Activists Against Carriage Horses

"The Life of a New York City Carriage Horse is No Walk in the Park" is the message the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) made known in a four-day print advertising campaign begun Aug. 21 in the New York Times. The ASPCA unveiled the campaign to sway public opinion about the life and work of carriage horses and generate support for proposed legislation concerning carriage horses. Mary Tyler Moore spoke on behalf of the ASPCA in a press conference Aug. 24.

Three teaser advertisements portrayed a New Yorker's plight with confined living space, uncomfortable working conditions, and seven-day work weeks. The campaign culminated with a full-page ad that revealed that the "New Yorker" was a horse, and listed the ASPCA's goals for carriage horse reform.

"Forget your visions of romance and nostalgia," said ASPCA's President Larry M. Hawk. "Current city law allows these animals to work and live in conditions that are deplorable. The ASPCA is proposing changes ranging from healthier temperature restrictions, work restricted to Central Park, larger stalls, and safer stables."

"The regulations vary considerably from jurisdiction to jurisdition," said Jay Merriam, DVM, of Massachusetts Equine Clinic, who gave a presentation on the welfare of carriage horses at the 1999 American Veterinary Medical Association's Welfare Forum. "What is good for horses in New York City is different from what might be good for horses in Calfornia."

Merriam noted that studies on equine heat stress at the University of Georgia were instrumental in regulating the carriage horse industry in Charleston, S.C., which has become a model for other cities over the years.

"I think (the campaign) is laudable, and anything that we can do to help these horses is a good thing," Merriam added.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners lists professional guidelines for Commercial City Carriage Horses.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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