. The horses do not “drag” carts, these carriages are on rubber lined wheels that are equipped with roller bearings and can be moved with ease by an adult as seen in this video. http://youtu.be/uQHesvabpl4

      You say that “dragging” these “carts” will involve some sort of suffering…..do you have proof to base your assumptions on? If these horses were indeed suffering and didn’t want to engage on their job then either they simply would not do it (I bring my horse up again, if he doesn’t want to move there is nothing I can do to change his mind) or the horses would be all wide eyed, skittish and visibly aggravated….none of which I have seen displayed in the NYC carriage horses.

      To make a judgement or to take a stance one has to have at least the basic knowledge of equine behavior to know the difference between a content horse and a horse who is irritated and does not want to work.

      • mynamefluffy says:

        Just because an animal is compliant does not mean he/she is enjoying what they are doing. And we’ve all seen the photos of starved, beaten, and collapsed horses who were forced to work in horrendous weather.

        I’m sorry if this is your livelihood and I wish you well. But the fact that you might be one of the people who treats their horses well does not mean that wholesale exploitation of these animals for profit and entertainment is ok.

        I’m sure there are some farmers who treat their animals well, too. That does not make what they are doing ok either. ~Linda

        • Shannon says:

          Linda,
          Yes we have seen the photos of those horses, but they were not the NYC carriage horses who were starved and beaten.

          I am not, nor ever have been, a commercial carriage driver and have nothing to gain by supporting working horses.

          You use the word exploitation, which is an opinion. These horses have jobs and by generating income for their owners it enables the owner to be able to provide for the animal. The horse has a place to live, out of the elements, hay and grain, vet, farrier, etc.

          The horse benefits from the job they do.

          When I walk towards my horse with the harness clanging his ears prick forward and he stares at me, when I raise his collar he jams his head in with such force that I have to make sure to brace myself before hand. He stands patiently while I harness him, sometimes hanging his head and closing his eyes, I scratch behind his right ear to get his attention.

          If I could generate a source of income from my partnership with my horse to offset some of his care I definitely would. Keeping a horse is extremely expensive and if he is getting exercise and stays healthy mentally and physically then I see no harm in it.

          If you have never been in a close partnership with a working horse then I suppose you just wouldn’t understand.

          • mynamefluffy says:

            I have do doubt, Shannon, that many horses such as yours have good and happy lives. The problem is that when a large scale industry, any industry, depends on these animals for income, there is the possibility (and likelihood depending on the industry) of widespread abuse and neglect. We need look no further than the horse and dog racing industries to see that. Then there are circuses, marine parks such as seaworld, and on and on.

            You as an individual might be wonderful and loving towards your horses, but for many people who profit off the labors of their animals, they are nothing but meal tickets or commodities. And as such, they are subject to the whims of those who control their lives. I personally do not think it is worth the risk to them so that tourists can have a nice carriage ride in the park. The potential risk to the horses (or circus elephants, etc) is too high.

            ~Linda

          • Shannon says:

            Linda,
            I agree with what you are saying but the NYC carriage horses have a stellar safety and compliance record (compliance with the obvious care, set regulations, etc.)
            There has been one driver in 30 years that was charged with abuse, for working a horse when it had thrush.
            No other horse discipline can touch the record the NYC carriage horses hold.
            The carriage horses may not work and live in someone’s ideal situation but think about the animal for a moment….they have stalls they can lie down in, hay, grain, on demand fresh water, personal 24/7 servants (stable hands), constant human and horse interaction, daily exercise, etc. most horses that are kept either in a barn or in someone’s backyard get fed, watered and occasionally groomed, then put back in their stall or paddock. Once or twice a week they may get taken out and exercised.
            As stated before, these horses work, a portion of the money made goes directly back to the animal to make sure he/she is taken care of.
            I am not here to try and change your mind, I just try to give non-horse people and people that have never been to NYC to see the horses and visit the stables a new perspective, rather than the lies and land grab from the opposing side.
            Any questions just ask away and I will do my best to answer.

