Wednesday, January 9, 2013

State of the Campaign

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."~attributed to Mahatma Gandhi

Activists in support of a ban on horse-drawn carriage operations in New York City are well acquainted with the first three stages of a nonviolent activism campaign. We've been taunted and ridiculed about jobs, appearance and apparel, personal lives, motives--an irrelevant diversion tactic, of course. 

Public support of an outright ban has been consistent in media polls and surveys conducted since 2006; generally at least 75% of respondents favor a ban. Our petition on is approaching 126,000 signatures in support of the state ban bill that would put an end to this institutionalized cruelty. Please sign the petition, even if you live outside of New York City. Letters on your behalf to Albany are generated automatically when you sign. If you haven't signed yet, now would be a great time, with the Legislature back in session. Keep signing and sharing!

The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages believes that the state ban bill is the most expedient way to end this inherently inhumane and dangerous industry. A ban must not be dependent on an untried business alternative. Let's get the carriages banned first--and put the horses' well-being first. In contrast to current city law--which does nothing to protect the horses from going to slaughter--the state ban bill specifically addresses what will happen to the horses: humane and happy endings. 

If you are new to this campaign, consider the state ban bill your first "Action Alert"! Please sign and share. And if you live in New York City, join us for an educational outreach event on Sunday, January 13, at the hack line (59th Street near Fifth Avenue).  Remember: we've been ignored, laughed at, and scorned--and we're just getting warmed up!

Related links
No Walk in the Park, the official FB page of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages
What Will Happen to the Carriage Horses If There Is a Ban
Horses Without Carriages International, our sister organization

Monday, February 20, 2012

From the "Live Free and Die Department"

And there you have it! Thank you, Eric Nix, for sharing this pithy mission statement on a carriage industry website, for the world to see. The industry must be very proud of you.

We have our work cut out for us, folks!

Welcome to a blog dedicated to banning the inherently inhumane and dangerous carriage industry in New York City.

I represent the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages--NYC. Our mission? A ban on this industry in New York City and sanctuary retirement of these horses, a stipulation that is addressed in detail in a state bill (S5013). In fact, all previous legislation has included this language, which would close the loophole in current law that allows horses to be dumped at auction--places such as New Holland, Pa.,--often a last stop before the one-way trip to the slaughterhouse.

Will you join us? Meet up with us in person in New York City, or join us online at, where you can sign up for a free weekly email newsletter that is packed with information about ways you can help this cause.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A very dangerous mix

Central Park looked a little like a Six Flags amusement park on Sunday. Watch these accidents waiting to happen: the careless children riding bikes in front of horses, the drivers turned around backward, the sirens and speeding cars, the pedicabs zig-zagging on East Drive at 72nd Street. The person who sent me this asked me to delete a few expletives.

Also notice the white horse who stumbles (cue in to 12 seconds).

Take action to help the horses. Visit the website of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages (if you're on the fence about a ban, this website ( explains why an outright ban is needed). Also sign these petitions: Intro. 670, which would close the current loophole that allows NYC carriage horses to end up at kill auctions, which are a one-way trip to the slaughterhouse; and a New York state bill that would ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City.

How can New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn support this dangerous industry? There is going to be a gruesome accident. The question is not if, but when.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


July 27, 2011 at the hack line near the Plaza Hotel in New York City. If tourists knew the dangers of this scenario to horses and people, taking a ride would not be an option.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Horses + traffic = danger ahead

Six blocks from the place where the carriage horse Spotty died in a horrific spooking accident in 2006, the white horse (in front of the building) is seen yesterday sandwiched in between parked cars and moving taxicabs.

A recipe for trouble, considering how easily horses spook and the consequences when a 1,500-pound animal runs wild.

This is business as usual for the carriage horses who live in the cramped and substandard stables at West Side Livery and Central Park Carriages. Both of these are on the far west side of Manhattan, below the Lincoln Tunnel. At 42nd Street, the scene is chaos--two bus lanes feeding eastward into the Port Authority, cars coming up Tenth Avenue, either via the tunnel or from lower Manhattan. This video from "HorsesinNYC" tells the story and shows the traffic and dangerous conditions that are a fact of life for the horses.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bucolic Central Park? Not exactly

Central Park is one of the most beautiful places in New York City. Its pastoral settings pay tribute to Frederick Law Olmsted, who together with Calvert Vaux, designed the park in a simpler era. He had a great deal of foresight yet surely could not imagine how crowded parts of the park would become. Ironically, the most congested part of the park is section in which horse-drawn carriages are largely confined--the so-called "lower loop." See the first photo? These guys are about to make a left turn--in front of the horse.

This 1.7-mile oval stretches from the park's southern boundary at 59th Street to the east-west transverse at 72nd Street. And make no mistake--there are dangers to pedestrians, bikers, skateboarders, and horses in this part of the park.

The junction immediately southeast of 72nd street is easily the most hazardous part of the park in terms of collisions, which often are associated with injuries to people. Runners and bicyclists are aware, if not always mindful, of the risks, and accidents occur here--on this hill--with some regularity.

Car, pedicab, and carriage traffic moves around this loop in a counterclockwise direction, and car and taxicab traffic feeds into the park at 72nd Street from Fifth Avenue.

Skateboarders swarm the area, loving its hills.

Runners, walkers, skateboarders, and bicyclists have the option of going left on 72nd Street toward the west side, or continuing north on East Drive up the hill toward the Metropolitan Museum or Great Lawn. All the while, cars and carriages are bearing down and making a left turn as people either cross 72nd St. to go north, or bear left.

Decisions are made quickly, and often a horse-drawn carriage will be cut off abruptly. That is unwise.

Nearly 5,100 runners took part in a New York Road Runners Race on May 8, and they poured out of the park at E. 72nd Street in droves, as they typically do on any given weekend. Tourists were out on rented bicycles, maps in hand. Fast racing-type bicyclists are always out.

I observed this junction for about 10 minutes and saw a runner very nearly get run over by a pedicab (which, like carriage, can't exactly stop on a dime!). In this dangerous mix, the carriages are working, and the drivers often have their back turned so that the can chat with the passengers (as I have documented on this blog). Among all the many near-misses, a serious accident is waiting to happen. The many recent horse spooking incidents, including a runaway horse who tossed his rider during the royal wedding procession, underscore the danger of putting horses into loud and chaotic situations.

Get the facts about carriage rides, carriage accidents, and what you can do to help the horses.
Did you know? There's a global coalition called Horses Without Carriages International

Horses Without Carriages International Day is June 4, 2011

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