Horse drawn carriage accidents - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 22 Old 01-25-2012, 01:25 AM
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In NYC the NYC Horse and Carriage Association is actually filing a formal complaint against the ASPCA since it is both lobbying in politics to get the carriage horses removed AND responsible for law enforcement- really you can't do both and still remain neutral to press charges on someone. Even the veterinarian that did the necropsy on the carriage horse that unexpectedly died in NYC in October 2011 had to admit that she had suffered "undue pressure" to say he was suffering just before his death and was forced to amend her necropsy report.

I have read articles on most of the accidents lately- and they seem to be a bit of a witch hunt on carriage horses. A horse stumbles or trips and they report it as collapsing- one article I've seen is even counting how many times horses were reported to have stumbled which isn't very fair IMO. How often have any of us been riding and had a horse trip or stumble or slip? Even if it was a car and not an animal- cars slip too. Nothing in life is foolproof.

The carriage drivers sometimes take horses from the Amish but they also take them from the Slaughter houses- horses that are deemed to be healthy enough to work and would otherwise die. Frankly- if I were the horse- I would rather survive in Central Park pulling a carriage then wind up being just so much horse meat.

NYC Carriage Horses: Politics, Cruelty and Hope

I live just outside of NYC and to think that the horses have to deal with the traffic (at least in NYC) really isn't true. Most of the day they spend either inside the park (where traffic isn't allowed) or alongside it waiting for a customer.

When they are heading back from the park there still isn't really a risk from people speeding- almost all of the streets are one-way and there is so much traffic that the drivers of motor vehicles don't have a choice but to go slow. On top of that if the drivers don't respect the horse there are cops like every ten feet (especially around landmarks like Central Park and all those landmark buildings and museums near it) so people are hesitant to be obnoxious.

My parents actually took a ride once on their anniversary and spoke with the driver about the horse- it was the horse's first day on the job. (Coincidentally enough the horse's name was Dublin and the guy was an immigrant from Dublin, Ireland.) They were told he was previously an Amish carriage horse and was retired from that job and sold to be a Central Park carriage horse. My mother was very impressed with how calm he was given it was his first day. (We saw the driver and the horse later on TV in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in NYC a few months later- he was driving Mary Higgins Clark as the Grand Marshall of the parade.)

Mary Higgins Clark Pictures - 250th Annual New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade - Zimbio

They told us that especially with all the different sites and sounds and smells, etc, they worked hard to help the horse adjust to all the chaos. I go into the city a lot and in order to get to many of the museums that I frequent you have to walk through or alongside Central Park- so you see the carriage horses.

None of the horses I have ever seen even cared about all the noises. In all the times I have walked by I haven't ever seen an accident or any kind of problem at all- even a horse spooking. The only thing I have ever seen is the horses standing and waiting or walking/trotting calmly along their route to/from one of the stable or through the park.

I have to say though in any situation accidents DO happen but most of the times the drivers are very careful to keep the horses safe.

I haven't heard about a horse being hit by a car but there was a horse that dropped dead unexpectedly in October of 2011 that was new to NYC and had only been "on the job" for a month. The necropsy found that he most likely had underlying health problems that likely caused the death. Officials had said that the horse was examined less than 3 months previous to the death and "passed" his exam whatever that means. The veterinarian involved however had to amend her initial necropsy report that said he was "suffering" just before his death after she admitted that she had been under "undue pressure" from the ASPCA and others.

I DO feel badly for the horses- the lack of green grass and such especially on a daily basis- but IMO it is better than the alternative. Carriage driving gives horses that might otherwise be unwanted a niche to survive. To ban carriage driving because you don't trust drivers really is somewhat akin to cutting your nose off to spite your face- the horse will probably wind up euthanaized since the carriage drivers are taking cheap, unwanted horses to fill their needs- and the horses that DO run into the idiot drivers who are careless will still be at risk.

If drivers are putting horses at risk- TEACH the drivers to use common sense. MAKE them use the knowledge or pay the price!

Even if they weren't carriage horses that still doesn't guarantee they would get time in a good place with lots of space to run around. There are much worse places for a horse to be than in a place that makes sure they have good vet care and plenty of food. The driver we spoke to additionally said that they also regularly (I believe its at least every week?) go outside NYC to be a "normal horse" in a place where they can stretch their legs and run around. I forget how often honestly- but I also think I remember being told that they when they go outside the city it is generally for longer periods in exchange for dealing with the hustle and bustle of Central Park.

We have to remember- a lot of animal rights activists don't think its right for horses to be kept at ALL- they think they should be wild and free- never to be restrained by rein or saddle, kept in a stable or enclosure. Green grass, sand, dirt or city stable- a lot of the loudest activists are quiet about it.

