Monday, October 20, 2014

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The Call Blog: The Debate Over Banning Horse-Drawn Carriages

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Have something to tell us at The Call? Drop us a line at and we'll post it to our blog.

We tried our hardest to balance the conversation tonight. This is a hot button topic and people on both sides feel very strongly about it - and we heard from several of them tonight. We had every line ringing even before the show started. Your e-mails are included below.

On the campaign trail, Mayor de Blasio vowed to end the 160-year-old tradition of operating horse-drawn carriages in Central Park. The new Mayor has the support of City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, but animal rights activists are still waiting for a ban to take effect.

Opponents to the practice claim the horses aren't suited for the trips through city traffic and are mistreated in their stables. But carriage horse owners vigorously deny those allegations. In addition, drivers and stable owners cite laws that keep the animals off the road if it's too hot or cold. What do you say?

Should horse-drawn carriages be banned from New York City? Do you feel the horses are treated well or are being abused? Why do you think Mayor de Blasio hasn't yet followed through on his campaign promise to end the practice?

Send your thoughts using the link above.

I'm 100% in favor of keeping the carriages operating. The horses are better taken care of than the people government sends into homeless shelters.

Port Richmond

Horse drawn carriages should be banned from the city streets, because traffic is to bad so many horses have been hurt or worse look at how many pedestrians were hurt or worse. If they want to keep the in central park it'll be ok but they should ban the cars from the park, if the horses are mistreated in the stables the ASPCA law enforcement should be called in and arrest the stable owners or whoever is mistreating them no horses should be out in very cold weather or very hot weather. Mayor Diblasio is a great Mayor he cares about the people and animals of NYC

Upper West Side

So now we have another vow from our Mayor with the support of the council speaker.
No surprise here at all. Why do we need any of the other city council members? We
all figured this out before the election was won. This is definitely a dictatorship that
speaks down to all of us with such authority. When do they the council speaker and
mayor ever intend to have discussions on all of these laws that always have a method
to their madness. Promises were made to builders, land buyers, etc. specifically for
this property that houses the horses. So must we once again for o so many years have
to sit back and take this. These horses are not being abused because once again they
play the blame game just to win a point over so that they can continue to accommodate
the rich that insist on building these useless high risers which do not help the middle and
poor class which has become one in the same to get affordable housing.
This mayor has not made a decision because he is being pulled from both sides and I’m
that contributions were made along with the promises and he doesn’t know which way

Morris Park

Horse drawn carriage bring in revenue and are a novelty. Tighten up on the owners to take better are of the horses and then see what happens. I would tell the animal rights activists to go after Japan and the whaling industry.

Park Hill

Prove the abuse then ban if too many violators of law.


Yes Mayor Bill DeBlasio should ban it as he promised. The Mayor ran and won on the mandate that he would abolish this cruelty. I and many other New Yorkers volunteered for his campaign because of the horses' misery and neglect. There is no justification for animal abuse.


These poor horses are in Times Square till 3am. I have witnessed this
industry doubleshift the horses over the maximum 9 hours permitted. I witnessed these horses worked in unlawful temperatures and drivers refused to abide until I called ASPCA. After over 30 minute response, the horses were heaving and sweating in the heat. I witnessed them over boarding the carriages with more than 4 adult passengers permitted. I send videos and complaints to ASPCA, consumer affairs and Dept of health with minimal results. The dept of health ignored it and the dept of consumer affairs stated they only dealt with overcharging. The ASPCA stated the laws mandated they witness it themselves despite the video evidence.

Please have compassion for the horses and ban the abuse

Morris park

I hope the Mayor follows through- too much traffic and potholes and fumes for the poor horses-


Mayor de Blasio should keep to his campaign promises. The voters expect this!
The horse drawn carriages are gross and they have a horrible smell!

Michael from Clinton Hill

These unfortunate creatures are bought from the Amish in Lancaster County, Pa. The Amish are unbelievably cruel to their animals, whether it be puppy mills or horse trading. They should be investigated.

