Friday, April 29, 2011

Horses spook, royal wedding edition

It seems that good sense goes out the window at weddings. From royalty to commoners, and all the bridezillas in between, people can't resist putting horses into loud and chaotic situations that can easily cause a horse to spook. That's what happened after the wedding of England's Prince William and Kate Middleton. A runaway horse tossed his rider a few yards away from the royal carriage as Prince William and Duchess Kate were leaving Westminster Abbey.

Reports have cited a couple of possible reasons for the horse to panic: some said crowds were screaming, others blamed a trumpeter. Either way, horses spook easily and it is perfectly predictable to expect them to do so. As prey animals, they will panic and flee from frightening situations--and it doesn't take much. In New York City, Smoothie and Spotty both died after spooking and bolting. And when a horse bolts, it is a very dangerous situation. Last year was a particularly gruesome year from carriage horse spooking accidents worldwide, and weddings are another prime setting for horse spooking accidents.

Planning a wedding, or know someone who is? Be reasonable and compassionate, and say no to putting horses into the middle of those spooky situations. It isn't too difficult to imagine what could happen if a panicked horse were to a trample a child. It happened last year in Iowa.
Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images

And...they're off!

The slave drivers are gearing up for another steamy summer. This is Tenth Avenue, around 44th Street. The general vicinity of one of the most gruesome carriage horse spooking accidents in recent memory, the accident that killed a young horse named Spotty in 2006. I've got plenty of spies in Hell's Kitchen and the one who snapped this photo tells me that this horse was making very good time making his way up the avenue. Hope the driver is watching out for those post-winter epic potholes.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Shamrock Stables, not long for W. 45th Street

Demolition is under way at the building that was Shamrock Stables. It was kept running for years with a $55,000 monthly subsidy from the city. This, at a time of painful cuts to budgets, agencies, and programs.

The city supports the industry and overlooks its numerous violations of law regarding the care of the horses, fares, and other aspects of the cash-only industry.

After several threats of closure, the stable shut down on June 7, 2010. Most of the horses were crammed into other city stables, which already had substandard stall sizes. Some other Shamrock horses almost certainly didn't fare as well. The same day of the closing, a trailer from Shamrock was seen in New Holland, Pa., at the auction, where "kill buyers" buy horses for meat.