Liam Neeson defends NYC Carriage Horse industry

Kelly Kip
Posts: 196
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:18 am

Sat May 24, 2014 3:29 pm

New blog post by Jon Katz:

Carriage Horse Awakening: Do People With Animals Have Rights? ... ve-rights/
Kelly Kip
Posts: 196
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:18 am

Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:50 am

Latest Jon Katz blog post:

The Carriage Horses. Behold: Jesus And The Pharisees In New York City

Jesus Was A Carriage Driver

When Jesus lay suffering on the cross in Jerusalem, his father could not bear to witness his son's pain. He heard Jesus beg him not to forsake him, and he responded. God left a body on the Cross but transported his son far ahead in time and space, to New York City in 2014 A.D.. There, he told his only son, "you will be safe from harm." He sent Jesus's beloved little donkey along with him, he told him that any man with a donkey or a horse will have good work to do, earn an honest and secure living.

A working animal, his father said again and again, was worth more than gold.

God decreed that this journey always be a secret, even from the prophets writing the Bible.

Jesus was bewildered at first by the chaotic life he found in New York City, he could not believe the rents or the price of bread, but he was not as shocked as one might think. The streets of Jerusalem were filthier and much more dangerous and crowded than New York with horses, donkeys, carts, goats and sheep, wild dogs, raw sewage, farmers and peasants and Roman soldiers.

Jesus found himself Central Park with his beloved donkey, his father had told him to look for the horses, they would guide him. His father told him this was not like the Roman Empire, it was a free place with no Kings or Emperors, people were free to live as they choose as long as they abided by the laws. The drivers of the horses knew him as one of theirs,a free spirit, perhaps a troublemaker, a lover of animals. They took him in instantly, he felt at home with them.

According to the legend of the donkeys' cross, as recounted in "The Donkey Companion," by Sue Weaver, a poor farmer near Jerusalem had owned this donkey of Jesus, he was far too small to do much work. He told his family he was going to kill the little donkey – in those days, as in these, animals who did not work did not live long - but his children, who loved the donkey, begged him to sell it.

It was wrong, they told their father, to give away or harm a donkey just because he might not be able to work hard. They believed in the right of animals to survive. The farmer tied his donkey to a tree down the road and soon, two men approached and asked if they could have the donkey. It can carry nothing, the farmer warned them.

"Jesus of Nazareth has need of it," replied one of the men, and the farmer handed the donkey over. They took him to Jesus, who stroked the poor creature, then mounted it and rode away. Jesus rode the donkey every day for the rest of his life, into Jerusalem and all around it. On the day called Palm Sunday, Jesus led his followers into the city riding on the back of his small donkey, who he came to love and who served him faithfully and well and who had no trouble carrying Jesus and his worldly goods.

The donkey so loved his master he followed him to Calvary. Grief-stricken by the sight of Jesus on the cross, the donkey turned away but would not leave. It was then that the shadow of the cross fell upon the shoulders and back of the donkey, and every donkey in the world carries the sign of the cross to this day.

Jesus was grateful to have his donkey in New York. An outsider, a free spirit, someone who loved nature and the outdoors, someone who loved giving pleasure to people, Jesus was drawn to the carriage trade, the long chosen work for the free spirits of New York, the sons and daughters of immigrants, the ones who could not live in tiny cubicles, who need to be with people and outdoors and who loved working with animals. Just like Jesus himself. And people loved the donkey. Children came over to touch him, young lovers wanted to ride in his cart, the people in the cubicles came out every day to touch the donkey and smile. Jesus put flowers all around his cart, a plume on his donkey's forehead, bells on his collar.

The donkey was too small to pull many people in a carriage, that was the work of the big horses, but he could pull a cart filled with vegetables, he could give rides to children. Jesus put a sign on his cart that read: "King Of The Donkeys" and he went to work in the park every day, just like the carriage drivers did.

He was different from the other vendors in the park. He gave his sweet fruit and candy to children, and to the poor. Each morning, he met the disabled in the fountains of the park, and he and his donkey worked to heal them. He gave the homeless his cloak on cold nights and he sometimes went to beautiful hotels and museums and chastised the the rich, scolding them for ignoring the poor and destroying the natural beauty of the world, his own father's creation.

Jesus was soon enough beloved by the ordinary people, the working people, the poor and the young. He continued his work begun in Jerusalem. He began to preach on behalf of the poor, provoked the rich for being selfish and heartless, challenged the greed of the real estate developers who were, he said just like the rich and lazy priests of the Old Temple. People called him a radical, a socialist, marked him as dangerous.

As loved as he was, Jesus was still Jesus, he was always an outsider brought into the world to give the poor reason for hope. His only friends were the carriage drivers, they were troublemakers too, for the most part. They did not care for the rich or powerful either.

Jesus was at peace. He knew his father was smiling down on him, gratified by his good heart and charity and good work in the park with his donkey.

When the demonstrators came, Jesus first thought they must be pilgrims seeking prayer. He went to greet them and offer them some fruit, but they spat on him and shouted at him and called him names like "murderer" and "abuser" and "cruel," they yelled at him to go home, to stop abusing his donkey, they shouted at the children and the poor to stay away from him, they broke into his stable at night and set his donkey free, but his loyal donkey would not run away.

He turned to his donkey and said, "look, the pharisees are here too." He well know the self-righteous, angry and hypocritical sects.

The police came, and told him his donkey could not work all day, could only carry a handful of apples, he could not give rides to children, it was cruel to the donkey. They said he must have a blanket and could not work in the rain or snow. They said he had to have five weeks of vacation a year, rest after every two hours of work, and Jesus was incredulous, he had never known a working animal to have more than a month off of work. In his world, it was the working animals who kept people alive.

But no one listened. The pharisees grew louder and angrier and more cruel. People drove by in cars and shouted false and hurtful names at him, they claimed they saw photos of his donkey working on something called Facebook, don't you know, they shouted, that is cruel for animals to work? His donkey, they said, should be in the wild, roaming free in nature. They said his ribs were showing, he must be starving. They said his head was down, he must be said. They said he brayed in the morning, he must be lonely.

