Charleston carriage horse Big John ‘stumbled and fell’

On Wednesday, a Charleston, South Carolina carriage horse turned a corner onto Meeting Street and fell to the pavement as he was pulling a carriage with passengers. The official report from the City of Charleston’s Department of Livability and Tourism, says the horse “stumbled and fell” to the pavement.

“At approximately 323 Meeting Street the horse stumbled and fell to the pavement. A large strap from the harness was used to lift the horse so it could get its rear legs under its body and Big John stood up on all fours,” the report read.

According to Live5News, the report detailed how the Charleston Carriage Works driver called the company’s barn for help while passengers were safely escorted off of the carriage. Big John had fallen on his right side, and barn hands helped to release him from his harness and tack equipment. Carriage horses are trained to stay still until they are safely able to rise so as not to get entangled in the equipment.

Firefighters from the nearby Meeting Street Fire Station also helped lift the horse to free it from the entanglement, at which point the horse sat up on its rump. The entire incident lasted 11 minutes and the horse was walked back to the barn; high school students pushed the carriage back. It has been confirmed it was the horse’s first tour of the day.

“He wasn’t tired, didn’t collapse, wasn’t hot – simply tripped, which happens from time to time (to all of us),” Broderick Christoff, the company spokesperson reported.

The horse was examined by the vet and cleared to return to work although he did suffer some minor abrasions on his rear left hock and right front elbow which were both treated. A subsequent report stated the horse was given a “trot” test recorded on video, and he showed no signs of lameness.

Animal rights activists have continued to question what happened, with one woman stating had Big John just tripped, he would have immediately risen, but in this case she claimed he was down for a half-hour. Charleston has recently passed  new horse carriage heat rules requiring carriage horses be removed from service if temperatures exceed 95 degrees. On Wednesday, the temperatures were in the 80s.

On Facebook, the Charleston Animal Society posted a witness’ video documenting the horse’s ordeal.

 “It is time for an independent, scientific, peer-reviewed study to determine if Big John and other horses are truly working in a safe and humane environment. Charleston Animal Society, Pet Helpers and several other local and national animal welfare organizations want to see a study conducted.”

The video can be viewed here:

65 replies
    • Glenda Free says:

      it is animal abuse!!!! I’m in Charleston a lot, visiting family……they pile as many people in carriage as they can!!!! I have stopped and petted ” Big John “……a beautiful, wonderful horse!!! Stop these carriage rides !!!!!!!!

      Reply
      • Agg says:

        If he’s on a level smooth hard surface it is not abuse, and he can easily pull them. He’s a draft horse. Abuse is listening to you and having this poor horse slaughtered instead!

  1. Red says:

    IT IS NOT HUMANE……………. No matter what your reviews and research say!! Put these dang tourists in automated carts and release these beautiful horses to a sanctuary to be free and walk and run as they choose!!! PLAY LIKE YOU HAVE A HEART IN YOU and NOT JUST A WALLET !

    Reply
    • Kristi says:

      Where is this sanctuary you dream of? These beautiful animals will go to slaughter. I house 4 rescued pasture ornaments on 8 acres to keep them from slaughter, where are you going to put yours? 150,000 horses go to slaughter each year! Even The BLM is considering sending our nations living legends, our wild horses of the west, to slaughter. Please announce the opening of your sanctuary that will house all these animals.

      Reply
      • ellen cottone says:

        Run free Red?
        in the end he will be transported to mexico or canada where he will be tied by one leg a steel trap door will be released he will drop and hange histerical and someone steps in and slits his throat. then they let him bleed out all the while infront of other animals. So by all means Red lets stop carrage rides in the big old cities so we can dog meat this “working” city citizen.

        Your image of clysdales running free is histerical as well as annoying. how utterly clueless the typical american is to horses.

