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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bygones be Bygones

Horse drawn carriages in Manhattan have been the center of controversy as of late - the COALITION TO BAN HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGES has spearheaded a campaign to put an end to what they and many others consider an outdated concept that no longer is appropriate. From the Coalition's website:

Carriage horses are out of place in midtown’s congested streets and belong to another century when there were far fewer vehicles and pedestrians. When hansom cabs are mixed with cars, taxis, buses, pedestrians, bikes and emergency vehicles – fire trucks, ambulances and police cars – they are a recipe for disaster.

Business is involved here and where there's money at stake there's bound to be bitter conflict. The carriage industry and owners paint a different picture, stating that the the animals are well cared for, have a long life and are happy. Investigations have shown conflicting reports. An audit by the City Comptroller in 2007, however, did show some horses being maintained in substandard conditions. The fate of the 68 licensed carriages in the city is still in limbo. Mayor Bloomberg defends the industry and the continuation of the carriages. Some have proposed a stabling area inside the park - this seems like it would be a good compromise.
The romance of the past is a powerful force and of course visitors love the idea of a horse drawn carriage ride through Central Park - this is one of those New York City signature activities that many feel compelled to do at least once in their life. But unfortunately, history and romance, no matter how compelling, do not alone justify the continuation of a practice. The circumstances and standards of a society change and I think we all like to believe that our consideration of other humans and animals improves over time - in the final analysis, we me have to let bygones be bygones ...


Hilda said...

Can't they make a track at the edge of Central Park just for the carriages? I've never been there, so I don't really know if that's feasible. But losing them is just too sad — the carriages are lovely and romantic and add so much charm.

Blognote said...

I think Hilda is right. Perhaps a track in Central park could be a solution. The poor horses are compelled to inhale some foul air from the traffic. Loosing those carriages would be a great pity.

Brian Dubé said...

this type of thing has been mentioned - I dont know if it is being given serious consideration. but moving the whole operation to the park and keeping the horses off the city streets entirely is a good idea.

Beth in NYC said...

The carriages do mainly take their "fares" inside the park on what's considered the Lower Loop as the street isn't nearly picturesque or accommodating for the slow-moving carriages.

The problem is that the carriages are parked along the southern edge of Central Park (59th Street from 5th Ave. to 6th Ave.) because it's a high-traffic area for tourists. It's also a high vehicular traffic street because it leads to the 59th St. Bridge, one of the main bridges from Manhattan to Queens. There also really isn't room enough within the Park to accommodate 30 parked carriages so I can see why the hansom cab drivers would object. As Brian said, there is good money to be made by the drivers.

I'm of two minds on this. I enjoy the carriages and the horses but it really is dangerous, hard and smelly work for them, particularly when it's hot and humid during the summer; the horses work really hard. It would be nice if some compromise could be made.

michaleenflynn52 said...

It would be nice if you would post a link from the carriage point of view, seeing as how you posted the Coalition link :-)
Please allow me:
The above link is to my blog. I have worked with horses my entire life, and have been in the carriage business for 27 years.
I would love to answer any questions or listen to suggestions that anyone might have, so please feel free to comment :-)

Anonymous said...

Whether or not you believe that having horses in 21st-century traffic is inherently inhumane, as many people do, consider this. Central Park is a historic landmark and there will be no horses living there. That scenario is not feasible. Also, the farthest stables from the park are on 37th and 38th Streets in Hell's Kitchen...2 miles away. That's 4 miles daily in horrible traffic--fire engines, police cars, ambulances, gridlock, potholes. Up and down 9th and 10th and 11th Avenues--check it out. 9 a.m, 10th avenue around 42nd Street! 6pm, 9th Avenue. See for yourself. Neither necessary nor romantic. The gruesome death of Spotty in January 2006 is evidence enough of this. That poor horses should not have died in that horrible accident. It was simply unnecessary and a product of greed and cruelty. We are better than this. It is wrong to put horses--highly sensitive animals--into city traffic.

Anonymous said...

When I was much younger, I am ashamed to say, I did take a carriage ride. Yes, it was romantic and grand. But, I am proud to say that I would never encourage anyone to take a ride now. Take a look at this picture, look closely, does this represent a lively, happy horse? I think not. A lowered head, no spirit, worn shoes. Many times I've seen them standing during the rain, in puddles, in the mud, thru sleet and snow, during a hot summer day held captive by their harnesses, and wonder how this injustice as well as so many cruelties in the world can go on. It only gives me sadness knowing that mankind has so much to improve on. We have reached the moon, but we still have war on earth, threats to murder a presidential candidate because of his skin color, and cruelty to animals.

Brian Dubé said...

i do believe if the will was there, that there would be a way to accommodate these horses in the park - there is still much "unused" land there - this would be a service to all.

