Friday, August 29, 2008


“Horse-Drawn Carriage Ban” is a short well done video by Jennifer Pham and can be seen on You Tube. It features my friend, Elizabeth Forel, who is the president of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, a grass roots organization that is responsible for making this inhumane and archaic industry an issue again after years of non attention.

In the film, Elizabeth describes what free horses do … they have tons of personality unlike the carriage horses she describes as unwitting automatons. Free horses roll in the dirt and play sticks. I know the horses she is referring to since I have also met them … Monty, a former Boston Carriage horse - now rescued ,,, and Sugar, his friend, who passed away recently. They are pictured here enjoying themselves.

But before I describe how this wonderful game is played, I offer a blog entry by a bitter member of the carriage industry who says: "E.Forel,please tell me how horses ''play sticks'',I'd like to add that to my editorial in The American Driving Society,and Driving Digest,2 very well known carriage sriving magazines,i'm sure htey would get a good laugh at that."

Her comments speak volumes about how much the carriage industry does not know about horse behavior. Elizabeth goes on to say how the carriage horses are dispirited animals and when they are rescued the light comes back in their eyes.

RULES FOR STICKS: Take two free and happy horses not in the carriage industry. In this case, we have Monty, (white) ....and Sugar (brown). One of the horses must already know how to play this game. Sugar learned it from Abe, who is now also at the Rainbow Bridge. He taught it to Monty.

HOW IT WORKS: Sugar, generally the instigator, picks a twig up from the ground and goes up to Monty and pokes him with it. If Money is in the mood, he grabs the stick in his mouth and what follows is a tug of war. This is what is pictured above. Really fun to watch them enjoying this game and each other.

This is a picture of Monty and Sugar playing in the snow. They were very good pals and had a ball that day. NYC carriage horses are not given this opportunity.

For those who do not know: NYC Carriage horses work in heavy traffic between the shafts of their carriages for nine hours straight, seven days a week. They do not have any turnout where they can socialize. Instead, they live in multied storied stables where they access their stalls by ascending a steep ramp. It is very sad.

For this person to not get that horses really know how to enjoy themselves is outrageous. And these pictures prove it!

Pictured to the right is a NYC carriage horse...a horse slave. His body is covered with glitter; he is wearing a silly head dress and his hoofs are painted with metallic purple paint. Yes, perhaps the paint is non toxic, but that is not the point. This horse is not free...not even close. After dragging

tourists around all day, he will go back to his stall and stay there until the next day. Now tell me...What kind of life is that!

Sunday, August 17, 2008


The letter below was published recently in Our Town and The West Side Spirit - Manhattan neighborhood papers. This reflects our beliefs precisely. So rather than to reinvent the wheel, we print it gain. We ask that the City Council take some action on this issue. For more information, please access the NYC Comptroller's Audit Report on their web site and read the New York Times article that addressed this issue. This horse stands in his own waste on the Central Park South hack line.

8/14/08 -Horses Need Summer Break - - It has been a very hot and humid summer. Uncomfortable for people - but worse for the carriage horses who cannot get any relief. Kept out in the blazing sun, horses can easily overheat. As sweat evaporates from the horse's skin, it acts as a cooling mechanism, drawing out some of the surface heat. But in times of high humidity, it is less efficient. If the air is humid, sweat will not evaporate. There is no shade on Central Park South or Grand Army Plaza where the carriage horses line up to accept passengers - the unforgiving sun beating down on their heads. They stand there waiting - with their blinders and heavy tack, between the shafts of their carriage.

The 2007 NYC Comptroller's Audit of the agencies that oversee the industry found that there isn't adequate shade on the hack line and horses risked overheating on the hot asphalt where they were forced to stand. One year later and nothing has changed. Existing regulations call for the horses to be returned to their stables when the temperature reaches 90 degrees - humidity is not a consideration. It can be 89 degrees with humidity making it feel like 95 and the horses are permitted to work. But equine experts suggest when the combination of temperature and humidity or THI exceeds 130-140, the horses should be off the street. It is time for the authorities to pay attention to the stress experienced by these horses and at least factor humidity into the existing law. Elizabeth Forel - President Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

"HUMANE BOX STALL" sure it is

This poor horse is not even able to lie down comfortably as she sits in this disgusting, dirty, vile stall, which the carriage industry defends. It is located in the same stable on W. 38th St. pictured below.

For those of you who have horses - could you imagine letting your own beloved horse work in this inhumane industry ... to access her filthy stall by way of a steep ramp?

Pictures do not lie.

Good Weather is Not Good News for the Horses

This past week we have gotten relief from the brutally hot weather of July. When the weather is in the low to mid 80's, I don't worry as much that one of the horses will drop dead from heat prostration, but I still think a lot about their continued wretched existences. Nothing about their lives is happy, so relief from real temps in the 90's is just one small reprieve in a life of misery. Not much, however, because even temps in the 80's are too hot for horses in full harness standing in the sun pulling 100's and 100's of pounds. They do not like the heat. Furthermore, they still have to work brutal hours in heavy traffic, still have to return to substandard "stables," still have no pasture turn-out, still no time with other horses. Do they have even a few minutes of contentment in their long, miserable days? I don't think so.


The stable pictured below in the August 8th blog is one of the worst for NYC carriage horses -- although the other four are not much better. Anyone - particularly a driver in the horse and buggy trade who defends these living quarters for their horses - should quietly get out of the business because it is indefensible.

The picture at the right shows a horses ascending a steep ramp (at one of the NYC stables) to access his stall on the upper floor. This is particularly hard for older horses who may have arthritis - or simply those who have been dragging a carriage around all day. As a frame of reference, the NYC Building Code requires a 1:12 ratio on ramps for the disabled, which means the slope must not be steeper than 1 inch of rise for every 12 inches of length. This ramp (obviously because of space constraints) is much steeper and therefore that much more uncomfortable and inhumane.

A particular defender of the industry (driver/owner) trolls the Internet looking to make comments on various blogs about carriage horses. He has landed here a few times. Most recently he actually defended the steep ramps that the horses are required to use "LOL - hell, out at the Hampton Classic they are put to JUMPS 6 feet high! LOL." Sad.

Throughout his diatribe, he defensively sprinkles "LOLs" and "LMAOs." There is nothing funny about "laughing out loud" or "laughing my ass off" when it comes to these horses. Shame on him.

Defending such an inhumane industry will be their downfall.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Is it a warehouse?

Is it a factory?

Is it a schoolhouse?

Is it a carriage horse stable?

You are correct if you picked the last choice.

Although many people assume the carriage horses live in Central Park - they do not. This is just one of five stables to house carriage horses in New York City, located on W. 38th St. between 11th and 12th Avenue. The others are similar. Horses live on the upper floors and access their undersized stalls by a steep ramp. After dragging tourists around all day, they return to their stall and stay there until the next day. They have no turnout or pasture time.

Life is no walk in the park for NYC's carriage horses.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cruelty is Cruely in Italy Too

The internet has been filled with messages this summer about the suffering of the horses pulling carriages and tourists in brutally hot weather in Italy. Animal protectionists here and in other countries are offering support. The horse-drawn carriage has already been banned in other big cities all over the world. It is more than obvious that people who care about the welfare and happiness of animals everywhere realize that the horse-drawn carriage trade is cruel. What is it going to take for New Yorkers to shut it down in our great city? Another hideous death of one of these incredible and beautiful but defenseless creatures?