Monday, April 2, 2012

Friends of . . . carriage horses

In New York City, Friends of Animals has long waged war against horse-drawn carriages. And, given the numbers of tourists who find carriage rides romantic and fun, as well as the numbers of horses involuntarily involved in this inhumane and unnecessary industry, that war was and still is warranted.

Traditionally -- in my experience, anyway -- proponents of horse-drawn carriages (often the owners of both, actively guarding their livelihood) insist the horses want to work and are well taken care of. But I've talked with people who have seen the deplorable stables where these carriage horses are housed, and I've seen the horses out pulling carriages in very cruel weather and/or with dreadful street conditions.

It's all about money -- money that's made on the backs of the horses.

And that’s why, when I heard from Edita Birnkrant, the New York director of Friends of Animals, I immediately wanted to share her story of yesterday’s demo in NYC. The photo here shows Lee Hall, FoA’s VP of Legal Affairs, taking part in the event.

(The first and only time I met Lee was in Philadelphia, a couple years ago on Valentine’s day. She was doing the same thing then: demonstrating against horse-drawn carriages. That event introduced me to how FOA “demonstrates”: without chanting, yelling or insulting passersby. Instead, participants protest by quietly holding signs.)

Here are excerpts from Edita’s report on yesterday’s public outreach event and demonstration that Friends of Animals held at the carriage horse hack line from 11:30 am-3 pm.

The carriage horse industry was holding a media event in which they had not only frightened the poor mini-horse involved, but also another horse they claim they are “retiring” to the forced labor camp they call a “sanctuary” in Massachusetts. They unloaded these horses from a trailer and trotted them around on the street and allowed the public to surround the mini-horse and grab at it, as if they were in a petting zoo.

The carriage industry was there with their bizarre signs about sharing the road with horses, who “paved the way,” and most of them were incredibly hostile to us as we handed out our flyers. The police had to get involved when one of them shoved one of our volunteers. Overall, they were infuriated that we ruined their event, outnumbered them, and of course, outclassed them.

In my interview with NY1, I rebut the claim about the industry “retiring” their horses, stressing that the state ban legislation that’s pending would place horses in a true sanctuary, where they can’t be exploited for commercial gain or forced labor. I also pointed out that no horse chooses to pull carriages in NYC, so “retirement” is an absurd term to use.

It was a worthwhile day of action during which many tourists changed their minds about taking carriage rides, hundreds more took our flyers, and we ruined the carriage industry’s efforts to delude the media and public into believing they “retire” their horses anywhere except the slaughterhouse.

For details on the entire situation of carriage horses in NYC, see the latest issue of FoA’s Act*ion Line magazine, which includes Birnkrant’s article, “The Campaign to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages Goes to the State Level; New York Senate Assembly Bill Seeks to End Exploitation.”


Edita Birnkrant said...

Details on how to support and help pass the NY state legislation to ban horse-drawn carriages in NYC:

For Readers who Live in New York State

We urge you to contact your state senators and assemblymembers and ask them to sign on in support as sponsors of Senate Bill S5013, the Bill to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages in New York City, introduced by Senator Tony Avella, and Assembly Bill A7748, the Bill to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages in NYC, introduced by Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal. State the correct bill numbers and the name of each legislator. Reach the State Senate operator at 518-455-2800 . Reach the State Assembly operator at 518-455-4100 . It’s helpful to communicate detailed reasons why you strongly support a ban on horse-drawn carriages in New York City, and why you are urging your state representative to support the bill.

For Readers Outside of New York State

Your power as a potential tourist to New York matters to politicians, and we ask you to please make four calls: two to the New York Senate committee chair, and two to the New York Assembly committee chair—to both their local district and Albany offices. The bills are currently in the Cities Committee in both the Senate and Assembly. Explain to each lawmaker that as a tourist, you would never use a horse-drawn vehicle, and ask them to help make New York State more progressive, and more beloved, by supporting the bill that would stop this use of its most famous city’s exploited horses and let them go into sanctuary. Be sure to tell each person you speak with where you live. Hearing from people from all over the country and the world will have a huge impact on these decision makers.