        But here is something you can do to change things that utterly disgust you. Because i can see you have a big heart. and cant stand another min. of it.
        There Is a petition going around to stop Walmart and a few other american corps. to stop buying meat from inhumain steeltrap door slaughter.we are going to shut down trade from the countries who are relentless in gaining profit while employing murderers and perverts and animal torcherers in the mitts of these back wood kill for joy, slaughter houses.get on bord, Your country America wont have it here.thank you to all the people who stepped up.

        Red, And anyone who cares about the treatment of slaughter animals should put your feelings about it on paper and send. walmart will buckle. this is the only cure for the immiges we both have to live with. Its the least we can do. is act like we hate it and spread the word.
        And if this new animal and wildlife hating president means to lift bans out lawing this technology in this country, for profit or lifts protection bans on anymore animal and enviormental protections then god help us. it will be american civil war 2

    • Agg says:

      NO ONE wants to tour in an idiot cart. They are there for the horse. If the horse does not work, he gets slaughtered in a horrible fashion. Don’t drink the corrupt propaganda Kool-aid. In NYC, Mayor DeBlasio’s primary donation source is the Storage Unit King, and he wants the stables (that happen to be on now very hot property) to turn into prime real estate cash flow. The bastards carrying on about the “poor horses” don’t give a rat’s ass about the horses.

      Reply
      • ellen cottone says:

        screw those guys. i hate king , that trump flunky. they are selling off pieces of nyc holylands right out from “we the people” by “right of our birth”. We blood long new yorkers have to sit and watch this happen. Selling off and selling us out.
        All because a bunch of dumb asses gave him the keys to the country and allowes him to rampage the place and steal us blind..

      • Sue says:

        The horse cart drivers don’t care about the horses. When they are done using them, they are sold to slaughter, anyway. The whole concept of “using” needs to be overturned.

  2. Angela Corso says:

    I absolutely agree on this study. I do not think these horses should be working in large cities, small cities pulling people. Based on the size of the average person, these horses are required to pull a lot more weight compared to humans 20 years ago. It’s time to study these types of animal jobs.

    Reply
  3. debor33 says:

    I hope PETA shuts these people down….to say a horse can pull a carriage as long as it’s under 95 degrees….that is way too hot….Big John has a fur coat & then equipped with all that heavy equipment and pull God knows how many people? Did you see how many people got off…..then I bet they loaded him right back up after he fell….PETA, go get them….this needs to stop.

    Reply
    • Dez Tinee says:

      You didn’t read the entire article then? Missed the bit about him being led back to the stable and vet checked and the carriage being pushed back by students?

      Reply
      • Sue says:

        It doesn’t matter whether he was led back to the “stable.” Horses should not be walking around on cement in the middle of traffic – PERIOD.

        There is a lot of abuse behind the scenes wherever animals are exploited for people’s profit, gain, amusement, or whatever.

      • Mary says:

        Sue I guess you missed the part where they have special shoes on that would be like nikes to us! The ignorance of some people is mind boggling. So i guess its better for them too go straight to slaughter? And where are these magical fields of endless grass that they can go to if they dont work? Do some research like I did. Big John only works part time and in his down time he spends his days out in the pasture grazing. The public is invited to their stables so you can see for yourself that their taken care of! SMH

      • Sue says:

        Where is the moderator? Calling people names (i.e. “Nutjob” ) is rude and inappropriate. Adults are increasingly behaving, and speaking, and writing, like juveniles.

      • Sue says:

        Mary – re: Sue I guess you missed the part where they have special shoes on that would be like nikes to us!

        And, so, that is why this approximately one ton horse fell down on cement. And he is not the first, by far.

    • Agg says:

      Then they will be slaughtered in a horrible fashion. They need to pay their bills — because you certainly aren’t supporting them!

      Reply
  4. jeanette says:

    the horse was tired and probably overworked it may be 80 but back east the humidity is bad. I had a horse for 17 years and sometimes he would trip, not all the way and he would get his feet together, so he wouldn’t fall.

