Animal causeTaxed as cruelty, New York’s horse-drawn carriages are under threat
Yellow carriages, horse-drawn carriages like the Statue of Liberty or Broadway are New York clichés. But these walks are in the sights of elected officials, who prefer electric vehicles.
“Manhattan is the worst place on the planet to work a horse in terms of traffic, noise, pollution and heat,” counters Robert Holden. The 71-year-old New York City councilman authored a speech calling for the replacement of horse-drawn carriages with electric vehicles by June 2024.
For years, animal rights activists — many in the U.S. — have wanted to end this 19th-century tourist attraction around Manhattan’s green lungs. New York now has 130 trainers who hold 68 licenses and house 200 horses in municipal stables.
Horse on ground due to heat wave
In early August, opponents of horse-drawn carriages rallied, especially some activists from the BETA Association (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), when a horse suddenly collapsed on the road during a heat wave afternoon. Manhattan’s grand 9th Avenue is lined with skyscrapers.
A video on social networks shows the animal on the ground while angry motorists call for him to get up. A micro-demonstration against the “cruelty” of horse-drawn carriages later brought together 15 people. American top model Bella Hadid judged the styles to be “barbaric” on Instagram. Fashion star urges New York City Council to pass Robert Holden’s bill
Scared by cars
To animal advocates, New York horses live in poor conditions, suffer from malnutrition and dehydration, are intimidated by car traffic and are overworked. “They’re treated like machines, they’re not machines,” thunders Edita Birngrand, director of the animal group NYCLASS, who thinks horse-drawn carriages have no place in “modern New York.”
Instead, the operators ensure that these horses are treated well and are closely monitored by their department city’s health officials. In fact, they are forbidden to work more than nine hours a day, above 32 degrees in summer and below 7 degrees in winter.
Five weeks vacation
The horses are “happy and healthy. “You can’t force a 1,500-pound (680 kg) animal to do something it doesn’t want to,” insists Christina Hansen, a trainer in New York for ten years. Annual campaigns. Then, the 42-year-old questions what New York would be without horse-drawn carriages. “You see us in movies and on TV. . . We’re as photogenic as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.”
In Central Park, a 45-minute walk still costs $160, tourists are divided in one of the world’s most expensive cities. “Totally immoral!” Pro-ban Briton Kayleigh Tyler chimes in, as does Maria Lucinska, a Polish woman who says the sight of horses “in heat” gives New York a “bad feeling”. Instead, Argentina’s Marina Perry sees in it “a cultural dimension that goes on from generation to generation”.
‘No one wants a golf cart ride’
Opposite, supporters of Robert Holden’s bill expect a vote in October. The text must collect 26 votes out of 51, with the last word going to New York Mayor Eric Adams. Coaches are not banned because the powerful municipal transportation union and coach Christina Hansen think no one in New York likes riding an “electric golf cart.”
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