5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Carriage Horse Industry

Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on October 28, 2014

Riding in a horse-drawn carriage may be the stuff of fairy tales. But what is it like for the horses who work day in and day out? Do horses belong on tightly-packed, polluted city streets? The horse-drawn carriage industry in New York City causes great suffering for horses and routinely puts people’s safety in danger. Here are five truths the industry doesn’t want you to know.

1. Under the law, drivers can work their horses nine hours a day, seven days a week. Some drivers have been observed unlawfully forcing the horses to work a “double-shift.”

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2. Horses are forced to work in sleet or shine—even when the weather is unbearably hot or freezing cold, breathing in exhaust, and pounding the hard pavement day in and day out. A study from Cornell suggests that asphalt can be up to 50 degrees hotter than outdoor temperatures.

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3. Carriage horses live in stalls half the size recommended for animals their size, when they aren’t pounding the pavement. They never have the chance to experience natural horse life, like running and playing in grass—instead they live in tiny stalls in midtown Manhattan.

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4. Since 2006, at least nine carriage horses have died in New York City, some from horrific accidents. Each was younger than 15 years—although horses who are properly cared for ordinarily live between 25 and 30 years.

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5. Horses are terrified of traffic and sudden noises. Many carriage accidents result from horses spooking, like Smoothie who bolted with the carriage still shackled behind her when a man walked past beating a drum; the carriage got caught between two poles and, struggling to move forward, a terrified Smoothie collapsed and died of shock.

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So who is looking out for horses? The Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the New York Police Department to obtain public records of carriage-related accidents and injuries. This was bolstered in April 2014 by the the New York Supreme Court agreement with ALDF that the public has a right to these records. With no clear records or regulation, this industry’s bottom line is not the well-being of horses. A ban on horse-drawn carriages is the only meaningful way to protect the horses.

Speak up for horses by taking the pledge to boycott horse-drawn carriages!

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42 thoughts on “5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Carriage Horse Industry

  1. Belinda Needle Matayosian says:

    STOP THIS CRUELTY

  2. pam ratcliff says:

    PLEASE STOP THE INHUMANE TREATMENT OF THESE BEAUTIFUL EMOTIONAL ANIMALS!!!

  3. Patricia Fitzgerald says:

    Stop carriage horse industry!

  4. Margaret Nash says:

    When we go to New York we will boycott carriage rides. It is not romantic,it’s cruel. Can’t imagine how scary it is for these beautiful animals. Tourist don’t want or need it.

  5. tom lenik says:

    please ban horse drawn carriages. there is no need for them anymore. all they do is tie up traffic.

    1. sheryl polen says:

      yes they need to BAND THIS !!!! I have always worried about how they do this especially in the hot summer months and winter this is so uncalled for STOP TREATING ANIMALS THIS WAY I AM SO SICK OF THIS

  6. Diane Patriaco says:

    They’ve suffered enough!! Take them off the streets!!!

  7. bonnie dunlop says:

    I am embarassed and appalled as a New Yorker that my state allows for this type of abuse

  8. Barbara steinberg says:

    stop carriages
    If not shorter shifts
    Larger stalls
    More rest
    More pastures

  9. Mary Beaver says:

    Please put a stop to this animal cruelty,these beautiful animals are meant to run in fields and be free.They also have horse drawn carriages in South Lake Tahoe in California and i will not ride in them, i feel so bad for the horses.They need a place that is large enough to lay down.This animal abuse MUST stop now!!!

  10. Anita McLaren says:

    Stop abusing these beautiful horses.

  11. Diane Melvin says:

    this is so cruel and out of date. it has to stop. there are so many automobiles on the road and the animals are terrified with the speed of the traffic. it is not romantic or safe for the animals to be carrying passengers through the city.

  12. Florence Stasch says:

    This issue is certainly clear to me and I am no genius. The horses need to be taken off the streets of NYC. In 3 months people will be continuing their lives as usual, forgetting that there were once horses dragging carriages around NYC. Is anybody still talking about the out-of-work hoop skirt makers?

  13. Rob Westerfield says:

    You say that 9 NYC carriage horses have died since 2006. Can you prove this?

  14. Elizabeth Forel says:

    Come on guys – it is appropriate to give attribution to other organizations – Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages – when you take stuff from their web sites. I am the one who constantly says that the stalls are less than half the size they should be. That is, of corse, unless lawyers in California are experts on the NYC carriage horse issue.

  15. Jan Gallanis says:

    Horses need larger stalls. They actually need a horse union to give them regular hours, down time for weather extremes.

  16. Caren Michaels-Vitagliano says:

    I had no idea!

  17. Judy Goodwin says:

    These poor horses should be let to pasture. Instead, someone has to make a buck off an animal when it isn’t necessary. NY streets are meant for traffic, not animals. Stop hurting the horses.

  18. carol Ellis says:

    Horse drawn carriages are cruelty for horses and need to be stopped.They are out of date. Heavy traffic spooks the horses, hot weather is exhausting and often long hours, all stressfu. There living conditions are ugly
    Horses need to run free in grass. Shame on you

  19. Linda W. Seely says:

    horse and buggy days are gone. we have all kinds of transportations to get around…we do not need to torture these poor horses s to the extend they fall over from exhaustion. New York City…..all of you city officials need to be the horses for a day to see what it feels like to takes the lazy bums around town all day long and then you would know what the horses go through. stop this immediately.. be known for a humane city for the animals… you are known as a bunch of money thirsty goverment officials at the the expense of abusing horses. you are a disgrace to New York City
    .

