10 Reasons Why You Should Never Ride a Horse Carriage

Visiting a city that offers horse carriage rides? You have a choice to make: hop in or boycott it. While they may look nice and shiny and the horses healthy, there’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes so before thinking that nothing could be wrong with just one loop around the park, here are ten things to consider:

1. Horses get lung cancer from smoke inhalation. Working around (and sometimes right behind) cars with exhausts blowing smoke into the air, horses get to breathe in air they were not built to take in. As a result, the animals develop damage in their lungs “you would expect from a heavy smoker,” according to U.S. Veterinarian Jeffie Roszel who studied horses used to draw carriages in city environments.

2. There can be—and have been—deadly accidents.Traffic accidents happen when just cars and pedestrians are involved. Add an animal pulling a large contraption behind him to the mix and chaos is bound to happen. In just about every city where carriage horses are allowed, there have been accidents involving them. 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 make it as well.

3. Horses are meant to roam, not be stuck in traffic. Because horses are prey animals—meaning they don’t hunt for food and instead are hunted by other animals— they 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 is an organization that responds to animal cruelty claims, there’s no governing body supervising the carriages on a daily basis to ensure the horses are well-treated or even simply respected. Similarly, in St. Louis, the death of a horse named King in 2013 prompted a lawsuit by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) 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 taking place 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 horses’ head is strapped extremely tight so the animal doesn’t move its head around too much and gets spooked by all the people and moving cars. As a result, it rubs against their face, through their hair, leaving permanent injury marks.

8. There’s no retirement plan. Once they are too old or too injured to work, the animals rarely make it to a sanctuary. Instead they are 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 them with humane and energy efficient classic cars that look vintage, infinitely cooler than horse carriages, and bound to keep bringing in those tourist dollars to the cities that have them.

Photo Credit: ThinkStock Photos


Mark Donners
Mark Donner1 years ago

As far as Andra's remark, I disagree that horses are someone's "private property" so the caretakers of horses can deal with sentient beings like used furniture before or after they retire. Horses are living beings that have absolute rights above and beyond the clams of those who are using them for service animals. In fact it is REQUIRED that they treat them right and retire them in a humane way, and if they don't the horses should be confiscated and the "owners" must be charged under animal abuse laws.

Mark Donners
Mark Donner1 years ago

Of course in the third world nation of the USA, no regulation is enforced for dealing with overworked and abused carriage horses. That would cost money, and money is for corporations.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Melania Padilla
Melania P1 years ago


Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

Some of these horses would probably be killed if not for these jobs.

Igor P.
Past Member 2 years ago

Never was and never will

Betsey P.
Betsey P2 years ago

I'd love to know where you think these horses would live if they didn't have these jobs. Your backyard?

Tracy Marotta
Tracy Marotta2 years ago

i live in brooklyn and ive walked past their "stables" that are in Manhattan, a block from the Javitz Center. its an awful place for a horse to go after walking all over in Manhattan with the insane traffic. they go up these steep gross ramps to go up a few floors to their "stables". the building has an empty lot on one side and there are tiny windows about 1 square foot. horrible place for any horse to have to stay.

Joy T.
Joy T2 years ago

Mixed feelings...

Elizabeth F.
Elizabeth F2 years ago