Brian Dubé said...

i do believe if the will was there, that there would be a way to accommodate these horses in the park - there is still much "unused" land there - this would be a service to all.

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised in this city, and for as far back as I can remember, every summer brings an incident of a poor, overworked horse collapsing and dying of heat exhaustion. We also hear stories of horses getting spooked by zooming cabs and trucks. The sentimental need for people - mostly tourists - to take some outdated, old-world horse and carriage ride in the middle of a big city in the 21st century, does not justify treating animals like our slaves. Free the horses!

michaleenflynn52 said...

artmodel: Either you are a victim of an extreme overactive imagination, have hallucinations, or you are an out-and-out liar.

There has only ever been ONE NYC horse who had heat stroke, a horse named Whitey back in the mid-1980s. Whitey recovered and lived to a ripe old age. Don't take my word for it, Google, Nexis Lexis, or check with the City's Bureau of Animal Affairs under the FOA Act.
And as for your juvenile, idiotic "free the horses!" line, also Google the current crisis in this country regarding abandoned and unwanted horses. Any horse that has quality food, shelter, vet care, LOVE and a JOB is a damned lucky horse these days.
Grow up.

Anonymous said...

Michaleenflynn52, A horse is "lucky" to have " a job"?? What "job"? It's a horse, not a Teamster. The hostility of your comments toward me suggest that you have serious anger issues toward anyone who dares to disagree with you. Perhaps you're the one who needs to "grow up".

I make no apologies for my feelings toward animals. I don't eat them or wear them or get carted around the city by them. I walk or take the subway.

I don't subscribe to the theory that an animal should be grateful or "lucky" for receiving basic food or shelter from the same humans who are exploiting them for profit.

This is just the comment section on a terrific blog, and I posted my opinion just like everyone else. Your rancorous, confrontational language accusing me of "hallucinating" or calling me "juvenile" and a "liar" are way over the top. You sound like a crazed maniac. Take your meds, hon.

michaleenflynn52 said...

Artmodel - The only 'crazed maniacs' are the ones, like yourself, who make up gruesome stories to bolster claims of non-existent conditions for our horses.

I don't see any proof of the accusations of heat exhaustion you made in comment #1? Of course I don't - because you cannot supply it. OTOH, I can back up every statement I make with regard to our horses.

In case you never noticed, horses have worked alongside man since the dawn of time - and it is not an exploitative relationship, but a symbiotic one.

And yes, indeed a horse is LUCKY, fortunate, blessed to have a JOB, especially in 2008, where THOUSANDS of unwanted and abandoned horses WITHOUT JOBS are being shipped over the border to be barbarically slaughtered, stabbed in the spinal column at Mexican abbatoirs. Horses cost ALOT OF $$ to maintain, and unless they can WORK for a living, and help generate that $$, they are in a precarious position.

Domesticated horses NEED to work, both for physical health and mental stimulation - and these days, to ensure that they have a place in which to exist with us. Only a juvenile, Disney-fied, out of touch mindset sees it otherwise.

In 27 years I have retired 3 horses to loving 'forever' homes, and I currently have 2 horses for whom I take care of their every need, including vacations in PA, and lots of daily affection. They know me and love me in their own horsey way as much as my 3 cats and 2 dogs do.

How many horses do you support and love on a daily basis?

As far as 'rancor' goes - if you think I'm gonna sit back and let people LIE about how *I* treat my animals, what my motives are, and about the very facts of our everyday existence, you have another thing coming.

How would you feel if someone said that you kick the feral cats that you care for, and that under your care they routinely die?

If I responded to that kind of defamation with anything less than hostility, there would be something wrong with me.
Now, wanna back up your statements about horses dropping down every summer?

:::listening to the crickets in the silence::::

MichaleenFlynn said...

I would also like to say that I very much appreciate the even-handed comments by most on this blog entry.
The carriage people thank you for your consideration and lack of pre-concieved notions about us :-)

Anonymous said...


Your narcissism is staggering. You actually believe that me, or anyone, was talking about YOU personally. "How 'I' treat my horses", is what you wrote. I don't recall the original blog post being about YOU specifically. Oh right, I forgot everything is about you. You used the word "defamation". How can I "defame" someone I don't even know? You're an egomaniac.

I cringe at the thought of someone with such an angry, volatile temperament, with rage-control issues, caring for animals. And I laughed at your acknowledgement of "even-handed comments". That was funny! Like you would know anything about "even-handedness" in blog comment dialogue. Someone who uses the phrase "you have another thing coming". And you call ME juvenile! You're a thug whose only style of communication is abusive language and intimidation.

As for my feral cats, they are not "mine", and that is the philosophical point where we clearly differ. They are free, they live on their own terms, and everyone on the block feeds them and looks out for them. And we do it all without caging them, constraining them, or making them pull tourists around midtown Manhattan.

