Take a good look at this picture: http://tinyurl.com/8dwwlya – what do you see?
I’ll tell you what I see – some very misguided and gullible people being led astray by master fabricator Steve Nislick, co-founder of NYCLASS. I know that many of the people in attendance mean well – they think “we’re saving the horses!”, but that simply is not the case. They watched the movie “Blinders” and think it’s the truth when nothing could be further from the truth. The maker of that movie, Donny Moss, together with Mr. Nislick and others in the anti-carriage horse business (and it is a “business” – in every sense of the word) know it is not the truth and yet they carry their lies forward.
All that money and not one single horse was helped. Not. One. Single. Horse.
All of this to put 220 horses and the families, not to mention the stable hands, the vets, the farriers, the hay and grain suppliers, and all the other folks that support this industry, who depend on them out of work – out of work. Why would they want to do this you may ask. It’s all about real estate and money, as I’ll get to in a minute. As I said, it is a business.
How many of those in attendance have actually been in the stables? None. How many of them have actually talked to the carriage drivers (other than to scream insults and obscenities)? None. How many of them have talked to the vets, farriers, hay or grain suppliers, or any of the other folks that work their butts off for these horses? None.
Only one celebrity supporter of the anti-carriage horse measures has accepted an invitation to tour the stables. They’ve all been invited and yet only one has agreed. Why is that? Are they afraid of the truth?
One can only hope that after some education the supporters of Mr. Nislick’s anti-carriage horse business will change their minds as did Devon B. Katzev, President of Straight Arrow Products, Inc., makers of Mane ‘n Tail, after visiting the stables and learning the truth about the NYC carriage horses. You can read Mr. Katzev’s letter on the subject here: http://tinyurl.com/6uodkgp
Why should you care about this issue?
Although the fight over the carriage horses in NYC may seem distant and of little concern to anyone outside of the city, this well-funded and misguided campaign is attempting to ban horses from NYC by taking the privately-owned horses from their rightful owners without due process of law on behalf of a real estate developer and radical animal rights groups like PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, and WAR (Win Animal Rights, which, by the way, was founded by a convicted animal abuser Camille Hankins, http://tinyurl.com/92rlo2x).
These groups have stated publicly that the NYC carriage horses are an “easy first target” and they intend to go after ANY use of a horse – so no riding, no showing, nothing – just as they are making inroads into banning the use, work, or breeding of dogs (including service dogs for the disabled), and any and all uses of any animal for any reason. And they are doing so under the utterly false “welfare of the animals” banner using people like those in the picture above who haven’t done any independent research on the proposed “cause” to appear mainstream.
1. Facts about the NYC Carriage Horses
So, in the interest of your education let me give you some facts about the NYC carriage horses:
There has NEVER been a carriage horse driver cited for abuse of a carriage horse.
There has NEVER been a citation for mistreatment, cruelty, etc.
There have been three carriage horses that have died as a result of collisions with traffic in the past 30 (that’s THIRTY) years: Chester (1985), Tony (1990) and Spotty (2006). There have been roughly a half dozen other carriage horses who have died while at work in the past 30 (that’s THIRTY) years – most notably Charlie who died of unknown causes in October 2011 (http://tinyurl.com/cwplyk2), Smoothie in 2007 (from head trauma and shock after spooking into a tree due to a snare drum), Juliet in 2007 (colic), Jackie in 1999 (electrocution thanks to ConEd and stray voltage).
I am in no way minimizing the death of any horse, but this is a remarkable record. There is no other riding discipline that can come close – NONE – especially not Mr. Nislick’s, which is eventing. That’s right. Eventing. Considered one of the most dangerous sports for both horse and rider. (http://tinyurl.com/9fwhy7s)
Stop and think about that fact for a moment – Steve Nislick is an eventer and he’s claiming that being a carriage horse in NYC is not safe. Talk about a disconnect. Since 2007 approximately 55 horses have died while participating in the sport of eventing. So, in the last five years 55 – that’s FIFTY-FIVE – horses have died while eventing, 22 of them U.S. horses. (http://tinyurl.com/9bhr7t9)
I am in no way disparaging the sport of eventing since it is a sport I love and have participated in. But it is simply a flat out lie, as Mr. Nislick well knows, to claim that the NYC carriage horses are somehow in greater danger from death and/or serious injury all while he participates in a sport that is, in fact, dangerous to not only the horses but the riders as well.