There have been a lot of fingers pointing at the Humane Societies too considering that they advertise that they want to "save" animals- and they're euthanasia rate is sometimes 70% or higher! (Talk about busted.)
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Last edited by Nitefeatherz; 01-25-2012 at 01:35 AM.
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post #12 of 22 Old 01-25-2012, 05:59 AM
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Be careful what you wish for,

When I was out one day exercising an old trotting horse I had a guy speed past me tooting his horn, and I flipped him the fingers, he screeched to a stop, reversed back so hard he had smoke coming out of his tyres and proceeded to tell me that horses shouldn't be on any roads, they should be kept in fields and not removed from them.

I reminded him that horses were on the roads well before cars were and that I had every right to be there. In fact probably more right than he had!

I was about 14 at the time.

Banning horses from going anywhere in my opinion will have a knock on effect. When they are banned from taking carriage rides what's next? are we delegated to only ride in fields?

I honestly feel that it's the car drivers who need to be banned from areas, or taught to be more respectful, or given other designated areas to drive in leaving the horse owners to have more safety when riding outside of an arena.

Also what happens these horses who pull the carriages if a bill like that is put through? do you honestly think they will be `retired` to a lovely grass field somewhere. If only life was that idealistic.

It's the car drivers who need tackled, not the carriage drivers or horse riders!

I am not sure if it's okay to include a link here to an outside website showing an excellent and informative site that trains driving horses and ponies. index if I am not I'll be happy to edit this out of my post.

There is a quarry not far from me and my old (RIP) pony didn't even bat an eyelid when the lorries from there went past her.
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post #13 of 22 Old 01-25-2012, 02:27 PM
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^^ agree drivers should have to be more informed about horses on the road
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post #14 of 22 Old 01-25-2012, 02:35 PM
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I wish informing would stop all the pricks 8l There's always going to be people who want everyone else off the road so they can have it to themselves. Informing people certinally won't stop the idiots who will intentionally drive as close to the horse as possible just to piss you off. Happens quite a bit around here.

As for the carriage drivers; It's a nice tourist attraction; and another way to incorporate horses back into work... the business may not be an ideal way to keep horses, but then I'm just thankful that we have another industry using horses and helping promote their use and keep a couple from becoming Mexican dog food.
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post #15 of 22 Old 01-25-2012, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Tianimalz View Post
I wish informing would stop all the pricks 8l There's always going to be people who want everyone else off the road so they can have it to themselves. Informing people certinally won't stop the idiots who will intentionally drive as close to the horse as possible just to piss you off. Happens quite a bit around here.

As for the carriage drivers; It's a nice tourist attraction; and another way to incorporate horses back into work... the business may not be an ideal way to keep horses, but then I'm just thankful that we have another industry using horses and helping promote their use and keep a couple from becoming Mexican dog food.
This is why I think it's better to have higher penalties and abilities for horse people to be able to report them and have action taken against them for their bad driving.

I can take down as many number plates as I want off the cars that behave in the above manner but the police rarely if ever do anything about it because there is no law that governs these types of things directly. Sure there is dangerous driving but that doesn't cover livestock to the degree it needs to, nor does it protect the riders and carriage drivers.

I also agree that more horses need positions of work in todays world. This in itself would be `greener` and help the overpopulation of equines that we have today by opening more opportunities to use them rather than have them in a pet food can!
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post #16 of 22 Old 02-12-2012, 12:17 PM
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I have several Internet friends who are carriage drivers or carriage horse owners in NYC. Here are some facts about those carriages. The NYC carriage horses are regulated by at least three different NYC agencies including the ASPCA and the department of sanitation. There are numerous rules and regulations in place to protect the carriage horses. All carriage drivers must take and pass a written test and apprentice with an experienced carriage driver.

The horse carriages operate in selected specific areas and take specific routes to and from their stables. The carriages are most active in and around NYC's Central Park, which was designed in he 1850s specifically with carriage transportation in mind (there were no motor vehicles back then). Almost all New Yorkers know where and when they can expect to encounter these carriages, and on which streets.

The stables are located in buildings that were originally built as stables back in the day when horse-drawn transportation was the only transportation. Of the hundreds of horse and livery stables that once dotted NYC, these are the only four left. The stables have been retrofitted to allow all horses to have box stalls. Back in the day, many stables had tie stalls. Now all these stables have box stalls. The stalls all have automatic waterers, stall mats and bedding on top of the mats. They all also have fire suppressing sprinkler systems. All have fans and or misting systems to help keep horses cool in summer months. The horses are fed free-choice hay while stabled and are fed their grain rations a little at a time while on duty- when they are standing around waiting of passengers. All the carriages carry buckets with feed and for water. There are water sources and a continously running trough that are water sources for the horses. There is one trough that is turned off in winter, but another that is winterized and operates year around. (Radical animal rights extremists are fond of posting pictures of the trough that is turned off in winter and claiming this proves the horses don't have a water source. This is a lie, the horses have access to water while working and stabled year around.)