Jesus could hardly believe what he was hearing. He wanted to the other cheek, but the people confused him, made him a little crazy, although he tried not to be angry. "Have any of you ever seen a donkey before?," he shouted before asking his father for forgiveness. The children begged him to start a blog, defend himself on Facebook, but he refused. Jesus kept his donkey in a horse stable, in a stall where he could be dry and warm and rest.

"Do you know what it is like out there in the wild?," he would the pharisees, but they would never listen or respond. "My little donkey would be eaten by wolves or starve to death in the desert!" A powerful political leader in New York named Stephen Weinstein-Gutierrez-Carrino- McDonough, who came from a tribe Jesus came to know as Brooklyn came to the park and shouted at him that his poor donkey was lonely, and need to socialize with other donkeys and have dinner with them every night. "Can't you see?," shouted the pharisees, "he is depressed, he is chained to your cart, it is his prison, his cell! He longs to be free in nature?" Where, Jesus wondered, has a donkey ever been kept, but tied to a cart, in a stall, in the history of the world?

"Have these people lost your minds?," wondered Jesus, whose father had sent him all kinds of books when he moved to New York City. "DId Sancho Panza's donkey Rucio have dinner with other donkeys and socialize with them?," he would shout."He rode all over Spain with his donkey, just as my donkey and I rode through Jerusalem and Platero rode all over Europe with Jose Jiminez and won a Noble Prize! And what about Shrek?" My donkey, he said, eats with me every night.

Every day the police came at the behest of the pharisees with new regulations, the number of protesters grew. People called reporters came to him, mocked him, asked him to defend his cruelty and abusive ways. They called him a thief, a cheat, a callous and unfeeling man, things Jesus had never been called in his life. They shouted at him to go home, never imagining where home really was. He could not imagine how working with a donkey could cause such trouble and hatred. It had never even happened in Jerusalem, where he was hated by many, where no one had ever complained about the donkey. There were thousands of them, they worked all day everywhere, everyone knew how much they loved to work, the donkeys and the horses were more precious than money.

Jesus grew want and fretful. He became anxious, angry, sometimes he was stoned, the park was filled with angry pamphlets accusing him of crimes. They claimed he beat, his donkey, starved him, overworked him. The children were suddenly afraid to see him, the poor fled from him, the office workers were warned to stay away or they would become associated by him. He asked to speak to the pharisees, to the leaders and prophets and high priests of the city, but no one would talk with him or meet with him.

One day the protesters came and they were joyous, emboldened. The rich pharisees, the owners of land, the wealthy leaders of the city had chosen a new Emperor, and he said the first thing he would do when he began to rule would be to ban Jesus and the donkeys and the horses from the city. They would be banned forever.

In particular, he had asked that the man who called himself "The King Of The Donkeys" be brought to him at a place called City Hall, where his fate would be decided. This was all too familiar to Jesus.

The carriage drivers came to warn him that he was soon to be banished from the city, or worse, that his beloved donkey would be taken from him and sent to a farm where he would never be allowed to work with people again, see children, do anything but eat and drop manure. And the little donkey would never see Jesus again, no more fruits or vegetables, no more working with children and the poor, he could not choose his work or live his chosen life.

Was it true?, Jesus asked the carriage drivers, that Jerusalem was a freer place than New York City in 2014?

Jesus pondered this news, he and the donkey went to the quietest part of the park, he meet with the children, the lovers, the tourists and the poor and he knelt down in prayer and cried out aloud, "O Father, why have thou forsaken me? Get me out of here."

And the trees shook and the sky turned dark and the birds were silent and the children and the poor and the people of the park heard a great booming voice asking "are you sure? Do you know the fate that awaits you?"

"Yes, father," said Jesus, " I do. I'll take my chances with the Romans, father. There is more than one way to be crucified." ... york-city/
Kelly Kip
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Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:30 pm

The Carriage Horses: Are We Worshipping Animals, Hating People?

A small but fit animal rights demonstrator recently hitched herself to a carriage and ran through Central Park to demonstrate the cruelty of horses pulling carriages. It was a puzzling thing to do, mostly because it convinced me and others that she didn't seem to grasp the difference between a 1,500 draft horse and herself a skinny human being. She did pretty well, though for all that, I imagined it would be much easier for a big horse.

The stunt also revealed something else that was perhaps unintended, and that is the increasingly controversial and poorly conceived ideology that preaches that animals are superior to human beings, and entitled to greater rights and protections. ... ng-people/
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Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:38 pm

I tend to lean toward strong rights for animals as part of my general philosophy that those who are defenseless...children, animals, women in some parts of our world...need a lot of defending.
However, I also believe that many animals thrive while working for their living. So long as there is no abuse, and the horses are fed, sheltered, loved and given vet care, those NY anti-carriage-horse activists need to find a better cause for all their attention.
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Wed Jun 25, 2014 6:54 pm

Kelly Kip wrote:The Carriage Horses: Are We Worshipping Animals, Hating People?

A small but fit animal rights demonstrator recently hitched herself to a carriage and ran through Central Park to demonstrate the cruelty of horses pulling carriages. It was a puzzling thing to do, mostly because it convinced me and others that she didn't seem to grasp the difference between a 1,500 draft horse and herself a skinny human being. She did pretty well, though for all that, I imagined it would be much easier for a big horse.

The stunt also revealed something else that was perhaps unintended, and that is the increasingly controversial and poorly conceived ideology that preaches that animals are superior to human beings, and entitled to greater rights and protections. ... ng-people/
Sounds like a Petard.
"I reject your reality, and substitute my own!"- Mythbusters
"Oh, What fresh Hell is this?!"- Sheldon Cooper(quoted from Dorothy Parker)- Big Bang Theory
"Sometimes I think he's the King of Stupid" - Old Man- Pawn Stars
Kelly Kip
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Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:19 pm

Katz's latest blog:

The Carriage Horses: What Is Government For?

When you get down to it, and past the arguments, the New York Carriage Horse story is one that draws us into the rarely explored realm of moral philosophy. We live with animals and talk about them all the time, we rarely think about them in a broader or moral way. The big new idea about animals in America is that they are piteous, abused and endangered creatures and need to separated from the people who live with them and own them.

