This is one of those cases where I have to ask: “What would Black Beauty say?”
I believe he would say that what makes a job good or bad is largely up to the human and whether they are cruel, kind or indifferent. Horse and human are in this together, sharing the environment, the reward and the punishment.
From the horses view, (allowing for modernization) no doubt the streets are even harder. The temperatures may be more extreme, due to the tall buildings affect on the weather. And then the cars add in a new element, complete with greater speeds, reckless drivers and car horns.
From the drivers point of view, the driver has to worry about steering, traffic and weather too. The driver may also have family to think about.
What they have in common is that this is their livelihood: the food, shelter and all rely on this job.
Here are the laws as of now:
- Horses can’t work in 18 degrees or below weather.
- In winter, they must wear blankets
- They can’t be driven faster than a trot,
- For every 2 hours working they must rest at least 15 minutes.
- During rest, they must have fresh water available.
- They must have enough food and water at reasonable intervals.
- Horses can’t work when lame, ill, injured or in poor condition.
- No working in adverse slippery weather.
- Must obey traffic laws
- not allowed in tunnels
- may not be abused and driver may not fail to provide food/water as required.
What is lacking:
- Factoring in wind and humidity in weather and temperature conditions.
Recently, the NYPD was put in charge of this and seem to feel it a burden. I fail to see how checking if the horses are blanketed (should be obvious) or lame (again, should be obvious) is difficult. And a big enough stall, clean, with sufficient food and water are again, easy to check. Of course, the issue might be they don’t have enough man power (which is hardly a carriage horse only issue.)
How many of those demanding the carriages be made illegal actually know anything about horses? Have those protesting met the horses and drivers, ridden in carriages or been to the stables? Or is it just a wave of well meaning but false information? Or for that matter, does someone profit? Like, for instance, whoever would provide the electric antique cars they suggest should replace them? Or the politicians who may or may not care about animals, but probably would not hesitate to use them to earn votes and points for their political agendas.
In the midst of this apparent compassion, where is the consideration for what comes after? Yes, they claim the retired horses would go to rescues. But even if you believe that, doesn’t that just bump aside horses that would otherwise be rescued from a worst fate? And what about the humans? No one is volunteering to ‘give’ them the electric cars. They apparently are not offering to replace their livelihood.
I love horses. I love riding them and would love to try a carriage. I do believe a city is not the ideal place to live, at least for a horse. A horse should have room to relax and stroll during their time off. But then again, horses are not the only ones who should have it. How many kids have nowhere to play but asphalt? In the city, those horses may be the closest thing the country some kids will ever see.
I would never wish harm or a cruel handler on any horse. But few people live in ideal circumstances either. People end up homeless and their pets do too. And not all of them are given a choice either: ask anyone with a physical or mental disability. Will these horses handlers also be consigned to the unemployed or homeless? Is that fair, if they were good and kind handlers who cared for their horses as they cared for themselves?
Banning the carriages seems like taking the easy way out at the expense of the innocent. It’s like swatting a fly with hammer. Not all of the drivers can be breaking the rules, or they wouldn’t have their licenses to be renewed. We are a people who have a million gadgets to measure how far we run or walk, how fast our heart beats. We can measure our health on the go. There is even a teddy bear designed to monitor a child’s health. And we are supposed to believe there is no way they could find a way to measure a horses health on the go while pulling a carriage? No way to measure if it’s getting enough rest, water or food? Because I can’t for a moment believe that. What I can think, is that horse, human and family will be without work and tourists, too, will miss out on a piece of history, just because the mayor want to take the easy way out.