East Village

I voted for De Blasio simply because he promised to abolish horse carriages. He must make good on his promise. Every major city has stopped this inhumane practice – and it is time for NYC to do the same. Horse don’’t belong in traffic. Lee Siegel doesn’t know which end is up. Has he visited the stables? I think not.

Upper west side

Keep the horses in city.
They are being taken care if.

The new mayor has alot more on his plate to de a l with. do he should leave them alone.

If they ban horse drawn carriages,will the NYPD Mounted Units follow suit? City can not or should not have it both ways.

Jack B.
Queens Village

Horse drawn carriages should not be banned unless there is ACTUAL proof, NOT political proof, that all of them are being abused. They are symbols of NYC.

Seems to me that Mayor DeBlasio is once again paying back those who donated to his campaign. What's next...NYPD Mounted Units?


It's high time to end this miserable practice that puts horses, vehicles and pedestrians at risk of traffic and spooked conditions. There has been well more than one accident this year and this is constantly being underreported. I personally have seen some horses in horrific conditions on the streets either in the freezing cold or blazing hot and the drivers are not abiding by the laws. Hey, it's the 21st Century, can't we move on? FYI: This fight has been going on for decades -- since writer Cleveland Amory made this his "pet" cause (pun intended).

End this miserable abusive industry NOW!

Gretchen - UWS

Lee Siegel has OPINIONS about traffic and suffering - but statistically, carriages are very safe.
I think it interesting that he draws the comparison between the effort to ban carriages and the extermination of the Native Americans. Isn't that ALL the more reason to keep them and not kill them?

I think Lee Siegel HIMSELF is projecting a LOT about traffic and the streets ONTO the horses.

NYC Carriage Driver

If safety were the concern, they would be importing horses INTO NYC, not trying to get them OUT. They are statistically safer here than anywhere. Those stats are a matter of public record. PS - Lee Siegal is not a horseman, and his observations about how they move and act are uninformed and full of anthropomorphizing.

Carriage owner

It's cruel and outrageous that we keep these horses on our busy streets for human amusement and profit. De Blasio needs to keep his promise on this issue and also his promise to reform animal care and control as per Scott stringer's led astray report - cats and dogs are killed in droves daily and DeBlasio can change this immediately - he earned my vote and campaign donations with his promises of reform on these and other animal issues and he needs to deliver - immediately!


Horse-drawn carriages have no place in New York City, and the people who want "reforms" are simply ill-informed.

It is absurd for Siegel to say that the "industry" is well-regulated. The regulations are not enforced and laws are broken all day, every day. I know the letter of the law--and the law-breaking is another topic.

What concerns me most is that horse-drawn carriages just don't belong in New York City.

One day in the not-too-distant future, we will look back at this and hang our heads in shame.

Meanwhile, it may get real for people when there is a human fatality. That's a question of WHEN, not IF.


Getting rid of the horses is like razing the old Penn Station. A unique and attractive part of the city would be missing.
Make sure the horses are cared for properly by some sort of monitoring, but keep them!


I run in the park and it is awful to see the horses dragging around in the humidity when we can barely move.

Their heads are down and anyone can see they are being abused.

All for tourists to have a "quaint experience"?

Shame on we humans!

Andrea in NYC

The scuttle over Charter Schools is what has delayed DeBlasio's attention to banning horses on the streets. However, horses on the street have been part of NYC forever. Banning them is following political pressure from one group and disregarding an important NY tradition. Bicycles get their own lanes ... How about accommodating the carriage rides? Millions are spent on creating unique areas for sitting; let's put some of that money into providing for the horse and carriage rides.

Jean; Brooklyn

Yes it should be banned! We are forcing horses into a work environment on a regular basis that they have no say on. If a horse could choose whether to run freely in the beautiful mountains of the Midwest or pull a carriage on busy New York City streets I think it is clear what they would choose. Horse carriage owners are selfish for putting horses to work and should get a job elsewhere. Whenever I see the horses they look tired, famished, and unhealthy. Instead of using a horse carriage get a bike ride with a human pulling it, at least they are doing it by choice!