In our culture, the historic relationship between humans and animals is being upended, redefined. Without much discussion or dialogue, It has become commonplace for government to value the rights of animals over people while, in the process, trampling on the rights of people and serving the animals poorly as well. Thus, the animals are disappearing, the people who would live with them under siege all over the country, their living property increasingly taken from them.

Is this argument over the horses the sad legacy of the carriage horses, or a call to awakening, a new social movement, the beginning of the wider and more mystical understanding of animals that author and philosopher Henry Beston called for a century ago? It's too soon to know, the movement against the horses is stalled, confused, perhaps as a result at it's ugliest.

John Locke, the radical mid-seventeenth century philosopher whose ideas led to the unraveling of the cruel monarchies that ruled the world, expressed the view that became the American Revolution and altered the world. He wrote that the primary function of government is to serve people, namely by protecting life, liberty and property. We call it life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

When government stopped protecting people in this way, he warned, it has lost it's moral authority and is not deserving of support. The most striking thing about the carriage horse controversy is that government seeks to serve animals by taking freedom, liberty and property away from people.

What makes the New York Carriage Horse story so important and compelling is that it touches so many deep chords in our cultural and political life. Do animals have more rights than people? Who has the right to speak for them? How have we become so disconnected from the natural world that the people who claim know what is best for the horses know the least about them? What are the rights of the people who own them? What is the future of animals in our world? Is the glorious history of animals working with people – one of the most enduring characteristics of human history - now ending because no one seems to know or remember that so many animals live and survive to work? What is the role of government in protecting the welfare of animals, and of treating the people who own them fairly and reasonably?

The authorities in New York simply wish to ban the horses, they don't want to have this discussion, or talk about them or their future. The animal rights community and the mayor won't even speak to the carriage horse owners and drivers. They have been relentlessly dehumanized, no longer considered worthy of participating in the city's moral community or decision making process. It is, of course, necessary to dehumanize people before you can justify taking their work and property away.

Those of us who love and live with animals shake our heads in wonder, sometimes in anger at this story, we intuitively grasp it's importance. We know that keeping animals in our world is not free, not of money, pain, struggle or death. We know there is no paradise for them or us. We know animals who do not work disappear from the world. We know they sometimes need to die, and we sometimes need to kill them.

Animals do not live in a perfect world any more than we do, they cannot be given better lives than we have. We wonder at the power of a small group of angry and disconnected people who seek so much power over us and the animals of the world. No voters have ever granted animals more protections than human beings, no government has argued with a straight face - until the carriage horse controversy – that animal rights come before the rights of human beings – citizens, voters, taxpayers.

The horses also remind us almost every day of the great moral conundrum at the heart of this story. It is not about the abuse of animals, it is about the abuse of people. Abuse is a crime, not an argument or opinion. It occurs when animals are severely injured or killed by people acting in excess of what is necessary or appropriate. It is illegal. No carriage driver in the modern history of the carriage trade has been accused of it, no horse is known to have died as the result of it. In the past five years, about 4,000 complaints of animal cruelty have been reported to the City Of New York each year. None have been made against the people in the carriage trade or on behalf of the horses.

Are we really to believe that these horses are continuously abused right under the noses of the army of police, bureaucrats, inspectors and veterinarians who work for the five agencies of a city government who regulate and oversee the horses every day and are utterly committed to banning them from New York?

The carriage horses remind us that as a people we are losing touch with the natural world and the true nature of animals. The carriage drivers most often come from a long tradition of people working with animals. Only in modern-day America is this considered cruel, even criminal, behavior.

My working dogs, donkeys, even chickens and barn cats love to work, live to work. We have lost touch with food and where it comes from, we have become distant from the real lives of real animals, we have turned them into emotionalized versions of us, we project our garbage onto them as if they were our emotional trash receptacles.

People who own and work with animals- the carriage drivers for sure – are struggling to cope with the extraordinary wealth and power of extra-legal, self-appointed cadres – militias, almost – that function outside of government, due process of law, or traditional ideas about truth, fairness, compromise and negotiation. Under the banner of being progressive and humane they wantonly invade the privacy of the carriage drivers, insult them publicly, videotape them secretly, taunt them, often in the cruelest ways, and harass them mercilessly, often without any basis in truth or fact. They threaten their way of life, seek to criminalize historic tradition and behavior.

At one point, the issue really did seem to be about the abuse of animals, that was my impression back in January when I took the train to New York to see the Clinton Park stables for myself. For most of New York City, that claim has been revealed to be the chimera that it is. There are 444 pages of regulations governing the care and safety of the horses, there is not a single page that requires government to protect the carriage horse owners or drivers or seeks to ensure their well being or safety. We are paying attention.

If the horses are driven from New York, they will continue remove the animals from all over the country. Mine, yours, the ponies in the park, the chickens on the farms, the elephants in the circus, the working dogs in the field, the horses on your small farm.They are already doing it, everywhere. They will come for the horses, they will come for your dog and horse. If the horses are driven from New York, they will probably have your local government with them.

New York is the big stage, our great city.

Here are just a handful of the demonstrably false claims about the carriage horses that have created this contrived and false controversy:

the horses are confined in "cells" too small for them to lie down in or turn around. The horses are overworked in heat and cold. The horses are not permitted to socialize with other horses. The horses are systematically abused: underfed and mistreated. The horses do not receive adequate medical care or any medical care. The horses never get to graze in pasture. There have been scores of accidents involving the horses in New York. The horses are unhappy with their work and seek a different life. The horses contribute to global warming by slowing traffic. The horses are less eco-friendly than cars. The horses soil the streets and spread disease. They suffer from respiratory illness from breathing exhaust fumes. They live shorter lives that horses in the wild or on rescue preserves. Their drivers are cheats and thieves who abuse animals and steal money from visitors.

Check this out for yourself, you can do it on the phone, or online, it won't take long.

In theory, a moral government is not for hire or sale. The people who call themselves supporters of animal rights gave more than $1.3 million dollars to political candidates who agreed to banish the horses. Federal authorities are investigating numerous claims that politicians were threatened if they didn't support a carriage horse ban. The people in the carriage trade do not have a million dollars or anything close to it, and the money they do have is continuously threatened by the movement against them.

Woody Guthrie would be living in the stables, singing the horses and the drivers songs of support and encouragement. John Locke would be picketing the picketers.

