An Open Response to Mr. Wood

This is in response to a posting on the's facebook page of a photo taken 23 years ago on  on published in the Daily News in 1991.  It called the members of IconicNYC both ignorant, cruel, and selfish.  

There are other photos posted on the page which we will not attribute to Mr. Wood but will remove because of the objectionable language.  

We will leave Mr. Wood's photo as it is part of the debate.  We wonder if the anti-hose people would extend the same courtesy if the shoe was on the other foot.  Something tells us that would not be the case. A pdf of our response may be seen here


Dear Mr. Wood,

We are neither ignorant nor cruel as you would suggest in your note.

What is cruel is taking away someone’s livelihood, taking away an animal that a person cares for and condemning it to slaughter, painting a false picture to the public, and trying to break a person’s spirit by subjugating them to constant verbal abuse and misrepresentations.

1991 was a long time ago - over a lifetime for me.  I am not here to make light of what you photographed.  I think all New Yorkers would agree that looking a horse that is hurt or any animal that is hurt is not pleasant.  Just as if the pro Carriage Drivers were to post a photo of a draft horse in a slaughterhouse, most would instinctively turn away.  Yet, isn’t that what you and the other animal advocates are effectively doing?  A Draft Horse is bred to work.  They are last animals to be adopted by “equestrians” because they can’t ride them, and thus, the first animals that are sent to slaughter.  Ironically, by having the Central Park Carriages a number of horses who were to be slaughtered were saved and at work.  Bringing joy to many.

In the 23 years since the posted photo was taken, there have been multiple new regulations enacted at the City level to further protect the carriage horses.  The carriage horses now have larger stalls than New York City uses to house its own mounted police horses.  I’ve read these regulations.

They call for among other things:

“Stables in which horses used in a rental horse business are kept shall be open for inspection by authorized officers, veterinarians and employees of the Department of Health, and any persons designated by the Commissioner to enforce the provisions of this title, agents of the ASPCA, police officers, and employees of the Department of Consumer Affairs”

"Food and water. Rental horses while at work shall be allowed to drink. However, a rental horse shall not be allowed to drink in large quantities unless it is first rested. Troughs shall be cleaned daily. Sufficient nutritional foods* and water shall be provided free of dust, mold, vermin and other contaminants. Rental horses shall be fed at least twice daily with the larger feeding being provided after the horse has completed work."

"Medical care. Every horse required to be licensed hereunder shall be examined by a veterinarian prior to its use in a rental horse business and thereafter at intervals of not less than once a year. The horse shall be examined and treated for internal parasites; for its general physical condition, which is to include inspection of teeth, hoofs, and shoes; and for its physical ability to perform the work or duties as required of it. The examination shall also include a record of any injury, disease, or deficiency observed by the veterinarian at the time, together with any prescription or humane correction or disposition of the same. A health certificate provided by the Department and signed by the examining veterinarian shall be maintained at the stable premises at which such horse is located, and shall contain the identification number, age and condition of the horse, as well as the maximum number of hours a day that, in the opinion of the veterinarian said horse should work. A copy of said certificate shall be mailed to the Bureau of Animal Affairs."


23 years is a long time.  We’ve had multiple mayors and multiple city councils elected.  None have seen it necessary to end this beloved tradition.  The New York Times, The New York Post and  The Daily News, the paper who originally printed your photo those many years ago, have all come out in favor of the Central Park Carriage Horses.    Would all 3 major New York City daily newspapers have supported the trade if the abuse you speak of existed?  This is neither a Democratic issue nor a Republican issue.  It is a New York City issue.  The majority of New Yorkers support the carriage drivers.

For me, Mr. Wood, the issue started out as saving the Central Park Carriage Horses – an iconic NYC tradition – a tradition beloved by New Yorkers and tourists alike.   I have not seen the greed you speak of on the part of the carriage drivers but rather 300 hardworking individuals who are trying to make ends meet.  When I have been in the park, the drivers have come up to me and shaken my hand.  They have thanked me they have shown genuine gratitude for the small part I have played.  

What happens to these men?  What happens to their livelihood if the City “confiscates” their businesses?  What about their families?  Their houses?  This is the only  real estate that we and the Mayor should care about.

 For Mayor de Blasio who campaigned as the peoples mayor to turn his back on these workers is unfathomable to me.  He holds out a shiny new car model  - a toy – no different than what you may have built as a child and says were going to take away your jobs but let you buy these (for $250,000 a piece).  And BTW if you can’t afford them you can work for NYCLASS , the very group that put you out of business --  never mind the fact that no prototype exists, no safety testing has been performed , and no timeline for production exists.  Doesn’t  this strike you as wrong?  Who has political influence? 

The Mayor represents the entire city not just one small interest group.  For him to state that he has made up his mind without visiting the stables, meeting the drivers, and paint a picture that isn’t is wrong.

If being cruel, ignorant and selfish means saving these 300 jobs, saving a NYC tradition, and having the people of New York City on my side than I will take that every day over being enlightened and sending 200 horses to slaughter.