Contact in the Senate: Senator Andrew J. Lanza. District Office, 718-984-4073 ; Albany Office, 518-455-3215 . Be sure to tell Senator Lanza’s office that you support Bill S5013, introduced by Senator Tony Avella.
Contact in the Assembly: Assemblymember Carl E. Heastie. District Office, 718-654-6539 ; Albany Office, 418.455.4800 . Be sure to tell Assemblymember Heastie that you support Bill A7748, introduced by Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal.

Link to entire FoA article:

Chelsea Kronick said...

Second hand information is just that, second hand. Had you been present at this event there is NO WAY that you could have missed Edita and the rest of her anti-horse activists engaging in screaming, chanting, baiting and derogatory comments aimed at anyone who disagreed or refrained from comment including children.

I would highly recommend that you tour the stables and look at the conditions the horses are living in. Edita and many others often claim that the carriage industry only offers tours when they have time to "clean up." It doesn't matter though how much or little cleaning they do, the fact is you can't move walls or get rid offensive odors.

Cruelty and abuse are terms with legal definitions. As it stands that carriage horses are not subject to violations of those legal terms. Everyone is entitled to their opinion though, and many people do not feel that the city is the best place for horses. That is a different fight than the one that WIN and Friends of Animals is engaging in. Opinion and gut reaction can not and should not influence legislature which would relieve horses of the means to provide for their own retirement, as well as destroy the lives and livelihoods of drivers, stable hands and owners.
When a human has a job, and works to support him or herself, we do not pity them. We do not scream "shame shame" as they pass for working their hours and feeling pride in their work. We say instead "good for you," and "congratulations." Being a member of the working class, human or animal, and providing and being provided for by your own means should not be looked down upon. Everything the horse does, he does with man. For 6000 years, horses and humans have been companions, sharing a burden. Only now that horses are considered luxury items are people crying over their participation in labor. Don't. History is working, humans and animals are working and there is absolutely no shame in that.

Pat Summers said...

Who/what power decreed that horses are in any "working class" with humans, Chelsea? or that horses should have to "provide for their own retirement" -- from a "job" they never voluntarily took on?! Free horses could be provided by their own means.

For 6000 years, etc. -- sorry, Chelsea, horses didn't voluntarily sign on to that job. You've got some false parallels going here, and at best I'd call it sophistry.

Anonymous said...

Least you forget Pat that 6000 years ago humans ATE horses. Yes times have changed and often for the better. In those moments of evolution animals and humans both have to adapt to their new symbiosis.

Lets be really frank , you don't have to like something but to attempt to abolish it on a thinly veiled platform of "abuse" is pretty pathetic.

Considering Editah's group is the same one who barged into a children's store with crass photos and myopic chants and claims with full intention to cause stress and mental anguish to the children there in order to force their parents and the store away from the carriage rides previously planned I would not trust ANYTHING she said even if her tongue came notorized.

This is the same group who along with E.Forel posted a whole story about a carriage horse with a "broken leg" that was full of nothing but subterfuge..when refuted by none other then the horses on veterinarian explaining that it was a rolled ankle and the horse was not only alive and well but sound and back at work .. Their reaction was to attempt to discredit the health professional.

Due tell how Edita or her ilk suddenly have become so versed in equine knowledge and medical care that what they "think" happened supplants the voice of an accredited industry professional ? Are you supporting their claims that the public should believe them over a professional?

Why don't you watch some of their "peaceful" demonstrations video's where they belittle or shame children or use racial slurs in reference to the drivers /owners ?

I'm all for your passion about living creatures ..just remember if you go to bed with dogs you often wake up with fleas.

Chelsea Kronick said...

How very mature. I do appreciate how clever you seem to think you are, editing your blog post to make it appear that my comment is irrelevant rather than addressing the problems inherent in your synthesis of this hearsay.