Contrary to the lies being told by the anti-carriage crowd the stables are clean, open, airy, and well-ventilated, stalls are well-bedded and big enough for the horses to turn around and lie down, the horses can all see each other, they have plenty of hay, custom mix grain, automatic waterers, sprinklers in case of, God forbid, a fire, misters and fans. Plus 24/7/365 stable hands. Regular vet and farrier visits. And yes, I most certainly would board my horse in their stables.
The carriages are not “hard” for the horses to pull – aside from the fact that most of the carriage horses are drafts and draft-crosses, horses bred to pull – the wheels have, imagine this!, ball bearings. I’ve seen the stable hands move them around with one hand. Trust me, even fully loaded, they are not hard for a horse to pull. As an example, you can see a video of a carriage being pulled by a man here: http://tinyurl.com/978fb2p
Also contrary to the claims of the anti-horse crowd the horses do not suffer from respiratory problems. As I said, the stables are very well-ventilated and contrary to popular belief the air in NYC is actually quite clean. According to the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report (http://www.stateoftheair.org/), New York County, NY (i.e., Manhattan) has better air quality than Lancaster County, PA (Amish country) or Hunterdon County, NJ (where Steve Nislick keeps his eventing horses).
The drivers must present all the paperwork upon demand by an ASPCA agent (and don’t forget that the ASPCA supports a ban) or city inspector. On average the ASPCA performs about 180 hackline inspections every year where they check all paperwork, plus the horses. That’s not counting stable inspections and individual horse inspections. And that’s not counting inspections by the city inspectors.
The NYC carriage horses are regulated by both the NYC Administrative Code / Rules of the City of New York and New York State Agriculture and Market Law. Title 17 Chapter 3 Subchapter 3 of the Administrative Code deals with Rental Horses (riding and carriage) and their oversight by the Health Dept. Title 20 Chapter 2 Subchapter 2 of the Code is their licensing regulations with the Dept. of Consumer Affairs. Title 19 touches on their work on public streets. All these rules and regulations – from at what temperature the horses must be blanketed, to how many hours they can work, to where and when they can work, to what the rate card must look like, to specifics about their 2x per year vet inspections, etc., etc. runs to over 40 pages single spaced.
The New York City carriage horses are some of the most regulated animals in this country. The fact there has never been a citation for mistreatment or cruelty, even with an awful lot of folks looking for it (including the ASPCA which supports a ban), speaks volumes.
2. Money and Real Estate
As for NYCLASS and its “concern” for the carriage horses, in reality, this has NOTHING to do with the animals – it’s all about money and real estate. As noted above, NYCLASS was founded by real estate developer Steve Nislick who wants the land the carriage stables currently occupy.
Did you know that the ASPCA donated over $450,000 between 2008-2011 to NYCLASS and that Ed Sayres, the soon-to-be-former-CEO of the ASPCA is also co-founder and co-president of NYCLASS along with Steve Nislick? You should read the accusations of a former ASPCA inspector, Henry Ruiz, about the ASPCA’s agenda as far as the carriage horses are concerned: http://tinyurl.com/dx6kown
Did you know that Steve Nislick, CEO of Edison Properties, “…which owns warehouses and parking lots in far-west midtown, which happens to also be home to the city’s five carriage horse stables” (http://tinyurl.com/9rjnuho), the parent company of Edison ParkFast and Manhattan Mini Storage, via Manhattan Mini Storage gave PETA $125,000 to run Lea Michele’s anti-carriage-horse campaign in January 2011?
Yep – PETA, which not only kills 97 percent of the animals it takes in, even the ones it admits are adoptable, but supports horse slaughter (http://tinyurl.com/83tef56). So this is about the horses again how?
As Elizabeth Forel, one of the leaders of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages (CBHDC), has stated: “The hand writing is on the wall. When this industry goes down, it may well be because of the Hudson Yards/Hells Kitchen real estate development project that will wipe out two stables. And then move uptown to take the others. Manhattan real estate is very valuable and many developers have their eyes on the redevelopment of the far west side. You can rant at NY Class and the ASPCA all you want – but you can’t stop this kind of progress.” (http://tinyurl.com/9jlwqty)
The same CBHDC that regularly misrepresents the health and well-being of the NYC carriage horses, for example, putting out a press release that one of the carriage horses had a “broken leg” and “probably got a bullet through the head.” (http://tinyurl.com/76cqqtx)
The same CBHDC that is regularly on the hackline protesting with WAR and the other NYCLASS folks.
Now, really, do you still think this has anything to do with the horses?
