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New York Gov. David Paterson speaks out on behalf of Central Park carriage horses

Horse-drawn carriages roll through New York's Central Park

New York Gov. David Paterson is taking on the 200-year-old tradition of horse-drawn carriage rides in Manhattan's Central Park, saying the horses need to be treated better or the popular tourist rides should be banned.

His comment drew a top "purr" in the "Purrs & Grrs" column of Animal Times, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals magazine. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office gave it more of a growl, saying reforms in the works for more than a year could soon address long-standing concerns about the familiar attraction.

Marissa Shorenstein, a Paterson spokeswoman, says the horses have often suffered under difficult work and stable conditions. She notes that although the carriages are important to tourism and the "fabric of New York City's culture," horses must be treated well.

-- Associated Press

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Photo: Horse-drawn carriages roll through New York's Central Park on Wednesday.  Credit: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press

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I hate when people hide behind "traditions" or "religious beliefs" as an excuse to inflict ANY TYPE of pain or suffering or cruelty towards animals. Great - this is a NYC tradition - but as we evolve as human beings, we learn how to treat animals better and sometimes, the things we've been doing for years and years are just no longer acceptable. As far as tourism - I don't ever think someone should say "this brings in a lot of money for NY, therefore we can't stop doing it". If we are causing any distress or harm towards these animals (which I strongly believe we are) then we should NOT continue the practice. No amount of tourism dollars is worth harming an animal. I love NY and go there often but I NEVER EVER take a carriage ride.

Since they can not be used for this economic benefit anymore I suggest the slaughter house or the glue factory.

The Governor is a disgrace - he has never set foot in one of our stables, and knows nothing about our business or the lives of our horses, yet he proceeds to try and hurt a legal, licensed, and well-operated iconic NYC business.

The welfare of the horses is what the decent-minded, casual observer is truly interested in, and for good reason. The horse-drawn carriages are a New York City icon; they are ambassadors to our visitors, and the horses themselves are working animals that are entitled to proper care and good handling.

Fortunately, our record reflects exactly that. Our horses lead exceedingly reasonable and content lives. They each receive a superior, formulated diet, occupy roomy box stalls, receive vet & farrier care, and are groomed and bathed regularly. This amounts to food, shelter, and medical care - which many CHILDREN in this state do not have, Mr. Governor!

Beyond these basics, they are loved by their owners/drivers; they receive affection, treats, and human interaction everyday.

Every stable has a sprinkler system in case of fire, and every stable has 24/7 stablemen. We are overseen by 5 city agencies, and not one WEEK goes by (and sometimes, day) that our horses are not checked by the ASPCA or the Dept of Health. (Let’s see Child Protective Services match that record, MR. GOVERNOR!)

The horses receive rotation turnout several times a year on farms in both Upstate NY and PA.

If he even bothered to lift a phone before bashing us, the Gov could have called the Mayor's Office and found that not only are we as an industry proactive in constant improvements, but that there is a Horse Rental Advisory board set up by the city to field any problems.

Anybody hell-bent on putting carriages out of business should hop on down to the auction & buy a slaughter-bound horse and care for it for the rest of its natural life. That would actually be doing something to help the horses, not hurt them.

The epidemic of abandoned horses across the country is due to what is being called a “perfect storm” of a slow economy, highfeed prices, & recent national outlawing of slaughterhouses. This is a mammoth crisis - 1000s of horses being left to waste away in fields & paddocks, or surrendered to over-crowded rescues. Closing down a business where horses lead content & exceedingly reasonable existences will only ADD to this problem.

A well-loved, cared-for horse with a job is a lucky horse, the very last to feel a recession.


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