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


michela c
michela c13 days ago

Boycott horse carriage, it's cruel animal exploitation!

Carole R
Carole R24 days ago

It's so sad. Poor horses.

hELEN h24 days ago


Ann B
Ann B24 days ago

this should never have been allowed in the 1st place---and needs to be boycotted...animals are NOT ENTERTAINMENT and this IS animal abuse

Karen N
Karen N24 days ago

Anyone with a conscience would use their money to support those doing all they can to help and protect animals, such as reputable sanctuaries, rescue centres and shelters etc. . . . NOT those that are exploiting, abusing, harming and profiting from them! . . . A life is a life regardless of species and size and all deserve compassion and respect and to live in peace free from exploitation, suffering and harm . . . It is no more acceptable to exploit and harm animals than it it humans! . . . The welfare of animals is very important to me, I do all I can to avoid products sourced from animals and that have been tested on animals, I would therefore avoid supporting anyone that exploits animals for entertainment, business and profit! . . . I wouldn't ride in one those carriages if anyone paid me to . . . Dangerous traffic and unhealthy toxic fumed filled polluted roads and streets and extreme temperatures are no environment for horses or any other animals! . . . Cycle rickshaws could be used instead. At least the cyclists can choose to be in that environment and wear masks to protect them from inhaling exhaust fumes. They may not be such an attraction as the horses or be as beneficial financially but it is far better than taking the cheap and immoral route of exploiting animals for business and profit.

Renata B
Renata B28 days ago

Even if (EVEN IF) there were people become jobless that wouldn't be a sufficient reason to abuse another species, to enslave these poor animals making them work endlessly an living in terrible conditions. We just have NO RIGHT.
Also the concentration camps provided jobs: should we have made petitions to save those jobs? Any job create and require a work-force: this doesn't make it necessary good. And job can be changed, like in this case using old and fancy cars for example.

hELEN h2 months ago


Graham P
Graham P3 months ago

Seville in Spain has horses that suffer the heat with temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius.

Maria P
Past Member 3 months ago

thank you

Chad A
Chad Anderson3 months ago

Thank you.