Listen carefully to the animal rights acitivists: You will not hear a single opinion that passes for evidentiary. Lets start with the court credentialed equine vets who have--and this is the precise use of the verb--vetted the carriage horses of Central Park; Now lets move to the context of any accident/horse down picture that is portrayed; 68 carriage medallions, 2 shifts per day= 136 shifts. 8 hrs average per shift and we're talking over 350,000 equine hours annually. You have to go back 30 years to come up with 2, count them, 2 horse fatalities. These are astonishingly good statistics. Listen to the animal right activists. You will not hear a single, credentialed, equine professional opinion.

32 years carriage driver.

I don't believe the horses are abused or mistreated. Way more people are involved in traffic accidents than these horses. But importantly, is this issue THAT important for NYC at this moment? Economy, affordable housing, education, non-hiring of crucial city department heads are just some of many problems that should be resolved before we talk about non crucial issues like these.
This mayor does not have his priorities in order.

Sean from Flushing

This is about real estate and about nyclass' founder wanting to get his hands on the valuable west midtown property that the stables occupy so he can develop that land.


Horse-drawn carriages should be banned from Central Park. Newly-paved roads in Central Park are quickly beaten up by their heavy hooves, and it should not be the horses' lot in life to slog through midtown traffic daily between the stables and Central Park. Classic-looking open-air electric vehicles could be perfectly adequate for a charming ride through the Park. They would be cleaner and safer, too. And no one would have to smell or navigate through horse manure along the horses' routes.

Greenwich Village

Forgive me, but Donny from the Village refers to horses as spookable animals. Frankly, they are less erratic than most drivers in this city.

Mayor DeBlasio has not pursued this persecution of the little guy yet because he's been on the defensive due to his ineptitude with snow removal and he has Charter Schools in his crosshairs now. It is only a matter of time before he crushes these folks too.


Has anyone thought of what happens to these horses after their occupation is taken away from them? Retirement on a farm, run free, I don't think so they'll probably become pet food. I hope these "do-gooders" can live with their collective consciences.


How can we say horses, born to run, are being treated humanely when they never have a chance to run, be in a field. Yes they get 5 weeks "off." The other 47 weeks they go from work to small stall and back again. No evenings off to run, no lunch hours, no weekends, no nothing to be a horse.

Put yourself or even your dog in this scenario. Not very humane for a dog never to run and play, not even in his home.

Let's stop fooling around with this and call a miserable life a miserable life.


Horses are very beautiful animals and deserve the highest quality of care and respect. I do not believe that horse drawn carriages are endangerment to horses because they are used more frequently in other areas such as the Amish County in Penn. and certainly in County Western States like Texas.

I think horse drawn carriages are perfect for Central Park, may be nice to have in Prospect Park, Brooklyn and I would like to see Horse Farms in Staten Island, New York.

Clifton, Staten Island

The carriage trade is inhumane and unsafe and should be shut down. It is also an industry out of control and most of the rules and regulations are not enforced. The Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages has documented many of these violations on video.
The 60% Quinnipiac poll is an anomaly - It is the result of a five month onslaught of the media taking the side of the drivers in an ideological war against Mayor deBlasio.

Since 2006 every online poll has shown between 75 and 80% of respondents in favor of a ban.

Upper West Side

I am beyond upset with our Mayor, the Speaker, the Council and the blatant lies being bandied about by them in favor of banning the carriages. Horse-Drawn Carriages have been part of the City landscape since before the Civil War. In fact, Olmstead designed Central Park for horse carriages. Despite EVERYTHING you hear, in the last thirty (30) years, only three (3) horses have died from vehicular accidents and no passenger has ever been killed -- compare that with the dozen reported horse deaths from Eventings last year, never mind the number of riders who were also killed. As for the claim "they are not working horses, they are for entertainment and money" - what about race horses? Where's the outcry to ban this sport which sees more dead horses per year than Carriages have seen in the last 30? Oh! That's right, no stables on the West Side the developers running and funding NYCLASS want to get their hands on with horse racing.