God or no, humans have a responsibility to provide for what we have tamed. There are NO wild horses. Every wild population (sans Pretzwalski horses which were extinct in the wild and reintroduced from captive populations) are feral, animals that were domesticated. I would prefer an honest approach to this business of animal rights, one where you and others who align themselves with your philosophies are honest about their agenda. I do not want to live in a world without animals, I do not want my children to grow up without the massive cognitive, physical and emotional benefits that human-animal interaction yields, and I do not want to abandon the animals I am responsible for on the mandate of people so misguided as to think that something as powerful and enduring as the bond between human and animals constitutes slavery. I spend my time picking up shit, my animals, both those who work with me, and those who provide me with no tangible or financial benefits accrue more of my time, energy and money than any other aspect of my life. So please, tell me that they are the slaves. Because if they are, then what must I be?

Chelsea Kronick said...

Okay, I know you aren't going to post this, but I just want to encourage you to delve a little deeper into the contradictions of your activism and look at the agendas of the animal rights organizations you align yourself with. I wonder if you believe, as is the official position of PeTA that your cat would be better off in "the wild," starving to death than safe and loved in your home. Some how, there is an arbitrary line drawn between working animals and "pets," but in the end this distinction is arbitrary and only encouraged to get animal owners and animal lovers on board with this totalitarian anti-animal agenda. We are all against cruelty and exploitation, whether you believe it or not. The difference is that our definition of exploitation and cruelty does not include the continuation of practices that were paramount in the development and continuation of specific breeds. Just like you cannot (I would hope)say that it is cruel for a cat to hunt or a border collie to herd, or a Labrador to retrieve, so it is not cruel for a draft horse, standardbred or other warmblood horse breed to pull. To eliminate that is to waste the natural instinct and inclination of the breed, who is, like a dog or cat socially motivated to interact with their humans. "Working" is that interactions, and there is scientific evidence (from studies on cortisol levels, heart rate response and capillary refill time)that shows that domesticated and socialized animals reap similar health benefits from interactions with humans as humans gain from them. There is a distinct mutuality to this that is oft ignored, and it is painful. I would hope, at the very least that you will look at the organizations and the people you have aligned yourself with, and do some reflecting. Hypocrisy is unbecoming, most especially when it comes not from a place of confliction, but from a place of ignorance.

CarriageHorseLover Mrs. H.B. Willis said...

People like Edita Birnkrant, who is paid to lobby against the NYC carriage horses really don't have the NYC carriage horses' best interests at heart. They are clueless as to the bond that horse owners share with our horses.

Just her comments regarding members of the Horse and Carriage Association of NYC, Blue Star Equiculture and their retirement ceremony for Paddy shows how ignorant and dismissive she is of our world.

At good retirement farms, horses are not "warehoused" in pastures. They are used to rountines and to being handled, so this is continued when they go to a retirement farm. Blue Star will see to it that Paddy transitions into his new routine so that he is not stressed by the change. The staff will see to it that he gets the exercise he needs to remain fit and healthy.

Horses are reassured by familiar surroundings and routines. Going to live at a farm after 12 years in NYC (even with 5 weeks vacation per year) will a big change for him. To just throw him out in a pasture with a bunch of stange horses would be cruel.

Horses, like people, need exercise to remain fit. I operate a retirement farm, on a much smaller scale that Blue Star Equiculture, and I assure you that working in harness or under saddle is not cruel, and does not "hurt" the horses.

All of the horses here are exercised under saddle or in harness as is appropriate with their age and fitness level.

This routine WAS suggested by our vet as a means to make sure that they remain fit, sound and healthy as they age.

CarriageHorseLover Mrs. H.B. Willis said...

One of our horses came from the much talked-about herd situation in the green grass pasture that people against animal ownership love to hold up as the "perfect" situation for horses.

Our carriage horse, who does special occasion livery that helps to fund the lifetime care of SIX horses (including herself) here, was in a herd situation before coming here.

When she arrived here, she was several hundred pounds underweight and had bite and kick wounds all over her body.