They, particularly Donny Moss, claim that “real” horsemen and equine “experts” (which they refuse to name) support a ban. Well, as I said, they won’t name their “real” horsemen and equine “experts”, so I don’t know who they are but I know a real and true horseman that supports the work the carriage horses do, Buck Brannaman. From his book, The Faraway Horses (page 251):
“Next on my schedule were a couple of young women from MTV and Rolling Stone magazine. One of them asked, “What about those poor horses in Central Park? Don’t you think it’s awful how they have to pull those heavy carriages all day?”
I had an answer for that question “No, I don’t,” I said, then explained that the Central Park horses are content. Pulling carriages on rubber-rimmed wheels on paved streets is a low-stress job, and the horses are calm and relaxed, not anxiously laying their ears back or wringing their tails. Plus, these horses get lots of attention and affection from passerby. And horses love attention and affection as much as we do.
The horses that people should be concerned about are the neglected ones that, after the “newness” of ownership wears off, live in box stalls all day. These horses have no purpose, no jobs to do. All they do is eat and make manure. Even prisoners get to exercise more than these horses, and the horses have never done anything wrong. If they had the choice, these horses would choose to be carriage horses rather than stand in their stalls.”
Even if I had not spoken with Mr. Brannaman personally about this issue, I’d take his word over their mystery “real” horsemen and equine “experts” any day of the week.
Plus, not only am I a horsewoman, unlike many that support the anti-carriage horse business, but I’ve actually been in the stables, spoken with the drivers, etc. I know what is true and what is not.
4. Electric Cars
Let’s talk about those faux antique electric cars that are being touted as a replacement for the carriage horses, which is what this party was all about. Bottom line – there is not even a proto-type available. In an article in the New York Times (Emily B. Hager, Meet the Contraption That Wants to Replace Central Park Horses, N.Y. Times, Oct. 7, 2011, http://tinyurl.com/3eeqa8c) the developer of the prototype, Jason Wenig “…said that once he got the green light, he could have prototypes on the road in a year.”
Over one year later and still no prototype, hence the party.
So, basically, there is nothing in place to have actual, useable cars on the road. And who is going to pay to build all of the prototypes and the cars? Where will these cars be garaged? And who is going to pay for their upkeep? Where are the spent batteries going to be disposed?
In the same article it states: “The cars are projected to cost $125,000 to $175,000. NY-Class envisions that a nonprofit group that provides financing to start-ups would buy the cars and lease them to drivers for $21,000 a year. Purchasing a new horse and carriage costs $15,000 on average.”
I would hardly call this an enticing offer for the carriage horse owners or drivers – “envisions that a nonprofit group…” is not the same thing as a done deal. And leasing at $21,000 PER YEAR? I’ll bet that doesn’t include garaging, maintenance, repairs, etc. And, of course, there are no projections as to a likely income.
So, basically, the carriage horse owners or drivers are being asked to give up their horses, their carriage, their livelihood for the possibility of maybe getting a lease for one of these cars? They will not be the only ones affected by this – what about their families, the stable hands, the vets, the farriers, the hay and grain suppliers, and all the other folks that support this industry, and their families?
The projected cost of the proto-type is between $400,000 and $475,000 – if you are a horse person you know that this economy coupled with the drought has wreaked havoc on horses. Imagine what that kind of money could do for horses that really need help.
5. Is Bill S5013/A7748 Constitutional? Heck no!
NYS Senator Tony Avella and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal have introduced a bill into the New York State legislature, S5013/A7748, which would prohibit the operation of horse-drawn cabs in the City of New York. This bill amends section 17-239 of the New York City Administrative Code (Code) and states, in part:
Disposition of licensed horse. a. The department shall be notified of the transfer of ownership or other disposition of a licensed horse …. Such notice shall include the date of disposition and [if sold in New York city,] the name and address of the buyer or other transferee and such other information as the commissioner may prescribe.
b. A horse shall not be sold or disposed of except in a humane manner, which, for the purposes of this subchapter shall mean one of the following:
1. The owner shall sell or donate the horse to a private individual who signs an assurance that the horse will not be sold and shall be kept solely as a companion animal and not employed in another horse-drawn carriage business or as a work horse and will be cared for humanely for the remainder of the horse’s natural life; or
2. The owner shall sell or donate the horse to whose president or executive director signs an assurance that the horse will not be sold and shall be kept solely as a companion animal and not employed in another horse-drawn carriage business and will be cared for humanely for the remainder of the horse’s natural life.
Any lawyers want to tell me what is wrong with this? Heck, forget about lawyers – anyone with any common sense want to tell what is wrong with this?
