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.”