There are only 68 medallions, which authorize only 68 carriages to operate in NYC at any one time, so it's not like there are hundreds of carriages operating. Although there are only 68 carriages, there are approximately 200 horses and almost 300 licensed drivers. The extra horses mean that not every horse works every day. Many of the drivers work only part time or work only when needed to substitute for other drivers. By law, EVERY licensed carriage horse MUST have a 5-week vacation in the countryside outside of the city EVERY year.

The carriages operate in two shifts of only 9 hours each. The horses can work only one 9 hour shift a day. The horses do not work and are stabled when the temperature is below 18F or above 89F. They also do not work whenever weather conditions are considered unfavorable. The ASPCA decides the conditions, but they include severe rain, snow or storms, etc. These would also be times when no on would want to ride in a carriage anyway. Remember, no matter what the weather, if the horses are out working in it, so are the drivers. Drivers will not waste their time standing out in weather conditions that are so bad that they will not have passengers.

In the past 30 years, there have been absolutely only THREE horses who have died as a result of traffic accidents. NONE of these accidents were the fault of the carriage drivers involved. There have been fewer than 12 horses that have died of natural causes or non-traffic-related incidents while working as carriage horses during this same time. For comparison, the US racing industry loses approximately 750 race horses to break down injuries or sudden death each year. One of the most unfortunate carriage horse deaths occured several years ago when a carriage horse was electrocuted because of a short in an underground electrical cable. Last year three race horses in the UK died in a similar situation at the track either just before or just after a race.

In October of this year, a carriage horse that had been a carriage horse for just a few months colapsed and died suddenly on his way to work one Sunday morning. The subsequent necropsy showed he had an INCEDENTAL finding of a cracked tooth and possible stomach ulcer. An INCIDENTAL finding in a necropsy means the condition found is NOT considered to have contributed to an animal's death. A subesequently released final necropsy report noted that what was thought to have been tissue damage due to an ulcer was actually probable normal post-mortum decomposition caused by stomach acid. His cause of death was never determined.

Within a month of the time that this carriage horse named Charllie died, the famed show jumper Hickstead colapsed and died in the show ring. His cause of death was determined to have been an anyeurism. Within that same time period, the famous dressage horse Northern Hector colapsed and died in the practicice ring before ta show. His cause of death was not determined because his body was sent to a rendering plant by show officials without his owner's permission immediately after his death. We will never know why Northern Hector died.

For about 30 years, the NYC carriage horse owners have been subjected to false claims of cruelty by such groups as PETA and WAR among others. Their express goal is to eliminate the use of horse-drawn carriages in NYC and everywhere else. They want to start with the commercial carriages, but ultimately their goal is to eliminate all carriage driving even pleasure driving and CDE competition driving.

More recently, a real estate developer with interests in the areas where the remaining stables are located has also co-founded a group to ban the carriages and replace them with electric-powered replicars. This gentleman is very wealthy, and he has interests in horses used for eventing-- we all know that eventing is a dangerous horse sport where injuries and deaths can be common. He claims he wants to ban the carriages because the carriage horses are not safe on the streets of NYC.

I just wanted to provide some facts and background on this "controversy," which was mainly manufactured by people with interests that do not include having carriage horses in NYC. I would note that carriages for hire have operated in NYC, probably since the city's founding in the 1600s. There are definately references to hired carriages operating in NYC throughout the 1800s, especially around the time that Central Park was created in the mid-1800s. The current medallion system limiting the number of carriages to only 68 was instituted in the 1930s. The NYC carriges have been in operation for hundreds of years. The oposition to these carriages began only about 30 years ago. It is spearheaded by radical animal rights extremist groups and funded by some people with possible interest in buying the horse stables for redevelopment.

I do not live anywhere near NYC. I own riding and driving horses and have a small horse rietirement farm that provides a home for life for up to six older horses at a time. I operate a special events livery to help earn money that funds the care of these horses. I have one horse and carriage available for weddings, parades, parties and tours by appointment. I have been involved with horses for 55 years.

