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Horse sense


To the editor:

“TWU opposed bill that would ban Central Park horse carriages” (The Chief, Sept. 9) and a later proposal from the union center around what they consider a compromise — stables in Central Park and other gratuities at taxpayer’s expense. It is the height of absurdity. Carriage drivers are not city employees. And these horses do not belong in petting zoos.

With 71 percent of New Yorkers favoring a ban of this business, it’s time to retire these poor, exploited horses and stop putting them, caring New Yorkers and tourists through the wringer every few months with a horrible new accident that hurts our psyche and the city’s image. There is no way to provide them with a humane environment in NYC in which to both work and live.

The recent, horrible accident involving Ryder, an emaciated, seriously ill, geriatric horse who collapsed on the street with the owner beating him and trying to pass him off as14 brought this issue back into the news. It was an image that went around the world — a black mark for NYC tourism.  

The proposal by the Committee for Compassionate and Responsible Tourism to replace horse carriages with electric carriages was intended to bring the union and drivers into the equation with mutual respect as was done successfully in Guadalajara, Mexico, something we witnessed on our fact-finding trip there in 2019. This was a proven job alternative that would make the drivers more income and create more union jobs. They dug in their heels like spoiled children and said, “no way.”

Park land belongs to the people — not private industry. This reapportioning of very desirable land in Central Park would have to go through a legal process, working its way through the state legislature and ultimately the City Council. It most likely would not pass. The intricacies of managing 180 carriage horses seems lost on the TWU. 

Just because Central Park is off the busy streets, it is no panacea for the horses. The park gets very crowded with people, jostling and pushing against the horse carriages  with the horses maneuvering through bicyclists, skate boarders, scooters, pedicabs — anything on wheels. It is a horse’s nature to be nervous — they are prey animals who can spook and bolt at the slightest provocation. Accidents also happen in Central Park, with one in 2020 resulting in the horse, Aisha, dying.  

Perhaps the union should stick to what they know best — and it is not horse management.  

Elizabeth Forel 

Forel is the co-founder of Compassionate & Responsible Tourism and the president of the Coalition for NYC Animals, Inc.


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  • jimmyh

    as a union member of the ibew i spent many a day walking to work and seeing the misery of these poor horses lined up next to central park. these carriage drivers again and again have shrugged their shoulders after every horse that has collapsed in the street turns out to be much older or far more ill than the owners claim it is. this isn't a "tradition" it's an outdated and cruel novelty with horses used as cash registers. as union members we must always look to the future if our unions are going to remain strong . replacing these 4 legged equine slaves with electric carriages is the future. let these horses live out their lives in green fields and not busy, exhaust filled and noisy city streets. it's the best move for not only these horses but for every union member as well.. the union can train those horse carriage drivers to drive the cruelty free electric carriages . this will mean no more cruelty and and it will create jobs.

    Thursday, September 29, 2022 Report this