Monday, August 23, 2010

Fire breaks out in Manhattan carriage stable

I have long railed against the anachronistic logic of maintaining carriage horse fleets in large urban centers like NYC. As a city dweller, I have seen more than one near-miss incident in which a horse and car ended up in far too close of a proximity, with a bridled nose coming up very literally within inches of a stopping bumper.  Proponents of the carriage horse industry in this city have openly contested my opinion right here on this blog, arguing that the city's working carriage horses are well cared for and kept out of harm's way, adroitly guided in and out of the City's congested swirls of traffic by attentive and adept driver/handlers.

While I won't ever be able to lend credence to the idea that horses + careening taxis = a safe work environment, and though I have seen far too many "attentive" drivers attending to cell phone calls while steering their horses to believe that the entire human contingent behind the carriage industry is focused on equine welfare, I haven't ever been able to argue much concerning the off-hours care of these equines because I haven't ever visited a carriage stable in the city. I know that horses in NYC stables live in small box stalls and that some must navigate the several floors of converted warehouse buildings by ambling up and down steep ramps.  Only this week did it come to my attention that a fire recently broke out in one such stable on Manhattan's west side, and while it was luckily brought under control without any equine injury, the thought that an entire stable full of horses could have been trapped in a burning building in the City is a horrifying one.

New York City needs to continue to evaluate why horses live and work here under unsafe conditions. While the romantic vision of carriage horses ambling along the shady paths of Central Park is a storied part of NYC history, the reality of life for these horses is not always so rose-tinted. If these horses are to remain here, providing the City with both tradition and tourist revenue, we need further legislation to attend to their immediate welfare. The City is taking strides, but it won't have done enough until these horses have all basic safeguards in place.


MichaleenFlynn said...

It is truly unfortunate that you think so little of your readers that you regurgitate propaganda without the most cursory of fact-checking.

EACH AND EVERY carriage stable in NYC was originally built AS a stable. Their C of Os are on file with the Dept of Buildings; while some of them have spent years occupied by tenants other than horses, they all started out as horse stables. NONE of them are "converted warehouses."

~EACH AND EVERY carriage horse occupies a BOX STALL. Not that there is anything wrong with straight stalls (NYPD horses live in straight stalls on Varick St), but we don't happen to have any.

~EACH AND EVERY carriage stable in NYC HAS a sprinkler system, even though they are NOT required by law. Go ahead, call the NYFD and *ASK* them!

What else can I help you with today?

PS - BTW, which stable do you think has a better chance of NOT burning down - one in an urban area 3 blocks from an NYFD Ladder Company, or say, a nice big stable out in the country, miles from the nearest town? Just asking....

PPS - you probably won't post this comment, but even if you don't, I DARE you to actually research the facts as I have stated them, and find me wrong on even ONE of them.

Christina said...

I know it might come as a surprise to you, but the carriage industry in New York City actually does things for its horses that are above and beyond what is required by law.

Every NYC carriage stable (which were built as stables - intended for horses to live in - not converted warehouses) has a sprinkler system, even though they are not required to by law.

Recently, the carriage industry lobbied heavily to change the city carriage regulations so that the law was more in line with what is actually practiced. For example, it was the carriage industry who had the law changed so that horses were REQUIRED to have A MINIMUM of five weeks turnout per year, something that was NOT required by law before, but which everyone was doing anyway. It was the carriage industry (not the city or any activists) who changed the law so that horses are now inspected by a vet twice per year instead of only once. It was the carriage industry who in the recent law cut back on the hours of the day that horses were allowed to work.

The interiors of the carriage barns are state of the art, with automatic waterers, rubber mats, drainage systems, and more - all designed for the comfort of the horses. Clinton Park stables has a misting system for when it gets hot, and all have good cross ventilation (after all, they were BUILT as stables with the comfort and well-being of the horses in mind).

You can't very well speak about the conditions that the horses live in if you haven't even been in or done even cursory research on the stables themselves.

For a start, I recommend going here: