The American Girl Doll store in New York cancelled a planned special event with carriage rides through Central Park after a radical animal rights group held an event at the store.
I’m sorry. To me this has crossed the line into absurdity. I understand that it’s a great publicity maker for the anti-carriage horse contingent, but for the girls and parents who wanted to spend a day in the magical environment of the American Girl Doll store? This was something they didn’t need to experience.
Let me state up front. I am not against the NYC carriage horses. I grew up in New York and am there frequently. I often walk through the park and my family will testify that I talk to many of the drivers. I look carefully at the horses. I’ve yet to see one that isn’t well groomed, in good weight and sound when they move off. the drivers often come from families that have owned carriage horses for generations. They are horseman who care about their horses. One driver told me that he’d gotten his horse (a standardbred) from the New Holland auction. The horse was being sold by the Amish and the carriage driver proudly told me how the horse had thrived under his care.
Yes, there are accidents. Most recently a taxi driver hit a carriage outside of the Plaza Hotel, injuring the driver but not the horse. Bad driving endangers pedestrians and cyclists as well as horses; the carriage driver was not at fault.
I support animal welfare. I am glad that there are inspections of the stables, that there are laws governing the safe use of horses, and that people care about them.
I came across some correspondence on the Facebook page No Walk in the Park, posted by the organizer of the event at the American Girl Doll Store, Edita Birnkraut. She is the director of New York office of the Friends of Animals. Have they ever even handled a horse? They certainly have never set foot in any of the stables where the NYC carriage horses are housed.
You can read the recent New York Times editorial for that — the journalists have been there.
No Walk in the Park
Clarissa – we need to be very sensitive and cognizant of a horse’s behavior when we live with them. Horses do like to “work” – but this means that they love to learn new things because it makes them feel proud and good about themselves. Domesticated horses should be able to be led by a harness for their own good – just as a dog needs to learn to go outside your home or be able to walk on a leash – for their safety – same with a horse. If there is a fire in the barn, you want to be able to lead your horse to safety. They are, after all, not wild mustangs.
That said, I am opposed to using horses to pull carriages at all.
July 21 at 6:48am · 1 person
No Walk in the Park
Further – domestication brings with it new challenges so we can all live together. My friends at one of the horse rescues do ride their horses but they do it without a saddle and this means no bit. I am not opposed to this at all. The horses seem to love it – and their bond is very close. I am one of the lucky ones i guess – I have cats and they (as all of you know) refuse to do anything you want. They try to domesticate us – make us do for them. We are the exploited slaves. :-)”