    Reply
    • Mary says:

      After a little research I found that Big John was on his first tour that day and he only works part time. They also have special shoes on that make it easier for them to tolerate walking on the pavement. Visit their website and see for yourself, the public is invited to visit the stables and see where the horses live and how they are cared for. They have a team of care takers and are loved. Yes they do work but they also live in this climate everyday and they are out in the sun all the time. since you have had a horse you know they love being outside in their natural habitat. I have three rescues that I had a very hard time leaving outside and wanted to stable them instead with fans because I live in FL and they were miserable kinda like Jail I would imagine so now I only bring mine in to groom. Their happy spending their days grazing……mine are three very fortunate horses though bc not many can afford to feed and care for even one horse. Im thankful Big John has a good home even if he has to work part time.

      Reply
  5. Vickie Hitch says:

    Trip my arse. He is tired. That is why he was laying down. They get overworked and tired. Carrying that many people. The vehicles heat rises up. The exhaust. Gee people think.

    Reply
    • ellen cottone says:

      horses never lie down silly they actally sleep standing up. they arnt carrying people silly the wheels roll the weight . You are adorable.

      Reply
      • Yep says:

        So can you explain to me why my horse will lay down and sleep in the sun on a beautiful day? He is retired and living his days out in a beautiful pasture.

        Horses can sleep standing up, but let me tell you they love to layout on their side line a dog and sleep.

      • ellen cottone says:

        Yep!,
        YEP.
        I do believe he is a retired gentelmen layin sun side up for ultimate ray soaking effect. i wish i was your horse.
        because this is the promis we at least originally make to our horse brethren. to live and work along side and eventally put out to pasture to live out our days,
        worry free. you could not betray a friend. for meat money.

      • ellen cottone says:

        Dear V. S.,
        You are right. That i had to look up. but i thought like an elephant that they crush their organs.
        Incidentally and sorry for the imagery..
        but last thanksgiving, me and my parents were going to my ants house for the day. at 7:00am we come up a hill and we are faceing Knox Acadamys corral, a horse was laying on its side legs sticking out like a toy, still as hell with another horse with its muzzle about a foot away from his muzzle.
        clearly i am still haunted by the image. was he dead or is he in a deep rem state, technacally the only normal reason a horse can lie down? it was a slow drive by and im the only one who saw it. It had a almost whimsey effect to it like the standing horse was saying…wake up , your face down on the lawn, again. care to chime in on that one?

      • Mary says:

        Thats interesting because theres 13 horses where mine are and I have seen all of them lay down for 30 -45 minutes and my vet also said they can lay down for periods of time…..

      • ellen cottone says:

        Oh, i know what im talking about…
        And I know what I saw.
        And whats it to you?
        really?

      • ellen cottone says:

        vs horses do not laydown it is not common if a horse is laying down hes sick or dying. no shady area You dont know what the hell your talking about. You are not a horse man. I have been one since i was four.and a NYS Licenced Trainer by the time i was 18.Dont wast your time with your Reserch.
        You have to know something about life outside your trailor.
        You do not.your here to pick a fight over de blasio and to generally take your anger out on strangers.

      • ellen cottone says:

        no. Its not abuse.
        this animal has a job, this animal has Medical Insurance, this animal has its own groom and massuse. This animal commutes to the city and has weekends off and sleeps late.
        This animal is monitured from agencies for and against livery animals. but none of them are able to close them down. Because its not inhumane.

        Horses were not ment to work on pavement or concreat but they do. because of forged custom iron horse shoes. Some times its sleepery and its wipe out city. But tell that to horses who were the technology of the time from colonial times to the 1900 like it or not horses were the landscape in american city life.just sayin, its not out of nowhere its just the last hold out.

    • Delilah says:

      No this is not abuse. An abused horse would be acting stressed, limping, or have open sores. Carriage horses are trained to stay where they are if they tangle or fall. All it takes is oil on the blacktop and his shoe can slip.