Words do matter, truth does count. Every day, I receive messages from people who are beginning to consider the truth of this controversy and are deciding where to stand. I am no ideologue or political activist, I do not belong to the left or the right. It is a gift to me to stand beside the carriage horse owners and drivers. I know where I belong here, I knew it early on. I stand with the drivers as an author, a journalist, an animal lover and a believer in John Locke's idea of what a moral government should be and do.

The horses belong in New York.

I actually thought Liam Neeson said it best when he told the mayor of New York City to man up and come and see the horses for himself. ... nment-for/
Kelly Kip
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Sat Jul 12, 2014 10:37 am

Here Comes The Carriage Horse Ban: Government By Donation

When Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, he said the first thing he would do is ban the carriage horses. But then, he told a press conference this week, he just got too busy dealing with city and state budget issues. Now that these issues are behind him, he told surprised reporters, he is going to return to a series of other priorities, including banning the horse carriage trade from New York City.

"I've said many times and I'll say it again, I think we need to ban horse carriages in New York City and we're going to act accordingly," he said. The ban would come through the City Council, talks to do that are underway, he said. "I believe it's something we have to do."

I found the mayor's comments disheartening, if not unexpected. New York is our greatest stage, the mayor refuses this opportunity to have a genuine conversation about the future of animals in cities and in our world, and also about the true nature of real animals. What is abuse and mistreatment? What do they really need? Who speaks for them? Is is appropriate to abuse and mistreat people in the name of protecting animals?

It seems to me that people who love animals would be eager to discuss ways of keeping them safely with us, rather than banning them from our midst. It seems doubtful we will ever get to have that conversation, not with this mayor.

Ever since he took office in January the idea of banning the carriage horses has provoked enormous comment and controversy, from Liam Neeson's challenge to the animal rights understanding of horses to polls showing little or no support for the ban among New Yorkers, to behaviorists, veterinarians and trainers who say the horses are content and well cared for, to anguished pleas, petitions, essays and comments from horse and other animal lovers all over the country who believe the ban is a mistake. If the mayor heard or saw any of those comments – 66 per cent of New Yorkers oppose the ban, along with the Central Park Conservancy, The Chamber of Commerce, The Teamsters Union, the New York Post, New York Daily News, and New York Times – he has never acknowledged it, discussed it, reflected upon it.

Political observers doubt most New Yorkers care very deeply whether the horses remain in the city or not, or that most would base their votes on whether the ban was executed or not. "If the horses are gone, people will forget about them in six months," one City Council member told some of his constituents. I can't say if that is so or not, I know that animal lovers all over the country are following the story closely and are deeply concerned about the idea that horses can only exist on rescue farms or that work for animals is abuse.

I do not know what the mayor's true motives are, but his erratic and utterly incoherent statements about the horse carriage's suggest that this is simply what most New Yorkers think it is – a question of power and money. It is hard to imagine why a mayor with so many pressing concerns would so doggedly pursue such a poorly grounded and unpopular move unless he really had no choice – he just got too much money from the animals rights groups in this campaign to walk away from it.

The mayor speaks of the issue only in short and inarticulate blurbs like those at this week's press conference. He refuses to speak with the carriage owners, visit the drivers or the stables, or even recognize the people in the carriage trade as human beings who deserve consultation about the loss of their livelihood, their fate and future. The dehumanization of the carriage trade people is one of the ugliest and most disturbing elements in the campaign against the horses, especially from a mayor who labels himself a progressive.

It seems the mayor is also determined to push ahead with a plan to replace the horses with vintage electric cars, which will cost about $160,000 apiece. If New Yorkers are united behind the idea of keeping the horses, they are even more horrified at the thought of flooding Central Park with more cars. Only the mayor seems to think cars are more eco-friendly than horses.

There are also plans, according to the media, to take the horses away from the carriage owners and require that they only be sold to farms and preserves where it is guaranteed that they will never work. This issue will not be resolved for some time, it will surely end up in the courts. What a waste of money and opportunity for a real discussion about animals that would be.

It is known that the mayor's teenage daughter first awakened him to the carriage horse issue after viewing animal rights websites online, and that the mayor has never lived with an animal, not even a dog or a cat. In the campaign, he described himself as a "proud supporter" of the animal rights movement, perhaps it is as simple as that. The mayor has every right to pursue a carriage trade ban if that is what he sincerely believes is right, he is also morally obligated to explain his reasoning, and to meet with the people most directly affected.

They have broken no law, violated no regulation, committed no crimes. If their work and way of life are to be taken from them, they are entitled to talk about it with their elected officials.

It has never been clear what the mayor really thinks about the carriage horses, he refuses to talk about it. It is known that NYClass and other animal rights groups pushing the carriage ban helped him win election with generous and timely campaign contributions. Political reporters in New York City believe the mayor has no choice but to pursue the ban to the end, he based much of his election on banning the horses.

"He's just stuck," a political reporter told me," there is no way for him but to introduce the ban and let the chips fall where they may. Nobody expects the courts to uphold a carriage horse ban, there is no legal basis to ban an industry that has done nothing wrong and is already one of the most heavily regulated in the city. It's just for face, more political theater to keep the animal rights crazies off of his back."

Maybe so. More uncertain and unsettling times for the carriage trade, I believe the horses in New York are awakening animal lovers every to the great issues that surround this story, especially this one: animals have the right to survive in our world, and we need to share the world with them. The horses call us to a wiser and more mystical understanding of animals.


My e-book "Who Speaks For The Carriage Horses: The Future Of Animals In Our World" will be published this coming week everywhere digital books are sold ... -donation/
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Sat Jul 12, 2014 11:16 am

To me, I have no problem with what they do. I have a problem with where they do it. Keep them in Central Park. Let customers use other forms of transportation to get them from Point A to Point B.
Kelly Kip
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Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:47 am

Katz has written an e-book about the carriage horses, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the fund to Save The New York Carriage Horses. ... -original/
Kelly Kip
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Mon Aug 04, 2014 12:56 pm

The Carriage Horses: Horseshit And The Boundaries Of Protest

A friend of mine in the carriage horse trade posted a story online about a farmer who dumped a truckload of horse manure in front of the French National Assembly to protest the policies of the French government. The police arrived and hauled the farmer off before he could drop the entire load, but he made his point and it was a big one. The manure dump was a major sensation in France, it was covered everywhere and almost universally celebrated and applauded. The farmer touched a deep nerve, it was a classic moment in the rich history of protest.