Joseph in Jackson Hts

Horse get 5 weeks off mandatory turn out is nice but not necessary mayor do also should work on actually being a mayor rather the biggest as since George w bush

Matt flushing

Leave them alone -- lets put them into the park proper - what a beautiful site. The Parks Department will make millions. THis is nothing but a deal about real estate values for the stable property.

These are working animals that need to work -- they are naturally workers

Its about money not about animal rights.
These animals are not abused

Clinton Hill

I also think we should be talking about it; I think it is inhumane to have horses weaving around traffic or standing for hours on end on Central Park South.

Maybe we should slowly phase them out.

midtown east

People are assuming that humans have the inherent right to enslave horses for the own personal gain. Horses are beings just like humans, but they have evolved differently. We have no right to enslave them and keep them in a small cage. Horses were once wild and in some places still are, they were not created to serve man.

Jackson Heights

I have been protesting against this industry for 8 years at the hack line!

Carriage drivers are trying to make this about real estate which is nonsense; YEARS before NYClass or the mayor were involved animal advocates were trying to ban this on the issue of the welfare of the horses alone. How is a few weeks of "vacation" where they can MAYBE act like horses equate with their being confined within the shafts of the carriages and their small stalls for the remainder of the year with no daily turnout.

And accidents are not just vehicular - what about the horses who have spooked (and died) due to noise such as Smoothie, 2007, collapsed from exhaustion while other drivers heartlessly pass by with their fares (which I have witnessed), or a horse like Charlie who dropped dead on a filthy street in 2011 on his way to work one morning after a very short time on the job which according to the industry he was supposed to love. But of course the industry lies and only applies horse death numbers to traffic incidents.


I enjoy your show, thank you for giving New Yorkers a place to debate important issues.
I'd like to propose an idea: have a design contest for a green-tech carriage that would be pleasing to the eye wwhile rolling silently through the park, allowing conversation without background noise and an enhanced abity to appreciate the park and the driver's comments about it (one of the reasons tourists take the trip). A design contest would really give our artists an opportunity to contribute to the park's beauty (I envision multiple designs contributing an attraction of their own), and electric vehicles would reduce the carbon footprint, noise, and danger of horse-drawn carriages. It would also strongly support NYC's growing tech manufacturing baze and provide good jobs in the infrastructure. The vehicle garages can also be wired to aid grid stability.

Alix from Bay Ridge

I do not want to have my name used, however:

I worked at the health department when the ASPCA fired a vet who would not say the horse Charlie who died most recently had health problems that he didn't have. He died of old age and they manipulated and cherry picked info. From the autopsy to further their cause to stop the horse carriages.

I always respected this organization until this point when I realized they lie and a political front. It saddened me.

I wish there was a place within Central Park where they could be off the streets, out of traffic, but I don't appreciate the ASPCA lying to get their way. I'll never donate to them again.

Please credit me as - former Health department executive. Do not use my name.

The NYtimes and the post (Dave Seifman) covered these lies at the time of the Charlie saga.

de Blasio doesn't have to visit a stable he can just walk by Columbus Circle like the rest of us.
You don't have to be a veterinarian or an animal rights person to see that these animals look MISERABLE. I am a native NY'er who has seen them forced to work in extreme weather under absurd conditions firsthand, it is a depressing sight and NYC can do better.


I just saw that you aired a clip of Liam Neeson shilling for the carriage horse industry on The Daily Show recently. But you didn't include any of Jon Stewart's responses, one of which was:
“I really hope the two sides can work it out because it seems from my perspective that this is not a particularly fulfilling life for an animal.”

Let's not be biased in our reporting NY1. It's time to acknowledge the current era in which we live and put this antiquated industry to rest.


Carriage owners are still in business because New Yorkers & tourists use their services. The many dogs in New York City annoy me & I want diblasio to do something about it too j/k

Mayor diblasio need to concentrate on fixing schools and potholes and leave carriage owners make a living

I smell a real estate deal in this whole non sense

Zackary from queens

I walk by the horses almost daily on my way to work and I gotta say, they look very sad and downtrodden. I don't like people to lose their job but I am for banning horses for carriage rides.

