In further proof of why horse-drawn carriages should be banned from New York City, a 6-year-old horse, Oreo, bolted near Columbus Circle in midtown Manhattan on Thursday, breaking free of his carriage and running down Ninth Avenue.
The driver, Mehmet Dundar, and two Australian tourists, Nathan and Kelly Thompson, were thrown to the ground. Dundar suffered abrasions to his hands and needed 26 stitches on one foot; the two passengers suffered only minor injuries. Dundar emphasized that what happened was not the fault of the horse but was due to noise and cars, says the New York Daily News:
…Dundar said the crash of metal beams falling at a construction site on West 59th St. — coupled with the blare of car horns — spooked the gelding and caused him to bolt.
“It’s not the horse’s fault,” Dundar said after returning home to Bensonhurst from Bellevue Hospital. “They were unloading metal frames. One fell down, there was a crash, and then cars coming were honking. The noise … scared the horse.”
Dundar was trying to merge into traffic in Columbus Circle around 4:20pm — commute time — when Oreo bucked free. He hit a parked car before police officers coralled him between 57th and 59th streets.
Oreo escaped injury, getting some minor scrapes to his hips and mouth. The ASPCA has suspended him from working and will examine him after he gets some R & R. As Christina Hansen of the Horse and Carriage Association of New York City, said to the New York Daily News, “In our business, these horses all find private homes after they retire. This horse has nothing to worry about, nor do any of the other horses.”
Elizabeth Forel, president of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, says that there have been eleven incidents involving horse-drawn carriages in New York this year. As she points out, “The carriages are flimsy, people don’t wear seatbelts and it’s open – you wonder why the city would allow something like that especially in such a congested area during rush hour.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is of the opposite view, saying that horses and humans have had a bond “since caveman times” and that “I think it’s something that a lot of tourists really love and it makes New York, New York. It would be a shame to lose them. There’s always going to be accidents.”
Horses in the city are all very charming but, of course, in “caveman times,” there were no cities and buildings, with cars and buses and taxis and motorscooters and bikes and pedestrians and four lanes of traffic, not to mention pedestrians. It’s extremely fortunate that no one was seriously injured on Thursday. But what if someone had been?
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