Letters: Too Rough For Horseplay

Written by NYPress on . Posted in News Our Town, Opinion Our Town, Opinion West Side Spirit, Uncategorized.

We received such an overwhelming number of comments on our story “Too Rough For Horseplay,” about the push to ban the Central Park horses, that we have decided to dedicate a page to showcase some of the emails, letters and web comments we received. You can join the debate by emailing editorial@manhattanmedia.com. —The Editors

Support the Bill

It is not a surprise to read that those making a living off the backs of the New York City carriage horses want to see the industry continue.

It’s the people WITHOUT a financial interest in it whose opinion should be taken most to heart, and the great majority of those people want to see an end to this antiquated business.

Note that the recent reports of accidents and deaths are only the ones that have been captured by cell phone and camera; it’s logical to assume that there are many other stumbles, spooks, collapses and, maybe, deaths that go unreported.

Please support State Sen. Tony Avella and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal’s bill to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City, and then let’s do all we can to prevent Christine Quinn from becoming mayor in 2013, as she is a staunch supporter of the carriage industry.

—Mickey Kramer


A Gold Standard

Just finished reading the article by Anam Baig and Sean Creamer. I am not a city resident but a frequent visitor, living in Sleepy Hollow, Westchester County. Having owned and ridden horses for the better part of 15 years, I have some knowledge of the horse world.

It appears that the New York Horse and Carriage Association has done its due diligence for the profession. The formation of ClipClopNYC to distribute information and open its doors to the general public is a gold standard for any profession. The fact that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene licenses the horse and carriage industry is another gold standard.

Have horses sustained injuries in the carriage business? Yes, they have. If one were to really examine the circumstances surrounding these incidents, I am sure that much less sensational stories would emerge than what appears in the local papers and would certainly diminish the fire behind the so-called activism.

—Jim Masiello 

All in Your Mind

The bottom line is that it is far safer to take a carriage ride than ride a bike. Or walk or exist. The argument “carriage horses are abused because the city is a risky place to live” is hilarious. Ban all animals and living beings in New York City because they are mortal. Grow up, peeps. The stables are great, the horses are great. The only abuse is in your own heads.



Right From Wrong

Having just finished reading the article with great hope that it would be in favor of abolishing the carriages, I was dismayed to see it take a turn toward the opposite. I’m certainly not against the presentation of both sides, but it seemed to me it weighed heavily in favor of the carriage industry.

Then on to the comments (sigh), all of which seemed to be written only by carriage supporters. Excerpt: “look at the faces of the children when they see the horses, when they get to pet the horses and, if they’re lucky, get to feed the horses a carrot.” As if this cruel industry was all sweetness and light (not to mention this is not about the delight of children). But I suppose any press is good that brings this situation to light. Those with a conscience will know right from wrong.

—Catherine Messina


Ranches Next?

It seems to me that if the stables and horses are well kept, as the experienced horse people seem to be saying (horse people are generally the FIRST to shut down horse abuse!), then the animal rights people have forgotten that America was founded on the relationship between people and horses. How did we transport ourselves and our belongings to the West Coast to achieve “Manifest Destiny”? How do we catch and medicate cattle on 600,000-acre ranches—will we ban the use of horses on ranches and relegate those cows to live in large sheds instead of roaming the range?

—K. Taylor-Rhys


Well Taken Care Of

We went to ClipClopNYC to see for ourselves what was going on with the New York carriage horses. We found a pleasant, well-kept working barn. The horses looked good and were well-groomed. They were friendly and wanted to interact with our large group as we wandered about the building. An abused or stressed animal would go to the back of the stall and attempt to ignore us or turn away. Not these guys; they were very friendly—something a horse out in public needs to be.

The stable was airy, with good ventilation. Fans and misters were available for summer heat. There were sprinklers throughout the building. Each stall was matted and well bedded. There was free-access hay and water. Manure was managed well enough that there was next to no odor in a building housing 75 horses—something that is not possible if it is not regularly kept up with. The workers we saw throughout the building were calm and gentle with the horses and we saw several being prepared for their day’s work—including walking down the ramps. The horses negotiate the ramps at a normal walk, not sliding down or walking with a hesitating step as if to keep their balance. Not an issue to be concerned with.

—T. Haertlein


Horses Can’t Cope

I don’t know if you folks missed the fact that there are no sprinklers on street corners, no hay beds in the roads, no fans or heaters. New York City climates are hard to endure at times, but people can cope—we can stop in air-conditioned stores or heated cabs. For the horses, it’s not all that simple.

You speak of ignorance, but there is no greater ignorance than the refusal to change. How can you possibly say that a horse is better off living in crowded New York City than in an open field, free to roam where they please? If you want your kids to see a horse, take them to a farm, not Central Park.

—V. Rebel

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  • M. Burgos

    In response to Ms. Rosenthal’s comments about the horse carriages in Central Park, and with due respect, “Horses are farm animals and obviously, unless raised in a city, not used to cars and loud noises. The number of accidents caused by the carriages is minimal compared to accidents caused by reckless drivers. “The horses that pull the carriages are “working horses” – many of them “draft” horses. Draft horses are raised to work and they are used to pull heavier loads than a carriage.

    Central Park horses are not being “forced” to work – they enjoy working!! Perhaps Ms. Rosenthal should visit some farms and see what working horses do instead of campaigning to send the horses to a farm to die of boredom.

    The carriages in Central Park go back more than sixty years and the idea of bringing antique cards instead of carriages is absurd. Why would anyone want to see the park in an enclosed structure, even if antique? Carriages add to the beauty of the park as well as introduce nature to young children – who really need it more than what they see on TV these days! Please!

    There are many other issues to worry about in this City – like crime, homelessness, and not to mention empty businesses – these issues are a reality and need attention! Let’s leave the carriages and the horses in the park – where they belong!!

    Asking people to go to a farm if they want to see a horse, is almost backwards – the reality is that many families don’t have the money or a car to do that. There is no reason to go outside the city when one can enjoy nature at home!!

  • Marianne Crawford

    Stop torturing horses for money!

  • Jennifer Canfield

    For the people who think it’s okay to drive a horse around the city: get a reality check. Hook yourselves up to a jitney or whatever you can pull and trot around the city all day breathing fumes, hearing honking horns and only resting when some one says you can or eat by the same token. You are cold, hot, tired, hungry, your body aches and the harness makes you sore…who do you tell if you can’t speak? Horses have much more to offer than what they’ve been recognized for. And yes, they have suffered humanity’s whims as beasts of burden for centuries. Isn’t it about time intelligent people support repaying our debt to them? There are many well educated and well trained horse people out there who have come around to understanding the natural instincts and needs of horses and use them in a productive and considerate way. Enduring the urban environment which the carriage industry necessitates is most certainly not one of them.

  • TheBarnRules

    Funny that Ms. Messina only quotes a sentence from my letter, but missed the most important part, a part she, nor any other anti-horse people have addressed:.

    There has NEVER been a carriage horse driver cited for abuse of a carriage horse.

    There has NEVER been a citation for mistreatment, cruelty, etc.

    Three horses have died in traffic accidents while on duty in over 30 years; seven other horses have died while working in over 30 years. That’s 10 horses in over 30 years! I am in no way minimizing the death of any horse, but that is a remarkable record. There is no other riding discipline that can come close to that number.

    The New York City carriage horses are some of the most regulated animals in this country. The fact there has never been a citation for mistreatment or cruelty, even with an awful lot of folks looking for it (including the ASPCA which supports a ban), speaks volumes.

    Why did so many of us, carriage drivers and non-carriage drivers but horse lovers all, travel from across the country (Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, West Virginia, Massachusetts, to name a few) to NYC this past weekend? Because we wanted to see for ourselves what was really going on with the NYC carriage horses and, frankly, they live far better lives than many horses. The stable we toured is clean, open, airy, and well-ventilated, stalls well-bedded, plenty of hay, custom mix grain, automatic waterers, sprinklers in case of, God forbid, a fire, misters and fans. The horses were all in good weight and condition – bright eyed, engaged and engaging. We saw the stable hands moving the carriages by hand, by themselves. We walked up and down the ramp and saw horses do the same.

    Come out to the hack line and see for yourself – look at the faces of the children when they see the horses, when they get to pet the horses, and, if they’re lucky, they get to feed the horses a carrot. Ask a real horseperson, not one of the radical animal rights activists who have called the horses “disgusting”, what they think about the horses’ well-being. Horses bring a different element to the city – one that would be a real shame to lose.

    Ultimately this fight is not about the NYC carriage horses. What this really boils down to is the radical animal rights activists’ goal of eliminating any human-animal interaction.

    I urge you to support the NYC carriage horses.

  • Eric Nix

    What the anti carriage people lack is Horse knowledge and a willingness to learn. Horses Can’t Cope, Are You for real? Are You really that dumb? Sprinklers on the street? Hay beds in the road?

  • Sarah

    V. Rebel (Horse’s Can’t Cope) My country horses have never been in an air conditioned OR heated building- they don’t have sprinklers in the field, nor do they have fan waving slave boys to feed them bon-bons while they lounge in their hay beds and fret over the next week’s weather forcast. They are coping just fine living pretty much as horses have for a long long time… only without the fear of being dinner to a saber toothed tiger. Horses grow a winter coat in winter, and shed it in spring, come summer they sweat. They accept weather without questions or self pity- stop projecting. Like the tree in the forest which fell without anyone hearing it…or perhaps more like the ostrich with it’s head… I can assure you that making sure you can’t see any horses in weather when you walk past Central Park- does not mean that the world’s horses are now riding around in air conditioned taxi cabs.

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