          • mynamefluffy says:

            Shannon,

            I appreciate your perspective, and I believe you that NYC horses probably have better lives than most. And I don’t have an issue with folks trying to raise money to take care of animals that need a lot of care. What concerns me is that when we, as a society, allow animals to be “employed,” whether as carriage horses, circus acts, or in any other capacity, there is a large potential for abuse by the employer (in this case, the human owners). For every good horse guardian there will be numerous bad ones, and large numbers of animals will suffer. I think we as a society need to move away from animals being used by people at all. It could be looked at as how the bad students in the class get everyone punished. In this case, the “bad students” are torturing and killing animals. Not worth it in my view. ~Linda

          • Shannon says:

            Linda,
            These horses are safe because they are “employed” by people. 1 driver has been cited in NYC in the last 30 years (he worked a horse with thrush). There is definitely a large potential for abuse in animal “employment” or even people just owning animals, but with the strict regulations enforced upon the NYC carriage horses they are safe.
            What about police horses? Guide dogs? Bomb, police, drug sniffing dogs, etc? Police horses and the police dogs are put in harms way every time they get a call. Not trying to move goal posts but the radicals do not want a human/animal relationship, no matter what it is, and this is their reason for cooking up their lies and misinformation.

  7. Barbara Beierl says:

    Thanks, James, for caring deeply about nonhuman animals in general and carriage horses in particular. Di Blasio appears to be a humane individual who has spent his life acting politically as a “liberal.” His moral colors have not changed, it seems. However, I’m concerned about the possible slaughter of these carriage horses. Asking around, I think I’ve established that they will be adopted, not slaughtered. (I’m originally from NYC.) Let’s hope so. I was relieved when Bloomberg retired from the job. He and the head of the New York city council both were opposed to retiring the horses because, they said, they served economic benefits to the city in the way of tourism. It is amazing–but not surpising, unfortunately–how human animals are so deficient in empathy and compassion that they will sacrifice anybody and anything, except themselves, for selfish motives. Barbara Beierl

  8. Shannon says:

    Barbara, these horses are private property and no one can tell their owners what to do with them. Do you realize that the proposed bill would have these “imaginary” rescues sign the papers that the horse shall never be sold or traded and will live out the rest of its life at said “rescue”. Rescues take in horses, rehab if necessary and adopt them out to make room for more horses in need…..there is simply no room for permanent residents who are healthy and able to work. Look online and see people trying to give away there horses, the horses on the Camelot website that are in threat of being bought by kill buyers, the photos of actual abused and neglected horses with ribs showing, untreated injuries, etc. these are the horses that need saving and if these mystical rescues that you believe in have open spaces for these carriage horses then why are they not filling those spaces with the animals that truly need them.
    I know for a fact (volunteering my time at an equine rescue and personally knowing of a few others) that they have to turn down actual horses in need because there just isn’t enough room, money and resources.
    Barbara, there are no rescues, you and the others believing this have been lied to. The only reason the supporters of the ban are saying that is to make their plight seem concrete. Call any rescue of your liking and ask if they can take in one or two horses and you will get turned away, not because they do not want to help but because the room just isn’t there because there are soooo many horses that actually need saving, the NYC carriage horses do not.

  9. Caroline RH says:

    There are actually not only rescue organizations, but barns who need strong horses like these for programs that help autistic children, CP kids, etc. AND many individual owners like these larger horses because they have wonderful temperments and look great as dressage horses. There will be plenty of homes for these horses.

    • Shannon says:

      Caroline, the proposed bill would have the “rescues” singing that the horses will never work another day in their lives and that they will be companion animals only…..so basically a lawn ornament.

      At the Camelot auction there are horses, big and small, that are broke to ride and some to drive, that need saving. Perfectly good horses that ended up there for numerous reasons.

      • Kathryn says:

        My apologies, Shannon, it had slipped my mind that the proposed legislation had a no ride/no drive ever clause in it. Thanks for bringing it up.

      • The Bill does not say that horses cannot be ridden or driven again, only that they may not be “presented for paid service as a carriage horse.” Personally, I don’t see why they could not be used as non-urban livery horses, but that’s something for the carriage trade to negotiate. The Bill does not even compel horse owners to give away any horse, that’s a falsehood.

