Tuesday, January 1, 2008

"No Such Thing As an Unspookable Horse"

There is no such thing as an unspookable horse, nor can the average driver control it once it bolts."
--Holly Cheever, DVM

Holly Cheever, DVM, is one of the world's foremost equine authorities and has been the primary adviser to 20 U.S. municipalities, including New York City, that have sought guidance on this subject.
She has documented the obvious insults to the welfare of carriage horses (visible injuries, pollution, heat-related illness, feeding, hygiene, musculoskeletal problems, such as lameness and hoof deterioration) as well as those that are unseen (ie, the cumulative health effects of insult to welfare). Dr. Cheever has clearly delineated the risks of accidents involving carriage horses; a horse that becomes spooked is uncontrollable and usually suffers injury. In New York, which has the highest carriage horse accident rate in the nation, 98% of horses that became spooked were injured.

As Dr. Cheever and other equine experts have noted, these carriage horse issues create a constellation of risks that cannot be managed by specific interventions. Because of the inherent risks of putting horses into traffic, Dr. Cheever and other equine experts advocate full bans on horse-drawn carriages. Dr. Cheever's recommendations are widely published, and in 2006 she sent New York City Mayor Bloomberg a letter detailing her concerns about the health issues and risks faced by carriage horses. She stated unequivocally that horses don't belong in city traffic, "due to the distressing history of injury and deaths (both equine and human) that have occurred across the country due to carriage-car collisions." The only course of action that would eliminate this carnage in New York City is to ban horse-drawn carriages, Dr. Cheever advised the mayor and the City Council.

Read "Being Taken for a Ride--The Case for Horse-Drawn Carriages for Tourism," on the Animal Aid Web site
Read the letter sent by Holly Cheever, DVM, to Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council (Jan. 16, 2006)

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