Boerum Hill

I wonder how many of the New Yorkers supporting the horse carriages have actually been on one.
The conditions for the horse-drawn carriages were much different back when when it was still " New Amsterdam" than they are now, a congested city street is simply not a place for these animals.
Perhaps limiting their trip within the park and closely monitor their treatment, their owners can be required to perform checkups on a regular basis, and their living conditions can be routinely inspected.

Queens, NY

Horses don't care about how many movies they've been in or how many times they've been on the cover of the Post. Horses care about things like clean water to drink, not being worked 'til exhaustion, and not being navigated through city traffic. It's time New York join so many other cities and end this outdated and ridiculous barbarism.

Jay, Sunnyside

It isn't a matter of whether or not the horses are being worked too much. It's where they are working. Horses don't belong on the streets in NYC.

Murray hill

Mayor DiBlasio is right. These horses are deprived of the ability to socialize with other horses, to run freely, and to roll in the grass, all natural needs for horses. These horses are not protected from extreme weather as these regulations are not enforced. Even the films of these horses that you are showing on The Call reveal the stress and strain on these beautiful creatures who deserve better.

Alan from Staten Island

central park stretches north & south from 59th-110th streets...east & west from 5av-8av....we should be able to keep the horses for central park only ...and take them off the city streets

mcgriff from brooklyn

I think this is a crime to have horses working like slaves in a big city like NY. Those animals cannot talk but it's obvious they are suffering when you look into their eyes. I think that it is cruel and it should stop.


Why can't stables be built and the horses live and work in Central Park? If you think all these horses will be taken to a sanctuary, you are wrong. There is not enough funding for all of them and most likely many will be sent to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered inhumanely. Just keep them inside Central Park and off the streets. The mayor needs to look into ACC and all the animals that are euthanized. There should be an episode based on this.

Daniela - bayside

These poor horses are being forced to work in conditions where horses shouldn't be in the first place. They don't belong in the streets of NYC being put in danger everyday. I hope Mayor de Blasio keeps his word and puts an end to this horrible practice.


I have seen these horses, they r tired , spooked and miserable, the conditions, like the small stables they live in r far from humane, the accidents have been and can be much worse, we need to get thease horses to a better place, the carriage drivers and owners only care about the mmoney, not the horses;

You asked one of the callers whether they had a "compromise" to the issue. There is a compromise currently in place which is to REPLACE (not eliminate) the horse drawn carriages with eco-friendly cars. This is not an end to the industry. What's at issue is the MODE of transportation - horses vs. eco-friendly cars. Period.

Horses should not be working in NYC streets. It's outdated, unsafe and inhumane. Enough. Let's bring NYC to the 21st century with a mode of transportation that is eco-friendly, socially responsible and humane.


When Mayor Bloomberg proposed the smoking ban, restauranteurs and bar owners were up in arms, shouting on every media outlet how it would ruin their business, scaring people into thinking half the city would close up if they proceeded with the ban. What actually happened was their businesses thrived, because the smoking ban brought more people than ever out to restaurants and bars, and thankfully, I no need to dry clean my clothes avery time I go out to eat.

In the same way, banning horse drawn carriages will bring more business to the drivers of the electric antique style cars in Central Park. The carriage drivers can easily switch to driving the cars. So, only the owners of the carriage business stand to lose money, so they fight to continue this cruel and unusual treatment of horses. There's a world of difference between a working horse living in the country, and these poor animals walking the blistering and dangerous streets, surrounded by Manhattan traffic. Anyone claiming horses like to work, may have a point, but not in this manner.

I've seen unauthorized videos of the tenements where the horses are kept, and the media is not seeing how deplorable the conditions truly are. It's just unnatural to do this to any animal. Mayor DiBlasio broke through the crowd of mayoral candidates because the groups behind banning the carriages were the ones behind the "anyone but Quinn" campaign that did her candidacy in. It's time for Mayor DiBlasio to show some cahones, and do what he promised, ban horse carriages now, before any more harm is done.

If they wait, something terrible will eventually happen, like a child being injured or killed by a horse or traffic accident.

Thanks for running this show.

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