Saturday, March 7, 2009

The daily grind

If you think the carriage horse in this photo is making pretty good time, you're right! It is clear that they're moving at a brisk clip. The driver has left the park, above the busy roundabout at Columbus Circle. Here they are seen crossing Broadway, and the driver is taking his horse back to the stable (a dreadful commute down to Hell's Kitchen.)

Another driver was seen nearby on Thursday standing up in the carriage for several blocks--tightly clenching the reins--while his horse sped south (this after the driver had nudged the horse out into the middle of a busy intersection to begin the evening rush-hour journey). Standing up may give the driver some sense, anyway, of control. But if a horse should spook in heavy traffic, all bets are off. Horses, carriage drivers, motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians are in harm's way.
Sometimes the horses are moving so fast that I can't get a photo. That happened last week at 43rd and Eighth Avenue, near Times Square. That horse was flying west on a street with potholes aplenty. The working on pavement day in, day out takes its toll on the horses, who are at risk for laminitis. It's understandably hard on arthritic joints and fragile hooves, equine experts agree.
Enforcement of the industry is sadly lacking, and the Departments of Health and Consumer Affairs are implicated in the sorry state of affairs. By law, carriage horses shall NOT be driven at a pace "faster than a trot." That never happens, right? WRONG!
Support a ban on horse-drawn carriages in NYC.

Photo: March 5, 2009

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