Monday, December 12, 2011

Beginning of the end?

Horse-drawn carriages. No, we’re not talking 18th century, but 21st. Despite all that’s known about treatment of the horses and dangers to the horses (as well as their cabs and passengers), some people – with more money than brains – still find it charming to ride around cities and towns drawn by horses.

But the times may be a changin’ – at least in Manhattan. A NYTimes story on Dec.7 indicated this “tranquil New York pleasure” is now facing a “growing storm of opposition.” It’s about time.

“Animal rights advocates are gaining support for legislation that would ban the hansom cabs.” That’s the news in brief. It’s not yet a done deal, and no doubt more hurdles will be thrown up along the way, but there’s serious talk about it.

Of course that serious talk springs as much from greed as from altruism. The Times reports that real estate values are rising and “developers covet the stables on the Far West Side where the horses have long been kept.”

Well, we’re not fussy about why horse-drawn carriages may end in NYC – just so it ends.

According to the Times story, “The city’s licensed carriage horse industry – 68 carriages, 216 horses and 182 drivers – brings in roughly $15 million annually. Drivers charge $50 for a 20-minute ride through Central Park, and $20 for each additional 10 minutes. On a good day, they can make 15 trips.”

It’s worth pulling up the print story* to see the photo of the horse pulling a carriage, squeezed in among cars and other vehicles, having to inhale noxious fumes and endure traffic noise all around, while walking on uneven and/or wet and/or frozen road surfaces.

May this “storm of opposition” become a perfect storm – for horse welfare.

*“Push to ban New York carriage horses gains steam,” by Emily B. Hager, Dec.7, 2011


(note: the photo shows a horse and driver in Philadelphia -- also a problem scene -- in February, 2010)

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