My friend in the carriage trade was a bit horrified, I think, he said the carriage horse owners and drivers would never do anything that negative, if they ever protested at all. The dropping of manure would simply annoy the public and turn them away from their cause. I think I made him somewhat uncomfortable, my gift to the world.

I said I thought it would be great to take a wagon load of good horse manure – I have great donkey manure – from the carriage horse stables and dump them in front of the offices of PETA or NYClass, the animal rights groups seeking to ban the horses from New York and put hundreds of people out of work for no legal reason. it is after all, where horseshit would be much at home.

The people in the carriage trade are not like the kids from the Occupy Wall Street movement that called for global revolution. They are not barefoot anarchists without a particular cause or purpose. They are just like us, our neighbors, friends and family members. They are generally conservative, immigrants or the descendants of immigrants, they are clannish and generally averse to conflict. They have a just cause and a powerful case to make.

Their caution and reticence is why the animal rights movement had nearly carte blanche to abuse them for years, accusing them of all sorts of things that were not true, or were grossly distorted. A compliant and generally clueless media was happy to relay these many falsehoods as if there was some truth to them.

Almost everyone in New York – me, too- assumed the horses were being cruelly overworked and mistreated. I had no idea that the horses got five weeks of vacation, worked an average of six hours a day, had heated and air-conditioned stalls and were healthy and lived a good long time – longer than horses in the wild or on rescue farms.

In the past year, the carriage trade has begun to fight back, organizing their own media, standing in their truth, making their own statements and they have turned public opinion around in New York, uniting the fractious city to an almost unprecedented degree. 66 per cent of New Yorkers want the horses to stay, so do all three newspapers, the labor unions and the Chamber Of Commerce. Nobody can remember when there was that kind of unanimity about anything in New York. The mayor, who refuses to meet with the carriage trade people, visit the stables or communicate with them in any way – he is happy to talk to the millionaire animal rights activists seeking to banish them – says he does not care what what the people of New York think, he has his own mandate.

Still, protest and media management are not natural gears for the people in the carriage trade, they prefer to work and raise their families.

The animal rights groups are ingenuous, if not especially fact driven or congenial, they have taken the idea of the protest to a whole new level. They don't really have much to protest – there is absolutely no evidence that the horses in the carriage trade are being abused – but they demonstrate continuously, usually weekly, mostly just shouting insults at the carriage drivers and the tourists and kids who want to go for rides and holding up photos of horses who fell down years ago. It is true in our world that if you repeat lies loudly and frequently, people will eventually come to believe them, the Internet is the great friend of the lie in many ways.

Is there a better cause for protest than this issue of the carriage horses for anyone who loves animals and the freedom to choose our own way of life?

Protest is not radical or offensive. America was founded on protest and civil disobedience, the founding fathers believed it is the citizen's duty to protest and defy arrogant and abusive government. Henry David Thoreau wrote that "the government is best which governs least," and he went to jail rather than pay taxes to support slavery.

Creative protest has taken many twists and turns in America. The patriots went out to Boston harbor to toss tea overboard because of a governmental authority seeking to take the colonists livelihood and way of life away – much the same issues the carriage trade faces. The first feminists rode bareback through the capitol and disrupted Congress to focus attention on women's rights. Martin Luther King (and Gandhi before him) understood the power of focused and non-violent and symbolic protest, they accomplished more than massive armies with many guns. King believed it was an honor and a duty to protest injustice, and his notions of creative protest worked. He did more with his marches and protests than politicians and legislators did in centuries.

The horses have been visiting me in the night again, and their message is both vivid and clear. They are showing me images of scores of them blocking off the entrance to Central Park, standing in beautiful and powerful and silent protest to the indefensible effort to banish them from the city and ban the people who own them, seize their property and force them into work they do not want – driving vintage electric cars around the park. Banning honest and hard-working people is not the business of government,

I also see children all around the horses – every child on the earth would wish the horses to stay, if anyone would listen to them – standing with them as they seal off the park and shut down the traffic all around them.

It is an unacceptable thing to be banned for no reason other than that a millionaire with an angry obsession has purchased a mayor's will in back rooms and hotel ballrooms.

In contemporary culture, many Americans think protest is posting an angry message on Facebook. Politics means signing a petition or hitting the "like" button. But creative and brave protest is as honored and patriotic an American idea as Fourth of July parades. We have just gotten out of the habit of going outside.

I don't quite agree with my cautious friend from the carriage trade, although I understand his caution. When I began researching and writing about this story, I had an open mind about it, like most people, I expected to find the horses in rough shape, worn out and abused, as I had been hearing.

Instead, what I found was a conspiracy of lies that made me angry and makes me angry still. This controversy is an injustice, it should never have happened, there is nothing to it or behind it.

PETA and NYClass – along with their newly-radicalized lapdogs in the S.P.C.A. U.S. Humane Society – have lied repeatedly, distorted the truth about minor and meaningless events, utterly misrepresented both the real lives of the horses and the ways in which they are cared for. They have exploited the good will of animal lovers everywhere by manipulating dishonest imagery in order to collect money. They have taken a handful of minor and utterly predictable events and sought to portray these gentle beasts as dangerous and destructive, an awful thing to do to and a libel to these gentle and domesticated and hard-working animals.

They have damaged and corrupted the political process by working in secret to flood the decision-making process with money and circumvent any kind of openness, due process or fairness. They are putting hundreds of horses in thoughtless and unnecessary danger misled the public. These are not the horses that need rescue, these are not the people who abuse animals.

I want to tell my carriage horse friends that creative protest is not an ugly or unseemly thing to do. It is the essence of being American, what we can do when government goes too far, what we ought to do.

I would happily donate some of the good and pungent manure that comes to the farm every day from my three donkeys, and from the sheep as well. There is a lot of it and it is good stuff, you could smell it from the NYClass office right to the stables. I think it is the perfect statement to make to people for whom horseshit is standard practice, a means of communicating, an ethical state of being. I would be happy to load up a truck and drop it off myself. Martin Luther King said there are times when civil disobedience is the most heroic thing a citizen can do for his country.