It is clearly too hard for you comprehend that we have a fundamental difference in attitude about animals. And what's worse, you can't seem to accept that such differences can even exist. All you know how to do is shout people down, attack them, and call names.

I hope you're not the official spokesman for your cause, because if you are, you won't be winning over many converts.

michaleenflynn52 said...


Sorry, but I have been around waaaay too long to fall for the "I-can't support-my-charges-so-I'll-try-to-turn-the-tables comeback. Nice try, though!

As for "shout(ing) people down, attack(ing) them, and call(ing) names", you seem to be doing all three quite effortlessly! To wit:

"crazed manaic"

LOL, pot meet kettle ;-)

And I never said the feral cats were "yours", a little reading comprehension is in order - I said 'the feral cats you care for', so your semantical indignation makes no sense. I too, feed feral cats btw - and have worked in catch/neuter/release efforts in South Queens for over 15 years. So I don't need any lessons from you in feral cats, TYVM.

Your ersatz logic that we 'differ on the philosophical point' comparing cats to horses is ludicrous, showing a complete inability to employ critical thinking on your part.

As for me not understanding even-handedness in blog comment dialogue, you must have missed this, my first comment, directed at the blog owner:

"michaleenflynn52 said...
It would be nice if you would post a link from the carriage point of view, seeing as how you posted the Coalition link :-)
Please allow me:
The above link is to my blog. I have worked with horses my entire life, and have been in the carriage business for 27 years.
I would love to answer any questions or listen to suggestions that anyone might have, so please feel free to comment :-)"

Sounds pretty even-handed to me ;-)

Now, back to the issue at hand - you thought you would pop in, throw around some outrageous charges against the carriage industry that you can't back up in order to make a point about how compassionate you are, and pop out unchallenged.

You didn't expect to be taken to task, and have come back spluttering with rage, claws out.

I understand - it's hard getting caught in a LIE in public.

And BTW - if you are lambasting the carriage industry, you are including me, since I am in the industry - see how that works?! LOL

Through of all this, however, you STILL haven't supported your claims of "and for as far back as I can remember, every summer brings an incident of a poor, overworked horse collapsing and dying of heat exhaustion."

And the crickets are still chirping in the deafening silence ROFL

Anonymous said...

Your comments read like a deranged man in a straightjacket. Your inflated, grandiose self-image is embarrassing. No, darling, you don't have the effect on me that you're fantasizing. The fact that you are so defensive and hostile and brimming with rage and sarcasm speaks volumes.

A simple man picks fights because he thinks it makes him look either tough or right. Unfortunately, neither is true.

And happily, I am done with you. Good luck with your crusade.

michaleenflynn52 said...


"deranged...straightjacket...inflated...grandiose...defensive...hostile...brimming with rage and sarcasm"

Project much, "darling"? LOL

I'll take your whole silly answer as a 'no' then.

You can't back up your absurd claims.

You could have just said that, and saved yourself all the trouble of spluttering hysterically.

"And happily, I am done with you"
Translation: I have no good answer to any questions or challenges posited.

As I stated in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Ever hear of the expression that it takes one bad truck driver to make all truck drivers look bad? Well, it could be that this last blog contributor is a good driver. But this way of life is prone to problems and is guilty of private enterprise gone astray. I don't live in the city, but if I did, I would want to be an activist to cause regulation in order to do away with the casualties that have occurred. I agree with Brian, I don't believe it needs to be abolished, but it needs help to survive safely in the coming years. Not only for the horses safety but for all involved, including the keepers and the passengers. Change can quite often cause good outcomes. I leave those who question this issue to do their own research. Some research I've found is thru, carriage ride casualties in nyc: August 1999, January 1999, January 1998, November 1997, Sept 1997, etc. And these stories are the articles that made it to the news, not all stories make it to the news, therefore, I believe there would be much more to report. (No more hostile feuding please, I am merely a horse-lover.) Thank you.

Anonymous said...

There has NEVER been a human fatality in nyc involving a horse carriage and very few horse fattalities. One driver said there are 68 carriages making 2 trips to and from the park everyday. Do the math. Thats like 68,000 trips a year for over 100 years with only 3 horse fatalities! Objectivity people!. And the horse carriage business in nyc is the MOST regulated in the country, possibly the world. I have done a lot of research into this for a paper in college and I know what Im talking about. These horses are fairly treated and well looked after. The aspca has NEVER issued a cruelty violation in the business. EVER. The animal rights extremists have lied about the industry for a long time. and I believe its time to set the record straight. everyone has accidents and the carriage industry actually has a very good safety record. There is always room for improvement in ANY business. But, I want to ask WHY does everyone seem to come down on these people without doing the proper research first? They take whatever they hear as the Gods honest truth. They are high its stands to reason that they would HAVE to take excellent care of their animals! stop harrassing these poor carriage people! they have done nothing wrong.