  20. Amy says:

    Please, Please, PLEASE STOP THE NEW YORK CITY HORSE DRAWN CARRIAGES!!!! I was raised with horses and still own horses. They are grazers, to be in a pasture when the weather permits or in a barn with a stall large enough for them to lay down. Yes, they are to be rode. They are not be pulling carriages in a bustling city and NOT ON PAVEMENT!! This is animal cruelty and needs to stop immediately!!

  21. Maria Bonnici says:

    Those days are over for the carriage ,the streets are to busy for them, now we have cars!

  22. Nick Bacon says:

    In order:
    1.The horses working hours and conditions are regulated by 5 city agencies. I have personally seen the city veterinary surgeon on the hackline, checking the horses and their paperwork.
    2.Again, very carefully regulated. They can only work when the temperatures are between 89F and 19F. Since ASPCA were fired by the city from enforcing this, NYPD have responsibility. The teamsters themselves check, and all summer have returned voluntarily without a single “go home” order being issued.
    3.The horses’ stalls – again, subject to spot checks – are all at least 8′ x 12″. Ample room to turn round and lie down. The horses each have 5 weeks vacation a year (more than I get!) when they are turned out to pasture.
    4.There have been three traffic incidents involving horses in 30 years. The last fatality – Charlie – died of natural causes. ASPCA changed the necroscopy report. When their veterinary surgeon heard that they had changed her report, she “blew the whistle” and ASPCA fired her. She is now the city DOH vet, responsible for horses.
    5.The carriage horses, like other working horses in the city (NYPD, Parks Dept, riding horses) are fully acclimatised to traffic. I have ridden horses in city, town and country and they can be gently trained to cope with almost anything.I help – on a pro bono basis – the people who are bringing riding horses back to Central Park, and have ridden horses through NYC traffic with no problems.

    The campaign to destroy the horse carriage industry is orchestrated by NYCLASS, funded by the property developer (Steve Nislick) who wants to get his greedy hands on the stable blocks. He spent over $2milion to get the mayor elected, and now it’s pay back time.

    The carriage horses are extremely well cared for and highly regulated. They are amongst the most pampered horses that I have seen on over 30 years of being involved with horses.

    Full Disclosure: I have no financial or other business interest in the horse carriage industry.I have no financial or other business interest in the company bringing riding horses back to Central Park – I help them as an unpaid volunteer.

  23. Linda Bergantino says:

    I have never taken an ride in a horse-drawn carriage and I never will. To think this form of “transportation” has not been done away with by now is unimaginable. This is the 21st Century. It is time to put an end to the carriage horse industry.

    1. hrsladygeehaw says:

      End the Animal rights propaganda machine! Support animal enterprise! Animal welfare not animal rights!

  24. Lynette says:

    STOP HORSE DRAWN CARRIAGES
    Think about the horses & not yourselves!!!!!

  25. cheryl says:

    Please help these babies. They are so gentle and sweet. They work hard for you and lets stop the torture. They should only work for 4 hours 5 days a week. Please lets stop and save the horses from this torture and pain.

  26. Kim S says:

    End this now….our responsibility is to be good stewards of all creation – we do not have the right to dominate & abuse ANY animal for our own selfish desires!

  27. Desiree says:

    After working all day breathing pollution, standing & walking on asphalt, they are taken back to a high rise barn,where they take an elevator to their small stalls, they can’t lay down, they don’t get to socialize with other horses, they don’t get to graze on grass or even roll in a paddock, they are herd animals, there is NO fairy tail for them!! Humans need to stop being selfish & support the ban to end their misery, let them be horses, not our slaves!!

  28. Karenna Love says:

    There is no need for horse carriages in the 21st Century with all the masses of people and traffic. They need to be banned!

  29. Craig Sheldon says:

    Based on the fact that there is not a single dissenting comment posted here, may I infer that none were received?

  30. Carol Lagnese says:

    This needs to stop and it needs to stop quick. It is too dangerous for these beautiful horses to be on crowded city streets with cars, buses and taxis. These poor horses aren’t here for our entertainment. There’s nothing beautiful about it!!

  31. Kathleen Morse says:

    Absolutely horrible!! You people should be ashamed of yourselves! These animals deserve a better life than this!!!

  32. Agnes VY Canis Majoris says:

    Must, carriage horses first of all die, before is recognized that they are shameless & mercilessly abused, for the ” decadent pleasure” of the tourists? Pain on the backs of the poor horses! Boycott of horse-drawn carriages, & no “animal” deserves it to suffer, due to the human amusements !!!

  33. Diane MAR CH AND says:

    Everyone should boycott tourism in New York until the carriage horses are saved I was planning a trip with my family to New York City but will not go to They end this abuseand I will encourage everyone to ban New York City

  34. Pamela Beck says:

    What kind of human being allows this to be an acceptable way to treat another living being? God gave us animals for our use, that we have dominion over them. But we are to reign over them with COMPASSION! Does this look like compassion to you??

  35. They don’t deserve to suffer like this. I speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

  36. Frances Mehan says:

    horses need to be outside not just working they deserve days off just like people get days off

  37. kelly says:

    I’m sick of hearing of animal cruelty, I’ve seen the carriage horses on blackpool front it’s never right cars have taken over now stop the cruelty

  38. To me it is really unbelievable, why and how hysterically people do obviously hate people who simply love and work together with horses, as mankind did for thousands of years. It’s really amazing, how they even don’t shy away from claiming the most far fetched ridiculous reasons for their hatred and their campaign against the workers and their families in the socalled carriage „industry“. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for them and for the horses in Central Park for the next thousand years.

  39. Donna Loring says:

    I hate that people make their living off of animals. Strap yourself to a carriage 9 hours a day in the heat, sleet, and rain!

  40. Reinhilde Bollaerts says:

    Just sick !!!

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