I am happy to answer questions about keeping and using horses for carriage work or light farming. I have posted this information here becasue I don't want to see horse driving or carriage horses banned. I am not being paid or receiving anything of value for doing this. I am posting in the interest of education and truth-telling.
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post #17 of 22 Old 02-12-2012, 12:56 PM
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I live about 40 minutes from cities that are filled with Amish. Right around the Indiana/Michigan boarder. About once a month, some idiot plows into an Amish carriage. The horse dies 99% of the time, as well as someone that was in the wagon. It's absolutely stupid, but when people are driving 60 mph and not paying attention, that's what you get. It's sad.

I also see them ground driving belgians down the side of the road (from field to field for work) and a lot of times they have them 4 wide. The horses are super desensitized to traffic. They have to be.

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post #18 of 22 Old 02-14-2012, 04:17 AM
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I've got mixed feelings on this one.

I'm also a commercial carriage driver and though not now operating tourist service, it is something I have done previously.

I've operated in comparitively itsy-bitsy little places and all restricted to the areas that are limited traffic access. Nowhere near the size and congestion and noise and pace and traffic that's in NY though!

I don't think that horse drawn carriages and heavy city traffic the likes of what there is in New York belong together.

IMO there needs to be regulation to protect the horses and drivers from mad selfish motorists and from overwork and abuse and misuse.

However to suggest that carriage driving per se isn't appropriate for tourists is just plain ridiculous.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with horse drawn carriages taking people for drives.

There's nothing wrong with them driving on roads.

The problem is heavy traffic and some stupid ignorant motorists and some appalling ignorant carriage drivers!

I find it "interesting" that some want regulation and banning for carriage horses in New York when there's absolutely zilch elsewhere to protect horses in the USA.

IMO there ought to be effective regulation and enforced standards of welfare and for all horses. Whether or not they're being used commercially and whether or not they're used for ridden OR driven activity.

In the UK commercial horse drawn vehicles are licenced and very strictly regulated. But then we are altogether more regulated. All Equestrian Centres are regulated and licenced as are all Riding Instructors and Horse Trainers. Each and every horse being used commercially is examined at the very least annually. Likewise for where they're kept. Every single equid in the UK has to have it's own passport. Farriery is licenced and regulated etc etc. So for us regulation and licencing is pretty much standard place.

I act as an assessor for local authorities and assess drivers and examine carriages, harness and horses to ensure they're all fit for purpose and up to the job when they're being used commercially. They don't get a chance to operate if they're not right.

But when visiting other places and on forums I've seen some real sights for sore eyes! Disasters and accidents in the making.

Particularly when folks post photos and stories of their draft horses in parades and taking tourists or the likes of santa clause for drives etc.

There's also been wayyyyy too many accidents recently and IMO entirely because of ignorance and failure to do what ought to be done and by doing things that should never be done!

But banning horse drawn carriages in a city because SOME horses might be in the hands of inappropriate owners and inappropriate conditions is just stark staring bonkers.

That's the reason to go after THOSE specific owners and take action against them and them only.

Likewise banning all because SOME horses might be badly and inappropriately stabled with no turn out at all..... ever is irrational.

IF it's accepted that it's wrong to have poor stabling and/or no turnout and no limits on working hours ..... and I for one actually think it is..... then there needs to be a radical rethink of animal welfare legislation generally.

There's a heck of a lot of horses kept with no turn out at all or else in some pathetic teeny pen in solitary confinement. And not just in cities! Not just carriage horses! Not just horses used for tourists!

Again too often one sees and reads about the likes of 80 or 100 horses in barns that have just say 6 or 10 acres and with horses in what are just tiny pens.

Banning them because the city traffic is appalling and impossible to make safe is a logical reason though it begs lots of questions such as:

Why can't safer areas be found? What if anything can be done about traffic calming measures? There's masses of park land in NY and I know that a lot of the horse drawn drivers operate there and that seems the right sort of place. So keep it there and ensure there's effective regulation and control of operators.

That's how a lot of companies operate all over Europe. The horses are trucked into the city for a week or two then back to pasture land and turn out for a couple of days. With strict rules about their health and how many hours they can work and where. What sort of harness is used and what kind of vehicle and whether according to it's size and weight once loaded, it's drawn by a single horse or a pair of horses. What the driver's competence is and checking it. Time to stop the incompetent and abusive from compromising the whole business.

IMO that seems like a solution and any carriage operator who doesn't like it needs to find something else to do and ideally without a horse.
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post #19 of 22 Old 02-14-2012, 09:07 AM
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Hoopla- While I understand your concerns, I just don't see us adopting and accepting the kind of regulation people in England or the rest of Britian seem to accept without question. The USA is just not that "kind" of country.

As you should be well aware, there is a very rebellious streak in most Americans that leads us to resent government intrusion into everyday life.
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post #20 of 22 Old 02-16-2012, 03:17 PM
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Yep I'm well aware and no doubt they'll go down screaming and kicking
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