10 Reasons Why You Should Never Ride a Horse Carriage

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on December 25, 2015.

Visiting a city that offers horse carriage rides? You have a choice to make: hop in or boycott. While the horses may look healthy, there’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes. So before taking a loop around the park, here are ten troubling realities to consider:

1. Horses get lung cancer from smoke inhalation.

Working around — and sometimes right behind — cars that pump exhaust into the air can seriously harm horses. The animals can develop lung damage that “you would expect from a heavy smoker,” according to veterinarian Jeffie Roszel who studied carriage horses in urban environments.

2. Deadly accidents can occur.

Traffic accidents happen when just cars and pedestrians are involved. Add an animal pulling a large contraption to the mix, and chaos is bound to occur. In just about every city where carriage horses are allowed, there have been accidents involving these animals. A survey of national horse carriage accidents showed that 70 percent of them caused a human injury, and 22 percent a human death. The horses in these accidents rarely survive.

3. Horses are meant to roam, not be stuck in traffic.

Horses are easily startled. That’s not a good combination with the loud sounds of a city. In fact, 85 percent of all accidents involving a horse carriage are the result of a horse getting spooked, panicking and darting off into traffic.

4. There’s often no supervising body to protect the horses.

In cities like New Orleans, where mule-pulled carriages roam downtown, while there’s an organization that responds to animal cruelty claims, there’s no governing body to supervise the carriages on a daily basis and ensure that the horses are well-treated. Similarly, in St. Louis, the death of a horse named King in 2013 prompted a lawsuit by the Animal Legal Defense Fund to make sure horse carriages were properly regulated in the city.

“In a world where carriage horses are regulated, King would have never been on the street,” says Jessica Blome, senior staff attorney for ALDF about the 22-year-old horse who collapsed on the job at Tilles Park. “He was a geriatric horse carrying 1,200 pounds of people and carriage and he shouldn’t have been doing that. No wonder his heart gave out.”

5. Seriously, who wants a smelly date?

Those romantic moments in just about every chick flick set in New York only work in the movies. In real life, the smell of the horses is a real mood killer. Go for a romantic walk or rickshaw ride instead.

6. How does a nine-hour shift, seven days a week sound?

That’s how long horses are forced to work.

7. Their costumes hurt and scar their faces.

The bridle around the horse’s head is strapped on extremely tight to prevent the animal from getting spooked by all the people and moving cars. As a result, it rubs against the animal’s face and hair, leaving permanent injury marks.

8. There’s no retirement plan.

Once horses are too old or too injured to work, the animals rarely make it to a sanctuary. Instead they’re either euthanized for being lame or sold in auction to a slaughterhouse.

9. They sleep in cramped and dirty stables.

No one drives the horses all the way to the countryside at the end of the day for a cozy night after a long day’s work. Instead they are placed in filthy and tight quarters and often tied to their trough so they can’t even lay down comfortably.

10. No, workers won’t be jobless if you boycott the horse carriages.

There’s a plan to replace carriages with humane and energy efficient classic cars that look infinitely cooler, and they’re bound to keep bringing in those tourist dollars to cities.

Photo Credit: Neil/Flickr


Maria P
Maria P17 days ago

thank you

Chad A
Chad Anderson18 days ago

Thank you.

Cindy S
Cindy S18 days ago


Janis K
Janis K18 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

Leo C
Leo Custer18 days ago

Thank you for posting!

Amanda M
Amanda M18 days ago


Amanda M
Amanda M18 days ago


Nicole H
Nicole H18 days ago

@ Jessica r : I can but agree for a full 100 % with you. I am not that familiar with horses, I have to admit, but my logic thinking tells me that a horse, with speeding cars around him, in very noisy and stressing conditions, and stepping on concrete or asphalt CAN NOT BE A PLEASURE !. And what right do we have to command animals to WORK as SLAVES for our pleasure ?? We don't have that right !!! As I said in my own comment, farmers ALL had horses hundreds and hundreds of years ago.. Thanks to the specially bred working horses farmers could plow their lands, and bring their crops from the fields into the sheds. When I was a little girl, we lived next to such farmer. It was a joy when Gus, the farmer, put us on the (dirty) car and made a little tour with his horse. I remember her stable was full of straw and hey to eat, as well as other fresh things he got from the fields like beets and turnips and a very large tank full with fresh water. Gus had 4 loves in his life, viz. his wife Maria, his 2 daughters and his horse Bella.
As far as other issues are concerned, I spend a lot of time looking up things on Google, YouTube or other media. The 2nd most interesting of this site is that you learn a lot more about animals you never heard of, or you never had seen before.

Nicole H
Nicole H18 days ago

As I did for previous articles about horse carriages in other cities, I keep my stand point : IT MUST BE BANNED EVERYWHERE. AND IT SHOULD BE DONE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. It is not a pleasure to walk on the heating asphalt or concrete, with speeding cars on your right- and lefthand side, the loud noises and the exhaust gases of the cars. I can imagine that many horses are totally worn out, depressed until they finally drop on the ground.
Horses have been working for us for hundreds and hundreds of years. Farmers had nothing else in the past to plow their fields and bring their crops to their sheds. However, farmers took good care of their animals and these special working horses had never been in the loud noisy cities with speeding cars, with plenty of unhealthy exhaust gases in their nose. As long as we can sit at ease on the couch, in the shade and enjoy the old city, nothing is wrong (we think).
And as we already know by now that people will never never never again have compassion and respect for the animals (which they have proven so many times when it was asked to close zoos or aquariums) we will have to turn to Governments or States that legal measures are taken to PROTECT THE LIVES of these beautiful horses which are brutally abused everyday for the "pleasure..." of the people. Can we still be more disgusting and disrespectful ??

Kathy G
Kathy G18 days ago

Thank you