Carriage horse collides with vehicle in NYC, prompting calls to end rides


MANHATTAN (WPIX) – A recent injury to a carriage horse in NYC has renewed the debate over their presence around Central Park. 

On Thursday, the horse collided with a black sedan. Witnesses on the scene said the horse collapsed and remained unconscious for several minutes, according to a statement from advocacy group New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets (NYCLASS).

Footage shared by the advocacy group showed the horse kicking and struggling to get off the ground after regaining consciousness. Another showed the destruction and bloody aftermath of the incident.

Police said it was the horse’s first day pulling a carriage in Manhattan.

Christina Hansen, a carriage driver and spokesperson for the industry, said the horse, named Chief, was startled when a “diaper extension” he was wearing came loose and touched his hind legs, sending him running into a parked car. He was “promptly” seen by a veterinarian who treated the horse for scrapes and one cut that required stitches. She later said a vet again checked on the horse Friday evening.

“It’s newsworthy because it happens so rarely. The horse is fine,” Hansen said.

A group called the committee for Compassionate and Responsible Tourism, meanwhile, has previously highlighted such incidents when campaigning for the city to transition to electric carriages. 

Susan Wagner, with the committee, shared her observations on electric carriages from a trip to Guadalajara, Mexico. She said it’s better for the drivers too, as they can work longer hours if they choose, with less expenses. Naturally, it avoids putting horses in dangerous situations, too.

The drivers of the horse carriages, however, question why the city would want more vehicles in the park after removing cars.

The city regulates all aspects of the horse-carriage industry. Adding electric vehicles to the tourism industry would require new legislation. 

During Mayor Bill de Blasio’s term, he and the New York City Council enacted additional regulations for horse-drawn carriages. Horses currently get 15-minute breaks every two hours, and cannot work longer than 9 hours per day. Five weeks vacation is also required. 

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