Thursday, January 21, 2010

NYC Entities Discussing Carriage Horse Welfare

Gothamist.com reported today that "the co-president of NYCLASS, Steve Nislick, joined the ASPCA and a panel of experts to discuss the welfare of horses. Naturally, the discussion turned to New York's carriage horse industry, which they would like to replace with a fleet of antique electric cars. On the state of the horse's welfare, Nislick said: '"They provide them with no protection. If I don't give a horse water for 12 hours, I've done nothing wrong. The minimum requirement in NY State is you have to give a horse water once every 12 hours. Does that make sense to anybody?"'

It's good to see that there is finally some real discussion taking place on this issue. The time has long since passed when the horse and carriage became a redundant mode of transport in NYC. The dangers of collisions between horses and the modern shuffle of urban life are too great, and too frequent to allow the carriage industry to continue operating in Manhattan. Not to mention the sometimes deplorable living conditions that these animals exist under when not "on the clock."

3 comments:

MichaleenFlynn said...

The epidemic of abandoned horses across the country is due to what is being called a “perfect storm” of a slow economy, highfeed prices, & recent national outlawing of slaughterhouses. This is a mammoth crisis - 1000s of horses being left to waste away in fields &paddocks, or surrendered to over-crowded rescues. Closing down a business where horses lead content & exceedingly reasonable existences will only ADD to this problem.

A well-loved, cared-for horse with a job is a lucky horse.

The welfare of the horses is what the decent-minded, casual observer is truly interested in, and for good reason. The horse-drawn carriages are a New York City icon; they are ambassadors to our visitors, and the horses themselves are working animals that are entitled to proper care and good handling.

Fortunately, our record reflects exactly that. Our horses lead exceedingly reasonable and content lives. They each receive a superior, formulated diet, occupy box stalls, receive vet & farrier care, and are groomed and bathed regularly. This amounts to food, shelter, and hygiene & medical care - which many CHILDREN in this city do not have.

Beyond these basics, they are loved by their owners/drivers; they receive affection, treats, and human interaction everyday.
Every stable has a sprinkler system in case of fire, and every stable has 24/7 stablemen. We are overseen by 5 city agencies, and not one WEEK goes by (and sometimes, day) that our horses are not checked by the ASPCA or the Dept of Health. (Let’s see Child Protective Services match that record)

ALL NYC horses receive rotation turnout several times a year on farms in both Upstate NY and PA.

When the time comes, we work hard to retire them to loving, forever homes; some of the owners retire them themselves on privately owned land. I personally have retired 3 horses, one of which is still living the life of Riley after being retired 6 years ago in South Jersey at a bank president’s home. We also work with the NY Humane Society, which has a Carriage Horse adoption program.

Unfortunately for us and our horses here in NYC, we have always been a primo target for 'animal rights' orgs, both small and large, as we fit the bill perfectly: a small, high-profile industry with very limited resources. You can see what an excellent opportunity our industry not only for misguided people, but for targeted fundraising by large AR groups like PETA, and by bloated behemoths like the ASPCA. But there's a new wrinkle as of late - enter STEVE NISLICK, millionaire real-estate mogul, who has designs on OUR STABLE PROPERTIES, and who has dedicated his deep-pocketed resources to shutting us down for a land grab.

Many people would rather see a horse dead than have a job. To them, a carriage horse doing what it was bred to do, and living a comfortable, content existence alongside his driver, is no different from Michael Vick and a pile of mutilated fighting dogs or undercover horror videos revealing grotesque cruelties at factory farms.

Can any of you imagine what it is like for someone like me - a lifelong horse person, dedicated to my horses in every way - to be maligned and vilified like this? Even if you are only a pet owner - imagine someone constantly lying and distorting how you treat your pet, and then going public with it.

There are no horse-torturing monsters in our business, no matter what any of them say.

And while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, they are not entitled to their own facts.

Our horses lead a "blue collar" existence, working with dignity alongside their caretakers.

It's a good and honorable life, and no amount of elitist do-gooders or rich opportunistic businessmen can prove otherwise.

Read more about Nislick and his real estate aspirations on my blog.

Corinne Mehas said...

Thank you for your comment Michaleen, and I applaud you for being committed to the safety and welfare of your horses. It certainly sounds like you are one of the good guys.

Unfortunately, my impressions of the carriage horse industry here in NYC are based on abuses o have both seen and read about. Horses trotted for long distances on hard pavement, horses improperly shod or working w overgrown hooves, horses working with visible lamenesses, improperly fitting harnesses that result in sores and scars, and operators talking while they "drive" on cell phones, paying little attention to their equine charges. Once I watched a carriage driver trot his horse up eigth ave, and then nearly wreck when a cab swerved in front of him. He pulled his horse up just in time and its nose was four inches from that cab's bumper.

Here at the equine reader I am not out to vilify any equine entity. Abuses do happen in every industry and at the highest competitive levels, and I have written about a wide variety of them pertaining to everything from racing to Tennessee Walkers to reining horses. I have seen these abuses in the same way I have seen near horse/taxi collisions.

So thank you for being committed to the safety and welfare of your horses. We need more like you in every industry. As for the viability of carriage horses weaving in and out of Manhattan traffic, that is not something I will ever agree with. And we are all entitled to our opinions.

Anonymous said...

As a owner of my Family's horse stable in NYC,over 45 yrs,I would like to explain that there is far far more dedication given to our horses than we are credited for.Like earlier stated in a previous post,every stable has a sprinkler and 24 hr stable staff,vets on 24 hr call to make barn visits.We have more inspections than most hospitals and restaurants,by the NYFD,NYPD,DEPT OF HEALTH AND ASPCA .The best show barns and race horse barns would struggle to pass every single unannounced inspection 24 hrs a day abiding all the strigent laws and regs we have.No other horse stable across the country face the scrutiny and slander that NYC stables face,and yet we all pass every inspection reguardless of what animal extremists claim.