You may know that PETA and New Yorkers Against Horse-Drawn Carriages have an active campaign to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City. Pamela Anderson, Alec Baldwin, Peter Dinklage, Kristen Johnston, Pink and other caring celebrities are promoting the campaign and urging people to contact the New York City Council to voice their opposition to the carriages. (If you haven’t already done so, please sign the petition to New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.)
Now, PETA is also calling on officials to ban horse-drawn carriage rides in Greenville County, S.C. Two cars recently hit carriages during the Fountain Inn’s Spirit of Christmas Past tour of decorated homes in the area. Mayor Gary Long said that the city will review its policy for carriage rides, but that he hopes the horses will be a part of next year’s festival.
Far too many people have a laissez-faire attitude about horse-drawn carriages. They’re over-romanticized and portrayed as an innocuous tradition, but they’re anything but charming and harmless, and they have no place in our modern civilization. Most horses are not comfortable working among cars and trucks, and many accidents, injuries, and even deaths have resulted because horses have become “spooked” in traffic. According to veterinarian Holly Cheever, it is normal for horses to “react to threatening situations with panic and flight.”
Horses are not covered under the Animal Welfare Act; their only protection comes from already-overburdened local animal control authorities who have little time to make sure that the horses are not overworked or that the carriage operators are following regulations. In winter, horses must trudge through snow and ice, and in summer they often suffer from dehydration or heatstroke. One study found that the temperature of the asphalt can be up to 50 degrees hotter than the air temperature. Horses often become lame and their hooves deteriorate from constantly walking and standing on hard streets. And, as Dr. Cheever points out, horses’ nostrils are usually only 3 to 3 1/2 feet above street level, so the animals are “truly … living a nose-to-tailpipe existence.”
Because horse-drawn carriages are inhumane and pose a danger to public safety, they’ve been banned in several cities, including Key West, Palm Beach, and Treasure Island, Fla.; Las Vegas; Nev.; and Biloxi, Miss., as well as Paris and London.
It’s time to say neigh to carriage rides in other cities too. In addition to signing the petition above—and writing letters as New Yorkers Against Horse-Drawn Carriages suggests—you can help stop horse-drawn carriages simply by urging people not to patronize them. Try writing a letter to your local paper or passing out leaflets, particularly if you live in Manhattan or another city where horse carriages are still allowed. Also, if you live in a city where carriage rides are common, contact your legislators and ask them to sponsor a ban. No matter where you live, if you witness abuse or neglect to horses, please report it. We mustn’t wear blinders to cruelty.