      Reply
      • Sue says:

        Oh yes, Delilah, it is abuse. And you just named one of the many reasons why. Horses should not be falling on cement, or being subjected to the many other cruel and unnatural elements they are made to face daily. They are often driven in freezing cold and sweltering heat, and so much more. The idea that they are just here to be used by us is repulsive, and the arguments used to defend it are pitifully transparent.

      • ellen cottone says:

        sue they are not working in sweltering heat and they spend the winter in florida. like all the other rock stares. but i do apreciat what you are trying to say. but a horse is not a dog. you have to know horse world alittle better to be a wistle blower and advocate. dont stop the goodness and care. All hooved creatures in the u.s.a. are in deep trouble. a major trump backer from texas. an oli chain mug (luke, oil)
        has planes to introduce horse meat for human consumptiom.yes its freak out time. maybe you should get involved. were not having it

  6. Cynthia Como says:

    I think it’s cruel and scary for the horse to be riding thru city traffic. I wish this practice would be banned!

    Reply
    • Agg says:

      They do quite fine. There was a famous series of photos years ago when a jerk in a little red sports car cut ahead of a NYC carriage horse at a stoplight. The horse stuck his head inside the car window, and when the light changed, that car let that horse go first.

      What did the horse say to the driver? What any NYC driver would say to a clueless punk.

      Reply
      • Sue says:

        No, they do not do “quite fine.” And “what did horse say to the driver?…” Horses don’t talk, either.

      • Barkley's Mom says:

        I’m amazed, I’m surprised the guy in the little red sports car didn’t take the horses head off.I know how NYC drivers drive.

      • ellen cottone says:

        Im afraid they do speak sue.especially animals that work closly with or around people.they are assimalated city citizans with rights. they also know order and fairness.
        they also know a jerk when they see one.
        shame on you

  7. Nancy Raymond says:

    I really don’t care HOW it happened – it is another viable reason to ban these horse carriages from the streets.

    Reply
    • V. S. Baird says:

      Darla, look at his feet. He has padded shoes on. What were horses meant for anyway? Certainly not dog food. This horse is extremely healthy, and well cared for.

      Reply
      • ellen cottone says:

        oh my god vs your like a moron.
        There called friggin horse shoes. He has his own black smith who forges a steel horse shoe Custom to protect his nail like hoof. all horses have these shoes if they walk on grass or concreat. they are steal sometimes they slip. End of mystery.city horses whipe out sometimes ask any NYC mounted policmen.. And trust me his cargo of people in the carrage are frozen in fear and waiting for instruction. Anyone can see they are concerned.

      • ellen cottone says:

        the concerned and still kids in the cart awaiting instruction from the driver are the kids who musled up for the horse and thru the hot of charlston day pushed the cart back them selves, back to the station. Just thought youd like to get into their head that day. During that crazy turn of events for a bunch of kids. Bunch of young Gentle men. awsome

  8. Lori Kain says:

    The days for carriage rides in the city areas is long gone. Too much traffic and other crap now involved and the safety of the horses is much more at play now then ever before.

    Reply
  9. Anne says:

