On Sunday afternoon, three passengers were injured after an umbrella spooked a carriage horse while in Central Park South. The incident occurred at 12:15, when a pedestrian opening and closing an umbrella screamed loudly which startled the horse. Moments later the white Percheron galloped down the street, across Sixth Avenue; his driver jumping off the buggy to help the panicked animal.
According to Pix11News, the frightened horse, named Arthur, wedged himself and the carriage between two stopped vehicles. The passengers were then able to climb out of the crumbled carriage – fortunately they suffered only minor injuries.
“I think this really highlights that horse carriages do not belong in chaotic traffic,” stated Edita Birnkrant, executive director of the animal advocacy group NYCLASS. “This was a horrifying crash that happened. This horse spooked; ran completely out of control with no driver.”
“The enforcement of these carriages is a joke and it has only gotten more lax in the last four years despite repeated assurances from City Hall,” continued Edita in her statement on Sunday.
For years, the NYCLASS (New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets) has advocated banning all carriage horses from New York City streets, and is now urging the City Council to limit carriage rides to just Central Park. In addition, the organization wants additional protection for the horses stating the carriage horses live in small stalls without pastures to roam and graze.
Carriage drivers, however contend the horses are well cared for, loved and are routinely rotated from working in the city to rural farms where they graze in pastures and “hang out with other horses for companionship.”
New Yorkers seem to be divided on the issue. Advocates for keeping the iconic horse carriage rides, contend the horses are happy doing their jobs, the drivers make their livings with the horses and fear that the horses would meet terrible deaths at Canadian or Mexico slaughterhouses if the carriage industry folded. Where would the horses go animal advocates have repeatedly asked?
Christina Hansen, spokesperson for the carriage industry in New York, stated Arthur was not injured nor was the driver.
“Everyone in the carriage industry works every day to ensure the safety of our horses, our passengers and the public, and our record speaks for itself,” Christina said in a statement. “That every single accident we have is considered news is a testament to the safety of our industry.”
And so the hotly contended battle of the New York City carriage horses continues.
Read about a runaway horse carrying passengers in Wisconsin.
(Photos screenshots via NYCLASS)
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