An exclusive inside look at the New York City Horse and Carriage Association
The Central Park horse carriage controversy as the drivers see it
“It’s a very iconic memory that (our children) will have of New York City and Central Park,” she added.
“People live in the country, people live in the city, these happen to be city horses, it’s a different style of life,” the father added.
City regulations are in place to focus on the animals’ well-being which the city’s 68 licensed carriages must observe. Horse and carriage rides are not permitted before 10 a.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. on weekends, and they must conclude before 2 a.m.
Horses cannot work in temperatures above 89 degrees or below 19 degrees or in blizzards. They must have a minimum of five weeks of non-consecutive vacation per year.
A spate of incidents last year, including the death of a carriage horse in October, has resulted in increasing opposition from animal rights groups. The NYCLASS organization is devoted to banning the industry and has won the support of a host of celebrities such as Academy Award winning actress Anjelica Huston, Glee star Lea Michele and fashion designer Calvin Klein.
In a March 1 letter on behalf of PETA to New York City Councilwoman Christine Quinn, Huston said she was surprised that a city known for its progressive spirit still allows this cruel and dangerous tourist trap.
“Several accidents over the past few months highlight the immense safety hazard and lack of regulation of this industry,” the letter continued.
Almost 75,000 people have signed the NYCLASS petition to replace the horse drawn carriages with electric powered vintage replica vehicles, based on the legislation introduced by Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito.
Despite this, Bloomberg continues to endorse the industry. Speaking about horse and carriage opponents last year during a press conference, Bloomberg stated, “I have no idea what goes through their minds.”
“Carriage horses have traditionally been a part of New York City,” he said.
Protesters eager to ban the industry can be regularly seen on the edge of the park, but their presence doesn’t deter tourists from climbing aboard a horse and carriage.
Two such tourists are Irish mother and daughter Anna and Ann McKee. From Belfast, they told the Irish Voice they planned to do the horse and carriage ride as part of their first trip to New York City.
“We planned to do it as we knew Central Park was really big,” Anna McKee told the Irish Voice.
City dwellers themselves understand why some people are opposed to the industry.
“The thing I would be concerned about is traffic,” McKee said. “But the horses didn’t seem scared.
IT’S almost 5 p.m. For today Paddy’s workday is complete as we begin the ride back to his home at Clinton Park Stables, located just off the West Side Highway at 52nd street.
Seemingly undisturbed by the noise of a bustling Seventh Avenue, Paddy leads the way down the busy street as cabbies and tour buses whiz by.
Before his life in the city, Paddy was used for transporting vegetables to a market.
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