        • Kathryn says:

          Nothing is said about paid service, Ms. Clemenceau, the wording is “work”. You are correct, though, that the bill doesn’t compel them to be given away, but they can not be sold for anything other than a companion animal (also specified in the bill), which severely limits the number of potential buyers.
          http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=652689&GUID=1F3959F3-5F33-48E8-89B3-2E925666348D&Options=ID&FullText=1

          • “1. THE OWNER SHALL SELL OR DONATE THE HORSE TO A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL
            WHO SIGNS AN ASSURANCE THAT THE HORSE WILL NOT BE SOLD AND SHALL BE KEPT
            SOLELY AS A COMPANION ANIMAL AND NOT EMPLOYED IN ANOTHER HORSE-DRAWN
            CARRIAGE BUSINESS OR AS A WORK HORSE AND WILL BE CARED FOR HUMANELY FOR
            THE REMAINDER OF THE HORSE’S NATURAL LIFE; ”

            Employed = paid. That is my interpretation of employment.

          • Kathryn says:

            Dearest Ms. Clemenceau,
            As you so ably illustrate, the wording is SHALL BE KEPT
            SOLELY AS A COMPANION ANIMAL *AND* (emphasis mine) NOT EMPLOYED IN ANOTHER HORSE-DRAWN
            CARRIAGE BUSINESS OR AS A WORK HORSE AND WILL BE CARED FOR HUMANELY FOR
            THE REMAINDER OF THE HORSE’S NATURAL LIFE.
            The accepted legal definition of companion animal is an animal that serves as a domestic pet.
            http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/C/CompanionAnimal.aspx
            Not only does this bill therefore specify that the new owner must keep the horse as a pet, and a domestic one at that, but it stipulates that the new owner must keep the horse for the rest of its life. Therefore, a rescue is not free to place the horse elsewhere, but must keep it until the horse dies at an average of 25 to 30 years of age.
            Again, these stipulations severely limit the number of possible new homes, regardless of how many people enjoy talking about their intention to have a New York City carriage horse at a bargain price.

          • Dearest Kathryn,

            One of several problems with these stipulations is that they are not binding on 2nd and 3rd parties, nor are they enforceable outside of NY. However, most horse owners do understand that a “companion” animal is one that is not livestock, and we regularly refer to our animals as companions, even though we ride and drive them. I do agree that there is language in the bill that is nebulous and needs further clarification.

          • Shannon says:

            Heather, The proposed bill states the “HORSE WILL NOT BE SOLD AND SHALL BE KEPT SOLELY AS A COMPANION ANIMAL AND NOT EMPLOYED IN ANOTHER HORSE-DRAWN
            CARRIAGE BUSINESS OR AS A WORK HORSE AND WILL BE CARED FOR HUMANELY FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE HORSE’S NATURAL LIFE; ”

            Will not be employed in another horse drawn carriage business OR as a work horse.
            Riding is work, existing as a companion animal or lawn ornament is not.

          • Kathryn says:

            Ms. Clemenceau, Ms. Eckhoff and others are perfectly free to fabricate noble new careers and homes for the NYC carriage horses. The reality is that the proponents of the bill have made it quite clear that they believe all the horses have worked enough for their entire lives. They show no interest in making allowances for any other situation than strictest sanctuary where the horses can run in the mythical green fields, eating rainbows and farting butterflies.

            One of the more vocal animal rights groups has stated every intention of following up through FOIL on where the horses go to make sure that their credo of “Animals are here for their own purposes, not ours,” is being met.
            Whether the pasture ornament stipulations are enforceable outside New York or not, this group has threatened to “relentlessly expose” anyone who violates their interpretation of the now proposed law. “We’ll be watching,” they proclaim, a prospect even the most loving of potential new horse owners or sanctuaries would be justified in being uneasy taking on. Just one more problem with the idea that it will be easy to find new homes for these horses who may be required, against principles of decency and constitutionality, to leave NYC.

            I see the effort here to change the focus to giraffes, an example of typical goal post moving strategy of those who would see an end to the legal and humane presence of carriage horses in New York City. With that, I’ll excuse myself to tend to the op/ed I’ve been asked to write on the subject of the proposed carriage horse ban.