Who were her abusers? Why the other horses in the herd were. Many uninformed but well-meaning anti-carriage horse activists think is best for horses to live in a herd situation in a big pasture. THIS simply is not true, for various reasons.

One of the most important of these is the nature of horses themselves, especially in a herd situation. You see, when it comes to food, horses can be pretty brutal to each other. When it comes to enforcing the herd "pecking order" they are equally brutal.

Our poor Dixie was an older draft horse in among younger light horses. The heavy horse breeds are by nature usually less agressive and more laid back than most light horses.

There she was out in a large pasture with a bunch of other horses- I guess all the anti-carriage horse extremists have visions of butterlies and sunshine dancing through their headsm but that was not how it is.

Well for Dixie, it was pure hell. Every day at feeding time she was kicked, bitten and shoved aside from the large communal troughs. Sure she had grass to eat, but that was not enough to maintain al older 1,800 lb horse.

Finally after a year of "retirement" she looked so bad, the camp owners were ashamed for anyone to see her. "Retirement" as envisioned by misinformed animal rights activists did not agree with her at all.

She was going to be sent to an auction because they didn't want the expense of burying her. She got lucky. They sent her to this retirement farm instead of the auction house.

When she came here she was full the evidence of the rough treatment she had endured- not from people, but from her fellow horses. She had hair missing all over, evidence of having been kicked and bitten for months. She even had several fresh bite and kick wounds that needed cleaning and "doctoring." She is just fine now.

CarriageHorseLover Mrs. H.B. Willis said...

As you can see, I have a lot to say on the subject of carriage horses and horse retirement, but I doubt it will see the light of day.

Within jsut a few months,our mare recovered from her "retirenemt" in her former owners' pasture. All her scuffs and sores were healed and she had gained back most of her weight. Now almost two years later, there is little evidence that she had ever endured the CRUELTY of the open pasture.

Really, rather than talk about things that they really don't know about, the radical rights activists like Edita Birnkrant need to get some real experience around horses.

I am sure that the NYC carriage horses are much better off working in NYC than they are off in some back pasture slowly starving to death because their owners can't afford to feed them as much as they need.

Carriage horses are highly trained domestic horses. They are used to being taken care of by their owners. Throwing either of them out into some big pasture for "retirement" is NOT what is best for them and thousands of working horses like the-- even if they are provided loads of feed ant feeding time.

And I am not really convinced that those leading and acting as spokespeople for these anti-carriage horse groups are as concerned about the horses as they apparently are concerned about what they view as the inconveniences thesehorses' presence in NYC causes them.

Along with alleging cruelty, they are also very quick to complain that the horse' urine stinks and that sometimes their diapers spill leaving a few "road apples" behind.

They also seem very fixated on what they claim are violations of the many and various laws that govern fares charged and the behavior of the dirvers' in general.

From their pages and sites filled with snarky and juvenile personal attacks on members of the carriage association, it is obvious that they have a personal vendetta against the carriage horse owners and drivers as well.

CarriageHorseLover Mrs. H.B. Willis said...

Gee- I hope you bothered to read my well documented and well thought out comments before you deleted them.

Once more for the record- Good horse retirement farms DO NOT just warehouse the horses in great big pastures and throw some food at them in a herd situation.

Good retirement farms like Bluestar Equiculture and my own much smaller farm Elysian Fields Farm provide adequate and necessary exercise that is age and fitness appropriate for EACH horse.

This may include exercise under saddle or in harness. Horses are creatures of habit and routine. They are happiest in familiar surroundings with a regular routine.

Good retirement farms feed each horse individually at least twice a day in individual situations so tht no horse is driven away from its feed by the more dominant horses.

Pat Summers said...

(Blogger's Note: Enough already. I've junked the two latest comments [more from courageous "Anonymous"] because they were redundant. They also practiced what the writers were preaching against: name calling and accusations, as well as unsubstantiated opinions. If this blog had sound, these comments and some already published would be very noisy. And noise does not promote rational thought or talk.)