Are New York City Horse Carriages Taking YOU for a Ride?

When I was 11, my family visited New York City and I really wanted to ride in one of the horse-drawn carriages circling Central Park. I loved horses at the time (still do) and would do anything to get close to one, even if it meant the horse would just pull me around the park.

Young me (along with many other tourists and even New Yorkers) could never have imagined the cruelty behind such a wholesome-seeming activity. But behind the old-timey carriages with the red velvet seats and the charming flower-adorned top hats of the carriage drivers, there lurks an industry that’s just plain cruel to the horses.

Join us in the fight to end the abuse of New York City carriage horses.

Momentum is growing behind a movement to end to these outdated, inhumane carriage rides and stop the abuse of New York City horses. Lea Michele, from the TV series Glee, joined this effort and stars in a short video about the reality of the horse carriage industry:

As Lea explains, these horses are out pulling carriages even if it’s sweltering hot or freezing cold. They breath exhaust fumes all day, and at night are taken to midtown buildings never meant to house horses. The horses perform backbreaking labor all day only to climb steep stairs to an often feces-filled “stall.” where they’re regularly tied to their trough and can’t lie down comfortably to get the rest they need.

What Lea doesn’t mention is the desperate attempt of the carriage drivers to keep the reality of their industry under wraps. On a more recent trip to New York, my friends and I were walking past the carriages and, after a driver called to us in attempts to take us for a ride, my friend shouted back to him that we wouldn’t because the the horses [in the New York City horse-drawn carriage industry] were treated cruelly. That charming driver turned into a snarling, cursing maniac faster than you could say “two-faced.” I’m not saying that every carriage driver is a jerk, but this driver’s reaction to my friend’s words tells me the horse carriage industry has something to hide, and they’ll try desperately to keep the public — potential customers — from getting wind of the abuse the cute horsies face.

New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) is a group spear-heading the movement against New York City horse-drawn carriages, and they have an idea for a carriage alternative that would keep with the romantic, nostalgic feeling of the carriage rides: 100% electric, 1920s-era replica classic cars. Not only would these cars be environmentally-friendly, they’d allow a similar feeling of “yesteryear” and fun that people get from the carriage rides — and most importantly, they’d end the abuse of horses in New York City.

NYCLASS wants to get 30,000 New Yorkers supporting the end of New York City carriage horse abuse by St. Patrick’s Day. Together, we can make a difference and end this cruelty!

Join the movement: sign this petition telling the New York City Council to replace the horse carriages with eco-friendly classic cars and spread the word about the cruelty behind the carriage horse industry.

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Photo via NYCLASS


Justingaberial J.
Past Member 5 years ago

Thank you so much for such a great blog.

Berny p.
berny p5 years ago


.5 years ago

cruel and very,very sad,thank you for sharing

Sarah S.
Sarah S.7 years ago

This is sad. As a former resident of Manhattan, it was not rare for me to walk by these carriages, and while it seems like an innocent and wholesome activity, it isn't. What, for tourists, is a taste of bustling New York from a quaint and romantic perspective, a fragment of an era past, a carriage ride through the streets of Manhattan is anything but charming. There have been different reports regarding the quality of life for these horses, many from organizations protesting against animal cruelty, like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and PETA, who advocate for the removal of the horse-drawn carriage rides in NYC. The average working life for a carriage horse in NYC is four years as compared to the fifteen year average of the NYPD mounted patrol horse. They are overworked and exhausted in an environment that is not suitable for horses at all. There have been countless injuries, sicknesses, and deaths among NYC carriage horses, and just yesterday one collapsed on 59th and Central Park South. Regardless of the facts surrounding the treatment of these horses and the brutality or lack there of towards them, one's opinion on whether or not they should roam the streets of NYC should be obvious--these animals do not belong in a congested, urban setting where they are constantly breathing exhaust and sharing the streets with cars, buses and taxis, and YOU! It doesn't take compassion or love of animals to see that the busy streets of Manhattan are simply

Sarah S.
Sarah S.7 years ago

This is sad. As a former resident of Manhattan, it was not rare for me to pass by one of these horse drawn carriages and although it seems like a fun and wholesome activity, it's not. Just yesterday one of these horses collapsed on 59th and Central Park South. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have, since the 1980s, indicated that hoof and joint injuries, resulting from long hours on the concrete, are common among these horses, as well as sicknesses and fatigue from over-exhaustion. The average working life a NYC carriage horse is four years, as compared to the fifteen year average of the NYPD mounted patrol horses. Regardless of the facts surrounding the brutality or lack there of towards these carriage horses or your opinion on the matter, you should be able to at least concur that the busy streets of Manhattan are simply no place for a horse--it doesn't take compassion or love of animals to see that, just take a walk down 5th avenue.

jessica w.
jessica w7 years ago


colleen p.
colleen p7 years ago

acctually. I'm sure, aside the "city" thing, even the beloved horse of a little girl isn't pamperd enough. they still might spend the winter in a cold stall, with only a blanket, while girly gets a 75 degree heated house.

maybe she should give the horse heating too. or let it run free and not be a living status symbol. if she wants a best friend, she sould get another girl

colleen p.
colleen p7 years ago

Lia N is right. I hear that the Amish use animals as tools, and dont cuddle, love, spoil and dote on their animals. we should take their animals away and make them our slaves! force them to live in cities and become universal uniterians, or secular humanists.

and tell them technology replaces beasts, as it should be. there is no need for them to be like this. America People! 2011. not Europe, 1300!

Tammy Robertson
Tammy Robertson7 years ago


Diane L.
Diane L7 years ago

Emily, you and I are on the same page as far as not going off the deep end based strictly on passion, and without understanding facts and/or have a knowledge about horses. However, you are the one who is wrong about asphalt vs. grass, dirt or anything "natural". Asphalt is not "forgiving", and it's hard on a horses' joints. The fact it's not uneven as would a pasture is irrelevant, unless the horse was being pushed at speed over said pasture. In the wild, horses can easily navigate very treacherous and uneven terrain. You also said,, "Third, it is not hard for them to pull a carriage. These are the largest horse speices which can easily carry 3x their own weight all day long. The carriage is only twice their own weight(or less). To them this is like walking". FACT.........that's all they DO do.......walk. The carriages are hardly 3/X their weight, since they weigh approximately 2000 lbs. each. The drivers' can push and maneuver the carriages by hand, but yes, the heavy drafts can pull them easily, and any horse which doesn't have severe back and/or leg issues should be able to pull much more than his/her own weight. These horses also don't pull these carriages all day. They may be OUT of the barn or stable for the length of the day, but they're hardly working that entire time. Most of the time, they're standing at a curb, snoozing.

I agree with the rest of what you've said. I bet most of the horses back into their traces readily, on their own.