Relocation, Purchases Save Baltimore Cart Ponies from Impoundment

Just one day before being declared abandoned, 49 ponies formerly used to pull produce carts in the streets of Baltimore, Md., have been relocated--some to new homes in the country, others to temporary facilities within the city. The ponies had been housed in a festival tent in a parking lot at Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore since August, when their stables were condemned by City of Baltimore Health Department officials.

"Some of the ponies were considered working ponies by their owners or were retired ponies," according to Olivia Farrow, assistant commissioner of the Division of Environmental Health, City of Baltimore Department of Health. "The 28 working ponies were retained by their original owners."

Last week, Baltimore public health officials informed the ponies' owners that the number of horses at the relocation site had to be reduced. Ponies that were not sold or relocated by Dec. 14 were to be declared abandoned and impounded by the city, Farrow said.

The working ponies were relocated to new temporary facilities on Dec. 13. Farrow said the remaining 21 animals were purchased by private parties or placed with equine rescue organizations, thanks to a word-of-mouth campaign designed to prevent their impoundment.

"I personally received about 30 phone calls from people willing to purchase the ponies or help in any way they could," said Kristen Sayan, who purchased one of the animals.

The ponies were all originally owned by so-called Arabbers, Baltimore street vendors who sell produce from horse-drawn carts. The Arabber tradition in Baltimore dates back to the mid-1800s, but new municipal health regulations adopted in August prohibit the use of horses in these markets, along with carriage trade within the city limits. On Aug. 9 public health officials inspected the horses' stables and declared them unsafe due to health code and other violations.

Since then, city officials have been working with Arabbers and the Arabber Preservation Society to keep the tradition alive and construct a new, permanent home for the horses.

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About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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