The proposed rule change will have a negative impact on horse welfare.
The proposed rule limits accessibility to water.
Water is vital to horse health. The average-sized horse drinks 15-20 gallons of water per day. They drink even more when it’s hot outside and they are sweating. Nevertheless, it is important for horses to get plenty of water year round. A horse that doesn’t get enough water is at risk for colic and other health problems.
Currently, every carriage horse can pass a water trough on every ride. There are two water troughs that run year round at the Center Drive just inside the park at 6th Avenue, and at the back of Grand Army Plaza where the East Drive exits the park at 60th St. The Cherry Hill fountain inside the park runs intermittently in the summer months, but is not available
However, the new boarding zones at W. 67th St. and both 72nd St. locations are far removed from the carriage horses’ water troughs. Under the proposed rule, carriage horses will not pass water on short rides from these three boarding zones. They will not pass water on any of the long rides from any of the boarding zones, unless they leave the park and travel on Central Park South, which means that rides will still have to spend time on Central Park South, just for the purpose of getting water.
It took years of planning and policymaking to get the current troughs installed. It took further years still to get the troughs winterized so that they can run 365 days a year. It is foolish for anyone to believe that water troughs inside landmarked Central Park can quickly or easily be approved by Landmarks Preservation Commission and appropriate plumbing installed. The carriages do carry water buckets that can be filled in an emergency, but they only hold 5 gallons.
Why didn’t the anti-carriage-horse advocates pushing for this rule change think first and foremost of the needs of the horses? Water is life.
Currently the carriage stands are all relatively flat. Two of the proposed stands are on significant hills at W. 72ndSt. and 7thAve. inside the park. These hills, where horses will spend most of their workdays, adds undue extra “work” for the horse holding the carriage from rolling back when they are supposed to be resting between rides.
A cursory inspection of the proposed stands, plus consultation with carriage drivers, would have quickly revealed this problem to DOT. Unfortunately, the DOT has only been consulting with anti-carriage-horse lobbyists.
(Pictured: The current stand on Central Park South offers carriage horses a nice place to rest and relax between rides.)
Sun and Heat
Currently, the existing stands get a significant amount of shade throughout the year from the buildings on the south side of Central Park South and the super-talls behind them. The proposed boarding locations at W. 67thSt. and E. 72ndSt. do not have any shade at all throughout most of the day, especially in the summer months. The stand at 7thAve gets significant sun during the heat of the day when the current stands are shaded. A recent experiment on the last hot day (September 6th) demonstrated that the proposed stands run 5-10F hotter than those on Central Park South, and had carriages been working in the proposed locations that day, they would have been suspended shortly after 10AM instead of at 12:20PM (carriages go home when temperatures in the stands reach 90F).
The anti-carriage-horse activists at NYCLASS have been praising the proposal, misleading the public into believing that it is cooler and shadier for the horses to be inside the park than on Central Park South. It is true that in general Central Park is cooler and shadier than other parts of the city, but the specific places that have been chosen for our horses to be are sunnier and hotter than where they are now.
Shortened workdays and missed work impacts the economic viability of the carriage business, leading to a “backdoor ban.”
There is currently zero evidence that carriage horses are suffering from any respiratory issues caused by pollution from traffic, and there is no data to suggest that moving the carriage stands would significantly improve either air quality or respiratory health.
There is robust evidence from equine veterinarians and environmental studies that the air in New York City does not cause issues for either carriage horses or for NYPD Mounted Unit horses.
A lengthy article debunking the whole “nose-to-tailpipe” talking point, that features testimonials from equine vets and other scientific evidence can be found on our sister site, CarriageOn.com
The DOT, insofar as they have not issued a plan for what will replace the carriage horses on Central Park South, has not conducted any traffic studies to see how an increase in buses, trucks and idling for-hire-vehicles on Central Park South once the horses are elsewhere. It may well be that if data were collected, we might find that moving the horses from their historic stands on Central Park South might make air quality worse there and inside the buildings on Central Park South.
Stress and Carriage Horses
Does the traffic and noise of Central Park South stress out horses? The answer is a resounding no.
The current stands are all located in close proximity to each other. This makes enforcement simple for the DOHMH and NYPD, as carriages are all parked near each other and individual drivers/horses who may be subject to complaints are easy to locate. Monitoring the temperature in the current stands is as simple as walking up and down Central Park South.
On the other hand, the proposed locations spread the horses out throughout the park, where drivers in each stand are unaware of what is going on in other stands and where their coworkers are, and where DOHMH and NYPD enforcement agents have to drive between stands. The proposed locations also increase the active use of Central Park West and Fifth Avenue for routine rides and transit to and from the park, and so it makes it more difficult to account for the whereabouts of all carriages.