And think of the impact. It would be an overnight sensation on Facebook, and Twitter, it might well awaken many people to the true horseshit – this utterly pointless assault on people who are doing what people have done for thousands of years – working with horses that they value and care for.

And if they hauled me and my manure off to jail, I would be proud, I would think of Thoreau, sitting in his cell.

"Must the citizen for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men [and women] first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right."

The flies would have to come too.
 ... f-protest/
Kelly Kip
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Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:30 am

Going To New York: The Last Stand Of The Carriage Horses

A friend asked me why I am going to New York City today when there are many closer, cheaper, easier places to go. I think he was worried that New York isn't the most restful place for me right now. I told him there were lots of reasons – I love New York, the people, the food, the culture there. But I told him the truth was partly that I feel I need to go to New York to see the horses now, to take pictures of the drivers, of the carriages in the great park. The horses are in their greatest danger, they are calling out to the world to pay attention.

It is, truly, an epochal time in the life of animals in our world. The horses sensed it from the first. Chief Avrol Looking Horse of the Sioux Nation told me of a great dance held many years ago, in which the horses appeared to dance and to say goodbye, they knew they were about to be slaughtered and driven from the world by human beings who had no work for them. One day, said a big and beautiful gray stallion, when they were most needed, they would return.

I believe they are needed now, I believe their spirits have returned.

The last stand of the big horses in America. New York is the big stage, other groups in other cities are already mobilizing to ban carriage horses there, ignorance is infectious, it spreads like any virus.

America seems to have lost it's mind and it's memory when it comes to keeping animals in our world, or acknowledging the role these wonderful creatures have had in our history and our lives. Can it really be that the world's first democracy seeks to take these wonderful beings away from us and destroy the livelihood and way of life and seize the private property of people who have done no wrong, committed no crimes, played by all of the rules of our society?

They are coming for the horses, and they are coming for the ponies and elephants and working dogs and chickens on farms and so many other animals who used to live and exist among us. Soon enough, they will be coming for you, for the animals in your world, for the way in which you live with them and love them. Soon enough, they will be entering your world, your life and telling you how to live and taking the animals you love a way from you and removing them from our lives. It is not a paranoid fantasy, it is here. It is the life of every carriage horse owner and driver and every horse today in New York. It is happening right now.

It is why the carriage horse issue is so important.

The most powerful and wealthy forces in the city – the mayor, his millionaire friends, the groups who claim to speak for animals rights – say they are determined to ban the horses from New York forever, they insist they do not belong there, and they say they will do it soon, perhaps in the next week or so. The people in the carriage trade are tired, worried – they do not have a lot of money, they are not media or political warriors, they can't pay their bills for weeks, even days, if they are banned.

There are rumors that they have hired a lawyer, are preparing to fight back, but they have said nothing in public, they are keeping their own counsel. They are clannish in that way, uncertain and unfamiliar with the primal laws of media conflict. I believe strongly that if they fight, they will win. There is no logic, justice or rationale to the movement to ban the horses, I do not believe it will stand. But I am not in New York, I am not a carriage horse driver, I have not been battered and threatened and harassed for years, forced to live in confusion and uncertainty.

There are many things to be concerned about in New York or the world today – the headlines call out to us for attention and remedy. It is easy enough to shrug one's shoulders. Who really cares about the big horses, relegated to a corner of life in New York, used mostly to keep children and tourists happy?

I care. I hope you care. There are animal issues and human issues in this story and both are of great importance.

First, if the horses are taken from the city, the cause of animals in our world will be grievously damaged. The greatest right of animals today is not to be confined to rescue ghettos where they will never be seen and have nothing to do but eat hay and drop manure. It is to survive in our world. This is the last stand of the carriage horses, there is literally nowhere else for them to go. Banishment means extinction, if the big horses go, they will soon enough leave the world, as so many other animals have.

We have lost our perspective and priorities. We make room for dogs and cats and people and pedicabs and condos and skyscrapers and cars and trucks and triple decker buses in New York City, we can make room for the horses who have lived in the city for centuries and helped build it. They have done no harm and much good, they bring magic, history and the natural world to the park every single day.

The horses speak to me, they have been speaking to me for months, and they tell me that if they leave the city, our covenant with the earth with be broken, the wind and the rain and the fire shall leave with them. They belong with us, we need them more than we can imagine, especially now when our earth is broken and bleeding. We owe it to the children to keep them, there is not a child or true animal lover on the earth who wishes them to go, who would not miss seeing them, they are the magic and the mystery of the earth, right in the center of our greatest city.

Then there is the human issue, of equal importance. The people in the carriage trade are part of an ancient tradition, people working with horses and animals in partnership. They work hard, pay their taxes, raise their families. They have the right to their way of life, they are not abusers of animals, the working horses are content and healthy, working in the way they have for centuries, working in health with good care and much supervision and oversight.

The horses are not abused, they are not living in misery, they are not sad and piteous. They do not need to be patronized and saved. They are strong and proud animals, doing what they have been bred to do, sharing the joys and travails of life with the people who work with them and care for them, one of the oldest and most storied traditions in the animal world.

So I go to New York for many reasons. One of them is to see the horses, encourage them, record some images of them, look on rich very human faces of the drivers, show my own small and humble flag. To let them know in the smallest of ways there are lots of people who care about them, who are thinking about them, who value justice and truth.

Every day, I get messages from the horses, they call me there, every day. My open heart surgery has not made me timid or reluctant to travel, quite the opposite, it helps me to feel strong and clear and to understand what it is truly important, and if I don't go to New York now, then why ever go?

If the horses are banned, New York and the world will be a darker and less mystical place. We will have cut out a piece of ourselves, our history, our connection to the natural world, and also, our own sense of humanity. We will have betrayed Mother Earth yet again, and broken faith with our fellow citizens, who deserve peace and liberty in their lives. Animals will never benefit from the abuse and mistreatment of people. The horses understand this as well as any creature, they have served human beings since the beginning of time.

