NYC Proposes to Reduce Number of Horse-Drawn Carriages in Central Park

Carriage rides in Central Park have been given a reprieve from Mayer de Blasio’s campaign promise to ban them. Under the proposed agreement, the number of horses (and licenses) would be reduced and rides would be restricted to the Park.

If you’ve always dreamed of riding through Central Park in a horse-draw carriage, there’s still time. Despite Mayor de Blasio’s campaign promise to eliminate the carriage trade, three years later the deal on the table is a compromise: the number of horses will be reduced from 220 today down to 95 by 2018, carriage rides will be restricted to the park, and the horses will be housed in a new stable, to be built in Central Park by October 1, 2018. The stable will be large enough for 75 horses; 20 additional horses will be rotated in and out of service to allow them to rest.

The City Council must approve the deal, described by the mayor’s office as “an agreement in concept,” and a hearing could occur as soon as this week, officials said.

Drivers tell a slightly different story. Today 180 drivers have licenses to operate carriages in the city and they plan to continue fighting to keep as many horses and drivers employed as possible.

Personally, I’m glad to see the horses stay, even if in reduced numbers. Most of the horses I’ve seen in the park have looked well-cared for and sound; talking to the drivers I’ve heard real love for their horses in their voices. Many of the carriage drivers come from families who’ve had licenses for several generations. I’ve always wondered what the protesters thought would happen to the horses if carriages were banned. While images of green fields and retirement floated over their heads like speech bubbles, my own prediction was darker: New Holland sales and one way tickets to Canada. Hopefully, with a more gradual decline, this will allow more horses the chances to find homes (although I think animal rights activists still haven’t thought through the implications of taking the horses off the streets of NY). My guess is that ultimately, the numbers of horses/licenses will be higher than the 95 planned.

Update: According to some of the carriage drivers, the real issue driving the proposed downsizing of the industry and relocation of the stables has little to do with protecting the horses — and everything to do with real estate. The current stables are located on Manhattan’s West Side where development of the Hudson Yards has significantly raised the value of those buildings. However, the owners of the Carriage Houses say they are not interested in selling.

What do you think?

2 thoughts on “NYC Proposes to Reduce Number of Horse-Drawn Carriages in Central Park

  1. I used to live in Chile and Uruguay when many horse drawn carts served the commerce of the “little” people in the cities and the countryside.

    The carriage horses I’ve seen in NYC have ALL been properly tacked, of appropriate size for the vehicle they draw, well shod, well groomed, in other words the NYC horses are much more impressive than the ones that I saw used commercially in South America.

    I do not understand the modern American reluctance to allow horses to earn their living as carriage/cart horses. Draft can be a lot less abussive to the horse (if properly managed, etc.) than life as a riding horse. Yes, pavement is hard on the horses, but when properly conditioned the pavement is not much worse on the horse’s feet than “normal” conditions for American horses, especially those horses without good regular hoof care. Most horse lameness occurs in the riding rings, race tracks, show rings, riding trails and dirt/gravel roads, all with footing that is supposed to be better than pavement.

    With modern laws against animal abuse and a population that now has the ability to put ANY mistreated horse on the Internet I do not worry about the large city carriage and cart horses as much as I do about, say, backyard horses owned by beginners or certain show horses.

    Since these carriage horses earn their way, their owners can afford to pay for a lot higher class of farriers and better shoeing than most of us normal horse people can afford. They may be able to afford much better feed. I bet that the veterinarian is called promptly. If the owners and drivers do not treat their horses properly they are liable to become temporarily world famous in a very negative way. These horses probably live a better life than 85% of the world’s horse population.

    I would much rather see these fine horses work in Central Park than end up going into a slaughterhouse.

    I am GLAD that I will still be able to see horses in NYC.

  2. Absolutely! There are so many bigger and more worthy targets for animal activists than the NYC carriage horse business . . . but sometimes I suspect it’s not about the animals, it’s about the press.

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