Saturday, July 12, 2008

Noisy spectacles: what have we learned?

Noise near horses: "human error"
The sights and sounds of Central Park, particularly the southernmost section that is the carriage horses' primary workplace, lend it a carnival-like atmosphere. Indeed, Wollman Rink is transformed into an actual amusement park in the summertime.

A recent parade procession unfolded near the hack line, complete with floats, bells, drummers, and bullhorns herding parade-goers toward Fifth Avenue. It ended well, but conjured up memories of the accident last year that killed Smoothie. Spooked by the sound of drums, the mare bolted, collapsed and died.

Such a response to noise is tragic but predictable among these nervous animals. After Smoothie's death, the carriage industry said it would call for a ban on "overly loud" music in the area. “It’s a deep human error on their part to make that music around these horses," said Smoothie's owner, Cornelius Byrne, speaking from his heart as well as his head. But nothing changes--the noisy spectacles continue in the park and around the hack line.
The park was very crowded and had a circus atmosphere on Thursday evening, a muggy night that saw the horses out in full force. The Parks Department, among other entities that can issue summonses for failure to comply with regulations set forth for the carriage industry, is a virtual non-entity in enforcing these laws, generally speaking. As for the parade, an ASPCA officer who was asked if the horses should be out under these circumstances said there's nothing he could do.
Photo used courtesy of a friend of carriage horses; video provided by Donald Moss.

No comments: