The New York Times Supports the Carriage Horses

The following editorial appeared in the New York Times in August 2011 supporting the Central Park Horse Drawn Carriages


Some Carriages Should Not Be Horseless

New York Times, Editorial, August 4, 2011 

The horses and carriages were missing from Central Park South on Monday, midafternoon. “Too hot,” explained a salesman trying to lure disappointed tourists into pedicabs instead. “Over 90, they go.”

This is good news: New York’s 210 licensed carriage horses (68 licensed carriages) are not allowed on the street when it is over 90 degrees or under 18 degrees. The animals also must take five-week vacations each year at pastures outside the city. They work nine-hour days and get two veterinarian check-ups every year.

Of course, that’s not enough for some people, who want to do away with this historic business and are becoming increasingly aggressive about it. Anti-carriage protesters stormed the American Girl store on Fifth Avenue last month, ultimately forcing the store to cancel planned carriage trips for customers. (Nice notion there, terrify little girls to make a political point.)

A taxi recently plowed into the back of a carriage near the Plaza Hotel, seriously injuring the hansom driver (but not the horse). So State Senator Tony Avella and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal did what some politicians will do, they called for a state law to end this “archaic industry.” That would whisk a lot of magic out of a trip to New York City for thousands of tourists, and it is not necessary. Riding in hansom cabs is far safer than, say, crossing Delancey at Essex Street or maneuvering a bicycle through rush-hour traffic.

The horses are well treated and monitored closely by the city. We dropped unannounced into Clinton Park Stables, one of four allowed to provide city carriages, and saw that the horses are treated better than advertised. They have large stalls, water that flows with the nudge of a nose and plenty of hay. “These horses were bred to pull a carriage,” says Dr. Dennis Farrell, a veterinarian who helps the city with its large horse population (think police, etc.).

Some groups want to replace the carriages with electric cars. How dreary. As Conor McHugh, the stable manager, said, “That’s all we need in this city — more cars.”