On behalf of people. On behalf of animals. ... ge-horses/
Kelly Kip
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Fri Aug 15, 2014 11:59 am

Carriage Horses: The Truth About The Air They Breathe

One of the central elements of the campaign to banish the New York Carriage Horses is the assertion that they are suffering greatly from having to breath the air on the traffic-congested streets of Manhattan. A rational person might suggest the city consider banning some cars rather than the horses, but that's not how our political system works. Over the past weeks, I have been doing some research to try and figure out if the horses really are suffering from "sucking on tailpipes," as the animal rights groups like to say, and if they are falling ill to respiratory or pulmonary disease.

Recently I wrote that Frederick Law Olmstead, the designer of Central Park – much of the park was built for the horses – would be saddened to hear that the city wants to ban horses from Central Park and not the cars or taxis or pedicabs that are allegedly killing them and, presumably, the human beings who jog and bike alongside of them. A woman named Ronnie immediately posted a message on my Facebook page saying that Olmstead would be saddened to see the horses suffering from fumes.

So are the horses really suffering from fumes? And is the air they breathe killing them to the point that they have to be banned so that they can be banished to rescue farms, and even more likely, killed even more brutally in slaughterhouses?

I'll start with this statistic.

In 1885, 9000 horses were put to death by the city of New York. Some were lame, some were sick, some collapsed hauling bricks and lumber, some had heat stroke, others fell into potholes, had colic or glanders, were bitten by rats, caught disease from swarms of flies and mosquitoes, ate raw sewage and animal feces, were killed by daily stable fires or boiler and machine explosions, set upon by dogs and wolves, drank poisonous chemicals in the streets or consumed infected water, were suffocated by chemical emissions from belching factories, ate rotten hay or feed, broke their legs in the hundreds of collisions with other horse-drawn wagons that occurred weekly on unpaved and dusty and crowded streets.

In New York City in2014, no carriage horse died or was put to death as the result of any of these things, including bad air. Ronnie can do the math herself if she wishes (I bet she doesn't.)

The sort of statement Ronnie made so blithely and certainly, and without any facts or data to support it, is familiar to me now in the curious world of the carriage horse controversy, where the horses very existence – and the lives of the hundreds of people who love and work with them – are threatened daily by myth and fantasy. Facts are few and lonely in this ugly debate, truth has been widowed.

I love truth, and I went searching for some.

I'd start with The Horse In The City: Living Machines In The Nineteenth Century, by historians Clay McShane and Joel A. Tarr. It offers the best and most detailed account I have yet read of the lives of the carriage horses more than 100 years ago. It also gives the lie to the idea that the horses are worse off today than they were a century ago, or that the quality of their lives has declined in any way. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, including the idea that the city's air is more dangerous now than it was for them.

First, I asked the Department of Health, which oversees the care of the horses, if there are any records showing that any of the carriage horses of New York examined in recent years died or fell ill to respiratory disease. The horses are examined regularly – up to four times a year by city veterinarians, and also periodically by outside organizations like equine veterinarians and farriers. A spokesperson told me a small percentage of the carriage horses suffered from respiratory allergies typical of horses everywhere. None had become seriously ill or died from these allergies.

The city's Department of Health says there are no records of any carriage horse suffering or dying from respiratory disease in the past ten years for which records have been kept. The symptoms of respiratory disease in horses are similar to those in humans – coughing, phlegm, wheezing, panting, crackling in the lungs. Insofar as city records show, no carriage horse has ever been found by any veterinarian to be suffering from respiratory disease or lung issues associated with breathing bad air in New York City. Like many of the accusations against the people in the carriage trade, and just to justify the urgent banishment of the horses fro New York, there is simply nothing there beyond the accusations and assertions.

According to McShane and Tarr, the lives of horses in New York City a century ago were sometimes horrifying. For one thing, their research makes clear, the air in the city was poisonous, much worse in many ways than it is now. There were clouds of dust from unpaved streets, smoke from coal and other fires, chemicals poured into the streets, fumes from factories belching fire and smoke, dead and rotting animals in the streets, sewage and mud, manure and human waste, clouds of flies. People riding in horse carriages often held handkerchiefs over their noses to protect from the awful fumes.

As I mentioned earlier, in 1885, more than 9,000 horse deaths were recorded by the city's Department Of Health. These were horses that were put to death for lameness, and died frequently of heat stroke and other toxic afflictions.

The New York Carriage Horses do not work in temperatures over 89 degrees, and the loads they pull – light carriages on rubber wheels on asphalt, mostly in Central Park, are not nearly as heavy as the loads of people and goods, lumber and bricks they pulled in cars on the streets of New York a century ago. Hundreds of horses died each year in the 1900′s stable fires, or were stricken with diseases carried by rats, flies, mosquitoes and mice. Hundreds more broke their legs in the many ruts ad potholes that marked most New York City Streets.

On the animal rights websites, you will read that the horse stables in New York do no have fire alarms. This is false, they all have fire alarms, heat and air-conditioning.

Many horses in the 1900′s died of glanders, a contagious disease. In fact, horses that pulled weight and cargo or who worked on railways died at double the rate of carriage horses. It should be noted that the cab horses of today work an average of six hours a day, almost entirely on shaded streets in Central Park, behaviorists, trainers and equine vets say they do not come close to being over-worked. They spent about 30-45 minutes in transit to and from the park, the rest of their time is spent in the park or in heated and air-conditioned stables. They also get five weeks in the country on their mandated vacations. They get more good air than the vast majority of New Yorkers and have better working conditions than any Amazon warehouse worker in America.

The horses also get five weeks of vacations a day. No carriage horse in modern times has died of heat stroke or overwork. In 2008, John Lowe, a veterinarian from Cornell University, examined 130 carriage horses, he found them to be contented and in good health, they had no more respiratory allergies than horses anywhere have. You can read his report here.


Buck Brannaman, the inspiration for Robert Redford's movie "The Horse Whisperers," and the most famous horse trainer in the country, recounts this story about the carriage horses and a visit to New York in his book "The Faraway Horses:"

"Next on my schedule were a couple of young women from MTV and Rolling Stone magazine. One of them asked, “What about those poor horses in Central Park? Don’t you think it’s awful how they have to pull those heavy carriages all day?”