          • Shannon, if you read my response you’ll clue into the problems with the wording of the Bill. As has been pointed out, there is a legal definition for companion animal, which most horse people adhere to. My horse is a companion animal. She is not livestock. Yet she works. The intent is to preclude horses from being sold back into the industry.

          • If you have a problem with the mention of a giraffe, I suggest to address it with the person who made the initial comment. It was not I.

          • Shannon says:

            Heather, I understand what you are saying but riding is considered work so these horses would only be taking up space, for the rest of their lives, that could be used for horses that are actually in need. These horses will never be allowed to be ridden or driven, whether paid or not. Just seems to me that if these horses are cared for the way the regulations, and common sense states, then why take them from it and displace others that are in need? Something does not seem right.

          • Any horse that finds itself in a rescue, as opposed to slaughter, is a horse in need. It looks like I’ll have to do something that I really hate and that is repeat myself, but the term “work” needs to be clarified between the Teamsters union and the writers of the Bill. Perhaps a better use of their time would be to employ a capable lawyer to investigate this, rather than align themselves with the pro-slaughter, pro-soring, pro-puppymill Cavalry Group? The Cavalry Group would be quite happy to guided these horses and indeed any horses into an express lane to the slaughter plants.

          • Shannon says:

            Heather,
            The creators of the proposed bill are the activists, the very same people that think no animal should be owned by any person and that all animals should be free and not have fences containing them. They consider having even a halter on a horse a form of bondage and slavery.

          • How interesting that the industry feels that the entire administration is comprised of activists. What are the chances?

          • Shannon says:

            Heather,
            I am not “the industry” and have never been in said industry. I am a horse owner, who rides and drives, just like you, only I do not believe the fabricated lies.

          • Maybe it’s time for the industry to concede that animal advocates are becoming the norm? That’s why there are so many out there. Just a thought.

    • Kathryn says:

      Caroline, that’s a lovely picture, and you are absolutely correct that therapy programs and dressage riders – and many other people – can often use draft or half draft horses. They would be happy to get such a valuable animal as the NYC horses for the price most rescues sell one for. That would be a great deal for the therapy practices and dressage riders, but a lousy deal for the carriage horse owners and the horses as well – they often don’t do well with a huge change in routine. The NYC horses in particular as a group are fit, sound, calm, unflappable horses that genuinely like people. But every healthy, well trained, well cared for and self supporting NYC horse that gets run out of NYC and put in a therapy practice or the dressage ring would displace another horse that actually needs a new home.

      Then consider that if in fact these 220 horses can easily be absorbed into the equine community as Ms. Eckhoff and others purport there are 220 spots currently standing empty waiting for a ban that should never happen.

      Because the horses MIGHT go on to be used for a purpose that you feel is more noble than giving people joy in Central Park is no justification for this politically motivated roust.

      • And who did you speak to at GFAS, Kathryn, when you called to substantiate the existence of a list of sanctuaries offering to rescue any horses in need? Given your concerns about legitimacy, you did speak to someone about this, didn’t you?

  10. Shannon says:

    Caroline, if you have a moment check this link out. So sad that times are so tough
    http://www.kansas.com/2014/02/13/3286673/out-of-financial-options-flint.html

  11. vbaculum says:

    This is why I’ve never given money to NPR: It’s clear that they don’t understand ethics. I used to listen to NPR a lot but have switched to podcasts exclusively. To say that that switch was rewarding would be an understatement. I think all people should ask themselves if mainstream media outlets are acceptable choices for their information needs.

  12. Caroline RH says:

    Just to give a concrete example, two of our draft-cross “rescue” horses were taken by the U.S. Park Police for use in our Park Service. The term “rescue” doesn’t just mean that horses are abused or neglected, it also applies to horses who’s owners can no longer afford to keep them, or who move overseas, etc. Lots of different combinations that can result in great new homes, for whatever reasons.
    — Caroline

    • Shannon says:

      I agree Caroline, but if the activists have their way, the NYC carriage horses will never again be able to ride or drive…….ever……they will become lawn ornaments.

  13. Aquila says:

    Trivial point, but there’s no John Stewart Show. It’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

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