Press Release

Center for a Humane Economy: NYC must stop carriage rides until medical evaluations are conducted on the horses

With horse lying prone in bustling Manhattan street for more than one hour, a work reprieve for horses in height of summer is proper precautionary move as City Council debates phase in of electric carriages

New York City – Today, the Center for a Humane Economy called for a temporary work stoppage for carriage horses in New York City to allow time for an independent veterinary medical review of the physical condition of more than 160 horses registered to pull carriages on city streets and in Central Park in New York. NYClass, the non-profit group that has focused so much attention on the plight of horses in the industry, has endorsed this plan.

The Center is urging New York City officials to declare a halt to commercial horse carriage rides effective immediately and to last through the end of summer (Sept. 21) to allow for physical examinations of the horses, in the wake of one 14-year-old horse in poor body condition and with muscle wastage going down last week during the workday. The Center has volunteered for the task its director of veterinary services, Jim Keen, D.V.M., Ph.D., a former USDA large-animal and research veterinarian and faculty member at the University of Nebraska Veterinary School. The Center also recommends the selection of an independent equine veterinarian from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. 

“Recent events warrant an independent veterinary health and welfare assessment for the more than 160 carriage horses working in this commercial enterprise,” said Dr. Jim Keen of the Center for a Humane Economy. “Only fit horses should be asked to pull these heavy loads, and everyone should agree to that principle. Without any question, Ryder was not in any condition to be working when he went down.” The evaluations would examine body condition, lameness, and diagnosed and undiagnosed disease and injury status, as well as examining feed and nutrition assessment and housing. All horses should be tested for Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM).

“The pitiful sight of Ryder lying still on the street, limp, ribs and hip bones protruding, visible cuts all over his body and whipped by the carriage driver has been a distressing image for people around the world to see,” said Jennifer McCausland, the Center’s senior vice president for corporate policy. “It’s time to take a pause and pull the horses off the street so an independent veterinary exam can occur to see if there are other horses who are similarly vulnerable to these types of breakdowns.” 

“Ryder never should have been forced to pull a heavy carriage in the heat for nine hours a day in his alarming medical condition, with obvious muscle wasting and with ribs and hips protruding,” said Edita Birnkrant, executive director of NYCLASS. “A witness saw Ryder stumbling and struggling to walk while pulling the carriage in Central Park four hours before he collapsed, as the driver screamed at him.”

Ryder’s preliminary diagnosis of EPM (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis) is cause of great concern for all carriage horses in the stables. 

The incident with Ryder is just the latest high-profile horse welfare issue in the carriage industry. In the second half of July, a carriage horse dropped dead in the stable July 20th after pulling a carriage for several hours that day during a record-breaking heatwave. In June, a spooked carriage horse in Central Park galloped into oncoming traffic and collided with cars, injuring a pedestrian. Also, in late May, a carriage horse collapsed in Central Park and witnesses took video of the driver cruelly mishandling the downed animal.

This series of incidents demands an independent assessment of the condition of the horses. City officials would determine how the carriage horse drivers would be compensated during this month-long cessation in commercial carriage horse operations.

The Center for a Humane Economy (“the Center”) is a non-profit organization that focuses on influencing the conduct of corporations to forge a humane economic order. The first organization of its kind in the animal protection movement, the Center encourages businesses to honor their social responsibilities in a culture where consumers, investors, and other key stakeholders abhor cruelty and the degradation of the environment and embrace innovation as a means of eliminating both.