Horse Carriages in Central Park – New York Times Debate


The fate of horse carriages in Central Park in New York City is still up in the air. This past weekend, the New York Times published an excellent article in the format of a debate by various equine and other professionals. Below are excerpts from a couple of the debaters. To read in full…and there are quite a few voices… be sure to click on the “Read More on the Debate” link at the bottom of this post. ~ HfH

From: The New York Times

Horse carriage new york

Photo by Elizabeth Forel

Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged that one of his first acts would be to ban horse carriages, which he, and some of the more enthusiastic campaign spenders last year, have called inhumane.

Are horse carriages abusive to animals? Should they be banned?

The Debate:

Carriage Horses I Inspected Were Healthy and Content
By Harry W. Werner, a past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, owns Werner Equine in North Granby, Conn.

In February 2010, I visited four carriage horse stables in New York City at the invitation of a member of the Carriage Operators of North America. I was accompanied by an experienced equine surgeon, as well as a veterinarian who is an horsewoman with a special interest in animal behavior….

Conditions Are Abusive on Streets and in Stalls
By Holly Cheever, a veterinarian, is the vice president of the New York State Humane Association.

As a veterinary consultant since 1988 to the A.S.P.C.A. the New York State Humane Association and other groups, I’ve examined New York City carriage horses, and reviewed the work of others, and I have found that the city’s population, infrastructure, climate and vehicular traffic volume create inhumane conditions for these animals.

Horses working in traffic lanes shared with motorized vehicles are constantly nose-to-tailpipe, developing respiratory impairment as detailed in an unpublished study conducted by Dr. Jeffie Roszel. She analyzed New York carriage horses’ respiratory health in 1985 and found that noxious vehicular emissions damaged the horses’ lung tissue….

Read More on the Debate


AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
1 Comment
  • Robynne Catheron

    IMHO, I think all the experts interviewed had some valid points. At one time, I was all for removing the horse-drawn carriages completely due to the excessive fumes, the frequently intense summer heat, the constant pounding of their shod hooves on asphalt, and the ever-present danger of injury or fatality. They are iconic to New York City, however, and an exquisitely romantic landmark of Central Park.
    Do I side with the veterinarian who says the horses are content? How is he to know whether they’re content or have just simply resigned themselves to their daily grind? They don’t have a voice or a choice, after all.
    Or do I side with the humane welfare experts who say the horses suffer from respiratory damage from the daily nose-to-tailpipe? I read somewhere that four carriage horses died on the job (a relatively low number, although even one is too many), were there necropsies performed on those horses, and their lungs and airways examined for damage? I’m certainly not saying the threat isn’t there, I’m simply saying that maybe all the facts aren’t in. I find it very interesting that all of the veterinarians sided for the carriage companies, and all of the humane experts sided for the health and welfare of the horses (as they should, of course). I didn’t read one testimony that cited or seemed to understand the pros and cons of both sides.
    I’m glad I don’t have to make the final decision. New York City residents and tourists are going to lose out either way.

    January 21, 2014