I had an answer for that question “No, I don’t,” I said, then explained that the Central Park horses are content. Pulling carriages on rubber-rimmed wheels on paved streets is a low-stress job, and the horses are calm and relaxed, not anxiously laying their ears back or wringing their tails. Plus, these horses get lots of attention and affection from passerby. And horses love attention and affection as much as we do.

The horses that people should be concerned about are the neglected ones that, after the “newness” of ownership wears off, live in box stalls all day. These horses have no purpose, no jobs to do. All they do is eat and make manure. Even prisoners get to exercise more than these horses, and the horses have never done anything wrong. If they had the choice, these horses would choose to be carriage horses rather than stand in their stalls."

Brannaman is famous all over the world for his advocacy of humane and positive treatment of horses. It is really conceivable that this horse whisperer would condone the abuse, overwork and suffocation of working horses?


The question of the air the horses breathe is very simple to gauge in one way – the carriage horses in New York live an average of 18 to 20 years, three times the life span of the carriage horses of New York in the 1900′s. They also live longer on average than horses in rescue farms because their health care, work and feeding are so intensely regulated and they have good shelter. The horses I have seen at equine rescue farms do not get nearly the quality of the hay fed the New York Carriage Horses or anything like the medical care and supervision.

According to the Central Park Conservancy, the air in the park is much cleaner than the air in crowded city streets, and has been deemed safe for runners and joggers. The park is, in fact, filled with joggers, bicyclists and walkers who work much harder and strain themselves much more than the carriage horses, who pull their carriages at a slow trot for short distances with mandated breaks every two hours.

If the air is too dangerous in the park for horses, why is it safe for people who jog and run and ride their bikes? The air pollution figures for the city are also sometimes surprising. The city's greenhouse gas emission levels are relatively low when measured per capita, at 7.1 metric tons per person, below San Francisco, at ll.2 metric tons, and the national average, at 24.5. In our world, we all live with some form of air pollution, the struggles of Mother Earth are the great challenge of our time. Horses all over the world breathe much dirtier air than the air in New York City, they are essential to work and the quality of life to millions of people.

The horses cannot be saved from human deprivations any more than people can, and ought not to be banished from our world because of our ignorance and denial and fantasized vies of animals. If the air is no good for them, it is no good for us, and we ought to fix it.

As for you, Ronnie, my wish for you is that you do some homework, seek out your own truth. I'd consider reading "Genius Of Place: The Life Of Frederick Law Olmsted," you will quickly discover for yourself Olmsead's love of the great horses, their centrality in his design of one of the world's great parks. More than anything, he wanted the park and it's many trails to accommodate the big horses, most of them were designed with them in mind. He considered the horses, along the trees and fountains, among the crown jewels of the park.

He imagined the park to be a home and showcase for them forever. What an awful stain on his great achievement to ban them from their city and their park and replace them with electric cards. No, Ronnie, I believe you will understand for yourself that Frederick Law Olmstead would be sad indeed to see that.

The horses are our partners on the earth, just like dogs or police horses. They share the joys and travails of life. They are not struggling to breathe the air in New York City or suffering from their existence there. These are not the horses who need rescue. These are not the people who abuse animals. ... y-breathe/
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Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:58 pm

Yes - do continue saying how well NYC carriage horses are treated.
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Fri Oct 10, 2014 1:18 pm

The issue of Billy's "rescue" has been addressed.

The fact is every horse rolls, they used the idea that he was rolling for the "OMG first time EVER on grass!" with absolutely no reason to believe that was the truth but that it sounded like a magical happy ending.
Kelly Kip
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Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:07 am

Ahhh, the protesters are such kind "tolerant" non-violent folk :?
Kelly Kip
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Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:02 am

NY Times comes out in SUPPORT of the carriage industry!

The Opinion Pages | EDITORIAL

Horse Nonsense From City Hall

Sixth Avenue and Central Park West, New York. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times
Continue reading the main storyShare This Page
Here is something the New York City Council can do to end 2014 on a high note.

It can vote down Mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to abolish carriage horses. It can give him the opportunity to move on from the foolish campaign promise to shut down the industry, made last year to a small, loud and financially generous group of horse-rights advocates.

Mr. de Blasio plans to offer a bill on Monday to phase out horse-drawn carriages by mid-2016, and nudge about 300 carriage drivers into new jobs as cabbies.

Details are lacking, but questions are many. Why eliminate an entire class of Teamsters union jobs? How will the horses escape slaughter? What will happen to the stables, on coveted property on the West Side of Manhattan? (Not for nothing do people wonder why the force behind NYClass, the group pushing the anticarriage crusade, is a real estate developer, Stephen Nislick.) And does this have anything to do with the $1 million ad campaign financed by NYClass to eliminate Mr. de Blasio’s main rival in the primary, then-Council Speaker (and carriage defender) Christine Quinn? Why are no advocates talking about getting rid of Police Department horses, which have tougher jobs than carriage horses?

A selective animal-rights pose is an odd position for Mr. de Blasio, who calls himself a defender of unions and small businesses, and whose job it is to promote the city as a place for tourists. Why wipe out a well-loved, well-regulated, law-abiding part of the tourist economy?

So many tough questions. One simple answer: Dump the bill. Keep the horses. ... .html?_r=0
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Mon Dec 08, 2014 9:19 am

I find it quite coincidental that a greenie like De Blasio wants to force those who drive the carriages into a taxi cab, which would mean more "air polluting" vehicles on the roads.
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Mon Dec 08, 2014 11:03 am

I think most people know it isn't about the horses, but (as the Times points out) about the property on which the stables sit. Chicago's trying to eliminate their carriage horses too. They've already made stupid rules regarding horse waste (now the horses have to have a catch under them to catch urine, because business owners were complaining about the smell). Here's hoping that this editorial makes a difference for the NYC carriage horses.
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Mon Dec 08, 2014 1:09 pm

swale1984 wrote:I think most people know it isn't about the horses, but (as the Times points out) about the property on which the stables sit. Chicago's trying to eliminate their carriage horses too. They've already made stupid rules regarding horse waste (now the horses have to have a catch under them to catch urine, because business owners were complaining about the smell). Here's hoping that this editorial makes a difference for the NYC carriage horses.
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