I’ll give you the first hint: all the carriage horses are privately owned.
I’ll give you a second hint: not all of the owners live in New York.
Any of the co-signers of this bill want to tell me how you are going to pay for all the lawsuits that WILL arise if this trampling of the owners’ Constitutional rights comes to pass?
And what happens to the horses? There are currently 220 NYC carriage horses. Who is going to pay for their forced retirement? Remember, they cannot be adopted out as driving OR riding horses – basically, they are to be pasture pets for the rest of their lives, which could last well into their 30s. None of the anti-carriage horse crowd knows how much money it takes to care for a horse. They can’t just be thrown into a pasture – they will still need shelter, hay, grain, vet, farrier, etc. Again – who is going to pay for this?
And where is this magical pasture? That’s right – as is typical of their machinations they won’t say but have assured the carriage horse owners that they have it covered.
I have one word in response: bullshit.
6. The Carriage Drivers and Protestors
Much has been made of the video of the carriage driver who used foul language and slurs against the protestors. Of course what he said was not acceptable (http://tinyurl.com/8zutpgn); however, the video that was shopped around was highly edited and left out the taunts and slurs the protestors regularly heap upon the carriage drivers (you can see an example here: http://tinyurl.com/8ud3o9u).
For approximately six years a growing group of radical animal rights activists have been assembling on 59th Street to harangue, harass, insult and bait the carriage drivers and their passengers, all while attempting to interfere with a legal business using some of the foulest racial, ethnic, and misogynistic slurs imaginable.
They taunt the drivers off camera and then turn the camera on when they get a response or, as in the case of this video, they simply edit it to tell one side f the story. The protestors have made children in the carriages cry and have even told a pregnant carriage driver that her baby “should be born dead or retarded”. They’ve wished horrible diseases and slow and painful deaths on other carriage drivers. Online they have championed actual sabotage of the carriages and stables.
This driver, followed, filmed, and dogged, was pushed to the brink by protestors who week in and week out, year after year called him “bog trotter”, “drunken Irish scum”, “dickless”, “ball-less”, “animal abuser”, ad nauseum – and he snapped. Again, what he said was unacceptable and he apologized.
Alec Baldwin called a carriage driver a “faggot” back in 1992, inside City Hall. He apologized and all was forgiven. But let’s not forget that that was not the only time he has used anti-gay slurs (http://tinyurl.com/7ojbzyu). And yet he is welcomed by the anti-carriage horse crowd with open arms.
Another protestor, Roxanne Delgado, was arrested on August 18, 2012, for assaulting a carriage driver and was charged the following day with three counts of assault and one count of harassment (http://tinyurl.com/9kmx7sv and http://tinyurl.com/9mh7r9q). After a ridiculous attempt to shun her by photoshopping her out of protest photos she has been welcomed back with open arms.
No, two wrongs do not make a right, but the hypocrisy is astonishing – if you support the anti-carriage crowd you will be forgiven no matter what; if you do not, you won’t.
If you want to see what the drivers put up with on a regular basis, come down to the hackline any weekend. It is shocking that groups of people are being allowed to shout lies and obscenities at the carriage drivers and their customers and interfere with the operation of a lawful business.
7. Final Thoughts
My personal opinion is that Mr. Nislick and the radical animal rights activists are trying to wear the industry down so it gives up and then Mr. Nislick can get the property he so desperately wants (so desperately he is willing to do anything to get it) and the radical animal rights activists can claim they “saved” the horses without spending a dime.
Don’t let them get away with it. If you want to see the truth about the carriage horses, just ask. Carriage Horse Facts on Facebook is an open group (unlike the anti–pages, which ban all carriage horse supporters – please feel free to test the veracity of this claim) where you can ask questions and get truthful answers: Carriage Horse Facts, http://tinyurl.com/99enodh.
I hope that you will do your own investigation – look at both the information put out by the pro carriage horse folks and the anti-carriage horse folks. Ask questions. Come and see for yourselves.
There is simply not one single thing that is abusive about this type of work.
Just wanted to update one thing and add another – the celebrity that was going to tour the stables has bowed to pressure and has now declined to do so. Why you wouldn’t want to be educated on a subject you claim to feel “passionately” about is beyond me. Frankly, I think willful ignorance is the deadliest of sins, but it’s her loss.
I also wanted to add this clip of perennial protestor Roxanne Delgado making children taking a carriage ride cry: http://tinyurl.com/c2pdtsg