A frightened carriage horse in New York runs into oncoming traffic and collides with two vehicles

On Tuesday night in Midtown Manhattan, a Central Park carriage horse got scared and took off running into oncoming traffic, apparently without a driver, for several blocks. The horse, Freddy, ended up running over two vehicles and then got stuck between them. As traffic stopped, the drivers started honking, which again startled the horse. Freddy suffered a gash on his left side and a pedestrian crossed the street also suffered an injury when the horse hit them.

“When horses are forced to drive carriages through the busy streets of Manhattan, violent accidents will continue to happen again and again. Electric cars aren’t scared – but terrified 2,000 pound horses in cities do – endangering themselves, carriage drivers and everyone around them,” said Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Clean, Liveable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS).

Birnkrant and Marty Irby of Animal Wellness Action call for an investigation into the incident, and Irby asks for the driver’s license to be revoked. Apparently the driver was inexperienced and the horse had recently been brought into town. Birnkrant also requests that the horse be sent to a sanctuary.

“Working horses on hot, slippery asphalt without the proper care and feeding is inexcusable, and this particular incident saw a horse spiral out of control in oncoming traffic, which is extremely dangerous for horses and humans. The animal welfare movement in America was ignited 150 years ago over the issue of carriage horse abuse, but Manhattan continues to allow it to persist today. The American people will no longer tolerate these incidents in our modern society,” Irby said.

A transportation industry spokesperson, however, predictably tried to downplay the incident.

“Every incident made headlines because it almost never happens,” she said. “It’s not cruel to the horses… They’re very well cared for.”

But that’s far from true, because the work is inherently cruel. Horses can work up to 9 hours a day for 7 days a week, carrying loads of up to 1,800 pounds. They are forced to walk all day on hot asphalt, breathing in toxic fumes from cars in the chaos of a New York City. They also often live in tiny stables in town that are too small for them to even lie in comfortably, and the floors are covered in their trash. When horses are exhausted, they are often euthanized or auctioned off for slaughterhouses.

On top of that, there have been several “incidents” over the past few years. Just last month we saw carriage drivers kicking and dragging a collapsed horse. Late last year, another horse got scared, collided with a vehicle, suffered deep lacerations to several parts of its body and passed out. And two years ago, an overworked horse collapsed in Central Park from a heart condition and was euthanized.

It is an archaic tradition which must disappear. Animals should never be exploited and forced to work for humans to enjoy. Enough is enough.

Please sign this petition to help ban horse-drawn carriages!

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