    Unfortunately these kinds of videos,…when shared in a vacuum…can often be inaccurately interpreted. As a passionate horse enthusiast and owner for more than 50 years, I’d like to make just a few statements. First, just like humans…horses are subject to aneurysms, heart attacks, etc. Not from abuse…but because they have heart defects, etc just like people do. Thankfully, in following this story, it does not appear that this horse suffered a potentially fatal incident such as the above. Secondly, as an advocate of humane treatment of all animals and an extreme advocate for equines…I have personally visited a number of the carriage companies’ facilities in Charleston. Here’s what I saw…well fed, watered and well groomed horses with meticulously clean, cool stalls…multiple people keeping watch over them to ensure their safety. The carriage horses that I have observed are naturally friendly and curious (another sign that they have not been mistreated by people) These horses are rotated in and out of work…i.e. like people who work at jobs…they are provided days off and then vacations – or weeks off where they return to their farm and pastures for extended rest breaks. While it may seem cruel to those who have never worked with or bonded with horses, horses actually like to have a “job” and having a job helps horses stay both physically and mentally healthy…again, a lot like people. Furthermore, (and sadly) horses who lose their jobs end up in auctions where they are often purchased by “kill buyers” who pack them into trucks, ship them to Mexico or Canada where they are slaughtered in the most cruel and inhumane way imaginable…..that is if they are not trampled to death in the truck or dead of heat stroke on the way to Mexico or Canada. Sadly there is likely not a “happily ever after” retirement home for all the carriage horses in the US to go to after PETA or other such organizations shut down the businesses that employ these horses. Some may be able to be re-homed…but face it – it is expensive to keep a 2000 pound animal…food, land, vet bills….as a hobby…..especially 100s of them. When the carriage companies are shut down..I fear that the majority of these horses will ultimately find themselves on that hell truck to Mexico or Canada. Same thing happens to many of the racehorses on the local and regional tracks my friends…. So, rather than get on a mission to shut carriage companies down….get on a mission to ensure that the care of these horses is appropriately regulated and that city drivers who behave stupidly in zones where carriage horses are used….are penalized and arrested. Then let’s us animal advocates go after people who starve and beat horses mercilessly….and put them in jail

    Reply
    • L says:

      100% agree. I can not speak for NYC horses or big citys (I actually do think NYC streets are not the place with all the noise/traffic etc) I also adore all animals dearly but from what I’ve seen/know about the ones in Charleston, there’s tons of regulations for these horses. They take breaks very regularly and actually have each horse registered and timed/charted each and EVERY time they go out and on what route etc. They always seem to have plenty of water/food/shade everywhere for them. There are so many neglected animals that need help who are actually being harmed and suffering, these animals are healthy and well taken care of. I’ve also seen the curiosity and personality of many of these animals en route as they seem to actually enjoy their stroll, even goof off at times (not afraid of a beating or meaninglessly walking). If you’ve never been/seen, people please don’t judge. Keep in mind a lot of the “horses” used are actually mules as well and ment to “haul” larger loads than the horses. (Not that half the people judging know the difference) I appreciate your willingness to speak up Anne!!

      Even though I know all this, like everyone my heart still melts when I see the photos/video of the horse down. I actually cringed in the video when the HUMAN trying to help kicks the horse in the face (accidentally of course) and it jumps like what the hell dude. A kid falls…. it’s sad he/she’s hurt but that doesn’t mean its abuse.

      Social media and people jumping on every bandwagon they can without any understanding of the actual situation shows how ignorante we’re all becoming. Now….. if the facts later change, this situation needs to be addressed ASAP no question.

      Reply
    • ellen cottone says:

      horses and dogs are workaholics, they are only happy when they have a job. all the animal behavior problems stem from these creatures be ing unemployed.
      we can empty kill shelters and create social and cultural needs for horses while creating human jobs , increasing our data base in human animal working behaviour opening up sympathy and compassion to our animal bretheren. The biggest scam in the history of man kind was that animals were to serve man with no rights.
      that is and was wrong. We can creat jobs, save animals, save money with the incredable free resorces we have around us and assuring happiness between animals and man.

      Reply
      • Sylvie Lee says:

        I have a question regarding the idea that animals like horses are only happy when employed. Is this actually true or something we believe because it makes us feel better about what is happening to animals globally?

        Before man, animals roamed the earth free. And I imagine they were quite content without man telling them how to be. Or are we assuming no animals roamed the earth without human beings?

        I believe freedom for animals and humans is truly what we all seek. This idea of work and employment to be happy is a slave mentality. It’s programming. Sit with the indigenous of this earth and talk to them about jobs, employment and happiness. They will laugh.

      • ellen cottone says:

        animals in the wild spend all their time looking for food. and hiding the other part of the time from being food.
        the indiginous dont have time to laugh they are too busy catching food the hard way, or growing food the hard way. both animals in the wild and indiginous are workaholics with a job.
        the job is survival and it aint pretty.

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