Horse Carriages: Oppression & Humiliation in NYC

Jennifer Martinez, Staff Reporter

New York City (NYC). The big apple. The city of dreams. The capital of the world, at least, of course, the eyes of tourists. New Yorkers are already used to everything about NYC, and see it for what it truly is, without the sugarcoating. True New Yorkers know that NYC is not all Times Square and Broadway. But, to tourists as they pass by Columbus Circle to enter Central Park, catching a ride on a carriage pulled by a horse is a delightful, romantic experience.

Many of these tourists pay the fee and enjoy the ride: taking pictures of the view, selfies and absorb history about NYC from the driver.  However, this “happy” experience exists at the cost of the suffering of others. Who? You may ask. Well how about we move the light from the riders, to the one actually pulling the carriage: the horses.

Every time I am by Columbus Circle, my stomach turns and my heart aches at the enjoyment people have on the suffering of the horses. The horses stand on a line, surrounded by their feces, in rain or shine [even in extreme heats] while waiting for customers.  Horses are forced to toil in all weather extremes, dodge traffic, and pound the pavement all day long. According to PETA, an animal advocacy group, they may develop respiratory ailments because they breathe in exhaust fumes, and they can suffer debilitating leg problems from walking on hard surfaces.

NYCLASS, an advocacy group that focus on ending the NYC carriage horse industry-  hosted an activist orientation this Saturday to train individuals to join the fight.  I decided to pass by and see if I could get some information. I managed to get a tourist who was about to get on a horse with the family to answer some of my questions. This person wished to remain anonymous and not be recorded. I asked “why do you  find it enjoyable being pulled by a horse? Many of these horses are overworked and mistreated. Does this not change your opinion on supporting horse carriages?”The tourist seemed uncomfortable after I finished, but answered “when people come to NYC, they want to get every experience they can. The horse carriage adds to the experience, just like riding the large buses. I guess many, including us, are blinded by our own happiness we don’t even question if what we’re doing is wrong”.It’s understandable that one wants to enjoy themselves to the fullest, especially on vacation. However, at the expense of others still makes it wrong. Many in support of the horse carriage industry state that the horses are bred for this specific labor, horses are the symbolism of nature in the big city and that these horses are needed for the transportation.

There are various other forms of transportation to use in the Big Apple such as a own car, the subway, and taxi services such as Uber. There is no need for horses to be on the streets of NYC anymore.  

Martin Luther King, Jr is quoted as saying that “the ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” If we do not fight and speak up for the horses and just sit and watch as they’re exploited, then we are nothing more than as cruel as those who support the horse carriage industry and torture these horses. Which is why it’s time to make a change. You can start to make a difference by adding your name to NYCLASS petition and call for ban on horse drawn carriages in NYC!