In her book, The Horse: The Most Abused Domestic Animal, author Greta Bunting writes:
“An operator of a horse and carriage business likes to describe it as ‘romantic.’ It is anything but that in today’s crowded cities. Before the day of the automobile, privately owned carriage horses were for the owner’s pleasure and use, and not a means of making money. For this reason, the horses could expect better treatment than when used for commercial purposes.
Today they must work long hours in all weather, battle traffic, breathe exhaust fumes from motorized vehicles, and in general, are not even adequately watered (not so many pools of urine!), and some receive inadequate or poor feed and insufficient veterinary care.
Yet sometimes a horse is forced to pull a 9-passenger carriage, plus the driver and possibly someone on the seat beside him. In addition, as Holly Cheever, D.V.M points out, ‘Lameness and hoof deterioration are inevitable when a horse spends its life walking and jogging on the unnaturally concussive asphalt of city streets.’
Some horses are worked with split hooves and some have internal parasites. Deaths of horses in New York City have been a disgrace. One year, three horses died one day, followed by a fourth shortly afterwards. Lame ones and blind ones have been found working there. Carriage horse operators usually manage to persuade the city that they are a ‘tourist attraction.‘
On the contrary, some tourists avoid cities that allow this business, and I have not heard of anyone going to a city just because it had horses and carriages. Out of sheer ignorance of the abuse, tourists may ride in a carriage when there, but that is not their purpose in going.
Drivers love to get between the shafts and ‘prove’ that the carriages are not heavy. it would be interesting to see the condition of these clowns after pulling a carriage loaded with passengers all day long, in the broiling sun, without shade, proper rest or sufficient water.
Furthermore, an honest carriage driver will tell you that the problem is not so much the weight of the carriage, as the effort the horse has to make when it starts up again after a stop.
Considering the number of starts and stops it makes on a busy street, this effort is constant. So are the exhaust fumes, so is the pounding on the pavement. And so, many times, is the heat or the cold.
… and in the end, there are no green pastures for carriage horses—only the slaughterhouse.
Yet the world does nothing to stop the abuse. Commercial horse and carriage operations should be banned. Period!”